Ferragosto. The feast which is the culmination of the Italian holidays is also one of the biggest feasts dedicated to the Madonna. Devotion to Mary is very solid in the Catholic tradition: it is not only the fruit of the collective sentiment towards a Mother but it is well rooted in the Old and New Testaments.
When God curses the serpent in the Earthly Paradise, he speaks of the enmity between him and the woman and predicts that "ipsa conteret !!!": "She will trample" as John Paul II gladly repeated (Genesis 3,15).
Miraculous births are found in the Bible, starting with Sarah the wife of Abraham who gave birth to Isaac in later life and similar circumstances appear for the mothers of Samuel and Samson.
Isaiah announces as a divine sign that "the virgin will conceive and he will give birth to a son, whom he will call Emmanuele ”. Emmanuele means God with us.
The very greeting of the Angel that we translate "Hail Mary" in Hebrew is "Rejoice Mary", a verb that the prophets use only when they announce the Messiah.
The allusion to the Holy Spirit takes us back to the moment of creation when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. Now the Holy Spirit acts again because we are at the time of a new creation. That's right: the birth of Christ represents a dividing line between an old and a new humanity. It is no coincidence that we count the years since the birth of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit makes little John jump in the womb of his mother Elizabeth. The Spirit and joy are always united: rejoice!
The Ark of the Covenant itself is considered an image of Mary.
Eve was created by and for Adam and Adam found in her a reason for profound joy, so much to burst into a hymn of thanksgiving. Genesis 2,25 adds: "Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed". This absence of shame suggests the perfect communication of their hearts. The first consequence of sin will instead be the desire to cover up. The difficulty of communication between man and woman begins, which seems insurmountable despite the aspiration of both to a perfect communion. Mary, in being a perfect woman, is capable of complete understanding towards every human being, even the most degraded. This is why I am moved by the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the other great feast of Mary, because it is the feast of the woman that truly understands me. That Woman to whom I turn the gaze of a love that knows no boredom. As Adam celebrated when he saw Eve, all the more reason I want to celebrate the Mother and the Friend to whom I can tell everything, who always understands me and teaches me to love without measure. He gives me the right criterion and leads me by the hand to imitate Jesus.
Mary's delicacy is revealed in the wedding at Cana: "they no longer have wine"But in that circumstance, so well known to us, the power of his intercession is also revealed. To Jesus who says: “My hour has not come", Maria does not answer but says to the servants"do what He will tell you". It is an episode that I never tire of meditating. Mary is aware of who her Son is and the harmony between the two needs no words. Hasn't the time come? If there is harmony with Jesus, the hour is always the right one. Mary's heart is capable of moving the heart of Jesus. If the Gospel brings us back in detail, the episode is because the Holy Spirit wants us to understand what prodigy he accomplished by creating Mary.
Maria teaches us to pray. Faith does not allow us to see the future: it means walking in the dark entrusting ourselves to God and to what he has revealed to us. Mary does not know in detail what will happen but ponders the events in her heart and draws conclusions. His dialogue with God follows events by relating them to the will of God and accepts the consequences.
One thing Mary knows about her future: that a sword will pierce her soul. Simeon's prophecy remains in her heart but it is a pain that makes her great. While Abraham obeys God by giving him his son and receives an imperishable blessing, in a similar way Mary offers her Son. In both cases Providence will transform those pains into joy but at the origin there is a response of love and faith. As Abraham is the father of our faith, so Mary is the mother of our faith: "Blessed is she who believed”Says Elizabeth.
Maria is the mother of our joy. When the angel says goodbye he says "rejoice". Use the same words that the prophets used that, in addition to the punishments that God will inflict on his people, many times predict the great happiness that will visit Jerusalem and that will fall on all peoples. And why will Mary rejoice? Because it is full of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit (i.e. the grace of God) brings the greatest happiness. We understand that this resolves the apparent contradiction between the valley of tears in which we find ourselves and the great happiness of the risen Jesus. As the Holy Spirit made little John jump into Elizabeth's womb, for us to meet Mary is to jump with joy because she brings us Jesus.
Mary is a figure of the Church precisely for this: Mary brings us Jesus and the task of the Church is this: to bring us Jesus.
It is no coincidence that the solemn moment of Pentecost, when the Church's journey on this earth really begins, comes while Mary prays with the Apostles. This time Maria is nominated first. Another sign that the Spirit of God wants our faith to take Mary into account in a privileged way.
How can we not take Mary's motherhood into account when Jesus says to John "here is your mother" and to her "here is your son"? A cosmic trust that ensures that we are all unique children for Mary and that she knows how to see even in the most wretched of men the humanity of her son Jesus. We must take advantage of, or rather abuse, this motherhood
Mary is also the mother of my Christian vocation. The return to the life of faith is due to the devotion to Our Lady who has always remained dormant in me when I thought I had relegated him away from my heart. Then I found out that this was the case for the others too. At the beginning of every Christian call there is Mary's paw that brings Jesus back to life.
The Ave Maria is a succession of compliments to Our Lady taken from the New Testament and from the Council of Ephesus ("Mother of God"). There is only one request: "pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death" ... Now and in that hour of death. The reference to that moment strikes me and the images of the Pietà come to mind so numerous throughout the history of art: Mary bending pityingly over her dead Son. Here, I am asking this: that Mary at that hour bends over me (over us) with the loving gaze of her mother. Joseph Ratzinger said that the saints reveal a particular aspect of the face of God. Mary reveals his merciful face: the one that can be seen in the gaze of a grieving mother. God's Providence is great who did not limit himself to the Incarnation but gave us a mother so dear, so feminine, who provides now and in that hour… I ask and hope to have Mary near at that hour.
Saint Josemaría said: "To Jesus one goes - and one" returns "- always for Mary" (Way 495).
Once they asked me to send an email of encouragement to a person going through a moment of marital crisis. Not knowing what fish to take, I threw down a prayer to Maria. I don't know what effect it had but prayer has become dear to me and I reread it every morning:
Mary, my mother and queen,
give me the happiness of knowing how to love. Especially those who are close to me, despite their shortcomings and thanks to their shortcomings. Because this is true happiness: knowing how to love. This is my vocation, to which you call me with your example.
Give me the strength to be good. My badness and that of others are a consequence of weakness. With your strength I will know how to be good, peaceful and understanding.
Give me the serenity to see in every event, even painful, the hand of Providence and the redemptive force of suffering. Remind me that every pain has a fruitful value when it is combined with your Son's sufferings.
Defend me from sadness, which is the enemy 'ally, and help me to be a source of joy and optimism for those around me.
I kiss you dearly like your young son, stay close to me. All my prayers and actions begin with you and end with you.