By Father Roch Kereszty
Special to The Texas Catholic
The liturgical calendar designed after the Second Vatican Council has transferred the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary from Oct.11 to the first day of the New Year, Jan. 1.
The celebration of the beginning of the New Year with Mary’s feast day gives me the opportunity to attempt an answer to a question I was asked several times regarding Mary.
How can Mary be close to us if she is so different from us: conceived without original sin, never guilty of any personal sin, and shining with the fullness of God’s grace? How can she help us who are burdened and deformed by sinful habits and addictions? And more fundamentally: why does God give so much to one of his creatures and so little to most of us?
Mary’s sinless beauty and fullness of grace, however, are God’s gift not only for her but also for us. God wanted to create for us the best possible mother. Does the best of mothers not love her children more than herself? Isn’t she more anxious about their regaining God’s grace, preserving it and arriving safely to heaven than we ourselves ever could be?
Her love for us is coextensive with her grace. Her fullness of grace means her fullness of love. At the same time, her spotless purity helps her experience the tragedy of our sinfulness with much sharper sensitivity than we ever could. She sees so much more clearly how dangerous our illness is than we ever dare to admit to ourselves. Therefore, her motherly love is tenderly and intensely engaged in trying to heal us from these sins. And not only is she healing us with God’s forgiving love. She wants to share with us the fullness of her grace.
Being the beloved daughter of the Father, she wants us to become beloved sons and daughters of the same Father and so brothers and sisters of her Son. She finds her joy in seeing us put on Christ, be conformed to Christ and shine with the splendor of Christ’s grace. So whenever we feel jealous that God was so generous with her and not so generous with us, we should listen to what I think would be her answer:
My dear child, don’t you see that God entrusted your treasures to me, the treasures he has decided from all eternity to give you from my hands? Do you think I am jealously clinging to my privileges? Don’t you realize that I told Bernardette in Lourdes that I am the Immaculate Conception not that I am the immaculately conceived one? I meant that all the beauty and splendor of my Immaculate Conception I want to share with my children. I am accompanying you now as your mother but I am also the Woman clothed with the Sun who waits for you at the end of your days. Then all of you who have accepted my Son will be shining with my immaculate holiness and beauty, each according to his or her capacity.
Can we have a better companion, a better mother to accompany us every day of the New Year?
We also see now that it is not out of lack of love that God gives more to one than to the other. He wants us to serve one another, transmit to one another his gifts. We need to learn to give what is ours and to receive with humility from others what we need. Choosing Mary before everyone else is ultimately for the sake of everyone else. He enables Mary to give generously and enables us to receive humbly, for her to become a universal mother, for us to rejoice in becoming her children.
Father Roch Kereszty, O.Cist., is a theologian and monk at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas in Irving. His column will appear occasionally in The Texas Catholic.