Saturday, May 9, 2009

Virgo Mater Domina

She was endowed with special graces and responded to her gifting by saying yes to God’s will for her life. Her virgin womb became the tabernacle where Christ became Incarnate. Mary became the mother of God in the flesh. Then, in no way exalting herself over him, she humbly followed him as one of his faithful disciples. We know her today as the Coronated Queen of Heaven.

I am, in my own Christian journey, discovering the tremendous value in devotionally honoring our Mother. I must admit though that this devotion comes after decades of personally rejecting and neglecting Mary, some of the trickle-down economics of my own Protestant formation and tutelage.

My first significant encounter with Mary, one that spurred me on toward deeper inquiry, happened at a garage sale in Northern New Jersey. I found an old book entitled Mary in the Documents of the Church, published in 1952. I think it cost me a quarter. Its author, Paul F. Palmer, S.J., used few of his own words in the book. He chose rather to use the words of a host of historically significant and reliable sources, some that take us back to the beginning of the Second Century.

I found it hard to argue with the disciples of the Apostles and the disciples of the Apostle’s disciples. It is, in fact, foolish to argue with people that knew the Apostles personally or with those souls entrusted with the task of carrying on the Gospel Mission immediately after them. Who, after all, would know the truth better?

Devotion to Mary has always been present in the Church in one way or another. Despite arguments against her grace filled role in the Salvivic Event, both historic and ongoing, Mary continues to lead multitudes deeper into the heart of Christ, deeper into God’s plan of salvation, deeper into the meaning of life.

“Placed by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her son, and exalted above all angels and men, Mary intervened in the mysteries of Christ and is justly honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful took refuge in all their dangers and necessities. Hence after the Synod of Ephesus (431) the cult of the people of God toward Mary wonderfully increased in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: all generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things for me.”[1]

According to the Statutes And Declarations of the Oblates of St. Benedict, Oblates are to “cultivate a tender devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God and love to pray the Rosary.”[2]

The Guidelines For Oblates Of St. Benedict (1973), written with ecumenical overtones after Vatican II, although not explicitly restating this statute verbatim, do speak to the necessity of maintaining the distinct historical flavoring of our Canonical status. “They (Oblates of St. Benedict) harmonize their private and public prayers and devotions with the liturgical seasons and feasts of the year, as Vatican II recommends.”[3]

Mary is firmly situated in the liturgical seasons and feasts of the year. The month of May is dedicated to honoring the Virgin Queen Mother, the Saint of all Saints. Where liturgical seasons and feasts are concerned, Mary is honored daily by the Church in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The themes for each day of morning and evening prayers call attention to particular aspects of her Motherly life.

[1] Lumen Gentium, Ch. VIII, Sec. IV, 66.
[2] Manual For Oblates, © 1955
[3] Guidelines For Oblates of St. Benedict, Sec. D, para. 4