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Preface I of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This preface is the first option for Marian liturgies, especially the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
The Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary’s motherhood is something both momentous and miraculous. Once a mother, always a mother, but Mary’s motherhood came about and continues in a unique way: she’s the mother of Jesus and the mother of us all. At the foot of the Cross Mary was entrusted to Jesus’s Beloved Disciple (see John 19:26-27), but, more importantly, in that Beloved Disciple we can find each and every one of being entrusted to Mary by Our Lord.
Vatican II’s constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, teaches that Mary is our mother in the order of grace: “This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” (n. 61).
Even from Heaven Mary continues to watch over us, help us, and intercede for us as her children.
“For by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit she conceived your Only Begotten Son, and without losing the glory of virginity, brought forth into the world the eternal Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It’s not by chance that the Solemnity of the Annunciation is also known as the Solemnity of the Incarnation: nine months before Christmas Day we celebrate Mary saying yes, fiat, to the divine plan for her life. On that day her will and the Lord’s blended into a powerful testimony of the Lord’s love for humanity and for humanity’s freedom. The Lord never imposes; he simply proposes. In Mary’s response to Gabriel (“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”—Luke 1:34; the Greek is more literally translated as “I do not know man/husband?”) some Church Fathers see Mary indicating that she’d decided already to consecrate her virginity to God, and the angel’s invitation seemed to indicate that the Lord wanted something different.
This is where it gets miraculous: Mary became mother, but remained a virgin, through the power (“overshadowing”) of the Holy Spirit. God the Son was eternally begotten by God the Father in the order of divinity and, through Mary’s fiat, was begotten as Jesus Christ in the world in the order of humanity. The consecrated life is a life of special dedication to the love of God, and in Mary’s case her consecration to God was both as mother and as virgin.
This maternity did not introduce something alien into consecrated life; rather, it showed feminine consecrated life an outlet for its compassion: a spiritual maternity toward all, just as Mary has. Mary does not just have something to teach to consecrated souls, but to all of us: the power and beauty of unconditional love for God and for each other.
Our mother’s love in our life is so constant that it fades into the background and we stop noticing it. Let’s take notice of Mary’s motherhood in our lives with every Hail Mary, Rosary, and celebration in her honor.