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Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest

Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest is the long-awaited book by Fr. Donald Calloway, author of the bestselling book No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy. In Under the Mantle, Fr. Calloway deftly shares his personal insights on topics including the Eucharist, the papacy, the Church, confession, Divine Mercy, prayer, the cross, masculinity and femininity. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the central thread weaving a tapestry throughout with quotes about Our Lady from saints, blesseds, and popes. Under the Mantle is certain to become a "tour de force" Marian book for the Year of Faith!

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'I Will Be Your Mother Now'

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
— Jn 19:26-27

By Chris Sparks

My grandmother loves Mary — and Mary loves my grandmother.

My Grandma Doumit is Irish, fresh off the airplane. A war bride, actually — she met my grandfather when she was a nurse during World War II and he was an Army Air Corps mechanic. And of course, as an Irish Catholic, she's always loved the Blessed Mother. But for us, it's a family thing.

She's told us the story of her father, the local policeman, being brought in by the British to be shot at dawn for collusion with rebel elements in Ireland.

And she's told us how her mother gathered her Rosary group and marched with those ladies right down to where her husband was supposed to be killed. My great grandmother prayed her way in between those guns and her husband, and prayed her way back out again, husband safely in tow.

It's been a family thing, repeatedly, the Mother of God as close as anything, as loving as anything, especially when someone was dying or dead, when trouble threatened, when need was great.

My grandmother has told us the story of her mother's early death. Grandma Doumit was young, then, far too young at 11 to lose a mother, far too young to grow up without her. She went upstairs, she said, to be in her mother's room, and she cried as she sat on the bed.

But then she looked out the window, and Mary was standing there, as real as life, looking up at my grandmother in the window and holding out her arms to her. My grandmother knew what the Mother of God was saying: I will be your mother now. My grandmother looked away, then back — and Mary had gone.

But ever since, my grandmother has dedicated her family to Mary, tucking them into the Mother's arms with every Rosary. Grandma Doumit has had many children since then and prayed many more Rosaries since then, and her family has been placed in Mary's arms every time.

I guess you could say Mary is my adoptive great grandmother, in a way. And so it's especially fitting for the family that Mother's Day should come in the month of May — Mary's month. It's fitting that we celebrate our mothers on earth and in heaven, praying to Mary for our mothers on earth and in purgatory.

All of us were adopted by Mary when God the Son gave us to her from the Cross in the person of John, the beloved disciple. All of us are children of Mary. So this Mother's Day, May 12, pray to Mary for your mother, grandmothers, godmothers, and great-grandmothers. Ask the Mother of us all to pray for us all. It's a family thing, you see.

Chris Sparks graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2011 with a Master's in Theology. He lives in Tumwater, Wash., and writes for Franciscan Way, Lay Witness, and other publications.

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mary-louise — May 20, 2013 - 18:11 EDT

I don't see how this meant she was our mother. In those days, a woman had to be cared for by a man, especially a Jewish woman. If Joseph was dead, and IF Jesus had no blood brothers, then it would be natural that He would assign someone to care for her. While I accept what the Church teaches in this regard, I think some of the explanations are a bit of a stretch.

Chris Sparks — May 22, 2013 - 18:24 EDT

The clearest teaching on Mary's motherhood, in my opinion, can be found in Revelation 12.

"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod."--Revelation 12:1-5

We see clearly that the woman is the Mother of the Messiah (he who will rule the nations with an iron rod; cf. Psalm 2; ; Revelation 19:11-15). She stands for Daughtor Zion/Israel; the Church; and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

At the end of Revelation 12, we read:

"Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus."--Revelation 12:17

Mary, the Mother of the Messiah, is also the Mother of those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. She is the Mother of Christians, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of All the Living.

Lisa Wanslee — May 25, 2013 - 13:09 EDT

Yes Mary is our mother. I believe this - my own mother Mary Ann passed away on Ascension Thursday - May 9, 2013. Our hearts are broken - but we know she is in heaven. We buried her in a simple wood box with The Chaplet of Divine Mercy hand carved on the sides. With our mother gone - we know Mother Mary is the mother of all and keeps watch over us until we can be reunited with our Sweet Mama!

Marcus Daly — Jun 4, 2013 - 23:27 EDT

Wow, Lisa! I don't think I've ever been to the Divine Mercy News site before and here I am, tonight, reading what you've written about your wonderful Mama. God bless you and your family! And thank you Chris Sparks.


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