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Our Lady of the Rosary - Marian Retreat
The Coronation of Our Lady
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Our closing conference is on the Fifth Glorious Mystery, the Coronation of Our Lady, implied, Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and of earth. All Mariologists in commenting on the Rosary say this closing Mystery is a summary of all the Marian Mysteries of the Catholic Church. If we ask why, the answer is very simple. All the previous fourteen Mysteries deal essentially with events in the life of Jesus and Mary that took place on earth - from the Annunciation of Our Lady and Christ's Conception in her womb at Nazareth up to Christ's Ascension and Mary's Assumption. They both, we may say, took place at least initially the starting point was still on earth. But Mary's Coronation took place in Heaven. Our planned scope for this meditation conference will cover the following aspects of what we keep repeating are Mysteries of the Rosary, meaning they are Truths of our Faith that we should try to grow in understanding but we'll never, even into the endless reaches of eternity, fully comprehend. First, what does the Church mean by the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Second, why? Why do we honor Mary as Queen and, therefore, commemorate her Coronation in Heaven? And, finally, always back to earth - How should Our Lady's Queenship affect our personal and collective spiritual lives?
Why the Holy Trinity Crowned Our Lady
First then the meaning of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: The term, Coronation, obviously means the crowning of someone with royal dignity. Now, nobody is crowned with royal dignity unless the person being thus crowned has a right and a claim to the coronation. It therefore means the public recognition that someone either already is, or is thereby, declared to be king or queen. When then we see that Mary was crowned in Heaven and the Mystery follows - her Bodily Assumption, we mean that on reaching Heaven She was, immediately, (and I've got three verbs) recognized as Queen, acknowledged as Queen, and publicly, universally, and we have to add eternally honored as Queen. If we further asked: Who was it Who crowned Our Lady? Again, I've got two verbs. We must say it was ultimately the Holy Trinity. Whatever God does outside of Himself, outside of His own Trinitarian Life, we believe is always done by all Three Persons and we should add simultaneously and further add equally. If we ask why, why should the Holy Trinity have crowned Our Lady? Because she was the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son and as the Church has been saying since the Annunciation: the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. She had been that, of course, before her Assumption, but there's a difference in being something and becoming acknowledged and recognized and publicly honored for who and what you are. That we believe was done once Our Lady reached Heaven in body and soul. Having said that in answer to the question, who crowned Our Lady? We answer, it must, ultimately, have been the Holy Trinity.
Mary is Queen Because Her Son is King
However, more proximately, we may say that on reaching Heaven Mary was crowned by her own Divine Son to whom she gave a human nature. Because and we've got to always keep this on one side; Mary is Queen because her Son is King. But then let's make sure that Christ's Kingship is not only what it had been from the time of creation, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Oh no! Christ is King not only as God: Christ is King, and here with emphasis, as God become Man! The Church, therefore, encourages us to say that while ultimately and finally it was the Holy Trinity; yet proximately or immediately, if you wish, actually, who did the Coronation? It was her Divine Son, ah, but her Divine Son who was her Son as Man; and Divine because He was the Son of the Everlasting Father. That was the first preposition. Mary was crowned by her Divine Son - first preposition - to whom she gave a human nature. Second, for whom she provided all the care and devotion of a loving mother on earth. Mary's Coronation, we may say, was coming to her otherwise - this did not happen - she might well have said after her Assumption; Well, now, Son after all that I've done for you (pardon me) isn't there some public recognition that I will get from You? I repeat; that never happened.
The Church Added the Sancta Maria
Third preposition: She was crowned by her Divine Son with Whom she had stood under His Cross on Calvary and finally, by Whom she was taken Body and Soul into heavenly glory. All of this is locked up in the verb crowning or the noun coronation. I believe that it more than instructive to recall that up to the sixteenth century there were many Litanies of Our Lady. I never counted them - all I know is there were quite a few. But in the sixteenth century, remember, it is during the 16th century that the Church added what we now call the second part of the Hail Mary, remember? It had only been the Ave Maria up to the Name, Jesus. But in the 16th century the Church added the Sancta Maria - the Holy Mary up to, the close and especially, at the hour of our death. Amen. And the reason, as we recall, is to make sure that the tragic Nestorian heresy that had plagued the Church in the early fifth century and which penetrated Protestantism in the, the sixteenth century: that those who would remain believing Catholics would have no doubt that Mary is Mother of God. Because, you see, the first part of what we call the Hail Mary - let's say it together; "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. All of that is veneration, praise. There is not one word of invocation. Ah! The Church wanted to make sure that those who were believing Catholics would not only venerate Mary, but also invoke her. And that is why from the sixteenth century on every believing Catholic goes on: Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen. There is not a single prayer of invocation of Mary in all of world Protestantism, anywhere, anywhere. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. There is not a single prayer of invocation of Mary in all of world Protestantism. Anywhere. Anywhere. Let's make sure we know what we believe, when we believe in Mary as the one who was the Mother of God and whom then, we should invoke to obtain from her what we need.
