Covering Us With The Mantle of Her Love
Our Mother of Guadalupe in the appearance of an Aztec maiden told Juan Diego in 1531,
“I am your Merciful Mother, the Mother of all who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of all those who have confidence in me… Here, I will hear their weeping and their sorrows, and will remedy and alleviate their sufferings, needs, and misfortunes…”
On this day, October 7 Our Lady of the rosary, we can reflect on the connection between her consoling promise in Mexico and her call at Fatima to pray the rosary. In both appearances, she assures us of peace, consolation, and protection. At Fatima she speaks of her Immaculate Heart and conversion ; in Mexico she tells us how she cares for us as our Merciful Mother.
While her visual appearance at Fatima in 1917 is very different to that in Mexico along with the circumstances and events in both countries her heart is the same, filled with a complete embrace, holding and consoling us in our misfortunes. “Don’t be discouraged! I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path to lead you to God,” she told Lucia.
Pope John Paul, the pope of the rosary, once told young people about the need for prayer: “Humbly and realistically we need to admit that we are poor creatures, confused in our ideas, tempted to wrongdoing, frail and weak, constantly in need of inner strengthening.”
Our Blessed Mother always responds to these harsh realities John Paul emphasizes. Through prayer to her in the rosary we are rescued as a true mother rescues. She also places her Son’s easy yoke on our shoulders by asking us to pray deeply and frequently.
When Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Our Lady Ta Pinu, on Gozo Island, next to Malta in 1990 he said this about Mary’s love for us..
“Let us never hesitate to turn to her! How often, in your families, do you feel powerless in the face of painful and apparently insoluble situations? How many people find it a constant struggle to forgive longstanding grudges, or to overcome deeply-rooted feelings of anger, hostility, jealousy or resentment? How many people desperately long for someone they love to abandon a way of life or a course of action which they know will only lead to frustration and unhappiness? And how frequently do our hearts go out to someone who is caught up in the toils of mental anguish or a bitter grief which knows no consolation? At moments like these, should we not trust in Mary’s loving intercession, confident that the most hopeless of human situations can be transformed by the saving power of Jesus, who in answer to her request turned water into wine, who died on the Cross that we might live forever?”
She wants us to turn to her, cry to her, lay our weary heads on her with the spontaneous tears cascading from moments of tragedy, sorrow, loss, and daily trials that exhaust us. At those times we should hold the rosary, and not worry that we can only manage one hail, Mary. At all times she comes to heal our suffering.
As well, when we are still and silent, with our eyes, fixed on Jesus alive in the Holy Eucharist she is with us. In fact, if we love her, and embrace her our yearning for Christ deepens, we become mysteriously more aware His presence. This is what she’s really good at, drawing us “into the radius of Christ’s love” as John Paul II once said.
One of my favourite truths frequently used by Pope John Paul II is, “Christ the Redeemer fully reveals man to himself.” He used it first and most powerfully in his encyclical “The Redeemer of Man”.
It’s so beautiful the context in which the pope places this truth. He gives the reason Jesus reveals to us who we are:
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer “fully reveals man to himself”.
Jesus gave us his Mother to fulfill in a unique way as only a Mother can the deepest longing of our hearts. The rosary is the artery of her love to and from her Immaculate Heart which flows continuously through all the events of our lives.
In one of his October 7 homilies John Paul II extends his insight about man when he speaks of Mary’s role:
“It could be said that each mystery of the Holy Rosary, when carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man: ‘entrust your cares to the Lord and he will support you,’ (Psalm 54:23). To pray the rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His Mother. The rosary does indeed ‘mark the rhythm of human life’, bringing it into the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life’s destiny and deepest longing. Through the rosary, the faithful receive abundant graces as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.”
Praying the rosary is the way of praying constantly, and constantly placing our anxieties, sorrows, and joys in the lap of our Mother in a beautiful rhythm. Mary leads us through her Immaculate heart to the events in her Son’s life where she lived constantly. No creature will ever know Jesus to the depth she knew her beloved Son. This is the nature and gift of every mother. Mary, Mother of the Eucharist draws us close to Him through the rosary, the artery of her Immaculate Heart.
One of my favourite mysteries is Finding the adolescent Jesus in the Temple. Mary and Joseph, like any parents, have been anxiously searching for their lost child who they discover, after three days, asking questions and sharing his wisdom with the teachers. Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph are incredulous as to why Jesus did this to them. What’s astounding is the Lord’s response, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s House? (Luke 2: 43)
Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what he meant. This is a marvellous event for me to contemplate because Joseph and Mary are united to me as a father of seven. I know the experience of not understanding the reasoning and actions of my children, especially when it comes to their relationship to Christ and His Church.
I often spend a long pause at this mystery especially with this thought of John Paul II on the Fifth Joyful Mystery:
“The revelation of his mystery as the Son wholly dedicated to his Father’s affairs proclaims the radical nature of the Gospel, in which even the closest of human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom.”
Christ’s call to love Him totally, renouncing all else in order that He and the Kingdom reign in our hearts, eventually places us in some kind of confrontation with those in our family first. It’s here with those we love the most that we experience it in the highest measure. However, confrontation, even if we are ridiculed, never excludes loving those who oppose our embrace of the Redeemer.
When we come close to our own sorrows during one of the mysteries we are in our Mother’s care beyond our understanding. Her heart shares in the mystery we contemplate, but also unites with ours in the mystery of our sorrow. She takes it to Jesus through her Immaculate Heart. But she has also been given the role of soothing our sufferings.
We will hear her whisper to us, “Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?”
Interested in the origin of the feast Our Lady of the Rosary formerly known as Our Lady of Victory? Click here.