When Jesus saw his mother,
and the disciple whom he loved standing near,
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!"
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Gospel of St. John 19:26-27
In this passage from John's Gospel, Jesus Christ dying on the Cross tells "the disciple" to behold his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It seems that Jesus is referring to John, but the actual words are "the disciple." And so, in that moment, Mary becomes Mother of all disciples of Jesus, including those in our own time who follow Jesus. To quote Pope John Paul II in his 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater, "This is true not only of John, who at that hour stood at the foot of the Cross together with the Mother (of Jesus), but it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian (45.3)."
Jesus Christ is the heart of Catholic Tradition and Christian life. Jesus of Nazareth revealed to us the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Catholics celebrate the Mass or the Divine Liturgy, learn the Ten Commandments and the Eight Beatitudes, read the Bible, and receive the Seven Sacraments. In the Mass we share in the one Sacrifice on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ as we await his Second Coming. The Eucharist is a Memorial of Our Lord's Last Supper. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the Cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Receiving Holy Communion with others during the Sacrifice of the Mass brings unity of the Church, the Body of Christ.
God made us was to know, love, and serve him in this world and be with him forever in the next. Three of our favorite prayers are the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father, the Hail Mary (or Ave Maria), and the Rosary. The Our Father is the prayer of hope given to us by Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13). The Scriptural basis for the Hail Mary is from the Gospel of Luke (1:26-42). The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1, Acts 9:20, Romans 1:4). As Jesus is both God and man, Mary is the Mother of God (Luke 1:43). Her intercessory role in the second part of the prayer is based on her mediation at the wedding feast of Cana, recorded in the Gospel of John (2:1-11). The Rosary is a Biblical account of the life of Jesus.
The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, is our best example of a loving family. Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of Marriage. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, in The World's First Love, noted in a Chapter entitled "The World's Happiest Marriage," that "no husband or wife ever loved each other as much as Joseph and Mary," for they had a pure union of heart. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model of Love and Mercy, who intercedes with her Son Jesus for us, her children on earth.
Mary serves as the perfect example of motherhood for our modern world.
|PICTURES OF MARY|
Eve herself, "the mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20), prefigures Mary. Mary, the young Jewish virgin, becomes a symbol for Israel, the nation that bore Jesus the Messiah. Mary in the New Testament fulfills "daughter Zion." St. John in his Gospel calls Mary woman at the Wedding Feast of Cana (John 2:1-11) and in the passage above at the foot of the Cross, recalling the woman of Genesis 3:15. The woman anticipates the Woman clothed with the sun in Revelation 12.
It was St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians who first referred to the concept of the second Adam: "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive" (15:21-22). It was not long before the Church Father St. Justin Martyr (110-165) in his Dialogue with Trypho saw the parallel with Mary as the New Eve.
St. Ephrem of Syria (306-373), a Father and Doctor of the Church, was a poet who celebrated the birth of Our Lord with Hymns on the Nativity. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was one of the first theologians to conceive the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Because Jesus was her son, it was only proper that the Mother of God was pure and immaculate, so that the Word could become Flesh. St. Ephrem believed that just as there was no Redemption without Jesus, there was no Incarnation without Mary. St. Luke emphasizes the purity of Mary in his Gospel (Luke 1:28), for he uses the unique Greek word κεχαριτωμένη, a word used only once in the entire New Testament of the Bible, a word describing Mary as full of grace.
The Englishwoman Caryll Houselander (1901-1954), in The Reed of God, has captured the beauty of Mary in a simple yet profound way: "The one thing she did is the one thing that we all have to do, namely, to bear Christ into the world." Our joy is that Mary did this as a human, "as a lay person and through the ordinary daily life that we all live."
The French theologian Henri De Lubac (1896-1991) in The Splendor of the Church, as well as the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium, note the intimate association of Mary and the Church, for the very role of the Church is to bear Christ into the world today.
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