It’s a good and holy practice to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord, whose feast day was Wednesday 15th August. And who we honour and celebrate in our Masses this morning. In the Roman Church, our sisters and brothers likewise honoured Mary, with the day focusing on her Assumption. An interesting dogma, and worth considering. Like all Saints, myth and symbolism surround the holy person, and it’s hard to work out the myth from the history. Perhaps there’s no need! Christians of the great Catholic Church, made up of Anglicans, Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, have always honoured Mary, as the Mother of God, and the human vehicle, whereby God could redeem humanity through the incarnation of God’s son, Jesus. Mary was honoured by her son, Jesus, at the foot of the Cross, and we can do likewise.
Rather than be a focus of disunity between Christians of the Catholic and Protestant expressions of Christianity, I see Blessed Mary as a focus of unity, binding us all together, as Mother of the Church. Whether Christians focus on the Bible or the Sacraments, or like Anglicans, holding the two in balance, Mary has much to teach us as an exemplar of devotion to God, who in her “yes”, co-operated in the Salvation of the World. She truly opened her heart to God, took a risk in her journey of faith, entering the unknown in a way that had a remarkable outcome: life for all people, in the son that she gave. In this way, Mary sets an agenda for us to emulate, and to open ourselves, in every way, co-operating with Our Lord in sharing the gospel of salvation, so the World may come to believe.
I remember introducing an icon of Blessed Mary and votive candles in my last parish, with some controversy, but which many found helpful and a focus for prayer and meditation. We are blessed here at All Saints, with an opportunity to light candles and pray at the Mary shrine, to come in prayer to Jesus and his mother in the icon which always lifts up our hearts to the divine reality which is all around us. With all the Church on Earth and in Heaven, we in gratitude pray: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.