Saturday, 5 May 2012

In search of Mary

Busy and exciting week... that I will post about in a day or two. Meanwhile here's my parish newsletter front page, with the image of Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius, and the Celebrate Conference banner that is presiding over our wonderful weekend (thanks to Peter Z for pic).
I seem to have followed Our Lady across many countries. On various pilgrimages and trips I have visited various of her shrines, from Penrhys to Nazareth, from Our Lady of the Cape in Quebec, Canada, to the “Gates of Dawn” in Vilnius, Lithuania.
This month we particularly honour Mary, the Mother of God. How much she, too, must have rejoiced in the heady days after the Resurrection of her Son. At Calvary she was given a new family, indeed a new Body of Christ, the Church. Weeks later the Holy Spirit forged that Church in the fire of God’s presence, on the day of Pentecost. The new Body needed a Mother, and so, of course, we are told she, too, waited with the apostles, just as Jesus had instructed.
Her story is one of constant availability to God our Father. It was that faith which enabled her to readily accept the unique role given her by the message of Gabriel. Artists often depict the Annunciation happening while she was reading the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. This symbolises both her deep faith in God’s Word, and the fact that at that moment the Word becomes flesh in her womb – it, or rather He, literally jumps off the page!
So this woman of constant availability to God continues to be God’s instrument in various places across the world, from the universally famous, like Lourdes, to the more local, like our own Penrhys, on the mountain between the two Rhondda valleys. Sometimes she seems to bring a message, as at Fatima, for example, other times the message is in the vision as it was at one of my favourites, Knock in Ireland. At all times she comes with a mother’s love and concern for her family.
It is important to remember that not one of the claimed messages is essential to our faith, not even Lourdes. When the Church “approves” an apparition it is simply stating that we see no reason to doubt that on such-and-such a day or days, this person or persons witnessed an appearance of Our Blessed Lady, full stop. To say anything definitively positive about a message would be to make that message essential to our faith, equal to Scripture and Tradition.
So it was not the Catholic Church that chose Mary, it was God. This month, how will you honour the one who was so honoured by God? Perhaps it is time to rediscover the Rosary, the Memorare and the other great prayers. Have you been to Penrhys or Our Lady of the Taper, in Cardigan, the National Shrine of Wales? Do you have her image in your home? May... the month of Our Lady.

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