Turn, Then, Most Gracious Advocate

Catholic tradition holds August as the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To begin this month, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, is sharing reflections and insights on the great prayer "Hail, Holy Queen." We continue with the seventh line: "Turn, then, most gracious advocate."

Saint Maximilian Kolbe spoke of Mary's title "the Immaculate Conception" as her name in marriage to the Holy Spirit. Is her title "Advocate" another case where she's sharing the name of the Holy Spirit, her Spouse?

There's a certain sense where the Holy Spirit, our Lord, is our Advocate who has been sent to us (see Jn 14:16, 26), and of course, Our Lady, who is so united to the Holy Spirit, is also going to act as an advocate. The Holy Spirit, in a certain sense, takes care of the legalities. It's God who forgives us and takes away our sins. Mary can't do that because she's not God, but as our mother, she pleads our cause. A lot of people might think, "Oh, once again, you Catholics are saying that Mary is God because you're calling her what Jesus said to call the Holy Spirit: the Advocate." But every mother by default, by the very nature of her vocation, is an advocate for her children. And so if Mary is our spiritual mother, then she's advocating, she's pleading on behalf of her children.

In what sense is the Holy Spirit our Advocate?

In the same sense as Mary, but also in a certain more moral sense. We owe God His due, and that means to honor Him, to worship Him. When we sin, we're not doing that; we are offending God. When the Holy Spirit pleads our cause, the Holy Spirit is filling up what we lack because we could never atone for an offense against an infinite eternal God. But God can, and so the Holy Spirit advocates for us to make up for our offenses, not by covering them over, but by pleading our cause as God Himself.

And that's a mystery: We offend God and then God defends us against the very thing that we've done.

So He's both Just Judge and defense attorney.

Yes, exactly! And Merciful Judge. It almost seems to be a contradiction, but it's not, because justice and mercy are in the very nature of God Himself. It's such a great mystery.

And who's the prosecuting attorney?

The evil one, obviously. The devil is the accuser of the brethren (see Rev 12:9-11), the one who's pointing the finger and bringing up all of our faults. God Himself has established Mary to be a mediating mother, to be our Advocate, to help us, because ultimately we have a family in Christianity.

In this line of the prayer, what's Mary turning from and what's she turning toward?

I'm certain that she's turning towards us. No mother, when you make a plea to her, is going to turn away from you. When you cry out, "Mom!" her natural reaction is to look at her children to see what's going on. She's not here on earth, walking in our midst, but in Heaven. By making that supplication, we're saying, "You're gazing upon the Beatific Vision, God's face. Mother, we need you. Turn to us."

You've made that really interesting point that mothers are naturally advocates. How does that affect our understanding of Mary as the "most gracious advocate?"

Since she is full of grace, she has the superlative of every virtue. So she is the most gracious. She's the most tender. She is also going to be so kindly disposed towards us because she's our mother. I think that if
you were facing someone and wanted to ask them something, you might address them in a term that is befitting their office. You would say "Your Honor" to a judge. So with her, you address her by her appropriate titles as a further sign of plea. So "most gracious advocate" - it's just a description that's adding emphasis. "This is who you are, and we know it, and therefore we are calling upon that. Help us."

When American audiences hear "most gracious," we might assume, "She's just really polite." What's "most gracious" mean in this case?

If she's the most gracious, it means she's the most graced. She has the ability to do this - to be an
advocate. She's got the role, she's got the capacity.

So tap into it, call upon it, it's there for a reason. Money doesn't just sit in a box to sit there; it's meant to be used. She's the treasure house of these graces, the plenitude, the fullness. "Empty these blessings upon me, Mother."

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Read the whole series at marian.org/hailholyqueen

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