After fifty days of joyous celebration, the Easter Season solemnly closes each year with
the great feast of Pentecost Sunday. This has been traditionally called the "birthday" of the Church,
that day when "all were filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:4) Pentecost occurs ten days after the
Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Acts of the Apostles tells us that during this time the
"apostles were constantly at prayer together, and with them a group of women, including Mary,
the mother of Jesus." (Acts 1:14) The Church has traditionally portrayed the Blessed Virgin Mary
together with the apostles and disciples who were gathered at that first Pentecost. She is the
model of persevering prayer joined in oneness of mind and heart with the first members of the Church.
Mary had been present at the very beginnings of the Church. She was there at the Annunciation when her humble consent in purity of heart allowed the Son of God to take flesh in her virginal womb.
She was also present standing at the foot of the cross as her Son and our Savior redeemed the world as part of God's plan. (Catechism 599-600) There she was appointed to be mother of all those who were brought to life through the death of her only Son. (St. John 19:26-27)
Now, at Pentecost, when the apostolic mission of the Church begins, Mary is present as well. She is the perfect pattern of the church at prayer. "She is invoked as Mother of the Church and the teacher and Queen of the Apostles" wrote Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) in his September 1895 encyclical, Helper of the People (Adjutricem Populi). Pope John XXIII (d.1963) in an allocution in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on December 6, 1960 spoke of Mary as "Mother of the Church and our most loving Mother." (AAS 53, 1961, 35)
Jesus has given us Mary as our mother. She is the mother of Jesus, Who is the head of the Mystical body. We, the members of His Body, look to the Blessed Virgin Mary who cares for the pilgrim church with a mother's love and follows its progress homeward to the eternal splendor of heaven.
The above article appeared in the Fairfield County Catholic January 1996. Reprinted with permission of the author and publisher.
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