BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
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 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 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.
The Baltimore Catechism teaches that the reason 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 (2:1-12). 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
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Please remember that Catholics meditate on Mary only in the light of Christ. Jesus Christ is the heart of the Church.
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.
St. Ephrem (306-373) of Syria, 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 a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was the first theologian to write on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Because Jesus was her son, it was only proper that she was pure and immaculate, so that the Word could become Flesh. St. Luke emphasizes this 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.
Note: This list includes the major references for our pages on the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
1 Revised Standard Version of The Holy Bible. St. Benedict Press, Charlotte, North Carolina, 2009.
2 Pope John Paul II. God's Yes to Man: The Encyclical Redemptoris Mater. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988.
3 Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God. McGraw-Hill, 1952; Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2010.
4 Pope John Paul II. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary - Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. The Vatican, October 16, 2002.
5 Charles V Lacey. Rosary Novenas to Our Lady. Benziger Brothers, Mission Hills, California, 1954.
6 St. Louis de Montfort. The Secret of the Rosary. 1712, Reprint, Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, New York, 2004.
7 Regis Martin. Mary in the Modern World. Class lectures, Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, 2001.
8 Caryll Houselander. The Reed of God. Sheed and Ward, London, 1944.
9 Luigi Gambero. Mary and the Fathers of the Church. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2004.
10 Scott Hahn. Hail Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God. Doubleday, New York, 2001.
11 Hans Urs von Balthasar. Mary for Today. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988.
12 Renée Zeller. St. Joseph the Carpenter. Maison Mame, Paris, 1960; Hawthorn Books, New York, 1963.
13 George T. Montague. The Apocalypse. Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1998.
14 Brendan Byrne. The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke's Gospel. Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2000.
15 Henri de Lubac. The Splendor of the Church. Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1986.
16 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, US Catholic Conference, Washington, D. C., 2000.
17 Ronald Roberson. The Eastern Christian Churches, Seventh Edition. Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome, Italy, 2008.
18 William T Walsh. Our Lady of Fatima. Image, Doubleday, New York, 1947.
19 Manuela Testoni. Our Lady of Guadalupe. St. Paul - Alba House, Staten Island, New York, 2001.
20 Monsignor Eduardo Chávez. Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego: The Historical Evidence. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, 2006.
21 Alice von Hildebrand. The Privilege of Being a Woman. Veritas Press of Ave Maria University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 2002.
22 New Catholic Encyclopedia, Second Edition. Catholic University of America, Thomson and Gale, Washington, D. C., 2003.
23 Mother Teresa. The Joy in Loving. Viking Penguin, New York, 1997.
24 St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, Translation by the English Dominican Fathers, St. Thomas More Press, 1912; Christian Classics, Allen, Texas.
25 Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy, Ravenna, Italy, 1320. Translation by John Ciardi, Modern Library, Random House, New York, 1996.
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And may God bless you!