2019/12/07 - Pilgrim - Mary, Mother of the Church

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INTRO Ask the pilgrims about the place of Mary into their life and how they call Mary. 

I. Considerations about the place of Mary into our life.

A. When we meditate about Mary, our heart is filled with a  special joy. 

It is probably for two reasons.  Because we feel her unique place into the Christian faith and consequently into our life. She seems to be so close to us, as a mother could be. At the same time we realise how different she is, through her indefectible  intimacy with God. The Ideal image of what we want to be. The dream of the little girls and some boys who are not shy to dream both boys and girls to become saints. Our expectation toward Mary is so big. 

But often we are a little bit confused because of our lack of the faith and trust that she had. And we are also  disappointed because of her  different titles. Virgin, mother of God…. and so on, we can be easily  lost, because of the limits of  our capacity to understand it properly. The first difficulty (faith and trust), has to be overcome step by step during our life. The second one, is technically feasible right now. During my presentation I will try to inspire your own reflexion about how can we match the image of Mary into our life with what she represents into the christian faith. 

B. During the history of the Church, 

For two thousand years from now, believers tried to understand and say who Mary was and who she has been during the Church time. We know her from the Bible, but during the history of the christianity  the understanding of Mary`s place into our life has been  improved.  The two last dogmas announced   by  the latin Church are the proofs  that the understanding of her place into the catholic faith is still on the process.  

The most valious place where we can find the titles of Mary are the litanies dedicates to her. The Loreto litanies, the famous one, contain already so many titles,  without mentioning others litanies.  Mother (of Sion) Virgin, mother,  (mother of God, mother of the Church), spouse (of Joseph, even of Christ?) Queen of Apostles, among so many others. 

All of them represent her multiple roles and functions  in her life. Role of the  spouse, mother, function of the believer, elder into the faith…. All have to be put together. Their singular sense is understood only when they are related to others. That works together  because each of these titles  is related to God, and by him to Jesus his son and her son. Consequently, because of our Christian faith, it is related  to us.

The topic of my speech is about Mary Mother of the Church. But before dealing with it, we have to see a little bit more precisely who Mary is according some of the others titles. 

C. Basically, we know Mary from the Bible 

as  the spouse of Joseph and the Mother of Jesus. She became pregnant  before the couple had yet lived together. As every mother, Mary  gives to Jesus his body from her womb, from her body. But what is exceptional here, it is that according to the christian faith, we recognize that  through her body, Mary  made the son of God able to become man. 

For it God throughout his special messenger, angel Gabriel, asked  Mary if she agreed to become mother of the Messiah  coming from God himself. Angel Gabriel was sent  three times with the very special messages.  At first Gabriel was sent to Daniel to explain the vision which the prophet had had three centuries before Jesus. Gabriel was also sent to Zacharie, father of Jean the Baptiste, precursor of Jesus. 

The earthly life of the Son of God started within his mother’ womb. He took flesh and become one of us. She had to learn how to become a mother. And in her so unique, special situation, she is very important in the story of salvation. She had to learn how to be able  to provide with her spons, st Joseph, all what Jesus needed as a child. And  at the same time, she had to learn how to be the servant of God. 

Such apparently paradoxical way was the unique way for her. She was very well prepared to both: to become  servant of God throughout  her role of mother of Jesus. Her genuine  vocation  was to be servant of God, it was realized, incarnated throughout her life as a mother. 

She was the very beginning  point where started the life of those who wanted to follow Jesus as master and saviour. From Mary the servant and Mary the mother,  from both, we have to learn how to be true believers. 

D. She is also our mother.

 We have our mother giving birth to our earthly life. We have Mary as a mother leading us from the earthly life to the heavens. In giving birth, our earthly mother  in a certain sense  also involved us to be leaded  to the heavens. Our mother as well as our father was or is taking care of our daily life  providing food, hygiene of the body and of the mind and good spiritual food. 

The place of Mary into our life is on another, very special level. No more than Joseph, can she provide us with food and shelter. But she  is looking for some complementary care if our life. What is it? 

Often we have so emotional relationship with her. When we are disturbed, unwell, we are looking for her as the refuge where to find  shelter.  She is taking care of us from the point of view which is completely imbued by live of God, expressed through the link with his own son Jesus. 

Mary is the mother of us all, our Commun mother. But how can she be able to play such a huge role in our life? She can do it because she is in heaven. She  was herself sinless, she was saved from the spiritual corruption, from the separation with God. She had been able to be pure of heart since her own conception.

The Immaculate conception feast of today reminds us of such a great gift that she was given and marked for ever. She was preserved from sin by the grace of Salvation brought by her son, grace acting even  before the historical event of salvation on the Cross.

E. She is the best creation

 able to guide us to her son. She shows  the pure, immaculate heart of her life for us. She knows better that anyone, how the way of salvation is beautiful, but also how such a way is difficult. Despite the fact that she couldn’t know the devastating influence of sin into our human life, she was during her earthly life totally involved into a compassionate life. 

Only she was able  to realize both: in one hand she was able  to bear a perfect human life reflecting the  perfect image of the love of God;  in the other one she was totally able to hear and welcome everyone.

In our individual life, we have such a good perfect guide smiling to us from heaven, sometimes crying, or awaking us by the words inviting us to conversion, or saying the words of encouragement to continue our trusty life. So many apparitions of Mary during the church time prove the thoughtfulness of God towards us through Our Lady.

