When we place ourselves in the womb of Mary's Immaculate Heart, we are intimately united to the Heart of her Son. In the words of the Dominican theologian, Saint Louis de Montfort, "She is an easy, short, perfect and secure way of attaining union with Our Lord."
The mysteries of the Rosary continually point out to us that redemption began with Mary's intellectual and willed "fiat", hence the Holy Spirit's overshadowing her virginal womb. He, Who was to become our Eucharist, shattered the chasm; which had existed between God and man since the sin of Adam and Eve. This new Eve, the humble Mary, would be the mother of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who "emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant." (ph. 2:7) The reality of this divine mystery sets aflame the hearts of those who believe.
The Fathers of the Church join in praise of the Triune God at the very thought of the Incarnation. St. Ephrem wrote: "It is a source of great amazement...how a womb of flesh was able to carry flaming fire," (Harp of the Spirit) St. Andrew of Crete teaches: "The virginal womb can be hailed as the altar on which Christ the Lamb is mystically offered up as a loving, whole ' burnt offering." Mary offered Her Son on the altar of Calvary; her heart softened the bitter blows of mankind's rejection. The chalice of her heart mystically caught each drop of the Sacred Blood; within the ciborium of her motherly embrace, she gathered the crushed Sacred Body.
St. Peter Damian carries this holy thought concerning Mary as "Mother of the Eucharist" even further: "The same body of Christ that the most Blessed Virgin brought forth, which she flourished in her womb, wrapped in swaddling clothes and brought up with motherly care: this same body we now perceive without any doubt on the sacred altar.
In the retreat reflections entitled "Loving the Church," shared by His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schonborn with the Holy Father and his household, we are reminded of a teaching professed by many of the Fathers of the Church:
The Annunciation to Mary was the unique
moment when God placed the whole weight
of human history in the hands of one person...
Breathless with suspense and full of hope,
the whole of creation fixed its eyes on Mary
and begged her to give that word of consent
on which the fate of all men depends.
The destiny of the whole human family hinges,
in a historically concrete way, on Mary.
And Mary said," Behold the handmaid of the Lord,' be it done unto me according to Thy Word." (Lh. 1:38)
The Catholic Catechism tells us that the Son of Mary really, truly, and substantially is present under the appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist. If we invoke Mary as "Mother of the Eucharist" (and the Holy Father has addressed this prayer to her, based on the piety of the Slovak people), we do so in order to emphasize the substantial unity between the Risen Lord and this sacrament of His presence.
Furthering this reflection, His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor posed the following thought provoking question to the vast numbers of priests who had gathered at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City for the July, 1998 International Meeting of Priests:
May we dare to think or the Mass as the spiritual
and mysterious extension of what happened at the
Last Supper; of the crucifixion and death on the cross,
the resurrection from the tomb, spiritually and mysteriously
represented? May we dare to think of the Mass as somehow
the totality of the life of Christ? ... We read in Hebrews,
'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,'
if Mary is truly the Mother of Christ, the Son of God,
is she not then the Mother of the Eucharist?
Popular piety bears out this teaching. All the Marian, shrines are predominantly places of Eucharistic devotion. Mary never seeks to draw attention to herself. In Bethlehem she was the monstrance to hold out the Christ Child for Joseph and the shepherds to worship. At Cana, she counseled all those in attendance to "Do whatever He tells you." In all her shrines today, the real graces come from the Blessed Sacrament enshrined in the tabernacles of the churches.
Love of Our Lady and love of the Eucharist must be central in the life of every Catholic Christian. Pope John Paul II set his papal course on the bearings of these two pillars of Faith in his first Urbi et Orbi blessing, when he told the world that he was starting anew on the road of history and of the Church with hope and confidence in the Mother of Christ. As if to be a constant reminder of this course, he directed that his coat of arms would bear only the Cross, the "M" for the Mother, and two words, Tofus Tuus (totally yours) from the De Montfort Marian Consecration.
In closing, let us reflect once again that we are the Church which God has destined from all eternity to cross into the third Millennium at the dawn of a New Evangelization. It is this same Marian response of total self-donation that we have been called to utter and by which we, too, like Mary, will become icons of Christ. Fr. Angelico artistically depicts the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Eucharist from the Last Supper until the end of time, ever in such dazzling beauty. On the San Marco altarpiece, he painted the Infant God with His right hand raised in blessing. He holds the orb of the world while angels, bearing the instruments of His Passion, surround Him. In the original layout of the altar there was also a magnificent Entombment in which the dead cruciform body of Christ is held up for veneration. Fr. Angelico's homily lives on in every tabernacle as Mary continues to present her Son to all of us, her new children, through His Eucharistic Presence.
Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us!
Reprinted with permission of Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, O.P.
This article is available in pamphlet form from New Hope Publications (800-764-8444).
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