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Recommended Reading — Set 9

Why We Honour Mary

Extract from “Second Exodus” by Martin K. Barrack
Magnificat Institute Press, Houston, U.S.A. 1999
(Permission to display extract has been applied for.)

Why We Honour Mary

“Honor thy father and thy mother.” The Hebrew word kaboda literally means “to glorify.” Christ did more than glorify His heavenly Father. He also bestowed His divine glory on His earthly mother. Since we imitate Christ, we honor who Christ honors, with the same honor that He bestows.

The story is told of a man who grew apples in his orchard. Each year, this man chose the finest apples and brought them as a gift to the king. The king looked forward each year to the man’s arrival. But one year a drought blighted all the apples in the kingdom. Even the best of the man’s apples had blemishes. What would he do? He could not bring such blemished apples to the king, and he did not want to anger the king by not bringing a gift that year. So he took the apples and explained the problem to the queen. The queen took each apple and carefully cut away the blemishes. Then she used the good parts to bake a delicious apple pie. The queen brought the freshly baked pie to the king, who declared that it was the finest gift the man had ever brought!

In the days of the Old Covenant, the Israelite kings had numerous wives. The wives constantly intrigued for power and position, so the king could never really trust any of them. Only one woman, the king’s mother, had an undisputed position. She therefore served as queen. The gebirah, or queen mother, was traditionally the advocate to the king for all the people of the kingdom. King Solomon’s family shows the gebirah’s importance. (1 Kgs. 2) Solomon’s own brother Adonijah wanted Abishag the Shunamite, a former concubine of King David, for his wife. Adonijah didn’t just go to his brother the king. He went to their mother, Bathsheba, and asked her to speak to Solomon. Bathsheba then went and asked Solomon to grant the favor.

The parallels between Bathsheba as queen mother and Mary as queen mother are striking. Solomon was called (2 Chr. 1.1) “Son of David;” Jesus was also called (Mt 22: 42) “Son of David.” When Adonijah asked Bathsheba to intercede, he told her, (1 Kgs. 2: 17) “He will not refuse you.” Bathsheba began her request with, (1 Kgs. 2: 20) “Do not refuse me.” Solomon told her, (1 Kgs. 2: 20) “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.” Nor could Jesus refuse His mother at Cana.

Mary is the gebirah, the advocate to Jesus for us all. The twelfth century Salve Regina puts it: “…To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus, O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

How We Honor Mary

There are many Marian devotions within the Church.
We will look at only the two most important ones.

Hail Mary

The first is the “Hail Mary.” It is a simple prayer:

Hail Mary, full of grace;
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.

The first two lines come from the archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary before he announced the coming of Jesus (Luke 1: 28). The next two were said by Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came to visit her:
(Luke 1: 42)
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” The last two lines, our prayer that Mary will intercede for us now, and when we need God’s mercy most of all, were included in the breviary published by Pope St. Pius V in 1568.

The Rosary

The second devotion fulfills Mary’s prophecy (Luke 1: 48) “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” After the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours the Rosary, or gift of roses for Mary, is the most powerful way we can receive God’s blessing. The Rosary is a devotion to Mary through the fifteen mysteries. The five Joyful Mysteries are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, and the Finding in the Temple. The Sorrowful Mysteries are the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion. The Glorious Mysteries are the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and the Coronation of Mary. For each of these mysteries, we recite the Our Father, ten Hail Marys (called a “decade”), and the Glory Be. Each of these prayers is a spiritual rose that comes out of our mouth as a gift to Mary. Jesus loves to see His mother get roses from us, her children.

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