This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It’s the great debate: What are we to do about Mary? That she is the mother of God is not up for debate, Elizabeth tells us that quite clearly in Luke 1:43 when she tells Mary, “How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
This week’s Collect gives us a few fascinating things about Mary to meditate on.
O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Let’s start by looking at the first two verbs in this prayer, bestow and grant. At first glance they can mean the same thing. In many Collects, we ask God to grant something, giving him permission to give us something. Bestow, however, means something different.
Bestow means deposit for safe keeping. The grace of our eternal salvation was given to Mary for safe keeping. Imagine God trusting someone so much to give them his only Son to raise, but this wasn’t just an ordinary son. The raising of the Son of God needed to be done right and God entrusted the job to Mary. Does trusting Mary sound a bit scary? Consider this: the Father trusted Mary enough to raise the Messiah, don’t you think you could trust her as well? Mary was bestowed with the Son and because of her safe-keeping, we are given the grace of eternal salvation.
The next part of the prayer asks that we may experience Mary’s intercession. Sometimes we tend to make this harder than it needs to be. We have a prayer chain at our church and I would wager that the people on the prayer chain enjoy the opportunity to pray for others. Someone with the Charism of intercessory prayer will pray for someone like it’s their job. So why not ask the people who are now the closest to Jesus, the ones who have gone before us, to pray for us, too?
It really seemed odd at first to ask Mary and the Saints in heaven for help. In chapter 5, verse 16 of his book, James instructs us to pray for one another and that the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. I can’t think of anyone, besides Jesus, whose prayers would be more powerful than the Mother of God. Note, though, that we don’t pray to Mary, we only ask for her intercession. Worship is given to God alone, yet I believe that God doesn’t mind at all if we ask His mother for help. We see Mary in her role as intercessor at the wedding of Cana when she went to Jesus for help when the wine ran out. What did Jesus do? He fulfilled the request of his mother.
Whether we realize it or not, Mary has already interceded for us. It is through her intercession that we have been made worthy to receive the author of life, her Son, our Lord.
All of us, Catholics or otherwise, all of God’s children, have been given the gift that Jesus was given, a loving Mother who loves us as much as she loves her Son. A loving Mother who places our needs at the feet of her Son. A loving Mother who wants us to love her Son as much as she does. A loving Mother who wants us to pray her words, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Thanks for praying with me,