Every May, for cradle Catholics like me, the smell of lilacs and lilies of the valley evokes memories of May crownings when school children honored Mary, queen of heaven, mother of Jesus and our mother. As we honor Mary in this month dedicated to her, we also remember that she was a real Hebrew woman, poor, dark-skinned, living under Roman occupation. Many authors in our day have fleshed out the portrait of this woman whose words recorded in Scripture are few, but whose spiritual impact spans continents and centuries.
These reflections on Mary – mother of Jesus, mother of the Church, our sister, mother, sister and friend – are culled from writers Pope Francis, Sr. Patricia Noone, SC, Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Catherine Prendergast, DC, and Deirdre Mullan, RSM.
– Sr. Regina Bechtle
“The more that Christ’s divinity became real to the disciples, the more marvelous must have seemed to them the great mystery of the Incarnation – and the more strength and joy must they have found in her [Mary] who stood among them as the living link of God and [humankind]….
Who is to say it was not her eyes that challenged them, her smile that encouraged them, or her words which impelled them to pull back the latch and move out into the sunshine of the Pentecost morning?…[S]urely in some way she communicated how much the Spirit was to be trusted.” – Patricia Noone, SC, Mary for Today, Thomas More Press, 1977.
“…[W]hen disunity makes us pessimistic, distrusting, fearful, let us all commend ourselves to the protection of the Holy Mother of God. When there is spiritual turmoil in the Christian soul, it is only by seeking refuge under her mantle that we can find peace. May the Holy Mother of God help us on this journey.” – Pope Francis
“[We see Mary] as our ‘sister’ in faith who reveals to women their own real resources … [who] as a real woman with much to contend with gave herself to her life and to her God, in her own time and place and way. … She is one of the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11-12) whose story encourages our own faith.” – Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints (Continuum, 2006)
“…As we read the Magnificat or poem found on the lips of Mary [Luke 1:46-55], we are invited to look at her with new eyes. She is not the meek, subservient one so often portrayed. A careful pondering of the words of the Magnificat, and not the poetry of the words, points to the five important verbs therein. We are told: God respects the poor; exalts the poor; feeds the poor; helps the poor; remembers the poor. And so we ask: Who is this young woman proclaiming such a revolutionary message?…Mary sang her revolutionary song to her cousin, Elizabeth. Its message is a prelude to the gospel and a call to turn unjust systems upside down…It is not enough to be compassionate. We must ACT.” – Catherine Prendergast, DC & Deirdre Mullan, RSM, We Cannot Be Silent! (2021) https://www.mercyworld.org/newsroom/new-publication-we-cannot-be-silent/