Redemptoris Mater: Part 2-The Mother of God at the Center of the Pilgrim Church

Last week I covered Part 1 of this encyclical, Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Mary. This week we will look at the second part about how Mary is involved in the Church today.

John Paul II begins the second part by borrowing the analogy from Vatican II as the Pilgrim Church is like Israel in the desert of the Old Covenant. The Church is destined to reach all the ends of the earth but this journey is not only external but also internal. This is where Mary comes into the picture, the Council say that Mary’s role in Salvation history makes her a mirror in which the mighty works of God are reflected. From the beginning of the Church Mary is there at Pentecost with the apostles when the Holy Spirit came down upon them she was praying in the Upper Room. Although she wasn’t given the mission to preach to all nations like the apostles, Mary still plays a huge role as the Church looked at Mary through Jesus, she is always the Mother of Jesus  and he was Mary’s Son. This is a simple place for people to go to as everyone has a mother. The Apostles planted the seeds of faith but it is Mary who was provided the seeds since she is the first believer.

John Paul then moves on to the Church today and say that ecumenism is the key. He pulls from Lumen Gentium which says that Christians must deepen in themselves and each of their communities that “obedience of faith” of which Mary is the first and brightest example. And since she “shines forth on earth,…as a sign of sure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God,” “it gives great joy and comfort to this most holy Synod that among the divided brethren, too, there are those who live due honor to the Mother of our Lord and Savior. This is especially so among the Easterners.” Mary is the role model for all of us in how to lead our Christian lives and she is a big deal with the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental churches and offers examples of how Mary plays a role in their church. Then John Paul says that “Such a wealth of praise, built up by the different forms of the Church’s great tradition, could help us to hasten the day when the Church can begin once more to breathe fully with her “two lungs,” the East and the West. As I have often said, this is more than ever necessary today. It would be an effective aid in furthering the progress of the dialogue already taking place between the Catholic Church and the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West”.  This is a hope of many people.

John Paul II reminds us of the Magnificat, saying that it links us to Mary. The Magnificat is the Canticle that Mary says in Luke’s Gospel when she visits Elizabeth and is said daily by those who do Liturgy of the Hours at Vespers. For many of us we might hear it sung at a liturgy or read at the Assumption but that’s about it. This prays reminds us that Mary is constantly present with us in our journey of faith.  Let us remember and recite this prayer with the hope of remembering Mary in our lives, this prayer can be our words today as we praise God for all that the Lord has done for us. Let us remember and recite this prayer with the hope of remembering Mary in our lives, this prayer can be our words today as we praise God for all that the Lord has done for us.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” (Luke 1:46-55) RSV-CE

Next week we will be looking at Part 3: Maternal Mediation as well as the Conclusion as we close out the month of May.

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