Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The Joy of Israel

As Jesus Christ is the first fruits of God's promise to raise us from the dead (1 Cor 15:20), so Mary is the first fruits of Jesus' promise to prepare a place for us in His Father's kingdom (John 14:2-3). The importance of Mary being assumed into heaven cannot be underestimated. Because death is the just recompense for sin (Rom 6:23), Mary the sinless New Eve was not subject to that penalty. Because our Blessed Lord brought to Himself her, a mere mortal creature, we have all the more reason to believe that He will do likewise for us. That she was taken to heaven ought to remind us powerfully that we were made for nothing less.

The glory showered upon Mary is not shocking when we bear these things in mind; except, perhaps, how little glory and honor we give her.

The Wisdom of Solomon tells us that Wisdom is more beautiful than the sun and excels "every constellation of the stars" (Wis 7:28-29). The Church's tradition is torn between seeing Wisdom as a precursor of the Holy Spirit, and seeing Wisdom as a precursor of the Virgin. This confusion to be expected. Husbands and wives, when they are living in Christ, function as one. Mary is the virginal spouse of the Holy Spirit Who overshadowed her to give her a Son (Lk 1:38), and so it is natural that it should be hard to tell exactly which of the two did what after their union was consummated with Mary's perfect "Yes," the "yes" so perfect that it could, by the power of the Holy Spirit, conceive the Eternal Yes in her womb. The Revelation to St. John repeats this message: the woman more beautiful than the sun and more excellent than the stars is clad in them, as with robes and crown (Rev 12:1). Mary is crowned with the glories of creation, and of all the glories of creation, she is the crown.

The Church has always seen Judith, whose story is told in the Book of Judith, and whose name means woman of Judah, as a foreshadowing of the Blessed Virgin, another woman of Judah. When Judith came back from cutting off the head of the enemy whose legions were about to destroy Israel, the people greeted her with an amazing cheer: "You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel; you are the fairest honor of our race," (Judith 15:9). Mary, in delivering Jesus to us, has done an invaluable part in delivering us from our enemies. The words applied to the former woman of Judah apply even more so to the latter.

Martin Luther knew it. Years after breaking with Holy Church he still preached, "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart," (Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation by William J. Cole, edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], 10, III, p.313). Ulrich Zwingli, the most uncatholic of the Reformers wrote, "The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow," (Ulrich Zwingli, Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Volume 1, 427-428). Protestant poet William Wordsworth knew it. He called her "our tainted nature's solitary boast."

I am sorry for rambling, but it's late, and I love Mary. But what a God we have! Not content to give us His Son, He gave us also His mother! She is the mother of our Lord, and of us, His brethren. Now drawn into heaven, Mary is truly the Mother of All Peoples. Our Lord not only made His Father ours (Jn 20:17), but also His mother (Jn 19:26-27). Who will dare honor the one and not the other?

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