Mary Page News

March 4, 1997

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Mary, Motherly Presence Throughout History

Mary, Motherly Presence Throughout History

The theological-historical commission for the Holy Year 2000 has just published a book, Jesus Christus, Wort des Vaters [Jesus Christ, Word of the Father]. Authors from five nations contributed to its publication, and its forward is written by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. Publisher: Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg.

The following is a translation of excerpts in chapter 10, part 1:

1. Mary, Motherly Presence Throughout History

Mary has been present from the start, first as the motherly protectress of Jesus, then as one who accompanies the Church throughout the history of Christianity. That is why the Christian people, filled with hope, turn to her with all their hearts. Generations of mothers have entrusted to Mary's motherly protection the futures of their children, the joy and harmony of their families as well as the peace of the nations. Countless numbers of the sick have called on her for physical healing and spiritual consolation. Through prayer to her, many of the poor have found the strength to carry on and to continue to hope:

We greet you, O Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our delight and our hope, we greet you!"

In the Eastern, Russian tradition there is an icon where Mary's mantle covers the city of Moscow and protects it from enemies. The pokrov, mantle, symbolizes her assisting presence over the city. For centuries the Blessed Virgin has protected those who dwell in the city and villages, their streets, their houses and their work - and she is still active in this way today. It is an invisible, but effective motherly presence. As a result, no Christian fails to turn to her and ask her for help, encouragement and consolation. It is an intensive, continuous dialog of confident hearts.


Early 20th Century Devotional

In the Marian hymns of the first centuries, the hymn of the third hour states:

O, Mother of God, you are the true vine, who gives us the Fruit of Life .... Hope, protection, refuge of Christians, one invincible wall, a safe harbor for the shipwrecked and shattered are you, o pure Mother." (TM I, = Testi Mariana del primo millennio: Rom 1988-1991, Vol; I-IV p. 924).

In an ancient theotokion (Hymn to Mary) she is addressed an hope of the world: "O Mother of God, you ... have proven yourself to be the throne of cherubs and have carried in your arms the Hope of our hearts. Noble hope of the world, we ask you for your powerful protection: have mercy on a erring people; pray for the mercy of God, that he free our hearts from all contrariness, o only Blessed" (TM I, p. 929). A maglinarion (hymn relating to the Magnificat) praises Mary with the words:

Mother of God, hope of all Christians,
shield, defend and protect those who hope in you.
(TM I, s. 947)

In the light of Mary's presence from the time of the Early Church on, Mary's presence may not be missing in the preparation for the great jubilee celebrations of the Year 2000.

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