Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 9, Blessed Virgin Mary

The Blessed Virgin Mary
By Sr. Maria Simona

Mary is the greatest gift that God has made to mankind. Mary has been, is and will ever be the best known and most loved woman of all humanity. In order to find out about this 'Paradise of God', the primary place to search is in the Gospels. Three of the four Evangelists personally knew Our Lady and gathered information from Her when writing various sections. Mary was chosen by God to be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Messiah and our Mother as well.

Our Lady's nativity, her childhood, her espousal to St. Joseph
Tradition names Saints Joachim and Anne as being the parents of Mary and it is known that She was born in Palestine around 14-16 years before the birth of Jesus. She was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem when She was three years old, and lived there until She was espoused to St. Joseph. Before Her espousal, She made a vow of virginity to God. A miraculous intervention showed that God had chosen St. Joseph to be her most chaste spouse. When St. Joseph was younger, he too had been inspired by God to make a vow of virginity to God.

The Annunciation and Mary's consent
About 6 months after the espousals, while Our Lady was in prayer, begging God to send the Messiah to save His people, the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary with an invitation to become the Mother of the Messiah, the Mother of God. Mary considered herself to be unworthy of such a mission, but realizing that the salvation of the people was at stake, generously gave her 'Fiat', Her yes to God.

The Visitation and St Joseph's anxiety, her virginity
The Archangel also revealed to Mary that her cousin St. Elizabeth had miraculously conceived a child who was to be the precursor of the Lord. Mary set off in haste to visit St. Elizabeth, to sanctify St. John the Baptist in her womb and to assist Her elderly cousin. After 3 months, Mary returned to Nazareth and St. Joseph noticed that she was with child. He trusted Her purity but could not reconcile this with the evident signs of her motherhood. An angel intervened in a dream and told St. Joseph about the Divine origin of the Child Mary was to bear.

The birth of Jesus and her Divine Motherhood
As the months passed, those of the house of David were summoned to Bethlehem in Judea for the census. St. Joseph and Mary set off for Bethlehem and after registering, the time came for Mary to give birth to Jesus. After a long search, a place was found for her to give birth; a cave outside the walls of Bethlehem that was used for housing animals. In the silence and darkness of the night, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a miraculous way, retaining Her virginity and giving the world its Savior.

The flight into Egypt
40 days after the birth of Jesus, Mary presented Him in the Temple in Jerusalem in order to fulfill the Law of Moses. The Holy Family returned to Nazareth and while there, an angel appeared to St. Joseph, warning him of Herod's intention to kill the Child. With little preparation, the Holy Family fled into Egypt to save His life, thus becoming refugees in a foreign, pagan country. After about 10 years, they were once more able to return to Nazareth after hearing of the death of Herod.

Looking for Jesus lost in the Temple
When Jesus was 12 years old, He and his parents went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. After the feast, it was discovered that Jesus was missing among the group of pilgrims that St. Joseph and Mary journeyed with. The Holy couple then started and anxious search for their Child, returning to Jerusalem and only finding Him after three days in the Temple where He was teaching the doctors of the law.

The hidden life at Nazareth
After finding Jesus in the Temple, Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents and was subject to them. He helped St. Joseph in the carpenter's shop and grew in age, grace and wisdom before God. St. Joseph died during these years and Jesus spent the last few years before the start of His public ministry living a hidden life with Mary in preparation for His mission.

The wedding feast at Cana-Mediatrix of all Graces
Soon after Jesus started His public life, Mary went to nearby Cana for the wedding feast. She interceded with Jesus on behalf of the spouses who found themselves in want of wine and Jesus performed His first recorded miracle in the order of nature, changing water into wine through the maternal mediation of Mary.

The Passion - Coredemptrix of the human race
Mary was present many times during the three years of Jesus' public life but never more so than during the Passion. She accompanied Him both physically and spiritually during each dolorous phase, culminating with standing at the foot of the cross on Calvary, to offer Jesus to the Father in expiation for the sins of humanity, thus becoming the Coredemptrix of the human race. Mary united Herself to the sacrifice of Jesus, suffering in Her soul what Jesus suffered in His body, having Her soul pierced by the sword of sorrow for our benefit so we could be regenerated in our spiritual life, once more having the possibility of entering Heaven.

The Resurrection and Ascension
After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, He first appeared to His Holy Mother to reward Her for Her faith in His resurrection. Mary accompanied Jesus during the forty days He remained on this earth before ascending to His Father in Heaven. Mary would have liked to accompany Jesus to Heaven but generously agreed to remain on this earth to help and encourage the early Church in Her mission of saving souls.

The Assumption and her glorification
After completing Her mission here on earth, Mary was taken body and soul to heaven. She who was conceived without sin and had so generously co-operated with God's plan God during Her life, was rewarded by not having Her body undergo the corruption of the grave. In Heaven, Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and earth.

Model and cause of our sanctification
The Blessed Virgin is truly a sublime model of every virtue, which She practiced to an heroic degree during Her entire life. What shines forth for all of us in particular is Her unshakeable faith in God and His promises as She lovingly accorded Her will with that of God in all instances of her life. She gave a generous, whole hearted 'yes' to God and ardently wishes to help us along our earthly journey to Heaven, being a Spiritual Mother to each of us, lavishly dispensing the graces necessary for us to arrive safely and securely to our heavenly home. The most efficacious way for this to take place in our life is by consecrating ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart and lovingly turning to Her with great frequency to ask Her to guide and help us and those we love to get to Heaven. Marian prayer, especially the Holy Rosary, together with Marian formation (study about Mary) is also necessary if we wish to have an authentic devotion to Our Lady that essentially consists in imitating Her examples in our life.
Ave Maria!

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