Use the Litany of Loreto to End the Rosary
We go back to our reflection: That in the sixteenth century it was Pope St. Pius V, the great Dominican Pope and promoter of the Holy Rosary: He decided only one litany from now on from the sixteenth century will be the Litany in the Catholic Church. And he chose what had come to be known as the Litany of Loreto. And guess why Pope St. Pius V chose that litany? Historians tell us because of the muddle of invocations of Mary as Queen. We can invoke Our Lady by many titles - the Pope wanted to make sure one title would stand out; Mary as Our Queen. Over the centuries, especially since St. Pope Pius V, other Roman Pontiffs have added invocations to Mary as Queen and are now part of the Litany of Our Lady. It is in fact a widespread custom to add to the Litany of Our Lady invocations which the Popes have decided on and listen to this: And to use the Litany with which to end the Rosary. Do you do that? All I know, that's the way we were brought up from the Novitiate going back to the time (I would like to say this) of St. Ignatius. In other words, you say the Rosary. So you've said the Rosary. Then you say the Litany of Our Lady - so you say the Litany of Our Lady. Then you close the Litany of Our Lady by invoking her as Queen. Religious communities over the centuries have been authorized by the Holy See to have private invocations of their own like the Jesuits who conclude the Litany of Loreto with the prayer: Queen of the Society of Jesus, pray for us. I can safely say this is part of the rule of the Society of Jesus. Though I think I told you in one of the mystical appearances of Our Lady to St. Ignatius when he was seriously thinking of calling the Order he was founding The Society of Mary, Our Lady appeared to St. Ignatius and said, "Don't you dare! It must be the Society of my Son, Jesus."
Why Mary Is Honored as Queen
Second area of reflection. Why? Why is Mary honored as Queen? Our Lady's right to be addressed as Queen goes back to the Annunciation. Let's briefly recall what the Angel told Our Lady. You shall conceive in you womb and shall bring forth a Son and you shall call His Name, Jesus. He shall be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David, his father. And He shall be King over the House of Jacob forever. And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.
She Is the Queen-Mother
We repeat the question. Why is Mary honored as Queen? Because, well, She deserves to be honored as Queen. Could you be more specific? Sure! Our Lady was thus honored in Heaven on her Assumption because she conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. She is the Queen-Mother. Why is Mary to be honored as Queen? Because She cooperated with her Son, always of course under His authority, listen, in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth and we must add and the Triumphant Church, the Kingdom of Heaven. Except for Her there wouldn't be a Church. There wouldn't be a Mystical Body for the best of reasons - there wouldn't have been a Jesus Christ! And there can be no Mystical Body without a Head! We repeat the question. Why is Mary to be honored as Queen? Because on Calvary She was appointed by her Son to be the Queen-Mother of the Church. Because on Pentecost Her presence and prayers obtain - the Church tells us - the Descent of the Holy Spirit sent by her Son as King to sanctify the Kingdom that he had founded. Finally, because in her Assumption she was reunited with her Son, He, in body and soul: She in body and soul to reign with Him always, always under Him, nevertheless, we may use the preposition with Him, as Queen.
Feast of the Queenship of Mary - Marian Year 1954
Perhaps the most explicit and, as far a I could find out, the most extensive explanation of why and how Mary is Queen was expressed by the same Roman Pontiff Pope Pius XII, when, in the Marian Year, 1954, he instituted a new feast - the Feast of the Queenship of Mary which is now celebrated on August 22, the octave day of Our Lady's Assumption. The Definition came, as we know, in 1950 of Mary's Assumption. The formal declaration of Mary's Queenship in 1954, to be exact December 8, 1954 which, in case you may have forgotten, was exactly one-hundred years since the Definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception by Pius XII predecessor, another Pius - Pius IX. Here is the statement. In my business some people make soap or sell toothpaste. My business is Theology. In my business the best, clearest and sharpest declaration of the Church on what we mean by Mary's Queenship was addressed to the world by Pius XII on the date we've given in the encyclical call Ad Caeli Reginam, To the Queen of Heaven. I quote Pope Pius XII, "The Blessed Virgin has not only been given the highest degree of excellence and perfection after Christ but also shares in the power which her Son and our Redeemer exercises over the minds and wills of men. For if the Word of God through the Human Nature assumed by Him works miracles and gives grace; if He uses the Sacraments and uses His Saints as instruments for the salvation of souls, why should He not use His Blessed Mother's office and activity to bring us to the fruits of the Redemption?" Unquote.
The Principal Means Christ Uses Is His Mother
What is the Pope saying? Clearly, all the blessings of salvation, all the grace, all the benediction, all the light for the mind, all the strength for the will, all the supernatural life that we need to reach Heaven must come from God. But, says the Pope, the principal means, the principal instruments that God become Man uses to exercise His power - which I've underlined in my quotation - the principal instrument that Christ uses is His Mother. In other words, Our Lady is Queen because, hear it, She's got power! I have to say this; She is no nominal monarch like the queen of England. She's got authority. She has influence. She has rights, r-i-g-h-t-s. She is the Mother of the Queen - pardon me - She is the Mother and, therefore, the Queen of the Son of God who is the King of Heaven and earth.
How Marys Queenship Affects Our Lives
We have one more important and practical question to answer. How should have Mary's Queenship influence our own spiritual lives? It is now almost two thousand years of devotion to Our Lady that those who believe in the Divinity of Her Son have paid His Mother. The Faithful have known Mary has powerful influence over Her Son. I would summarize these two millennia of Marian devotion, in another words, how Mary's Queenship has over the centuries affected the lives of all authentic Catholics. I'd summarize this. It has to be in seven words: Learning, Honoring, Thinking, Speaking, Invoking, Imitating and Promoting. How are we to put into practice our Faith in Mary's Queenship as the Mother of the King of all creation?
Learning about Mary
First: Learning about Mary which is the basic respect we owe her as our Queen. The last thing we dare do is ignore Our Lady. In practice, reading about Mary, hearing about Mary, studying, honest! about Mary. Why? In order to enlighten our minds - if there is one area of our Faith which we'd better grow in - we had better grow in our understanding of who Mary is.
Second: Honoring Mary. This means we do something outside ourselves to show our homage to the Queen of the Universe. Like what? Like wearing medals. Like what? Like having statues. Like what? Like having images, and in general any symbolic representation. Again back to my own novitiate - you wouldn't dare turn in a paper unless on the top of the left corner was A.M.D.G., Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam; To the Greater Glory of God. And on the top right corner, B.V.M.H., and the Greater Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If I had not done that faithfully during my two years of novitiate, I'm absolutely sure I would never have been allowed to take my vows. I'm happy to report I still do it. But be sure, I have to tell myself, Hardon, do you know whom you're writing to, take another sheet of paper. Honoring Mary, showing that we recognize we are creatures of flesh and she, listen to this, in Heaven has a pair of human eyes.
Thinking of Mary
Third: Thinking of Mary. If there is one faculty over which our wills have control, let's be sure we know it is the faculty of thinking. We can either stop thinking or start thinking. I've seen it; I can prove it. We can think about A or B or if we want to, Z. And we can skip; think about A for a moment then skip to M and back to K. Third, thinking of Mary. Putting her, and I would like to add, keeping her on our minds. It's only logical to think about someone whom we deeply venerate.
Speaking to Mary
Fourth: Speaking to Mary; meaning that we have the rare privilege - of course we have to call on the resources of Faith to realize what we're doing but we're doing it here on earth (in case nobody told you) we're not in Heaven yet, not yet. She is. Isn't that marvelous! Honest! We can talk to her, our Queen in Heaven and share with her our inmost thoughts and we having a bodily voice, and now we got to change, remind ourselves, and she has bodily ears. Father, you're allowing your piety to get the better of your judgment. No I'm not. Don't you dare call me a pious simpleton: This is Faith!
