Thursday, November 01, 2007

Honoring Mary, Queen of All Saints

Queen of angels, pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of prophets, pray for us.
Queen of apostles, pray for us.
Queen of martyrs, pray for us.
Queen of confessors, pray for us.
Queen of virgins, pray for us.
Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin, pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Queen of the Church, pray for us.

Each time I hear the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Queen of All Saints" seems to stand out as one of Our Lady's most beautiful titles. Each of us has, of course, different patron saints to honor on this Feast of All Saints, but we should also honor Mary, for she is our first patroness.

In The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of how we honor the Blessed Trinity when we honor Our Lady. He speaks of an “old hymn” and a “new hymn;” the old was sung by the Jews in the Old Testament to give thanks to God for creating them, for blessing them, for delivering them from bondage and giving them manna in the desert. The new, St. Louis writes, was prophesied by King David in Psalm 143:9: “I will sing a new song to You.” This hymn is the Hail Mary, or the Angelic Salutation, which Christians sing to give thanks to God for the Incarnation and for our Redemption:

“Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, nevertheless it greatly glorifies the Blessed Trinity because any homage that we pay Our Lady returns directly to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections. When we honor Our Lady: God the Father is glorified because we are honoring the most perfect of His creatures; God the Son is glorified because we are praising His most pure Mother, and God the Holy Spirit is glorified because we are lost in admiration at the graces with which He has filled His spouse.”

Similarly, in True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, St. Louis explains why we honor Mary as our Queen:

“Jesus, in choosing her as His inseparable associate in His life, death, glory and power in heaven and on earth, has given her by grace in His kingdom all the same rights and privileges He possesses by nature. ‘All that belongs to God by nature belongs to Mary by grace,’ say the saints, and according to them, just as Jesus and Mary have the same will and the same power, they have the same subjects…”

The Second Vatican Council writes about the Queenship of Mary in Lumen Gentium, which devotes an entire chapter to Our Lady:

“Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn. She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe, in order that she might be the more thoroughly conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16) and the conqueror of sin and death."

If we look to Christ as our King, then we look to Mary as our Queen, as Queen of Heaven and Queen of All Saints, for God in His love for her has given her this place of honor, and in His love for us He has given her to us as our Mother and as a most perfect example for us to follow as we strive to become saints. As Pope John Paul the Great writes in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Mary was the “first disciple” of her Son, and so she is the greatest saint of all: “Mary was and is the one who is ‘blessed because she believed’; she was the first to believe.

The image is a detail from Madonna of the Magnificat by Sandro Botticelli, an Italian Renaissance artist best known for his Birth of Venus.


Daniel McLain Hixon said...

‘All that belongs to God by nature belongs to Mary by grace,’

Well...not ALL. I mean, she cannot very well become "uncreated" or "necessary (as opposed to 'contingent') being" can she?

I guess that's the sort of talk that makes us non-Roman Christians a little antsy. On the other hand, most of us would do well to pay much more attention to the Virgin Mary, "mother of my Lord" whom "all generations should call 'blessed'" (Lk 1:43-48).

I'm glad to see you guys are keeping up the good work.

Ryan Hallford said...

I appreciate your honesty.

However, I don’t think there is a problem with that quote. God pours out his very self to us and offers Himself as grace. The Virgin Mary through her fiat and receptivity has received this grace perfectly. God withholds nothing from us, not even Himself.

The metaphysical distinctions you are bringing up are important but I don’t agree with your inference. While we may negate the notion of created and contingent being to shed some insight on the nature of God, we cannot reduce Him to these understandings.

God’s nature is Love, God is Love, and He shares himself completely with us. In His love He makes us eternal like Himself. This does not mean He makes us uncreated or a necessary being, but through His grace He makes us like himself in His own image. I repeat: He offers Himself up to us as grace. The very fact that “All that belongs to God by nature belongs to Mary by grace” is because God offers grace to her as gift. The sentence already makes clear that Mary is the vessel of grace and exalted by God. Furthermore, all of us are ultimately called to share in the mystery and nature of God. We are to share in the inner life of the Trinity.

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

Absolutely Ryan,

It was St. Athanasius who said (in "De Incarnatione Verbi Dei" - toward the end), that "He was made man that we might be made God..." Of course I had to ponder that for a bit, but what he is saying is, I think, very much what you are saying - we are "participants of the divine nature" (to quote St. Peter - 2 Pet. 1:4) and as such we are "transformed into to the same image, from one degree of glory to another" (to quote St. Paul 2 Cor. 3:18) - because we really are sharing in the eternal life - the marvelous 'perichoresis' of the Holy Trinity, by grace (as you said, of course) and not by nature (it is the ontological qualification of St. Athanasius' statement that I always feel the need to underscore, just so there's no confusion: "Yes! but no"). So: "yes" to Athanasius and to the quote above...and "no."

Above I should have taken more care to affirm the "yes" while making my qualifying "no" - but then I was being playful, not writing a treatise. As a friend of mine once said: "Our faith is far too serious not to joke about." Or some such thing.

As an aside, I don't (currently) think that the use of metaphysical descriptions is necessarily an exercise in some kind of reductionism (or worse still, idolatry!)(though it certainly can be). But, I believe, at best they are intended to help us think more clearly and rationally about things (by the assisting Grace of God), to avoid confusion (so far as that is possible - there are of course limits to finite and not-yet-perfected intellects).

Ryan Hallford said...

“I dare say there are plenty of metaphysicians in hell” –Thomas Merton

This quote serves no purpose other than I just really wanted to throw it in the mix. I agree, I don’t think metaphysics is the problem. In fact I am quite fond of metaphysics. And even in metaphysics there should be a healthy notion of analogy when speaking about God. As Maritain says the “being is shrouded in mystery.” I don’t think using metaphysics is necessarily a reduction either. Although metaphysical distinctions help clarify and represent the mystery of God and creation in a more meaningful way, we must realize limitations as you have stated yourself.

Paul Cat said...

Mary was also the first catechist.