LITURGY MATTERS: Mary Mother of God
By Michael McKenna, Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies
The tradition of dedicating the month of May to Mary, originates in the 13th century as a pious practice we are told propagated by the Jesuits.
The popes have consistently promoted the pious practice. Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, captured the foundational sentiment well when he observed that Mary “is not only the bridge joining us to God; she is much more. She is the road God travelled in order to reach us, and the road that we must travel in order to reach Him”.
In his remarks about Mary as the perfection of all motherhood, Venerable Fulton Sheen observes that as the mother of Jesus, Mary is the only mother in all the world who was made to order by her Divine Son.
Obviously in the natural order no creature can create his or her own mother but Sheen makes the critical point that God’s existential freedom allows that Mary who is critical to His plan for our salvation “existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any mothers”.
In his reflection, Sheen also likens motherhood to a kind of priesthood where “She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator… she is nature’s constant challenge to death, the bearer of cosmic plentitude, the herald of eternal realities, God’s great co-operator.”
As an interest aside, St Edith Stein once wrote, “The woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold”.
Pope Benedict XVI commented that “Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving”.
The task of mothers therefore is perhaps not to be perfect as Sheen insists the model is perfect, but to lead their children to the One who is – just as from her Heavenly realm Mary the Mother of God still leads us to her son.
And Mums, if it ever seems too enormous an ask to emulate Mary the Mother of God, take heart from scripture that Mary managed to lose her child while visiting Jerusalem and didn’t realise he was missing until she was almost halfway home.
Let us give thanks and prayers this May for all those women in our lives who seek to emulate the Mother of God in their care for us.