The Queenship of Mary today

Today (Friday) we celebrate the Queenship of Mary. This feast is celebrated a week after the Assumption of Mary into Heaven — not that we believe that God made Mary wait a week to be crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Pope Pius XII instituted this feast in 1954 (although not on this date back then) and said that “the purpose of the feast is that all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and motherly sovereignty of her who bore God in her womb” (Ad Caeli Reginam — in this encyclical the pope spelled out how saints from ancient times on called Mary the Queen of Heaven and Earth).

After speaking about honoring Mary in our prayer in an early part of the encyclical, in paragraph 49 Pope Pius wrote, “All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our Heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner. Thus will it come about that all Christians, in honoring and imitating their sublime queen and Mother, will realize they are truly brothers, and with all envy and avarice thrust aside, will promote love among classes, respect the rights of the weak, cherish peace. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.”

What he wrote here is seen being put into practice in the generosity of our Knights of Columbus towards the people of the Philippines (see pages one and 20), in the care of the disabled (see page two), in the dignity with which the people of Sacred Heart Parish serve their brothers and sisters in need (page three), in the Church’s accompanying people in war zones (pages three, four, 11, and 13), in our compassion to people searching for a peaceful life (page four), in our outreach to youth looking for work (page five), and in our work to build bridges between races (page 14).

In the next paragraph of the encyclical, Pope Pius described a situation from then (1954) which seems like something out of today’s news. “In some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their Divine and human rights to freedom; up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils. May the powerful Queen of creation, whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies, look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; may the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials.”

He was mainly speaking about the oppression behind the communist “iron curtain.” Given that freedom of religion did eventually come to Eastern Europe, thanks to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, this should give us hope that our prayers for our fellow Christians being persecuted throughout the world are not in vain. We need to be patient, but persistent, in offering our prayers and sacrifices for them, realizing that they are our brothers and sisters, that in every Mass we are joined to them through Christ. 

Pope Pius wrote that Mary is a queen due to her relationship with Christ, the One true Monarch. When our world thinks that it can do without following Him, then more and more problems arise. In paragraph two the pope noted, “Following upon the frightful calamities [World War II] which before our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, we see to our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally we behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills us with a great anguish, and so with confidence we have recourse to Mary Our Queen.” Genevieve Kineke on page nine describes how what the Holy Father wrote 60 years ago is still sadly true today.

When we lose our moral compasses, when we decide to be “in charge,” instead of letting God reign, then our respect for human dignity “goes out the window.” Pope Francis, flying home from South Korea, said, “Today torture is one of the almost ordinary means of acts of intelligence services, of judicial processes. And, torture is a sin against humanity. It is a crime against humanity. And, to Catholics I say that torturing a person is a mortal sin. It is a grave sin. But, it’s more. It’s a sin against humanity.”

One of the great defenders of human dignity in the 20th century was Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. In his aerial press conference, Pope Francis said that the beatification and sainthood process of the slain archbishop had earlier been put on hold “for reasons of prudence,” but that now his cause has been “unblocked and has passed to the Congregation for Saints and it is following the normal path of a process. It depends on how the postulators move. That’s very important to do it quickly. What I would like is that it’s clarified when there is martyr in odium fidei (for the hatred of the faith) both for confessing the Creed and for doing works that Jesus commands with our neighbor. This is a work of the theologians, who are studying it. Because behind him is a long list and there are others. There are others who were killed but weren’t of the same height as Romero. We have to distinguish this theologically, no? For me, Romero is a man of God. He was a man of God. But we have to run the process and the Lord has to give His sign there. But, now the postulators have to move because there are no impediments.”

We beseech Mary, the Queen of Martyrs, Queen of Confessors (this refers to people who give witness to Christ, i.e., who “confess” the faith, not to priest-confessors), to intercede for all of us, to help us be true citizens of Heaven (St. Paul to the Philippians, 3:20) by the ways we live, love and respect each other here on earth.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts