Mary: Who She Is and Why She Matters

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When it Comes to Crowning...

we have to use our heads — and hearts

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By Felix Carroll

What will be our "crowning" achievement?

In this month in which we celebrate the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (on Aug. 22), this is not an unreasonable question to ask ourselves.

Saint Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701), the Founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, once said that "giving honor to Mary in speech is not enough." What he was getting at was that we are to emulate Mary — in our thoughts and our actions.

The fact that the Church celebrates the Feast of the Queenship of Mary affirms Mary's title "Queen of Heaven." Crowned by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Mother of the Divine Mercy, she is Queen in Heaven because she served God with an undivided heart. In both her earthly and heavenly life, Mary prepares the way for Him.

She said "yes" to God's plan at the Annunciation (see Lk 1:38). She ushered Him into the world on Christmas Day. She was the first to adore Him. With St. Joseph, she cared for Him and nurtured Him. Recognizing the need of the spouses at the Wedding Feast at Cana, she made way for His first public miracle with her words to the servers: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).

United with her Son who remains present with His Church "until the end of the age" (see Mt 28:20), Mary is present as intercessor and protector to His followers everywhere. She is our Queen. She is our spiritual Mother by virtue of her Son's departing words: "Behold your Mother" (Jn 19:26-27).

In other words, Mary, who is known as "Most Humble," hasn't allowed her coronation to go to her head, so to speak. She does not set herself apart from us.

To the contrary, she has famously made her presence known, including in 1531 in Mexico when she appeared to Juan Diego; in 1830 in Paris when she appeared to Catherine Labouré; in 1858 in Lourdes when she appeared to Bernadette Soubirous; in 1917 in Fatima when she appeared to Lucia Santos, Francisco Marto, and his sister Jacinta; in 1981 in Kibeho when she appeared to Alphonsine Mumureke, Anathalie Mukamazimpaka, and Marie Claire Mukangango; and elsewhere, as well.

Because she remains present with our Lord, she remains present to all the members of His Church, distributing heavenly guidance and God-given graces that enable us to act by His love.

So if mere "speech is not enough" then what are we to do?

In Church-approved Marian apparitions, our Queen in Heaven consistently implores her children to follow the 10 Commandments; to pray for our own conversion and for the conversion of others; to help bring peace to the world through devotion to her Immaculate Heart; to meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary and to recite the Rosary every day. By her example, we are to love God in truth; love our neighbor in humility and simplicity; and to live lives of self-sacrifice through performing the works of mercy.

By preparing the way for Him, Mary seeks to point us toward the better life, a future that God has in store for us. Her coronation is a sign of victory for us. At the cross, as the powers of evil seemed triumphant, she shared in Christ's suffering and dying. But now in Heaven, she shares fully, body and soul, in the triumph of Christ, the Divine Mercy, over sin and all its consequences.

What will be our "crowning" achievement? Let's begin by allowing Mary to serve as our inspiration to keep our desires pure and our earthly endeavors free from anything that is not of God.

Our greatest achievement will be to long for the lord, to make way for him, to form our hearts such that we respond as Mary did: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).

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