Mother and Queen

I sometimes complain about having to sit down to write a bulletin article. As I do complain, I am often convicted of the heroic virtue of others who wrote much greater volume under much greater pressure. It is, after all, from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. If our hearts are full with gratitude, they will inevitably speak forth that gratitude. We are given a day set aside for the expression of gratitude towards those to whom we owe so much—including our very existence and birth.

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John Paul lost his own mother at a very young age, but his relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary and his philosophical reflection on the meaning of the human person revealed to him a ‘feminine genius’ which he spent his entire life trying to articulate and bear witness to. Allow me to draw upon one of the very important messages of St. John Paul II—these lines are taken from his famous 1995 “Letter to Women” written in advance of the Forth World Conference on Women held in Beijing. I appreciate the sincerity of his words and I use them to express my own appreciation and depth of gratitude for women, and for all mothers, especially my own mother—this Mother’s Day weekend and always.

“This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world is at the same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman, for all that they represent in the life of humanity. Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life. Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life. Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity. Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of "mystery", to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity. Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God's love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a "spousal" relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures. Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”

Mary uniquely fulfills each of these profiles. She was virgin and mother; spouse of St. Joseph and daughter of the Heavenly Father. Our May Crowning this weekend at each of our parish campuses help us to express our devotion for Our Lady’s maternal presence and a real acknowledgement of her queenship. John Paul II goes on to say:

The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic "reign". It is not by chance that she is invoked as "Queen of heaven and earth". The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their "Queen". For her, "to reign" is to serve! Her service is "to reign"!

This is the way in which authority needs to be understood, both in the family and in society and the Church. Each person's fundamental vocation is revealed in this "reigning", for each person has been created in the "image" of the One who is Lord of heaven and earth and called to be his adopted son or daughter in Christ. Man is the only creature on earth "which God willed for its own sake", as the Second Vatican Council teaches; it significantly adds that man "cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self" (Gaudium et Spes24).

The maternal "reign" of Mary consists in this. She who was, in all her being, a gift for her Son, has also become a gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, awakening profound trust in those who seek her guidance along the difficult paths of life on the way to their definitive and transcendent destiny. Each one reaches this final goal by fidelity to his or her own vocation; this goal provides meaning and direction for the earthly labours of men and women alike.”

As we give thanks for those women in our midst who are ‘queens’ in the domestic church of the home, we pray for our mothers and all women in our lives who help us to understand the attributes of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart which loves her children so tenderly and persistently. We pray especially for our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, spiritual mothers and motherly figures in our life who have died. May they come to share in the vision of God’s glory.

I urge you to consider making ART-A-WHIRL® at St. Clement part of your plans for next weekend (Friday-Sunday, May 17-19). Please see the flyer inserted in this weekend’s bulletin and plan to be present for the exiting festivities, local artists, ethnic food, live music and fun activities. We are building on a great year last year, but this year will be bigger and better. We are honoring in a special way Walt Dziedzic who was such a booster for Northeast and who helped get Art-A-Whirl going at its beginnings. Did you know St. John Paul II was an artist (primarily literary and theatrical, but not only) and deeply committed to the patronage and support of the arts? He wrote another letter in 1999 called the “Letter to Artists.” I conclude with some of his words:

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“May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always: she is the “tota pulchra” [completely beautiful] portrayed by countless artists, whom Dante contemplates among the splendours of Paradise as “beauty that was joy in the eyes of all the other saints””.

May this month of May be a season to reflect on Our Lady’s place in the life of our parish and our families. I invite you to consider how your personal Marian Devotion may flower in this sacred season of Easter.

Under Mary’s mantle of protection,

Fr. Howe