Mother of God, Mother of Peace

By Chris Sparks

Happy New Year! Every year, Jan. 1 is a solemnity in the Catholic Church, which makes New Year's Day a Holy Day of Obligation. And who do we commemorate on the first day of the new calendar year that could cause the Church to call all the faithful to Mass?

We honor Mary, the Mother of God.

It's fitting that we begin the New Year "under the mantle" of the Mother of God, for we certainly do need her intercession in this valley of tears. Indeed, we have little hope without it.

For the Mother of God is the Mother of the Church, as well, and the Church is the great ark of the new Noah, of Jesus Christ. This great ship is launched in the stormy seas of a fallen world, and designed to rescue the castaways from the universal shipwreck of the fall of humanity and bring us all home to the kingdom of Heaven.

Without Mary, there is no such ship, for as St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, "No Mary, no Jesus."

So Mary matters in a great and fundamental way. And all of the ways in which Our Lady matters to us are founded on the fact that she's the Mother of God. She is the Immaculate Conception because God chose to prepare her for her great role in salvation history. She is the Ark of the Covenant, the Gate of Heaven, and the House of God because she gave Jesus the very blood that is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant (see Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24), bore Him whose very presence is Heaven, and served as the first dwelling place on earth for Incarnate God, the Prince of Peace.

In fact, because she is the Mother of the divine Prince of Peace, Jan. 1 is also the World Day of Peace in the Church. On this day, instituted by Blessed Pope Paul VI, the Church prays for peace. The Magisterium reminds the faithful and the world of the truths that are necessary to establish a right order in the world, a work of the New Evangelization fostering a culture of life leading to a civilization of love.

"We do so," explained Blessed Paul VI in his 1968 message for the first World Day of Peace, "because peace is part and parcel of the Christian religion, since for a Christian to proclaim peace is the same as to announce Jesus Christ: 'He is our peace' (Eph. ii. 14) and His good news is 'the Gospel of peace' (Eph. vi. 15). Through His Sacrifice on the Cross, He brought about universal reconciliation, and we, as His followers, are called to be 'peacemakers' (Mt. v. 9). In fine, it is only from the Gospel that there can spring forth true Peace."

And from Our Lady, the Mother of God, springs forth the Prince of Peace whose coming is the Good News of the Gospel. From Our Lady, then, comes peace.

That's a message that was reiterated at Fatima in Portgual 100 years ago this year. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady said, "God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace." She also said that day, "Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it."

Let's make some New Year's resolutions in this centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary! Let's make our consecration to Jesus through Mary this year, or if we've already made our consecration, let's renew it. Let's also make it our goal to say the Rosary daily in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, with the special intention for peace in the world.

Peace will come through the Mother of God. So she has promised, and her word is trustworthy and true. Let us turn to the Mother of God, the Mother of us all, and ask for peace.

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