QUEEN AND MOTHER OF MERCY
Rev. Johann G. Roten, SM

The titles "queen of mercy" and "mother of mercy" are frequently attributed to Mary. The title "queen of mercy" (Ent Ant, OP, B, All) celebrates the kindness, the generosity, the dignity of the Blessed Virgin, who from her place in heaven fulfills the role of Queen Esther (see 1 Read, Esther 4:17), "never ceasing to pray" to her Son (Pref) for the salvation of her people as they confidently fly to her for refuge in their trials and dangers.

The title "mother of mercy" (OP, A, Pref, POG) is thought to have been first given to the Blessed Virgin by St. odo (d. 942), Abbot of Cluny (see Vita Odonis I:9: PL 133:47). It is a fitting title of our Lady both because she brought forth for us Jesus Christ, the visible manifestation of the mercy of the invisible God, and because she is the spiritual mother of the faithful, full of grace and mercy; in the words of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, "the Blessed Virgin is called 'mother of mercy,' that is, the most merciful, the most compassionate mother, the most tender mother, the most loving mother."

There are two reasons why Mary is called queen and mother of mercy:

1) A woman who has uniquely experienced God's mercy: "She is the gracious queen who has herself uniquely known [God's] loving kindness and stretches out her arms to embrace all who...call upon her help in their distress: (Pref). These words of the preface echo those of Pope John Paul II: "Mary is...the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has..." (Encyclical Letter Dives in misericordia, no. 9: AAS 72 [1980], pp. 1208-1209).

2) A prophet extolling the mercy of God (see Gos, Luke 1:39-55): for in her Magnificat she twice praises God's mercy: "He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation"; "He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy. (Luke 1:50, 54; see Com Ant, B) The faithful therefore pray that they "may always praise [God's] mercy in company with the Blessed Virgin."(PAC)

Let me offer you a practical application on mercy robed in a little legend:
A rich lord had a falcon that he had trained very carefully. One day the lord and a host of his servants went hunting. When the falcon caught his first rabbit, the lord stroked the bird lovingly. Then, being thirsty, he began to search for water. He soon found an old spring on a hillside where the water trickled out of the earth a drop at a time. The lord held his cup under the spring and waited until it was nearly full. As he brought the cup to his mouth, the falcon flapped his wings, spilling the water.

This happened a second time. When the lord was able to fill his cup a third time the falcon again caused him to spill the water. The lord became so angry that he struck the bird with all his might, killing it instantly.

This time the lord sent a servant to draw water from the spring. He soon returned with an empty cup. "Sir," he began, "the water is not fit to drink. There is a snake in the spring and it has poisoned the water. If you had drunk the water you would have died."

The lord hung his head. "The falcon saved my life, and in anger I killed him for it," he said weeping.

Let us not kill mercy, or those who offer mercy. We killed mercy incarnate once. Without mercy life is too cruel to bear. We who have experienced the mercy of God should be witness to mercy.


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