F. If Mary is mother for us all,

 it is a natural consequence, that we have to regard ourselves not only as her son or daughter, but also as she is mother of us all, we have brothers and sisters in Christ  then as siblings of the same mother. How is working such a spiritual, nonetheless motherhood into our human earthly life?

St John related the legacy of Jesus on the cross. Jesus said  to John: This is your mother, and to her mother, this is you son. Through John we can recognise our own life. The legacy  Jesus Christ made on the Cross is for us. We can feel happy with it. But being children of Mary, is also a  great challenge for believers. Which attitude is really appropriated in order to recognise the place of Mary Mother of the Church into our life,?

We have to follow Jesus, Mary is only there  to indicate the way how to go to Christ our saviour. Mary  can never become the obstacle between us and Jesus. Her unique place into the story of our salvation is the remarkable place of facilitating our spiritual life.

II. The title  of Mother of the Church.

A. into the history of the Church

In the catholic Church, the title mother of the Church was given to Mary during the Second Vatican Council by pope Paul VI. The pope did it despite the negative statement given by the theological commision, consulting corps of the council and the pope. The story of this title is the example of the long process of maturation of the understanding of the place of Mary into the christian faith. 

The first time we met with the title of Mary mother of the Church, was already in the fourth century by st Ambrose, bishop of Milan. Then in the 12 century Mater ecclesiae was mentioned by bishop of Treve and seemed to be  forgotten for many centuries.  The title is used again  by the popes of the 18 century. This theological meaning was expressed by pope Leo XIII :

“Mary is invoked as Mother of the Church and the teacher and Queen of the Apostles”

The theological renewed effect  of the  meaning of the title was provided by Hugo Rahner in 1944 preparing the discussion during the Vatican Council.

As we can see, two events are related to the meaning of the title. The first one, as so easy to see, mentioned before, is the scene of Jesus on the Cross and his last recommendation given to his mother and his disciple, Jn 19,25-27. The second one is the gathering of the disciples with Mary and others  after the going back of Jesus to  Heaven. They waited the dismissal to go and preach the holy gospel following the recommendation of their Master. Before the Pentecost event they fully trusted God. Mary was there. In the pallottine spirituality (19th century) she is considerate as queen of the apostles, but not as mother of the Church. 

Paul VI :

“The Mother of the Church carries in heavens  her maternal role with regard to the members of Christ, cooperating in the birth and development of divine life in the souls of the redeemed” (Credo of the people of God) Mother of the Church, cooperator of the grace of salvation, still now unclear in the official teaching of the Church. 

Jean-Paul II

Story related with the mosaic  in st Peter square. Once a student coming to the Vatican the pope Jean- Paul II noted that he was not able to find in st Peter square any image of Our Lady. In fact although there are 162 statues of saints, none of them represents the Mother of God. “Then we should finish the square” sad pope.  In December 7th 1981 a mosaic of Maria Mater Ecclesiae was installed and  next day blessed by the pope. It is also a tribute to the intercession of Our Lady in saving his life.  

and in Redemptoris Mater, in 1987 he wrote :

Mary is present in the Church as mother of Christ, and at the same time as that  mother whom Christ, in the mystery of Redemption, gave to humanity in the person of John. Thus, in her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and embraces each and every one through the Church. In this sense Mary, Mother of the Church, is also the Church`s model. Indeed, as Paul VI asks, the Church  must draw “from the virgin Mother  of God the most authentic form of perfect imitation of Christ” 

Mary is mother of the Church because she is Mother of the faithful. 

Benedict XVI  develops  the point of the relationship between Mariologie and ecclesiology, why the mariologie was put inside of the ecclesiology (Lumen Gentium 8)

Pope Francis declared in 2018 (11 February, 160 anniversary of apparition of Lourdes)  the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church  the Monday after Pentecost (white Monday). 

B. into the Catechism. 

in the first part of the catechism, dedicated to the meaning of the christian faith, we find one part entitled : Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church. Inside this chapter we find  the following topics: the motherhood of Mary towards the Church,  the cult of the Holy Virgin and Mary eschatological icon of the Church. 

in the first part, the catechism emphasizes some points summarizing the teaching of the Church: she is totally united to her Son; she is our Mother in the order of the grace, thus she is cooperator of the Salvation achieved by her Son, by obedience, faith, hope,  charity; for these reasons she is invoked  as auxiliaire,  helpful, mediator, but in all of that she is submissive  to her Son, unique mediator between God and humankind. 

In the thirst part, she is presented as an eschatological  icone of  the Church 

cf. 972  “Tout comme déjà dans le ciel elle est déjà glorifiée corps et âme, la Mère de Jésus représente et inaugure l’Eglise en son achèvement dans le siècle futur; de même sur terre, en attendant la venue du jour du Seigneur, elle brille déjà comme un signe d’espérance assurée et de consolation devant le Peuple de Dieu en pèlerinage” LG 68

 and 975  “Nous croyons que la très sainte Mère de Dieu, nouvelle Eve, Mère de l’Eglise, continue au ciel son rôle maternel à l’égard des membres du Christ.” SPF15 (Credo solennel du Peuple de Dieu de Paul VI? 



mother of Jesus Christ

mother of John and others Apostles

prototype of the Church

mother of the believers 

Mary Mother of the Church

The memorial in honor of Mary Mother of the Church is the last step of the improving of understanding of the unique place of Mary into our christian faith.