THE SAINT PHILOMENA MESSENGER
I am writing this latest communication on the first anniversary of the death of my father, George Frederick Hopkins (+ April 12th., 2003, A.D.). Please continue to pray for his eternal repose. I offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for him this morning.
Have you seen the marvelous film "The Passion of the Christ"
by our Catholic brother Mel Gibson? I have seen it twice. Unforgettable!
But, for a Catholic who meditates regularly on the Stations of the Cross
there is really nothing new. What a tool for evangelization! The Protestants
are going crazy about it! Let me quote you from a local pastor:
On a Personal note:
Fr. Enrique Rueda offers this meditation for the month of May, the month of Mothers, the month of Mary: It is common that people not of our faith are startled by the devotion we Catholics have for Our Blessed Lady. Believing as we do that there is only one God and having available to us the perfect mediator between God and man in the God-Man Jesus Christ, they wonder why do we "need" to have devotion to His Mother. "Are you not in danger of divinizing she who is only human?" they say. "Don't you think that devotion to Mary detracts from the adoration to which only God is entitled?" It is even possible that some in our own Catholic Church have fallen victim to these errors, hence the evident decline in Marian devotions in many of our parishes. The lack of sermons centred on Our Lady is also noticeable: many people complain justly that she is not even mentioned in many churches.
Still, two thousand years of uninterrupted devotion to Mary by faithful Catholics do bear witness to the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church. Wherever Catholicism has flourished, it has been accompanied by a strong devotion to Mary. Wherever this devotion has dwindled, so has the strength of the Catholic Faith. No one has become a saint without a deep attachment to Our Lady, devotion to whom has been universally interpreted to be a sign of predestination. The first thing abandoned by heretics has been precisely devotion to the Mother of God.
A long list of women in the Old Testament has been understood by the Church to relate in one way or another to the Mother of God. At the outset of the Bible, Eve represents the old order - sin itself- in contrast with the total holiness of Mary, who was destined, as Eve yielded to the Devil, to crush the head of the Ancient Serpent. Judith risked her life to save her people, as did Esther, both "types" of Mary, whose life was spent entirely in the service of Jesus and for all eternity of the Church, whose Mother she is. Isaiah prophesied the virgin birth and the mother of the seven brothers in the book of Maccabees suffered spiritual martyrdom - not unlike Mary at the foot of the Cross - as she saw her children die for the sake of justice.
More still needs to be said for at the foot of the Cross Jesus gave each one of us His greatest possession, His Mother, as our own individual spiritual mother. Looking down from the Cross when He was about to die, Jesus saw Mary His Mother and Saint John, the beloved disciple. In a supreme act of generosity, Jesus said to John: "This is your mother" (In. 19: 27). Since then, no one can be a true disciple without accepting Mary as Mother of Mankind.
From the earliest times we Catholics have believed that Mary was, at the end of her mortal life, taken up to heaven, from where, as the Book of the Apocalypse (Ap. 12: 1 ff.) shows, she is the Mother of the Church.
Mary also plays a central role in the New Testament. In Mary we have the first human being after the Fall to be created without sin. She was indeed "full of grace", being possessed by God and possessing God in an extraordinary degree, only surpassed by the Word of God in Jesus. She was conceived without sin and would live her entire life without the slightest speck of imperfection: not a venial sin, no choice but the most perfect would come of her will until the end of her mortal life. She is the Immaculate Conception.
In the Scriptures she is the one through whom we receive the Author of Justice: Christ Our God. When visited by the Archangel Gabriel, this emissary from God made clear that the central event of all Creation, the Incarnation of God as man, had been made by God to depend upon Mary's assent. She was invited to collaborate with God in the work of salvation, but not obliged to do so. She understood clearly that it was her vocation to become the Mother of God and willingly became so as she pronounced her assent to God's invitation: "Let it be done to me according to your word". She is thus the Mother of God.
At the wedding feast in Cana, Our Lord made His first miracle dependent on the will of His Mother. The transformation of water into wine is symbolic of the transformation of the old order into the new, the movement of the Law to Grace, the going beyond the Old Testament into the New. When His Mother came to intercede with Jesus, He apparently rebuked her..... still, Mary told the servants what she is telling us today: "Do whatever he tells you". That obedience to the Will of Jesus commanded by Mary was instrumental in the miracle. Her role in the supernatural order became clearer after the Ascension, when, presiding over the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room, she was instrumental in the birth of the Church at the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Just as the first miracle of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Ghost were mediated by Mary, she is instrumental in the granting of each and every grace human beings receive from God. Without in any way detracting from the role of her Son and the author of Grace, Mary is truly Mediatrix of All Graces.
At the foot of the Cross, Mary witnessed the death of her Son and died with Him a spiritual death as had been prophesied by Simeon at the Presentation in the Temple: "as for your own soul, it shall have a sword to pierce it" (Lk. 2: 35). Thus the representative of the Old Testament pointed to the Immaculate Heart of Mary united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the redemption of mankind. lust as the Sacred Heart was pierced physically by the Roman soldier's lance, the heart of the Mother was spiritually pierced, contributing thereby with her sorrows to the redemption of mankind. The spiritual death of Mary which culminated a life of faith and total giving of self to God made her Corredemptrix of Mankind.
In her glorious body we have the pledge of the future glorification of our own bodies, the sign that by the death and Resurrection of Jesus death has been conquered, for she has been Assumed into Heaven where she reigns in splendour as Queen of Heaven and of Earth.
Our Blessed Lady has fulfilled the role granted her by God in an unsurpassable manner. Throughout the centuries she has been instrumental in the successes the Church has experienced. The multiplicity of hymns to Mary composed by pious Christian authors from the very beginning of the Church show that to be Catholic and to be devoted to Mary are but one thing. Mary has intervened at crucial moments in the history of the Church to show that it is not our human efforts that save us, but the mighty arm of God: Saint Dominic was inspired by Our Lady and her Rosary to overcome the Albigensian heresy and save France for the Church; at Lepanto, it was the Rosary that saved the Christian west from certain defeat at the hand of the Muslim infidel. In our own times, the unltimate defeat of atheism has been predicted by Our Lady.
The way to Jesus is through Mary. Let her take you by the hand and lead you to Him who is the fountain of life. She is your Mother and your Queen. Listen to her.
May God and His Mother bless you as 1 do in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.