Mother of the Church
I used to wonder what my favorite term for the Immaculate is. She is greeted with so many titles that probably each of her devotees is particularly close to one of them.
Personally, I rarely call her by name. Mother of God is definitely closer to me, and in a very personal prayer simply Mummy … Everything comes from her Divine Motherhood, all the veneration that is surrounded by Jesus’ disciples.
When we invoke the intercession of Our Lady in the Litany of Loreto, we also call her the Mother of the Church. This is the second title that I often address to her also when it falls me to lead community prayers. And although this title of Mary was solemnly announced only by St. Paul VI on November 21, 1964, its value and pronunciation are present throughout the history of the Church from its beginnings.
Today, in the age of pandemics, unrest in many parts of the world, great social differences, prevailing ideologies and other things far from the Gospel, there are many seers, prophets and apostles of the apocalypse. The thought that we are living in the end times gives rise to all sorts of pious practices that are good in themselves and belong to the wealth of the Church. However, their excessive multiplication seems to betray a certain spiritual anxiety, nervousness, distrust, or a tendency to panic. The fullness of time has come with the coming of the Savior into the world (see Gal 4: 4). The end times full of expectation, longing, trials, and hope are inscribed in the time of the Church (see CCC 672-677). Already from the Ascension, the Lord’s coming is close, and while awaiting this event, the Church is accompanied by Her Mother. You have to listen to your mother. This statement seems so obvious, but it is not always as we think it is.
In private revelations recognized as true and approved by the Church, she says the same as in Scripture through her attitude, presence with Jesus and the young Church. It says the same as in the few words written by the Evangelists. For me, the most specific clue is the command given at the wedding to the servants of Cana in Galilee, whom he sends back to Jesus saying: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2: 5).
The title of Mary, Mother of the Church reminds me of a beautiful medieval Madonna with a Protective Mantle, the original of which is in the Church of St. Nicholas in Markdorf. I have never been there, but I got a picture with her image from a late Franciscan who, years ago, accompanied me in the discernment of my vocation. Today, when we live in times when everything is or must be special, I think that such simplicity and ordinariness are needed in protecting oneself under her maternal protection, with which, under the mantle of Mary, the figures representing the medieval inhabitants of the town are protected. We need simplicity and ordinariness in the spiritual life, prayer and work, in interpersonal relationships within and outside communities.
Then we are most like the Mother when, following Her commands, we live as she lived – in the presence of Jesus. Then we are like her when we let the Spirit of God guide us and permeate us as he fills and guides her. So it is not only about addressing Mary in a solemn, pietistic way in solemn moments, or about undertaking various works or apostolic actions as her Sisters. Rather, it is about daily faithfulness to the simple way of living, following her example, which is also manifested in the forms of piety, the way of being, speaking, behaving …
Finishing my reflections on Mary, our Mother – Mother of the Church, one more thought comes to my mind. The aforementioned time of vocational discernment ended with the decision to enter to the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, although I knew a few other religious congregations, and some of them contributed greatly to my religious development through catechesis, running a group of the Children of Mary, a choir, parish camps and retreats for girls. It is difficult to say why the Lord Jesus brought me here. But I can say with certainty that what distinguished the Sisters of Mary was the simplicity, the family atmosphere that can be felt in the religious house and the ordinariness of the Sisters with whom I had contact then.
Sr. M. Michaela Musiał