September is a colourful month that brings smiles on our faces, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Heavenly Mother. The feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrow, which we celebrate this month, also unfold our Christian faith, indicating to us that there is joy in suffering. During this month, we also come across some renowned saints in the liturgy, among others, St Gregory the Great, St Theresa of Kolkata, St Peter Claver, St Mathew, the Apostle and Evangelist, St Pius of Pietrelcina, the Holy Archangels Sts Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These show how the holiness of God manifests itself through human frailty in myriad forms as each created reality, and human beings reflect a ray of his infinite goodness.

1. Papal Intention: Respect for the Planet’s Resources: In September, Pope Francis invites us to pray that the Planet’s resources will not be plundered but shared in a just and respectful manner. The created realities are God’s handiwork, and they manifest the glory of God. God has shown what we can know about him through the created realities. St Paul writing to the Romans says: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom 1: 19-20). Nature shines in all its splendour in these months and invites us to contemplate God’s mystery through the created realities. The author of beauty created them, and from their power and working, we are called to perceive “how much more powerful is he who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13: 4-5). Given these rich insights from the Holy Scripture, and as we come closer to nature these days, let us give heed to the voice of the Holy Father to pray that the nature’s resources may be shared in a just and respectful manner by all the inhabitants of the earth.

2. Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Heavenly Mother: This long tradition of honouring our Blessed Mother with flowers, novena, the blessing of new corn, and family reunion together with the celebration of the Day of the Girl child makes September 8 very unique. Mary is the honour of our race, and the most precious gift humanity could give to the Father for the birth of His Only Son. We do not have anything more precious than Mary, born in our humanity. She is the most beautiful person, Tota Pulchra. When artist James McNeill Whistler was complimented on the portrait of his mother, he said: “You know how it is; one tries to make one’s Mummy just as nice as one can.” When God became Man, he too made his Mother as lovely as he could, a perfect Mother.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen calls her The World’s First Love. According to him, “before taking unto Himself a human nature, He consulted with the Woman, to ask her if she would give Him a man” (The World’s First Love, 14). And Mary said, Yes. She is the perfect blend of ideal and real, paragon of all virtues. The Archbishop writes: “There is, actually, only one person in all humanity of whom God has one picture, and in whom there is a perfect conformity between what He wanted her to be and what she is, and that is His Own Mother. Most of us are a minus sign, in the sense that we do not fulfil the high hopes the Heavenly Father has for us. But Mary is the equal sign. The Ideal that God had of her, that she is, and in the flesh. The model and the copy are perfect; she is all that that was foreseen, planned, and dreamed. The melody of her life is played, just as it was written. Mary was thought, conceived, and planned as the equal sign between ideal and history, thought and reality, hope and realization” (The World’s First Love, 12-13).

Mary is the eternal blueprint in the mind of God, of any mother. She is the Mother of mothers. As a mother is the first love of any child, Mary is not only the first love of God but also that of humanity. How meticulously God has thought of her from all eternity! This beautiful girl child is given to us so that, looking at her, we love our own mothers and love every girl child who is called to be a mother, either biologically or spiritually or both.

There is a famous saying: “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” Mother Mary is found everywhere and the moment we call her, she is present for us. Her heart is attentive to our prayers. She is honoured with 54 titles in the Litany of Loreto, with the three additions done recently. We ask her to pray for us. She responds quickly. Her will coincides with that of God. God shows us that she is the epitome of all virtues that humanity could attain by being faithful to God’s word. All generations would call her blessed, and we are lucky to belong to this group, which acknowledges her blessedness. She is blessed among women because of the fruit of her womb. Indeed, the delight of God’s eyes is given to us as our Mother. Let us rejoice at the birth of Mary and at the arrival of every child, and especially at the birth of every girl child, the future mother.

3. The Sorrowful Mother: John the Evangelist presents Mary, as the most faithful disciple, standing at the foot of the Cross. She was courageous, and therefore, she stood and offered her Son to the Father. While for three hours Christ was hanging on the nails, Mary was standing, observing her dying Son, shedding his blood drop by drop. The surrounding atmosphere was of great hostility and cruelty and to stand consciously as the mother of the condemned man required immense strength and courage. Simeon’s prophecy of sword piercing her heart was then fulfilled but her suffering and pain did not come to an end. Before the birth of God’s Son she was consulted and now again from the Cross, the Son asks her consent to receive the whole humanity as her own. God never imposes. He only proposes and Mary disposes herself for the realization of his plans for the sinful humanity.

Mother Mary suffers even today in her children, especially in the daughters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers who suffer in their own family circles and society. May the compassionate Mother accompany all these women and girls who suffer injustice, robbed of their dignity and worth. May she become their solace and consolation. Let us learn to rejoice in our suffering for the sake of Christ our Lord, and prepare ourselves to participate in his glory.

I wish you all a Happy Feast of the Nativity of Mother Mary. May she protect our families and keep us all under her mantle.

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

 

 

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