Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Livestreamed)
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
Middle Atlantic Lieutenancy
May 18, 2021
Mary Accompanies Us As We Celebrate the Paschal Mystery
In these days leading up to Pentecost and in these beautiful days of May, our minds and hearts turn to the presence among us of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For even if we have not left home, we have been on a spiritual journey, a journey in which we accompanied the Son of God and the Son of Mary along the way of the Paschal Mystery. We stood by Jesus as he underwent the agony in the garden, taking upon himself our sins and indeed the sins of all the world. We witnessed the unjust condemnation of the innocent Lamb of God and walked with him along the painful road that leads to Calvary. Mary accompanied us every step of the way, even as she walked the way of the Cross with her Son. With Mary, we stood beneath the Cross, as the Incarnate Son of God, in his dying moments, gave her to us as our Mother.
Just as Mary shared in the joy of the Resurrection with the bewildered Apostles, so too Mary accompanied us throughout the forty days of Easter. We can easily imagine that, as the disciples struggled to comprehend the reality of the Resurrection, the Mother of Jesus, behind the scenes, urged them to a full-fledged Easter faith. So too, Mary walked with us throughout the forty days of Easter, quietly urging us to lay aside the vestiges of sin and the taint of a lukewarm faith, quietly urging us to embrace in our own lives of faith Jesus’ victory over sin and death. All this took place as we participated wholeheartedly in the Church’s liturgy and as we devoutly prayed the Rosary which, as St. John Paul II taught, ‘we come to see Christ through the eyes of Mary.”
Now, on the cusp of Pentecost, Mary again prays with us and for us, just as she was present to the Apostles in the cenacle and prayed with them as the Holy Spirit descended upon them as tongues of fire. The sinless Mother of God is urging us to genuine repentance of our sins so that our hearts will be open to the gift of the Spirit, poured forth anew upon the Church at Pentecost. She is praying that you and I will, as St. Theresa of Calcutta used to say, ‘give God permission’ to rekindle in our hearts true zeal for the Gospel and a true spirit of evangelization, a readiness to spread the Gospel among those who have never really heard or accepted it and among fellow Catholics who, for whatever reason, no long practice their faith. By engaging in what St. Louis de Montfort called, “true devotion to Mary”, we are being drawn more surely unto the crucified and exalted Lord, we are being drawn more deeply into the orbit of Trinitarian love and life.
The Travails of the Holy Land
Yet, even Mary accompanies us on our spiritual journey, we cannot ignore what is happening in the sacred land where the great events of our salvation unfolded, some two millennia ago. We read with alarm and witness with sorrow, the surging violence that is gripping the Holy Land in these days. In his Regina Coeli message last Sunday, Pope Francis called the world’s attention to the bloody clashes between Israel and Gaza in these days, and I quote: “In these days, violent armed clashes between the Gaze Strip and Israel have taken hold, and risk degenerating into a spiral of death and destruction. Numerous people have been injured, and many innocents have died.” The Pope went on to decry in a special way, the children who have died and lamented the rising violence between Jews and Arabs within Israel. Instead of building the future, Pope Francis said, those involved in this conflict are destroying it.
As members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, we can only view the current conflict in the Holy Land with deep alarm and sadness. After all, our venerable Order has, for centuries, sought to preserve the Holy Places where the life of Christ unfolded – his birth, his teaching and miracles, his death and resurrection, his exaltation at the God’s right hand, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We have sought to preserve these holy places not as mere monuments to history but as a living memorial of the one who died and rose to bring us that peace which the world cannot give. Because our care for Holy Places is deep rooted in the Lord’s redeeming love, it overflows in loving support for the Church’s ministries in the Holy Land, especially ministries of education, healthcare, and so much else. We cannot ignore what is happening to our fellow Christians at this very hour, the agony which the dwindling Christian community of Palestine is undergoing.
In this hour of sadness, we should turn to Mary with special fervor. In the Litany of Loretto, we rightly accord to the Blessed Virgin Mary titles that recall that the promise of salvation which God made to his Chosen People. We refer to Mary as the Tower of David, the Tower of Ivory, the House of God, indeed, we refer to the Daughter of Zion as the Ark of the Covenant. Let us beseech the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for a true cessation of armed conflict, for the protection of innocent lives, for the consolation of those who mourn their dead and the loss of their homes, and for renewed commitment on all sides to seeking the path of peace. Let us pray those who dwell in the darkness of sin and death may, through Mary’s intercession, see the light that guides our feet unto the way of peace.
Our Lady of Palestine, pray for us!