The Blessed Virgin Mary Virgin, Mother of the Church, Memorial.
‘Let us come before the Lord, giving thanks.’ (Invitatory antiphon).
Christy Oglesby, senior producer at CNN commented on the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. George’s final moments in the custody of the police were captured as he screamed ‘Mama’. Floyd, handcuffed and held to the ground, pleaded with the officers, one of whom held a knee to George’s neck. Floyd couldn’t breathe. George Floyd’s mother is deceased. But in his cry-‘Mama’, Christy Oglesby heard a call of ‘hope and horror’. ‘Hope because in that moment Floyd hoped the person who gave him life could save him even in death’: And ‘horror because that’s never how a black mama wants to hear her sacred title.’
‘Mama’ is an ‘unwavering declaration of faith’, whatever age a child. Children shout out ‘Mama’ when they are ‘excited, proud, threatened, or in pain’. The child is certain of and waits the response.
Today’s Gospel (Jn 19:25-34) can be heard proclaimed via the webcam or read from the New Testament.
This Gospel reading is also one of horror and hope. To pause and reflect on the Passion of Jesus is a scene of horror. Mary, his Mother and a few others, including John, gazed on Jesus as he was crucified. Mary stood with a broken heart, helpless at the foot of the cross. Before Jesus died, Jesus said to Mary, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ To John, Jesus said, ‘Here is your mother.’ Jesus entrusted Mary to his disciples as their mother. He entrusted the disciples to Mary as her children. That is our hope, to have Mary as our Mother.
Imagine how Mary felt when she heard Jesus say on the Cross, ‘I am thirsty.’ She longed to give him a drink. Instead Jesus ‘got a sponge full of wine on a branch of hyssop held to his mouth.’ After this, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Mary is our Mother. We read in Sacred Scripture that Mary and the disciples ‘together gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women and also Mary, the Mother of Jesus and his brothers.’ (Acts 1:12-14). Mary is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, the one to whom we can entrust ourselves and those who suffer to her care. Disciples can pray with Mary.
SEEK MARY, MOTHER OF GOD IN THE GROW IN LOVE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMME
Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother, has a central place in the Grow in Love programme. She is the first disciple and leads the disciples to her Son Jesus. Mary and Joseph loved Jesus. Children recognise the family as the Holy Family of Nazareth. They explore the Jewish culture in which Jesus grew up. They witness Jesus as reaching out in love to all people and one who loves God and God’s people unconditionally.
The Four Strands of the Catholic Preschool and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland (2015) include Mary, Mother of God. From Level 2 in the RE Curriculum, ‘Mary’ is included as one strand unit. This ensures that every aspect of Mary’s life is encompassed, especially her deep love and trust in God and her virtuous way of life.
Children experience family life and they begin to appreciate the role/s and love of their parents/guardian. They appreciate that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus at The Annunciation. She accompanied Jesus through his life. Mary declared herself at the Annunciation as servant of the Lord. She surrendered herself to God’s will. Mary acknowledged the great things God did for her in ‘The Magnificat’.
Children learn to pray to Mary. When they learn the Mysteries of the Rosary they are introduced to the events in Jesus’ life. Using their Rosary beads throughout the years at school, children pray the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and the Mysteries of Light. Children identify the Sacred Scripture associated with each decade of the Mysteries of the Rosary.
Mary, Mother of God is celebrated throughout the Liturgical Year and there are special feasts dedicated to pray in her honour. Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother intercedes for us with Jesus. Families are invited to pray to Mary at home.
Children relate to Mary Mother of God and as their Mother. In prayer, as they take a moment they can ask Mary to pray to Jesus to help them.
Today’s feast day is Mary, Mother of the Church, which encourages the faithful, the People of God, to honour Mary in prayer and with love. Jesus gave us Mary as Mother of the Church. We thank Mary for her faithfulness.
Mary was specially preserved by God from all sin. (The Immaculate Conception).
Today if our local parish church is open, we are invited to visit there, say a prayer and light a candle. In many churches there are shrines dedicated to Mary. We are also invited to light a virtual candle on the VERITAS Grow in Love website.
Mary has appeared in many places throughout the world over centuries. Her appearances are called apparitions. These places are called Marian shrines where pilgrims go and pray. Some of these images of Mary are accessible in the various e-books with accompanying videos on the website.
The children also reflect on Mary’s virtues: woman of faith, joy, fidelity, obedience, patience, gentleness, wisdom, humility, trust and prayer.
Children might identify Mary’s suffering with all parents/guardians who suffer today because their children are bullied, murdered, discriminated against or subject to violence of any kind.
In the Grow in Love programme, children explore life stories of people who stand/ stood up for human rights and against violence and discrimination. Such people might include, Pope Francis, Ruby Bridges, Jean Donovan (1953-80), Fr Edward Flanagan (1886-1948), Samantha Smith (1972-85), St John Paul 11 (1920-2005) and St Oscar Romero (1917-80).
Resources are accessible including the Children’s Grow in Love e-book to read about Mary, Mother of God. Online videos and interactive activities are also helpful.
SING: ‘When Creation was Begun’, ‘A Mhuire Mháthair’, ‘The Bells of the Angelus’, ‘The Magnificat’, ‘Regina Coeli’.
PRAY with Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
‘S É DO BHEATHA, A MHUIRE
‘S é do bheatha a Mhuire,
atá lán do ghrásta,
tá an Tiarna leat.
Is beannaithe thú idir mhná,
agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne,
A Naomh Mhuire,
a Mháthair Dé,
guigh orainn, na peacaigh,
anois agus ar uair ár mbáis. Áiméan.
‘Blessed be the Lord, our God.’ (Benedictus antiphon).
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, since God has had regard for my humble state.’ (Magnificat antiphon).
‘May my prayer come to you; incline your ear to my cry for help.’ (Psalm 87:3).
‘Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus….now cares for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power.’ (Laudato Si’, no. 241).
‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’
Sr Anne Neylon