Saturday, September 8, 2007


Today, September 8, is the memorial of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a good time to consider why we need to show devotion to her. Within the context of the general motive of pleasing God, I can think of several specific reasons.

First, we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary to give due adoration to the Blessed Trinity. We venerate (dulla) the saints to honor God, their Creator; more so in the case of our veneration (hyperdulla) of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the most perfect of God’s creatures because she is God’s mother.

Jesus Christ, as “perfect God and perfect Man” (Athanasian Creed), derives His Sacred Humanity from the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary is very much a part of His unique identity as Person, the Word of God made flesh, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Become Man. The Jesus we worship is the “Son of God and Son of Mary”, and not any other Jesus.

Second, we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary to comply with the fourth commandment of the Decalogue: “Honor your father and mother.” She is our mother because she is the Mother of Christ and, as baptized Christians, we are members of Christ—other Christs, Christ Himself, alter Christus, ipse Christus. If we are Christ Himself, Mary is surely our mother.

From the Cross, our Lord also commanded: “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:27). To behold Mary is to behold her perfections: She is “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), therefore, sinless and “conceived without original sin”, perpetual virgin, assumed into heaven in body and soul. Beholding her perfections, we cannot help but marvel.

St. Josemaria writes: “Almighty God, Omnipotent and Infinitely Wise, had to choose his Mother. What would you have done, if you had had to choose yours? I think that you and I would have chosen the mother we have, filling her with all graces. That is what God did: and that is why, after the Blessed Trinity, comes Mary. Theologians have given a rational explanation for her fullness of grace and why she cannot be subject to the devil: it was fitting that it should be so, God could do it, therefore he did it. That is the great proof: the clearest proof that God endowed his Mother with every privilege, from the very first moment.” (The Forge, No. 482)

At the Annunciation of the Birth of our Savior, the angel Gabriel saluted our Lady, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee.” (Lk 1:26-28). St. Thomas Aquinas observes that it was the angel, a creature superior to men, who deferred to Mary, not the other way around, which indicates Mary’s special blessedness. Thus, Mary herself also prophesied, “all generations shall call me blessed, because He who is mighty has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49). This is the greeting of Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation, which we make our own in the “Hail Mary”: “Blessed art thou among women” (Lk 1:28).

Third, we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary to benefit more from her intercession. She is the Mediatrix of All Graces, our most powerful intercessor with our Lord. The miracle at the marriage feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-12) happened even if Jesus’ “hour has not yet come”. And though her intercession does not require our asking (as in the wedding at Cana), all the more should her mediation be beneficial, more timely, more insistent, etc., for us by our asking.

God wants us to ask Him for good things, even if He wants even more to give them to us, because we are free. Our prayer of petition is a way of our freely uniting our will with God’s, thereby loving God; and to ask Him for, to want, the good of our fellowmen, is an excellent way of living fraternal charity.

Intercession is an integral part of the “communion of saints”. Hence, the “us” in the Our Father, and the numerous miracles performed upon the intercession of others in the Gospel: the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:22-43; Lk 8:41-56), and of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10), the healing of a paralytic (Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26); and of the Canaanite woman’s daughter (Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30), etc.

We need to have devotion to our Lady, non multa sed multum, “not many but done well.” The most recommended, especially by saints and Popes, is praying the Holy Rosary daily with the family, and wearing the Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel. St. Josemaria also recommends frequent, loving glances at pictures or images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as aspirations addressed to her many times during the day (e.g., “Holy Mary, our Hope, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!”). In the end, as St. Josemaria puts it, “Love of our Lady is proof of a good spirit, in works and in individuals. Don’t trust the undertaking that lacks this characteristic.” (The Way, No. 505)

Maligayang kaarawan, Mama Mary!