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August 19, 1997

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Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

On August 22, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates a memorial in honor of the Queenship of Mary. This memorial is placed an octave, that is, eight days after celebrating Mary's Assumption into Heaven. The Queenship can be considered a prolongation of the celebration of the Assumption.

The following is an excerpt from Servants of the Magnificat: The Canticle of the Blessed Virgin and Consecrated Life, a book published after the 210th General Chapter of the Order of Servants of Mary, 1996:

Queen and Lady

Christ, the slain and risen Lamb, is "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rv 19:16). On earth, though, he was not a king according to the categories of this world (cf. Jn 18:36): he reigned from the cross and with the power of love. Furthermore, the King, paradoxically, was the Servant of his subjects. He washed their feet (cf. Jn 13:4-5), gave his life for them (cf. 1 Jn 3:16; Eph 5:2; Jn 15:13), and wanted their relationships to be shaped by his example of love (cf. Jn 13:34-35, 15:12.17) and mutual service (cf. Jn 13:14-15; Mt 20:25-28; Mk 10:42-45; Lk 22:24-27).

Mary is Queen and Our Lady because of Christ and like Christ. Vatican II, sanctioning a tradition going back to the fourth century, reaffirmed authoritatively the doctrine of Mary's regality: "when her earthly life was over," she was "exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son." (Lumen Gentium 59)

Today there is a noticeable reluctance to apply the title "queen" to the Blessed Virgin. It is judged to belong to a bygone age. Some say it brings to mind more a mariology of privileges than a mariology of service. This discussion has provoked a useful examination of the nature of Mary's regality, its theological basis and the biblical background against which it has to be understood. (For the theological foundations of Mary's regality there is abiding value in the encyclical of Pius XII, Ad caeli Reginam, 11 October 1954), in AAS 46 (1954), 625-640)...

Despite the contemporary controversy, in present day constitutions the titles "Queen" and "Lady" come up with a certain regularity and have substantially the same meaning. In some cases, perhaps, it is possible to note a difference between them. The title Queen is used to indicate, in an almost official way, the final state of the Virgin, seated beside her Son, the King of glory. The title Lady is used with a tone and in a context that are more familial; it alludes to her presence as mistress of the place--monastery or convent--where the members of the institute have placed themselves voluntarily at her service and are engaged in the radical following of Christ.

The titles Queen and and, consequently, the acknowledgment of the Virgin's "dominion," are very frequent in Benedictine monasticism. Their use underwent a notable development in the Cistercian reform movement and in the orders of evangelical--apostolic life that arose from the beginning of the twelfth century onwards. The famous antiphon Salve Regina misericordiae, already known in the eleventh century, is perhaps the most characteristic expression of the way in which the monks and friars turned in supplication to the Blessed Virgin. But in that era, along with the vigorous affirmation of Mary's regality, her maternal dimension and mediating function are attested with equal conviction. In Mary, the exercise of regality is maternal service of compassion. This thought led, already in the thirteenth century, to modifying the beginning of the antiphon with the inclusion of the term Mother: "Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy."

From that time onwards the paired terms "queen" and "Mother" appeared often in liturgical, legislative and ascetical texts of institutes of consecrated life. At times they took on an official character, as in the case of the Carmelite family, for whom the Blessed Virgin is the "Queen and Mother of Carmel."...

Sometimes, for example, the title "queen" refers to the glorious destiny and dignity of the Mother of the Lord, now fully conformed to her Son and sharing in his regality. Members of institutes of consecrated life look with joy to this reality of grace and willingly place themselves under the protection of the Queen of mercy. In other cases, attention is drawn to the way she reigns--like her Son, by the power of love alone--and to the domain where she exercises her regality--in the interior domain, i.e., in the person's heart. This is highlighted in the DeMonfort tradition where she is called as "Queens of hearts."

At other times the title is related to the eminent way in which Mary of Nazareth practiced the evangelical virtues. She is the Queen of virtues, Queen of humility, Queen of purity, etc. Consecrated persons contemplate her virtues and strive to reproduce in themselves the same expressions of Christian perfection. ...

In conformity with the directions taken in post conciliar mariology, ... there is noticeable concern that it not be understood in such a way as to create a sense of distance between the "glorious Queen of heaven" and consecrated persons, who, as pilgrims on earth, struggle daily to meet thechallenges of following Christ radically. ... We can characterize Mary's regality by saying that it is:

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