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Mother Mary Is the Refuge for Weary Souls

For readers of One Peter Five, the crisis in the Church is no secret, but an open wound fifty years old and more. And after the summer of shame and the continuing saga of Viganò, speculation was raised at the onset of January 2020 as to what could possibly go still worse in the Church.

In February and March, we saw the burgeoning Coronavirus Crisis provide occasion for some bishops to impose Communion in the hand. As a result, some faithful voluntarily abstained from the Blessed Sacrament already rather than cause particles of our Lord to fall to the ground and be trampled by men.

Meanwhile, at the end of February, ashes were imposed on us, and we heard the words:

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

“Remember, man, that you are dust, And unto dust you shall return.”

We remembered then that one day we will die. But few could foresee what would happen next.

By Laetare Sunday, whole countries including the United States had completely banned the public celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. One Peter Five’s Eric Sammons wrote ominously at that time:

Darkness has fallen: every single U.S. diocese has suspended public celebrations of the Mass….For American lay Catholics, it’s now Holy Saturday until further notice

Thus this Introit was broadcast to most of the faithful through a livestream, as we saw the rose vestments with a bewildered melancholy:

Lætáre, Ierúsalem…

Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all you who love her: rejoice with joy, you who have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.

I rejoiced because they said to me, We will go up to the house of the Lord.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen.

The public celebration of Triduum was banned from the Eternal City. Easter began, yet the whole Church seemed to groan with the words of Mary Magdalene on Easter Thursday: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord: and I know not where they have laid him (Jn. 20:13). We knew that the Lord was risen, but we were deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the same. As Lee Gilbert wrote: “In the Midst of Eastertide, Lent Continues for Us.” Indeed, prominent lay leaders organized a day of fasting during Paschaltide itself to beseech the Lord in the midst of this crisis.

Meanwhile, deprived as we were from sacramental grace, numerous online Catholics showed the world just how much Catholics can fight with each other over the SSPX controversy and every other topic. As Steve Skojec wrote about throwing gas onto this “dumpster fire” of Catholicism 2020:

Stuck at home, spending even more time than usual online in a quest for social interaction, it seems we’ve been arguing about everything. We battle it out over pandemic-related statistics and medical studies. We form tribes and camps over the economic fallout of the response to the virus versus concerns over health and safety. We line up in our respective trenches over whether we love our government leaders or think they’re the biggest idiots in the world, lobbing insults and derision at one another in a bid to prove that we are on the right side of history, and everyone who disagrees with us is a fool.

In all our devouring of brethren, our hearts and souls have burned with longing: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God? (Ps. 41:3–4). Indeed, Holy Saturday has continued and will continue. So we turn to her who held the whole Church on Holy Saturday — the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have come finally to this month, and here we find some respite.

Month of May, month of Mary! The heart of every Christian turns spontaneously toward his heavenly Mother, with a desire to live in closer intimacy with her and to strengthen the sweet ties which bind him to her. It is a great comfort on our spiritual way, which is often fatiguing and bristling with difficulties, to meet the gentle presence of a mother. One is so at ease near one’s mother. With her, everything becomes easier; the weary, discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage. [1]

Hail, Holy Queen

She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, even as in her reign all the saints. For it is Christ the King who has exalted fallen man to the heavens, she being the first fruits of this exaltation, even from her immaculate conception. She is the Queen of the Kingdom of Christ. She stands and looks upon the Sovereign, His Majesty, to whom all power in heaven and on earth is given (Mt. 28:18). Her royalty tells us that Jesus Christ is on the throne, no matter what may come. The queen stood on thy right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety (Ps. 44:10). He Who is risen also reigns. To him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honour, and glory, and power, for ever and ever (Apoc. 5:13). She is witness to His power and dominion, and through her we trust in His merciful rule of providence.

Mother of Mercy

St. Thomas says that one who is merciful is “affected with sorrow at the misery of another as though it were his own” (S.T. I q21 a3). This is the maternal solicitude of our Queen. She has already borne more sorrows on Holy Saturday than we endure now. But she takes upon herself the miseries of her children who faint with despondency. She is the mother who is suffering with us and making our sufferings her own.

Our life, our sweetness, our hope

Mary shows us what Christ cannot — the glorification of Christ in man. Mary is a human who has been glorified by God. She manifests that God fulfills His promise to save fallen man from eternal damnation, and yet more to raise him to His throne. In Mary, Christ fulfills His words: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself (Jn. 12:32). Christ incarnates God within our Lady as in His temple, saving her just as He will save each of us who stand fast as she did on Holy Saturday. He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved (Mt. 24:13).

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve

A mother always hears the cries of her children. She cannot bear to leave them without comfort. She cannot let these cries go unanswered. But we cry from under the curse of fallen Eve, longing to be set under the mantle of the New Eve in this life and the next. We cry to our true mother, forsaking Eve. Even if we are forsaken by men in this vast crisis, we will not abandon our cries to her. For by her “receiving that Ave,” she will “change the name of Eva” and “establish us in peace” [2].

To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears

For we who are children of Eve have only this valley of tears. I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears (Ps. 6:7). Mary is the mother of mercy who is always present at every step of our Lord’s Passion. He who has prayed thy will be done (Lk. 22:42) does not take away His cross from us, but in Mary He gives us the strength to bear it. And so we look up from this valley of tears, this valley of Ben Hinnom (Jer. 19:6).

Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us

We want to know the gaze of our mother to see our pain and embrace us. When nothing makes sense, our mother’s mercy is truth. She accepts the poor sinner and weary soul and becomes their refuge. Few things in this calamity have certainty and clarity. She is the answer when we have no words to form questions.

And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus

Her radiance is the truth of the Resurrection. She stood on Holy Saturday because she hoped He would rise as he said (Mt. 28:6). On Holy Saturday she was the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not (Heb. 11:1). For we stand at the tomb, weeping, for we do not know where He is in this crisis. It is the mother whose hope tells us where He is. Then in the midst of our tears He will call us by name, as with Magdalene, when He through His priest says in our presence: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi. Then we will have the happiness to hear: Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam, amen.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary

There will be an ending to misery, even if things get much worse. The Virgin Mary is the refuge and hope for all who are despairing. For when all others fell away, she remained by the grace of God. When all others failed, she overcame by the grace of God. We too, her little children, will not fail, if only we receive the grace of God as she did. Behold is my bitterness most bitter (Is. 38:17) but she is our sweetness. Let the Church take refuge in Mary and say with her to the Lord of history:

Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may be to me according to Thy word (Lk. 1:38)

[1] Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy (Baronius: 2010), 489

[2] Hymn Ave Maris Stella

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