+ Mon 25th – Mary Help of Christians – rededication of Our Lady of the Way parish
Dear friends –
Yesterday was the feast of ‘Mary Help of Christians’ – which has special significance for Australia. As many would have long known, it is under this particular title that Mary is recognised (from a Catholic Christian perspective and contribution to Australia) as patron of our nation. You may have seen that during the weekend Mass streamed from Our Lady of the Way church at Emu Plains (also see in weekend post in this Parish Blog space) we included a simple renewal of dedication of the parish to Mary, coinciding with the feast of Mary.
(image credit for cover: Unsplash collection)
THE PROMPT TO REDEDICATE THE PARISH
It was actually the Australian Bishops who prompted us to do this simple rededication with the live stream Mass, due to their gesture the other week of a special entrusting of Australia to the heart of Mary (as highlighted in a recent post in this Parish Blog space) under this title of ‘Help of Christians’. They did this especially as a prayerful hope for the well being of Australians in the pandemic, whilst at the same time acknowledging the much more severe experience that some other countries are continuing to have.
DO WE WORSHIP MARY?
Such feasts of Mary, gestures and devotions, including our own rededicating of the parish to Mary, do not worship Mary. This has been an area of question towards Catholics by some others over the years. Rather, it’s a recognition of the blessings that can flow through our prayer – prayer that can be beautifully encouraged and assisted by our strong spiritual companionship with Mary. In Catholic Christian understanding, we can already be members of the ‘communion of saints’, even as we are still living our earthly lives. A couple more thoughts on this below:
COMMUNION OF SAINTS – MOTHER OF GOD – HUMAN DIGNITY
Thankfully in our faith, we can unite with loved ones who have gone before us. We can ask for their prayers for the world and for us from their place of closeness to God. Of course this doesn’t mean we can’t pray directly to God .. but is a rich part of our experience of spiritual conversation and connection as members of the a community of faith that spans all of the cosmos (ie. the whole, ordered universe) … all of everlasting reality! Mary holds a very special place among our loved ones. Being ‘mother’ of Jesus – Jesus, who we believe is human and divine – we can say, remarkably, as is done in our tradition, that Mary is the ‘Mother of God’. That’s a pretty dramatic title, but when you think about it, it’s an incredible dignity given to OUR human story and identity, that one of us assumed that role as mother of the Saviour. What a dignity it is, carried throughout the cosmos and forever, for us to be HUMAN. Mary Help of Christians, pray with us – pray for us – Amen
AUSTRALIA AND MARY
The infant Church in Australia had a special reason for turning to Mary. In those early days mostly without ordained priests in the faith community – and so without the sacramental Eucharist being celebrated – it was the living Word – and prayer together, very much so the Rosary – that kept the faith alive among people. Catholic Australia remained faithful to Mary, and was the first nation to choose her, under the title of Help of Christians, as Principal Patron.
(image credit: columban.org.au)
A REFLECTION ON THE FEASTS OF MARY IN MAY
(Thanks to Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington – the following reflection is from his blog)
The Blessed Virgin Mary is a beautiful, beloved, essential and pervasive figure in Christian life and in the Church’s calendar. She has been since the early days of the Church. Her feasts are as varied as the cultures of the world, with each having special traditions, customs, and habits of piety. For example, the Church honours Mary every Saturday, recalling both the one full day that Jesus spent in the tomb and the traditional belief that Mary was the disciple who best kept the faith on that day. The early Church took up the practice of keeping faith with her on that day each week.
Since the Middle-Ages, the Church has devoted the month of May to Mary. Many Christians undertake pilgrimages during this month to shrines associated with the Blessed Virgin. In May, there are also three Marian feasts that are celebrated which help us to understand what Mary can teach us about being disciples.
On May 13, we commemorate the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima which recalls the appearance of the Blessed Virgin to three young children in Portugal in 1917. Mary encouraged penance, conversion and praying the rosary, warning the world of a Great War and suffering, but that, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph“.
The Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, which is celebrated on May 24, dates back to the sixteenth century, which was not a peaceful time in Europe. In 1571, Catholics throughout the continent joined in praying the rosary in hopes of prevailing over military forces that had long sought to expand into Europe. These prayers were answered at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, which is now the feast for Our Lady of the Rosary.
Both of these feasts highlight not only the strength we find in asking Mary’s intercession, joining our prayers to her intercession, but also the confidence that God continues to act in the world. God hears the cry of those who suffer and God responds.
The third Marian feast for May is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin on May 31. We remember how Mary journeyed to the home of her kinswoman Elizabeth to care for her as the birth of her son, John the Baptist, drew near.
These celebrations, like all Marian feasts, are really celebrations of Jesus Christ, for she has no privilege that she has not received from God. In these days, we learn how to stay close to him in prayer and through the practice of charity, such as caring for a relative in a time of need, with confidence that our prayers will be answered.
To rejoice in Mary is to celebrate God’s greatest creation – the vessel he fashioned to be his own mother, the woman who would bear him into the world. In the life of the “handmaid of the Lord,” we learn what it means to say “yes” to life in the Lord and to discover in him the meaning of life.
With maternal love for us, Mary wants what is best for us – she wants Jesus for us, so she urges us, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Then she helps us as we lead others to know and love her Son too. Her feasts not only empower us to turn to her in prayer, but also to love Jesus and others with a greater love.
(Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. Published in cardinalsblog.adw.org)
THE NAME OF THE PARISH – OUR LADY OF THE WAY – tomorrow
See tomorrow’s post here in the Parish Blog space for some background and a reflection about the significance – and hopefully a good reason to be inspired and motivated by – the name of the parish of Our Lady of the Way
See you in the next Parish Blog post and …
with friendship in God’s mission,