Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala ... ” (John 19:25.)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Mary, the mother of the Lord, stood by her Son’s cross. No one has taught me this but the holy Evangelist John. Others have related how the earth was shaken at the Lord’s passion, the sky was covered with darkness, the sun withdrew itself5 and how the thief was, after a faithful confession, received into paradise.6 John tells us what the others have not told, how the Lord while fixed on the cross called to his mother. He thought it was more important that, victorious over his sufferings, Jesus gave her the offices of piety than that he gave her a heavenly kingdom. For if it is the mark of religion to grant pardon to the thief, it is a mark of much greater piety that a mother is honored with such affection by her Son. “Behold,” he says, “your son.” “Behold your mother.” Christ testified from the cross and divided the offices of piety between the mother and the disciple.

Nor was Mary below what was becoming the mother of Christ. When the apostles fled, she stood at the cross and with pious eyes beheld her Son’s wounds. For she did not look to the death of her offspring but to the salvation of the world. Or perhaps, because that “royal hall”7 knew that the redemption of the world would be through the death of her Son, she thought that by her death she also might add something to that universal gift. But Jesus did not need a helper for the redemption of all, who saved all without a helper.8 This is why he says, “I am counted among those who go down to the pit. I am like those who have no help.”9 He received indeed the affection of his mother but sought not another’s help. Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of maternal virtue. For neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son.” (Letter 63)

O God, Father of mercies,
Whose Only Begotten Son,
as He hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother,
to be our Mother also,
grant, we pray, that with her loving help
Your Church may be more fruitful day by day
and, exulting in the holiness of her children,
may draw to her embrace all the families
of the peoples.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen