***A version of this article was originally published in Face To Face Ministries’ recent quarterly newsletter
“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1: 41-42)
Here are 4 reasons why I agree with Elizabeth:
- She is Jesus’ mother and ours. St. John is standing with Mary at the foot of the cross when Jesus looks upon them and directs these theologically rich words to his beloved apostle: “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:27). On death’s door due to crucifixion-induced asphyxiation every breath is precious and counted; yet our Lord labors to speak these words directly to John; and directly to the Church through the ages. The Saviour labored to speak these words, and the evangelist labored to record these words in his Gospel even though “there [were] also many other things that Jesus did” (see John 20: 30; 21:25). There at the cross Jesus gives His mother to St. John—and to us too—that we might also be under her protection, guidance and intercession. That moment of adoption at the cross was climactic as St. John’s next verse testifies, “After this…Jesus knew that all was now finished” (Jn 19:28)
- She is our perfect model. Since her conception Mary has been a saint—for her life was marked by perfect sanctity and suffering (see Lk 2:35). By a singular act of God at the moment she began to exist, the Mother of God was rendered free of all sin and perfected by grace. For the rest of her life she would remain pure from all sin, original and actual, because of this special “advance” of the grace won for her (and all of humanity) by Christ’s death and resurrection (Lk 1:47). Mary was “saved” indeed, but not like the rest of us; for she was saved at the first instant of her existence due to a special act of preservation by God. This fullness of grace of which Mary was endowed is evident by the angel Gabriel’s greeting, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28); and it must be noted that nowhere else in the Bible is any other person greeted by an angel in such a way—by a title. Just as we show respect by calling a physician “Doctor” or a judge ” Honorable”, Mary was called “Full of Grace” by the messenger from heaven. This explains why Mary in all her humility “was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29). Thus if an archangel of God greets her with such reverence, how much more reverent should we, her children, be?
- She is our most powerful intercessor. This is why St. Louis de Montfort summoned all aspiring saints to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary. It’s truly a shame more Christians have not turned to Mary for her perpetual help—and furthermore that some have outright turned away from her, a crisis of misunderstanding and misinstruction. The truth is: God has not abandoned us in our pursuit of Christ-like holiness for He has given us His mother to help us become the saints we are meant to be. This fact magnifies His infinite graciousness. Our pursuit of Christ-like holiness is really a pursuit of Christ Himself, and there is no one and no thing better equipped to lead us to Him than Our Lady, His mother. Fr. Michael Gaitley, author of 33 Days To Morning Glory, has reminded us that “according to St. Louis, total consecration to Mary is the quickest, easiest, surest way to holiness.” God wants to share everything He has (2 Pet 1:4) and indeed, Jesus who is the “one mediator between God and man” (1 Tim 2:5) shares His mediatorship with the whole Church and allows all members of the same Body of Christ, on earth and in heaven, to intercede for one another in love. We can “go straight to God” with our prayers (and we should) but we can also go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and pray for one another as St. Paul encourages (1 Tim 2:1-3). Above all, however, we should keep the Mother of God involved in our personal lives as our foremost “prayer warrior.” No person serious about sainthood can ignore Mary’s desire (and power) to present our needs at the throne of God; for indeed the prayer of a righteous person is great in its effects (James 5:16) and as St. Ambrose wrote in A.D. 377, “[Mary’s] life is like a mirror reflecting the face of chastity and the form of virtue” (The Virgins 2: 2: 6).
- She is the ‘Queen Mother’. King David and his successors had one very unique (and important) thing in common during their reign: a Queen Mother. Instead of naming their wife (or one of their wives) as the “first lady” of the kingdom, the kings would place their mother at the right hand of the royal throne. Read 1 Kings 2:19. In this scene, Bathsheba approaches her son, King Solomon, to request a favor. King Solomon rises, bows to her and seats her at his right hand. Although her authority does not surpass that of the king, it is great in its effect. For example, in 1 Kings 1-2, the king shows his primacy by granting one request yet denying another (both granting and denying are acts of authority). The Queen Mother has honor and influence with the king, but the king remains the final authority – and this is what Catholics believe about Jesus, the King of Kings, and His mother Mary who He has “crowned with twelve stars” and made the Queen of Heaven (see Rev 12:1). The point is this: Mary is the Mother of God because she is the mother of Jesus, the final Davidic King; and since Jesus is eternally one divine person – before time and in time for all ages – Mary, who conceived, bore and raised Jesus can be called nothing less than the Mother of God (as the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon declared in the 5th century). Like all the saints and angels who continually intercede for us in heaven (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4), so also does Mary; for she is the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, who housed in her very womb Him whom “heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain” (1 Kings 8: 27).
For more, I highly recommend Behold your Mother by Tim Staples!