DEAR, FAMILIAR STORY
All who bother to learn the story of Mary, love it. It comes second in charm and graciousness to the story of Christ, her Son. Yet actually the two stories are so closely intertwined that the threads are often hard to distinguish. Where Mary is, Christ goes along. Where Christ goes, Mary follows Him.
The story of Mary had and retains its vivid and radiant climaxes:
The maiden of the Annunciation, dearest and best beloved figure in the whole history of painting. The swift-moving and tender nurse of Elizabeth, whose child John was born to prepare the way for her Son. The poetess of the Magnificat.
The incredibly beautiful Mother of the Nativity and the Queen of uncounted Christmas Days. The modest, humble worshipper offering her Son in the Presentation in the Temple.
The “safe conduct” that guaranteed the safety of the Holy Child in that wild and hazardous flight into Egypt. The dear companion of His Egyptian exile, and the guide of His safe return.
The loving mistress of the Holy House of Nazareth.
The successful pleader for His first miracle at Cana.
The self-obliterating watcher of His Public Life.
The heroic martyr upon Calvary.
The Mother whom He presents to mankind as a kind of final and climactic gift.
The security and centre of the frightened disciples during their wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Out of the vast volumes of legend and memory, of safe tradition and exaggeratedly pious fancy, the Church had preserved the lovely facts about Mary which the Gospels do not mention. It was not likely that the early Christians would easily forget the Mother who gave them Christ and who remained after His Ascension to be the Mother of the early Church.
All the Christians have loved to recall the presentation of the Child Mary in the Temple, and the years she spent there serving the sanctuary and mastering the law and the love of God. They dwell with affection on Ann and Joachim, her parents, and the wonder of her too-long-delayed birth. They cherish her betrothal to Joseph and the day of their chaste and unselfish marriage. Saints have meditated on what a house that contained Jesus and was managed by Mary would be like and have joined their souls in meditation to that perfect household. And all Christianity from the earliest days knew that the body of Mary, which had been tabernacle to the Lord of Life, would not know captivity in the grave. The Assumption of Mary and her Coronation by her Son as Queen of Heaven is not something recent piety invented; it was being recalled when Christians spoke their glorious good news in whispers and by night within the catacombs.
No generation has allowed the figure of Mary to seem a remote and distant reality. Her picture took on the features of every nation and race that painted her . . . and all of them did. Something extremely fitting suggested to Christians that they name their churches for her: if her body had housed the living presence of the Incarnate Son of God, her name seemed to fit perfectly upon the churches which retained His living Eucharistic Presence.
And lest she be for a moment forgotten, God sent her back to earth in a perfect litany of apparitions. Mary has beautifully woven together earth and Heaven by her gracious comings and goings. From Our Lady of the Pillar to Our Lady of Fatima, Catholics have found it singularly right and proper that this daughter of earth who became the Queen of Heaven would return to the sons and daughters entrusted to her by her Son on Calvary. You who do not accept Catholic Faith may not accept the visions by which Mary repeated her presence upon earth. We with the Faith would find it almost strange if she did not return. We think it the restless love of a Mother for her absent children that brings her back recurrently to their waiting hands and eyes and hearts.
Candidly, we love Mary.
We love her for what she did for Christ, our Redeemer, and for the unbreakable connection she bore Him.
We love her for the dear Maid and gracious Mother she was in herself.
We are proud that the perfect Christ should have had for Mother the Perfect Woman. We are glad that the years of Christ on earth were spent in the pure, devoted, utterly unselfish companionship of earth’s most radiant yet modest, glorious yet humble, exalted yet retiring, brilliant yet (seldom and then poetically) eloquent Maid and Mother.
We think it important that God’s Son should have God’s own choice for His Mother. And we doubt that God would pick less than the best.