Mary, Mother of the Church and the Holy Mass

In this time when our access to the Eucharist has been made so difficult, let us all the more unite with Mary, Mother of the Church. Her life in union with Jesus was a daily taking up of the cross in preparation for Calvary and an anticipation of Heaven. Mary is for us today, as at Cana, interceding with Our Lord, with her words, “They have no wine.”  The joy of Sunday worship has been somewhat muted for us and yet she teaches us to trust in Him through the Church, “Do whatever He tells you.”  

As a mother, Mary can hasten the moment and help us to prepare for the joyful return of Holy Mass to the faithful once again so as to live more intensely the Holy Mass in our daily lives.

Preparation for Mass

First, Mary Immaculate, was “full of grace” so we also should always be in a state of grace in preparation for Holy Mass. If we are conscious of any mortal sin, our soul is effectively dead so we must be reconciled with God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion.  Like Mary, conscious of Him Whom we receive, our interior dispositions and our exterior dress should reflect this. We should not be casual or vain but clean and modest because we are temples of the Holy Spirit and we want to glorify God in our bodies, thanking Him with the best He has given us. 

We should prepare by prayer and silence to enter the church early in order to recollect ourselves, turn off our cell phones, pray the Rosary or the prayers before Communion found at the back of the missals, or simply enter the Sacred silence to be with God.  We avoid all talking and socializing in the house of God, which ought to be a house of prayer for all people. We genuflect before the Tabernacle where the Sanctuary lamp burns to acknowledge the presence of the all Holy God we worship and Who loves us. With dispositions of humility, thanksgiving and reverence we observe silence in God’s presence to listen to what He is speaking to our hearts and to allow our brothers and sisters to hear Him speak as well. As we bless ourselves with Holy Water this one act done reverently washes us of any venial sins and we remember as the priest begins the Holy Mass that we are all gathering as God’s family “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  

At the Liturgy of the Word 

We contemplate Mary, who listened and pondered the Word of God. In preparation for the “Liturgy of the Eucharist” where the “Word became Flesh” we also should review the readings to enter into the mystery of God more deeply. In the different readings, we hear about the various ways God has prepared and continues to prepare His chosen people for life in Christ already here and in preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. We remember that we are a chosen people delivered from this world and translated into the Heavenly life of union with the Trinity, Mary, the angels and saints. We can prepare for Sunday Mass by reading the readings ahead of time, asking God for light to understand them, to know God better and to listen to what He is speaking to our souls through them.

At the Offertory

Consider Mary at the foot of the cross who was predestined to be Mother of the Church. Mary offered herself with Christ in the Temple, and now she pronounces her “Fiat” once again and offers herself with Christ for the Salvation of the world. We too, should offer our entire selves with Mary as the gifts of bread and wine are offered to God.  She receives us and unites herself to us, offering her children to Christ the Priest and Victim in His offering to the Almighty Father. We can ask Mary to take all our sacrifices and sufferings and unite them with those of Christ. Remember at Fatima, Mary instructed her children, “Make of everything you do a sacrifice and say, O Jesus it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” We should live our Spiritual priesthood more fully consciously offering our daily sacrifices and uniting them to Christ’s perfect sacrifice through Mary. 

Consecration 

Consider Mary participating at the Holy Mass celebrated by St. John the Apostle. She recalled Calvary when Jesus gave her to the Church as its mother.  “When Pope Paul VI proclaimed Mary Mother of the Church after the Second Vatican Council, this was only a confirmation of a reality the Church had been living throughout her entire history, a history that began at the foot of the cross.  When John invited Mary to live with him, it was the Church that acknowledged Mary as her mother.” St. John as a priest re-presented the Paschal Mystery in her presence. The Holy Mass is a covenant of love uniting the Bride, the mystical Body of Christ with her only Bridegroom, Christ the Lord.   Just as Jesus changed water into wine, He now, through the ordained priest, changes ordinary bread and wine into His Body and Blood. Without fully understanding this great mystery but with living faith in the Word of God, we embrace the living Jesus Who comes to us with the greatest promise, “He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life” (Jn 6:54).  Blessed are we who believe this Good News, this mystery of Divine love!

Communion 

Mary is the Mother of God who received Jesus in her womb and nurtured Him with her own immaculate flesh and blood. Imagine how Our Blessed Mother participated in the Holy Mass during her earthly life and how she received Her Son with profound reverence and thanksgiving in Holy Communion from St. John the Apostle.  Father Stefano M. Manelli states, “at every Holy Communion we receive, it would be quite correct, and a very beautiful thing, to take notice of our Holy Mother’s sweet and mysterious presence, inseparably united with Jesus in the Host. Jesus is always the Son she adores. He is Flesh of her flesh and Blood of her blood.” Mary received Jesus with glowing ardor of love and thanksgiving into her Immaculate Heart as into His Tabernacle. The Christian life then is to imitate Mary and join with our Mother, given to us by Jesus at the foot of the cross. Mary helps us receive Jesus with her perfect dispositions of pure love and thanksgiving. Some may say that we are not little children who need a mother or that we can receive as we wish, but remember the words of Jesus, “Unless you become little children you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”  We who are consecrated to Mary can offer Christ to her for all her intentions and ask the graces we need to become the loving disciples of Jesus as she is the most perfect disciple.

Thanksgiving

Mary would have spent time in Adoration of the Eucharistic Lord in the Tabernacle of her heart after she received Him in Holy Communion. Pope Pius XII stated, “The faith of the Church is this: That one and identical is the Word of God and the Son of Mary Who suffered on the cross, Who is present in the Eucharist, and Who rules in Heaven.” How blessed are we to awaken our faith striving to remain in silence after Holy Communion praying our thanksgiving to God for the gift of Himself. Jesus remains truly present within us. Let us create an altar in our heart for Jesus to come with His Father and the Holy Spirit.  These are the most important moments in our lives to adore God in our soul, to thank Him, to tell Him of our love for Him and the graces we need for ourselves and others. We should, like the disciples at Emmaus, strive to constrain Jesus to stay with us longer: “Stay with us, Lord.” We should ask of God great graces especially the graces of holy perseverance in our Catholic faith and the virtues and perfections to become great saints. We may ask Mary as Our Mother to receive Jesus in our hearts and offer Him the love and thanksgiving of her Immaculate Heart thereby allowing Mary to live her love for Jesus once again.  

Mission 

Like Mary who carried Jesus in her womb in the visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, we too, are called to carry Christ in us and be transformed and conformed to Christ. Each Holy Communion which we receive should increase our love for God and neighbor.  Eucharistic Adoration outside of Holy Mass also enables us to strengthen our bond of love with Jesus and Mary. According to St. Peter Julian Eymard, “Jesus leads a hidden life in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Such was the life of Mary after the Ascension of her Divine Son. She retired to the Cenacle, on Mount Sion, and she wrapped herself up in obscurity and oblivion at the foot of the adorable Eucharist in the habitual exercise of humble and self-effacing Adoration.”

The dynamism of Mary’s Divine love, nurtured by reception and Adoration of the most Blessed Eucharist, compels us for service, to be other-centered, laying down our lives for others, full of merciful love as were Christ and Mary at Calvary. And this source of love remains open to us down the ages as we participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice in the Church, together with Mary.

In the next article we will meditate on the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church as the spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mediatrix of all graces.

Anchor guest columnist Grace Small and her husband Bill are parishioners of St. Vincent’s Parish in Attleboro and have recently made their solemn profession as Third Order Franciscans of the Immaculate on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. They are also attending classes with TINE at the Pastoral Center in Braintree, toward a certificate in Catechetical Studies.



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