Fifth: Invoking Mary. This, again, is the logical consequence of our realizing who she is. How much power - to go back to Pope Pius XII's description of Mary's Queenship - it's the authority, it's the power she's got; that for us (on a very earthy level) is what her Queenship should mean to us. You want to get something done, you want to reach the top. So, you either write or call up somebody who knows somebody, who knows somebody else - who still knows somebody else who, finally, can get word to the one who's in charge. Invoking Mary, because we believe she has such power, and Christ has made sure over the centuries, we realize how much power she's got. By whom have most of the attested miracles in Catholic Christianity for two thousand years been performed? By whom? By His Mother. And all of this we know, the miracles, for example, now for almost a hundred years at Lourdes, some astounding physical, marvelous works, like the one described by Alexis Carrel, the Nobel Prize winner - his little book, Voyage to Lourdes. One of his patients, quite some distance from Lourdes, dying of terminal cancer, insisted on going to Lourdes. He didn't have the heart to let her go alone. He was a complete unbeliever, shall we say, made the mistake of going with her. This is the man who was honored by the whole world for the discovery of the suture of arteries and veins; I would not be speaking to you here this afternoon except for Alexis Carrel. Had to have my veins opened and sewn from my heart surgery seven years ago. And then when a genius in surgery describes what he saw happening before his eyes: It just happened! The woman - flesh came back to normal in front of his eyes.
Lourdes Is Not Some Footnote to Our Catholic Faith
We're on number five, invoking Mary. Lourdes is not some footnote to our Catholic Faith! The miracles worked there are God's reminder through His Mother of the power She has to work not only what is more dramatic, physical miracles in the body. She can and she does work moral miracles in the hearts and minds and wills of men and women totally estranged from God.
Sixth: Imitating Mary. This is the highest honor we can pay to Mary as Our Queen - striving to pattern our lives on hers. We could go down the Litany of Our Lady and repeat the virtues by which she is invoked but I'll explain especially imitating Our Queen.
In Her Unwavering Faith
First, in her unwavering Faith, she believed the Child she conceived was her God. She believed the Child she nursed, after His birth, was her Creator. She believed that the limp Body on the Cross bleeding to death was the Lord of Angels and men - She Believed!
Imitating Her Humility
Imitating her Humility: I'm talking to the right audience. The best English translation for Mary's identifying herself is "Handmaid." I know enough Greek to give you five other synonyms. That's the best translation, "handmaid," which means humility. That does not mean, it cannot mean that Mary did not recognize the astounding gifts that she had. Otherwise, there would have been no Magnificat. That's not our problem. The problem we've got is that whatever we've got, or whatever we think we are - unlike Our Lady - we are so naturally prone to not thank God and act on our own gratitude by never, for a moment, not for one mental moment, taking credit for anything good in our lives. My friends, you try to do that for twenty-four hours and I promise you, you'll have a hard job.
Marys Absolute Trust in God
Then, as Elizabeth told her, imitating Mary's absolute trust in God. Trust in God means many things, but it surely means that God keeps the future closed to our eyes. All we have to do live with is our past and the fleeting present. Mary, no more than we, during her stay on earth could read the future. She trusted.
Promoting Devotion to Her Immaculate Heart
Finally, we're asking ourselves: How are we to live out Our Faith in Mary's Queenship? By promoting the knowledge and love of the Blessed Virgin, promoting devotion to her Immaculate Heart by every means at our disposal and in every way, and, I would add, in favor of every person even momentarily touches our lives. I've told too many Jews, Protestants and pagans when they did me whatever favor I was grateful for; I did not do it casually; What is your name? They tell me their name. I will say a rosary for you. A rosary, what's that? This is in airports - where the lady at the ticket counter would change one of those, remember, unchangeable tickets, non-refundable, non changeable. Oh, she said, it's years since I've seen a rosary. Then, depending on the situation: How would you like to have one? Sure! I repeat: promoting, promoting devotion to the Queen of Heaven and earth. She deserves it!
Prayer of St. Ephrem
I'd like to close with an unusual prayer addressed to Mary, the Queen. It's the prayer of a Doctor of the Church, St. Ephrem: My Immaculate and thoroughly Pure Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of the world, Hope of the despairing. You are the Joy of the saints, the Peacemaker between sinners and God, the Advocate of the abandoned, the Haven of the shipwrecked. You are the Consolation of the world, the Ransom of Captives, the Comfortess of the afflicted, the Salvation of the Universe. O great Queen, we fly to your protection. We have no trust in anyone but You, O Most Faithful Virgin. After God, youre our only Hope. We call ourselves your servants. Do not allow Satan to drag us into hell. Hail! Most wonderful Mediatrix between God and men, Mother of Our Savior to whom be glory and honor with the Father and Holy Spirit. Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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