“Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from Her union with Christ and flows directly from it.. After Her Son’s Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by Her prayers’. In Her association with the Apostles and several women, ‘we also see Mary by Her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, Who had already overshadowed Her in the Annunciation.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.964-965
It is a beautiful scene to contemplate – the beginnings of the early Church being supported by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Apostles are gathered around Her and they are all united in prayer, this union giving great efficacy to the prayers they are offering, for they are one single body – the Mystical Body of Christ. They are asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit – He is the movement and power behind the Church, His breath it’s very life. And He comes. For Mary, this descent of the Holy Spirit has already happened previously – He has overshadowed Her at the moment of the Annunciation.
Mary is the ‘lightning rod’ of the Holy Spirit.
When Mary and the Holy Spirit are intimately uinited, miracles take place; on the first occasion, at the Annunciation, the Christ Child was conceived; and now, in prayer at the Cenacle, the Spirit will descend once more – and this time, the Church will be born. In this way, Mary is both Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.
Beautiful though this scene, occurring two thousand years ago, certainly is, we should remember that the same scene is, in a sense, re-enacted every time the Church prays; the Mother of the Lord is still with us, uniting Her prayers with ours and giving them great efficacy. The Catechism tells us –
“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which She loyally gave at the Annunciation and which She sustained without wavering beneath the Cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to Heaven She did not lay aside this saving office but by Her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (para.969)
This good Mother hears the prayer of the Church and adds Her own supplication to ours. This ‘saving office’, as the Church refers to it, will continue until the last day.
To have prayed in the company of the Blessed Virgin was most certainly a great joy for the Apostles in those early days. And yet, we share the same joy, even though we do not physically see the Mother of the Lord, whenever we pray. Perhaps this is especially so in the praying of Her holy Rosary, that prayer so greatly loved by Her, and for which She often asks us, promising great graces to those who embrace this devotion.
When we take up our beads, even though we might be physically alone, still the Mother of God is with us and is listening to us. Our concerns are Her concerns – and above all, She is concerned with obtaining for us the great grace of eternal salvation once this life is complete for us.
In ‘Christi Matri’, Pope St Paul VI encourages us to “weave the prayers of the Rosary into mystical garlands for the Mother of Christ”. He goes on to write –
“Nothing seems more appropriate and valuable to us than to have the prayers of the whole Christian family rise to the Mother of God, who is invoked as the Queen of Peace, begging Her to pour forth abundant gifts of Her maternal goodness in midst of so many great trials and hardships. We want constant and devout prayers to be offered to Her whom we declared Mother of the Church..” (CM, para.8)
In praying our beads, let us join with the supplication of Pope Paul – “look down with clemency, Most Blessed Virgin, upon all Your children”.