BY CARDINAL TIMOTHY M. DOLAN
She really towers over this magnificant Advent season. We celebrate her Immaculate Conception, her title of “Our Lady of Loretto,” and the grand solemnity of “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” In our Bible readings at Mass we often hear of her Annunciation, and her Visitation to her cousin, St. Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. At Christmas, after gazing upon the Holy Infant in the crib, we look with love upon her.
Well should Mary be the dominant person of Advent! If this season is about waiting—for the celebration of Our Lord’s first coming at Bethlehem, and His second at the end of time—she is our model, as she literally waited as a pregnant mother for the promise of a Messiah to be fulfilled. As Mom used to say, “Nobody is more patient than a pregnant mother, because she knows there’s no rushing the baby.”
Actually, Mary stands not only at the center of Advent, but of history. At the fifty-yard line of time, we find a mother we call “blessed“ and her baby we confess as our Savior. B.C. and A.D. pivot around Jesus and Mary.
No wonder we Catholics honor her so much. God our Father sure did, in choosing her to provide His Son with a human nature. He preserved her from sin from the first moment of her conception, and kept her from corruption in bringing her, body and soul, to heaven at her Assumption.
Not long ago on a train ride, I sat next to a woman who introduced herself as a university professor. She told me the story of her return to her Catholic faith, and credited this to Mary. Describing herself as a “feminist” who had drifted from the Faith because she felt the Church was “anti-woman,” she related how a staunch evangelical Christian had congratulated her for leaving Catholicism. According to this other woman, she was wise to abandon the Catholic religion, since it “deified” Mary.
The professor sitting next to me smiled and observed, “That sobered me up. Here I was ticked off because I felt the Church ignored women, and this Bible-thumper was criticizing Catholicism for honoring a woman, Mary, as Mother of God!”
Listen to how often we sing of her in our beloved Christmas carols. Think again how this expectant mom towers over Advent, and how she and her baby are at the very turning point of all history.
How much we cherish borrowing the words of the Archangel Gabriel as we turn to her in the “Hail Mary!” How our eyes moisten as we listen to the Ave Maria.
I guess God in His Providence could have chosen another way to have His son enter the world. But, I’m sure glad He didn’t! We wouldn’t have Mary!
On my birthday each year, I usually send Mom flowers. “You’re the one who did all the work!” I tell her. So do we honor Mary on her son’s nativity, Christmas.
And, as Pope Francis comments, “How could we be a family without the Mother we hail as blessed?”