Getting to know Mary, Our Mother

Karna Lozoya

Leading up to the Oct. 13 consecration of the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the archdiocese will release a series of five videos called Marian Moments, that seek to help the faithful grow closer to Mary by learning more about her virtues, and imitating those virtues in daily life.

The videos will be accompanied by suggested readings from Scripture and Tradition, and a classic Marian prayer to memorize.

In English, the videos feature Father Ryan O’Neill, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Denver.

In Spanish, the videos feature Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, auxiliary bishop of Denver, Msgr. de los Santos, pastor of Our Lady Mother of Church in Commerce City, Father Benito Hernandez, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Father Mauricio Bermudez, parochial vicar at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Aurora, and Father Mario Ramirez, parochial vicar of Ascension Parish in Denver.

Below are the dates the preparation material will be released with a brief description of the theme of that day.

The simplicity of Mary
September 21

Mary lived a quiet life in Nazareth with Joseph and Jesus, doing God’s will in her daily duties as a wife and mother. She is blessed among all women, yet in her life she was mostly quiet and hidden.

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56 (The Visitation)
Prayer: The Magnificat
Quote: “Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.” -Saint Bede the Venerable

Marian Moment #1: The Simplicity of Mary

Abandonment to the will of God
September 26

This is a quality best portrayed in the Annunciation, where Mary completely accepts God’s will for her life and whatever it meant for her. When she said, “Yes,” she became the vessel of the Savior of the world.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 (The Annunciation)
Prayer: The Angelus
Quote: “You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.” -Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Marian Moment #2: Abandonment to the will of God

Mary’s love for the Cross
September 28

At the Presentation, Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart also. When Jesus’ side was pierced, that act pierced her heart as she watched. Mary accompanied Jesus in his life, and in his death.

Scripture: Luke 2: 22-38 (The Presentation)
Prayer: Hail, Holy Queen
Quote: “The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.” -Saint Sophronius

Marian Moment #3: Mary’s love for the Cross

Mary’s love for souls
October 3
Mary loved souls and for that reason she is called “Queen of the Apostles.” Jesus gave her to us as Our Mother. Mary consented to Jesus’ death on the Cross because she loved us so much and knew his plan of salvation for us.

Scripture: John 19: 26-27
Prayer: Memorare
Quote: “With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you shall not be deceived; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” -Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Marian Moment #4: Mary’s love for souls

The Heart of Mary
October 5

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is overflowing with life and grace, and it is tender, inviting and beautiful. We should always go to Jesus through Mary, because this is the way Jesus ordained it.

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20 (Nativity of Jesus)
Prayer: Rosary
Quote: “God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Savior of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.” -Saint Anselm

Marian Moment #5: The heart of Mary

COMING UP: Why stay in the Church?

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There are many people who have either left the Church or are currently considering leaving because of the scandals of recent decades. We have felt pain and righteous anger at our leaders and have suffered scandal from their betrayal. For some, the grand jury reports and lack of accountability for bishops have been the last straw. It’s hard to blame people for feeling this way, but we have to ask with Peter, “to whom, Lord, shall we go?” (John 6:68).

Significantly, this question comes after many disciples walked out on Jesus for his teaching on the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist that should be at the center of any response to the crisis. Peter answers his own question: “you have the words of everlasting life” (John 6:68). The Church is Jesus’ own body in the world, and we are members of his mystical body, given eternal life by consuming his own flesh at Mass. Without the Eucharist, Jesus’ presence in the flesh, the very heart of the Church, where would we be?

Bishop Robert Barron echoes Peter’s question in a recent pamphlet-style book, with over a million copies in print, Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Word on Fire, 2019). He turns to the Bible and Church history to look for perspective on the crisis. Because of the centrality of the Eucharist in the Church, the betrayal of some of our priests and bishops takes on greater significance. They act in persona Christi at Mass, offering the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross to the Father, and we depend on them for our sacramental life.

Fortunately, the validity of the sacraments does not depend upon the sinlessness of priests, but rather the holiness of God. Barron points out, however, that priests will not get off easy, given the extremely harsh words that Jesus offers to those who lead children astray: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,  it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!” (Mt 18:7-9). Barron also references the punishment of Eli, in 1 Samuel 2-4, who as priest and judge of Israel watched his own sons, who were also priests, abuse the people. Barron argues that this scene gives us the best example of God’s retribution for allowing abuse to happen and not correcting it.

Barron also looks at the tumultuous story of Church history for context on the current crisis. Although the Church is the mystical body of Christ, he references St. Paul assertion that we bear our treasure in earthen vessels, as evidenced by the human weakness of Christians throughout history. In fact, this weakness manifests the Lord’s grace guiding and preserving the Church in spite of us. Barron quotes Belloc that a proof of the Church’s divine foundation “might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight” (43). Heresies, sinful popes, and sexual perversity have not fundamentally destroyed the Lord’s work, even if they have turned many people away. God has promised to remain with his Church and his providence will guide us especially through dark moments.

The crisis challenges us and raises the question of why we are Catholic. Most of us have been born Catholic and may take our faith for granted as something we’ve inherited from our parents. We may view belonging to the Church like membership in a voluntary organization. Rather, our life as members of Christ’s Body is a gift from God that changes our identity and unites us to God and our fellow Christians. As we experience challenges to faith, it is an opportunity to embrace this identity even more strongly — not as something that depends upon myself or anyone else in the Church, but on God. We go to Church to honor and thank him and to receive his grace, not to be a part of a human organization.

The Church is a family, called together by God, but, like any family, we experience pain from our own and each other’s sinfulness. As family, we can’t give up on each other, but have to “stay and fight” as Barron exhorts us, helping each other to be faithful to the mission that Jesus gave us: to love one another as he has loved us and to share the Good News of his salvation.

Featured Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash