Friday, August 22, 2014

Ave Regina Caelorum

"And thus, after having taken mature and deliberate counsel, and being persuaded that great advantage would accrue to the Church if, as a most radiant light upon a candlestick, this soundly proved truth might more clearly shine upon all, We, by our Apostolic power, decree and institute the Feast of Mary the Queen, which is to be celebrated every year throughout the world on the thirty-first day of May." (Pius XII, encyclical letter Ad Coeli Reginam, October 11, 1954)

Thus Pope Pius XII established - in connection with the Church's first "Marian year," 60 years ago - today's festival of the Queenship of Mary (subsequently reassigned in the 1969 calendar from May 31 to August 22, to the Octave Day of the Assumption).

The texts assigned as today's readings for the Liturgy of the Word (Isaiah 9:1-6, the 1st reading at the Christmas Midnight Mass, and Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation story) give today's celebration a decidedly Christmas feel - fittingly enough, for everything we say or celebrate about Mary relates to her special office as Mother of the Incarnate Word. But, within that larger framework which governs all Marian devotion, the calendar particularly connects this celebration with the Assumption. 

The traditional cycle of the mysteries of the Rosary likewise links Mary's Queenship with her Assumption.  In that spirit, I recall today Pope Saint John XXIII's summation of the mystery of Mary's Queenship in his meditation on the 5th Glorious Mystery, which he attached to his 1961 Apostolic Letter on the Rosary.

The meaning of the whole rosary is summed up in this scene of joy and glory, with which it ends.
The great mission which began with the angel's announcement to Mary has passed like a stream of fire and light through the mysteries in turn: God's eternal plan for our salvation has been presented to us in one scene after another, accompanying us along our way, and now it brings us back to God in the splendour of heaven.
The glory of Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother too, is irradiated int he inaccessible light of the august Trinity and reflected in dazzling splendour in Holy Church, triumphant in heaven, suffering patiently in purgatory in the confident expectation of heaven, and militant on earth.
O Mary, you are praying for us, you are always praying for us. We know it, we feel it. Oh what joy and truth, what sublime glory, in this heavenly and human interchange of sentiments, words and actions, which the rosary always brings us: the tempering of our human afflictions, the foretaste of the peace that is not of this world, the hope of eternal life!

[Text: Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul, tr. Dorothy White, 1965]

[Photo: Mural Painting of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Saint Paul the Apostle Church, NY, painted by William Laurel Harris (1870-1924), which portrays Christ's crowning Mary in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, with angels and saints looking on in veneration.]

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