Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mary Mother of God - Happy New Year

We praise thee, O God :
 we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
    the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
    the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
    continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
    Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
    of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
    doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
    thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
    and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
    as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
    let me never be confounded.

Jesus came to Peter one day and asked him to become more strict on who he was letting into heaven, Jesus went on to explain that heaven was becoming to crowded.  Peter said that he would take care of it, yes my lord, no problem.  Anyhow, days pass and Jesus went back to see Peter rather upset.  Peter he said I told you that it’s getting to crowded here, and that you must be stricter on whom you let in.  Peter said I am my lord, and I did what you asked, the problem is: As soon as I turn them away from the front door your mother lets them in the back door.

What is it about Mary that causes us to seek her intercession?  What is it that attracts us to her, which attracts so much devotion?  I often face these questions from non-Catholics.  Not that there is anything wrong with non-Catholics asking questions about Mary.  However, many people including Catholics often question, why do we pray to Mary?  The simple answer, she is our mother!

What does it mean then to say Mary is our mother?  Mary is our mother for many reasons most of them individual; each of us have our own reasons for calling Mary our mother.  One reason is that because Mary is the mother of Christ, and we the faithful of the church, make up Christ’s body on earth.  We are the Church, which makes us sharers in Christ mystery through divine-filiation.  This in turn makes Mary our mother.  Now that was the theological answer.

The Mere fact that the angel Gabriel said “Hail Mary, favored one.  Blessed are you for you have found favor with God” - Tells us that there is something special about Mary.  Right from the early beginnings of the church Mary has been honored and remembered, believers and followers of “the way” sought her intercession.  On the cross Jesus said to John, man this is your mother, and woman this is your son; Jesus did this meaning not just John, but all of humanity.  From then on, Mary played a very important role in the early church.  Mary was present when Jesus appeared to the disciples and when the Holy Spirit descended upon, them including her.  Mary loves us so much and cares for us as any mother would for her child.  Mary wants to be our intercessor, the friend to sinners. 

We know this from the countless apparitions that have occurred around the world.  The common theme from all of them is she is calling us to repentance and conversion.  Mary tells us from Medjugorje “that we have forgotten God, and that we must turn back to him and seek forgiveness.”  We also know Mary wants to be our mother because after she encountered the angel Gabriel she said Yes!  Yes to God’s will which included her mother hood of all humanity!

What Mary’s yes did, was not only prove to God that He had chosen the right woman to be the mother of His Son because she was open and accepting of His will. Mary also left an example for us to follow-the example that we remain open to God’s will in all circumstances; that we as well can trust in the face of the unknown.  Trust that God is there and He will provide for us.  We do as Mary did and answer yes.  Mary has promised us, that she will intercede for us; all we have to do is ask. 

This is where much confusion comes in; we do not worship Mary.  Our prayer is not directed to Mary.  Our worship, our prayer is to Jesus.  What Mary does is intercede for us, she prays for our intentions and us.  She asks Jesus to hear and answer our prayers.  We do this because Mary is our mother and we as her children are asking for her help.  We know from the wedding at Cana that Jesus listens to His mother.  When she asked Him to change the water into wine He did so, in fact it was His first public miracle.  When times are tuff we ask Mary to intercede for us, when times are going well we offer prayers of thanksgiving through Mary.

One way we can do this is by praying the Rosary, which I think is one of the greatest prayers.  The Rosary celebrates the life death and resurrection of our lord and savior, Mary’s son Jesus Christ.  We all have our own stories and experiences surrounding the rosary, kneeling as a family after meals, or during lent.  Many of us have hung rosaries from clothesline (Irish Tradition I think) for good weather during a loved one’s wedding.  Many of us hang them from our cars rear view mirror.  Why do we do this, because we trust in Mary’s power to intercede for us!  Mary is our heavenly mother, queen of heaven and earth, queen of the angels and Saints.  Most importantly Mary is our Model of faith.  She was with Jesus in the good and the bad.  She was at the foot of the cross and saw her only Son suffer and die.  She experienced real human suffering, and real human happiness; through it all she remained faithful to God.  Today we ask Mary to intercede for us, for our intercessions and particularly for those who are going through a tuff time, those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and for those who have asked of our prayers.  With Mary’s example in mind may we always seek the strength to say yes to Gods will for us; maybe this can be our New Years Resolution!

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