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Mother of Mercy

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Aug 2, 2018)
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 second line: Mother of Mercy.

Who first called Mary "Mother of Mercy"?
A Benedictine, St. Odilo of Cluny (ca. 962-1048). He's from just before the time of St. Bernard. If you talk to most Mariologists, that's the first time that we have that title, Mother of Mercy, written down.

In what ways is Mary the Mother of Mercy?
The prayer itself is talking about Mary, the Mother of Mercy, as the mother of the graces and the mercy that are given to us, especially in the form of the Sacraments, the teachings of the Church, all those great blessings that we can receive from God. So that's one way she's Mother of Mercy: She's the Dispentrix or Mediatrix of the mercies of God. Then, obviously, she is Mother of Mercy by being the Mother of Jesus Christ because He is the Divine Mercy Incarnate. So she is the Mother of the Divine Mercy.

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. Why would a perfectly pure, spotless human being be the Mother of Mercy? Wouldn't it make more sense for the Mother of Mercy to be someone who had sinned and then been the recipient of mercy? No, because there are two ways to give someone mercy, and one way is better than the other. The classic analogy is there's two ways to save someone from a pit. Once they fall in the pit, you get them out. They're already dirty, but you showed them mercy by getting them out of the pit. But there's a better way: to show them prevenient mercy so that they never fall into the pit in the first place.

That's why, in her Magnificat, she refers to God as her Savior. God showed our mother great mercy when He made her immaculate from the first moment of her conception. Why did he do that? Because He knew He was also going to give to that clean, pure, immaculate person other extraordinary graces that would be a benefit, not only to that person, but to everyone else.

She's going to be the Mother of all the children of God. A mother can't give what a mother doesn't have. If she doesn't have God's mercy in the most perfect way, then she's going to be incapable of being the pure channel, the Mediatrix of mercy. That's why it's so important that we understand that she has experienced the mercy of God in a greater way than anyone else, not because she's a sinner, but because she's been predestined, planned ahead of time to be the mother of all of us so that we can acquire sinlessness like she has. Without our mother, we're not going to get sinlessness.

Why can sinners expect mercy from someone who has never fallen?
Once again, it goes back to motherhood. It's what a mother does. Our Lady is able to see us in our pitiable state of fallenness. She knows that our faith doesn't work perfectly, our reason is darkened, we struggle, doubt, and so forth. That draws her to us even more. We always say it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, right? It's the same thing in the family of God. We read in St. Faustina's Diary, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to my mercy" (723). You can look at that and say, "What kind of nonsense is that?" But it's the ones who are the most wounded with the most baggage that draw our Heavenly Father and our spiritual mother to their side with a special love because we're talking about a family. This is a bad analogy, but in a family, if you have a child who is handicapped in some way, they tend to get more of the time of the parents. It's the same thing in the family of God. He goes looking for the lost sheep, the wounded, in a particular way. Because Mary is our spiritual mother, she does the same thing.

How does Mary help give birth to mercy in our lives?

As a mother, she wants her children to be happy. The only way that we're going to be happy is to orient everything in our lives towards our ultimate end, which is God. When we talk to her, she helps us do that by encouraging us to go to those things that will aid us in becoming holy and virtuous, and ultimately become happy and live the beatific vision. She points us to the Church, the Sacraments, reading the Scriptures, praying the Rosary, going to frequent Confession, learning the virtues, learning how to tame your tongue, learning a life of doing good to others, doing good, avoiding evil. She draws us into all those mercies, so she's the Mediatrix of those mercies.

Share the Hail, Holy Queen with your family, friends, and community with our prayercard. To order, visit ShopMercy.org or call 1-800-462-7426.


Read the whole series at marian.org/hailholyqueen

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Marlene - Aug 3, 2018

I was just looking at my Facebook account. I am feeling very depressed this morning and a fallen away Catholic. I stop and readed this article. I always had a great Love for Mary. Thank you for posting this!

Sonia - Aug 2, 2018

Thank you so much for this. I've wondered what that line meant.