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Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Aug 3, 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 third line: "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope."

What does it mean to say that Mary is our life?

One of the first things that comes to mind as a Marian is that phrase from St. Stanislaus Papczynski, where he paraphrases St. Paul's words "in Him, we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). SaintStanislaus says, "In Mary after Christ, we live and move and have our being." Obviously, Our Lady is not God, but as many of the Fathers of the Church have said, she is our spiritual mother in the order of grace. She's the New Eve, the Mother of All the Living in the New Covenant.nWe recognize and are grateful we came to life in Christ because of Mary's "yes" at the Annunciation. We all owe our spiritual lives to our mother. Because she's our mother, she is "our life."

How is Mary our sweetness?

Once again, I'll bring it back to something Marian, within our community. When I first joined the Marians, we had this incredible parish in Detroit called the Sweetest Heart of Mary. I always thought that was such a great name. It's pretty unique. After I discovered that parish, I started referring to Our Lady as "my sweet joy," "my sweet delight." When you love somebody, you use endearing terms to refer to them. That's an affective term that gets to the heart of something profound. Mary is so good. She's all-loving; she's all-tender. When you spend time with her and talk to her, pray to her, she has a way of bringing joy and goodness and taking away the sadness.

In life, we're going to experience difficulties and sad moments. But Our Lady always brings us joy and hope and sweetness. She puts sugar on our difficulties. When children fall and hurt themselves, their mother comes, kisses the booboos, gives them sweets, and makes it better. It's like that in the spiritual life, too. When we fall, when we mess up, Mary comes as "our sweetness," our loving mother, to kiss the booboos, so to speak, and bring her maternal tenderness to the situation.

How is that sweetness and mercy tied together in her?
Even if we fall, even if we mess up and hurt God or our neighbor, if we go to Mary, she is more than willing to be that maternal presence of God's love, of God's mercy. The popes have said that she's the maternal face of God's tenderness, of God's goodness. Everyone knows that there's something sweet about a mother's love, a mother's smile, a mother's touch, a mother's gaze. There's something sweet, welcoming, and consoling in that. That's part of her role as the Mother of Mercy.
And so from her, Jesus gets His merciful face, as well. When God became man, He chose to look like the Blessed Virgin Mary. He could have desired to look like anyone else, but He wanted the features of Mary. Just like all children on some level resemble their parents, God the Son looks like His visible parent, the Virgin Mary, which means her countenance has probably just the most amazing joy, peace, love, and sweetness.

How is Mary our hope?

In the eyes of the world, everything fell apart 2,000 years ago on Good Friday. All hope seemed lost. The disciples had run away. One of the disciples ran off naked. Mary Magdalen was crying her eyes out. There was one person still standing there whose heart was filled with hope. We've always seen the Beloved Disciple leaning on her in the images. She's standing, as the hymn "Stabat Mater" says: "the mother stood." She wasn't despairing or lacking trust. She was going through a torturous agony in her maternal heart, but she was an anchor of hope for St. John and for the Church as well, even to the present day. When we're going through agony and all hope seems to be gone, she reminds us it's not. That's why we say "our hope." As our spiritual Mother, she continues to be hope for us in the difficult times, in the times of darkness, when we have trouble seeing what the plan of God is, what the purpose of God is.

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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