Today we celebrate the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima. For your information, the statue that has been placed at the foot of the sanctuary during the month of May is the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
This title was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary after she appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal: Lucia and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta. There were a total of 6 apparitions between May 13 and October 13, 1917. Today is the 103rd anniversary of the 1st apparition.
The children received 3 secrets during these apparitions. The common theme among the 3 secrets is pray, pray and pray. This message of constant and unceasing prayer is as relevant today during the COVID-19 pandemic as it was a century ago during World War I.
On this special feast, I would like us to reflect on 3 “M” words associated with Mary: mother, mediatrix and model.
First, Mary is mother. Mary gave birth to Jesus, the human child. But that child is the 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary, as mother of Jesus, is also the mother of the Son of God. Therefore, it is proper to address Mary as the mother of God.
However, there is an even more beautiful reality present here. As a result of Baptism, we are the “sons and daughters of God”. Since God gives us permission to call him “Father” and Jesus calls God “Father”, that means Jesus is our brother. Mary is Jesus’ mother. Since Jesus is our brother, then, Mary is also our mother.
Jesus’s love for us is so great; he gave us everything: his body, his blood, his very life. He held nothing back, including his mother. Mary embraces each of us with the same maternal affection that she showered upon Jesus. She rejects no one who approaches her.
Here are the words Mary, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, addressed to Juan Diego in 1531 during one of her apparitions: “Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Are you not in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”
Second, Mary is mediatrix. Mary is the most unique of all creatures. No other person has equaled her, is equaling her now, or ever will equal her. She held Jesus in her arms. She literally kissed the face of God. Because of this unparalleled closeness to God, we consider Mary to be a powerful mediatrix, or intercessor, before God.
“Mediatrix” is derived from the word “mediator’. Mary, as mediator, is a bridge between God and us. Therefore, with great confidence, we call upon Mary to present our needs and prayers to God. Mary has only one ministry – to lead us to her Son. Think about it. Who knows Jesus better than his mother? She knows the way that will bring us to her Son. Why would we not trust her? Why would we not go to her and say, “Help me to love your Son just like you do”?
7 years ago, I had the great privilege of visiting Fatima. On the night of my arrival, I had the opportunity to pray the Rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions and to witness the candlelight procession. The next day, I was fortunate to attend a Mass celebrated in English in the Chapel of the Apparitions. What a gift it was to experience 1st hand God’s power and grace working through the intercession of Mary! I will never forget the comfort and peace I received during those 2 days!
You will recall that, on May 1, Bishop Marcel presided at the 12:05 Mass here at Christ the King. During the course of the Mass, he consecrated Canada and our diocese to Mary, Mother of the Church. This consecration only makes sense if we accept Mary’s role as mother and mediatrix. The purpose of this consecration is to entrust our country and our diocese to Mary’s maternal care and protection in order to benefit from her powerful intercession as we journey through this pandemic.
Third, Mary is model. Mary is the 1st believer in Jesus. Mary is the perfect disciple. There are no mistakes in the way in which she heard the word of God and acted upon it.
It is important to point out that we do not adore or worship Mary. God alone is the object of our worship. We honour or venerate Mary. The best way to honour her is to imitate her virtues.
There are 2 details in today’s Gospel which give us an important insight into the depth of Mary’s faith and discipleship, which are worthy of imitation.
The first detail is found in these lines: “Mary set out and went in haste to a Judean town”. Mary is the true disciple because she is the perfect servant of those in need. She took her eyes off herself to respond in generous service to someone who was in greater need than she was. Although she was pregnant, Elizabeth’s pregnancy was a higher risk one due to Elizabeth’s advanced years. The Visitation reminds us that our life is not about us. We find the meaning of our lives when we spend it in service to others.
The second detail is that Mary is pregnant with Christ. She let his life grow, swell and develop inside her. Finally, she delivered Christ into the world.
Isn’t the mission of our lives the same? Ought we not to let the life of Christ plant itself inside our hearts? Ought we not to let the life of Christ grow, develop and swell inside us? Is not our primary responsibility as Christians to deliver Christ to our world? Is not our primary task to bring Christ to our homes, our schools, our hospitals, our offices, our restaurants, our arenas, our shopping centres?
Just as God relied on Mary to cooperate with him to bring Jesus to Nazareth and Bethlehem, God counts on us to cooperate with him to bring Jesus to Sudbury in 2020. In this sense, as St. Francis put it, “we are all mothers of Our Lord”.
As our Mass continues, let us ask God to help us to give Mary a place in our life as our mother, mediatrix and model.
To conclude, I would like us to pray together the “Hail Mary”: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
May 13, 2020