The Queenship of Mary

coronationTomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Queenship of Mary.  The feast comes on the octave of (that is, one week after) the feast of her Assumption.  The Assumption celebrates Mary passing from this world to the next, and is the bigger feast.  But as a conclusion of that feast, the Church gives us a meditation on what heaven is like for Mary.  Mary is Queen.

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Now, the first thing to see here is that this privilege is not unique to Mary.  St. Peter says we are a “royal” or “kingly priesthood” (I Pet 2:9).  Paul says, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim 2:11-12).

And in John’s great book about heaven, Revelation, he says, “God made them a kingdom and priests, and they reign on earth” (Rev 5:10).  “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast, nor his image, nor had received his mark upon their foreheads,or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20:4).  “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years” (20:6).  “There shall be no night there; and they need no candle, nor light from the sun; for the Lord God gives them light.  And they shall reign for ever and ever” (22:5).

As in all things with Mary, she shows only the perfection of union with Christ, the highest perfection to which all are called.

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Mary, and Mary’s Queenship, simply shows us perfect conformity with God – reigning with Christ, by entering into Christ’s reign.

The greatest theologians say it is unclear how exactly Mary reigns with Christ – or, in what sense Mary is “Mediatrix of All Graces,” as Catholic piety sometimes wants to say.

Does Mary herself distribute God’s grace?  Or does she merely ask God, and he does whatever she asks?  Garrigou-Lagrange, for example, says we don’t know.

What’s interesting is that it amounts to the same: what Mary asks for, happens – because Mary asks for exactly what Christ wants her to ask for.  She reigns because she has perfect conformity to Christ’s plan.  To be perfectly part of his kingdom is to share in his reign.

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The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are always useful for thinking through what grace really means, and who Mary is – but they are especially helpful here.

In heaven, Mary has perfect wisdom.  She sees God, and in seeing God she sees all things perfectly, and the place all things have in God’s perfect plan.  Her reign is founded first on seeing as God sees.

From this flows also perfect understanding.  In the Beatific Vision, Mary understands all of Scripture, all of Christ’s words, all the ways he intends things to be.  A perfect Queen is so at one with the King that both would order the same thing.  That is Mary.

Next comes the gift of counsel, which merely means that in the difficult cases, the Holy Spirit illumines her eyes to see the relevant detail, and so to know exactly what is necessary to make the perfect choice.  We call Mary “Our Lady of Good Counsel” because she sees as God sees.

From counsel flows the gift of fortitude.  Completely caught up into conformity with Christ through the driving force of the Holy Spirit, and so with her eyes completely on the Father, Mary never fails to follow through, never gives up before the time.  We could say Heaven is less like being stuck in a place then like having the strength to cling tenaciously to the clouds.  Mary never fails.

Then comes the gift of knowledge, which is merely the created side of the gift of wisdom: Mary sees and appreciates creation exactly as God wants it.

The center of creation is the children of God.  The gift of piety means Mary loves God’s children, the citizens of his city, the way they deserve to be loved – and so participates perfectly in his providence for them.

And finally, the gift of fear, like the gift of fortitude, means she shudders ever to fall away, would never take her eyes from God’s goodness and his perfect plan.

It is the gifts of the Holy Spirit that make for a perfect sharing in the Kingship of Christ.  We look to Mary to see the possibility of our reigning with him, and to see the gentleness and the goodness of his reign.

How could we meditate on Mary so as to help us focus more on the reign of the Holy Spirit in us?

eric.m.johnston

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