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Date:         August 22, 2006
Year:         B
The readings: [Ezek. 28:1-10; Mt. 19:23-30]
The message:  To Jesus through our Heavenly Queen.
Total words:  1964

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Welcome my brothers and sisters to the celebration of the Holy Mass on this special Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Having researched the origin of this gracious Feast, I would like to share my findings with you.

So all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and maternal influence of the Mother of God, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary was instituted by Encyclical Letter on October 11, 1954, by His Holiness Pope Pius XII.

Since the early days of the Catholic Church, whether in time of triumph, especially in time of crisis, Catholics have addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. Occasionally, it was observed that justice gave way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of such fearful crisis fills everyone with a great anguish, and so with confidence they have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not theirs alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.

Four years earlier, on November 1 st, 1950, the Church had defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virign Mary into heaven where she is present in soul and body reigning, together with her only Son, among the Heavenly choirs of angels and Saints. Then, in 1954, followed the proclamation of the Year of Mary. Resulting from this, the Church learned that devotion to the Virgin Mother of God was flourishing more and more, and that the principal shrines of Mary had been visited and continued to be visited by many crowds of Catholic pilgrims who were gathering in prayer. To bring the Year of Mary to a happy and beneficial conclusion, and in response to petitions which have gone to Rome from all over the world, the Church decided to institute the liturgical Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen.

On the matter of this proclamation, the Church did not wish to propose a new truth to be believed by Christians. The title and the arguments on which Mary's queenly dignity was based had already been clearly set forth, and are to be found in ancient documents of the Church and in the books of the sacred liturgy. As such, it was the pleasure of the Pontiff to simply recall those things in his Encyclical Letter.

Since the early days of the Catholic Church, Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was born the Son of the most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary, "the Mother of the King" and "the Mother of the Lord," basing their stand on the words of St. Gabriel the archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign forever, and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted her with reverence and called her "the Mother of my Lord."

Burning with poetic inspiration, St. Ephrem referred to Mary as the "Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen." St. Gregory Nazianzen called her, "the Mother of the King of the universe." This royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite clearly indicated through direct assertion by those who call her "Lady," "Ruler" and "Queen."

In the writings of St. Jerome, we read that in the Syrian Language, Mary's name means "Lady." St. Chrysologus states that the Hebrew word "Mary" means "Domina." Therefore, the angel addressed Mary as "Lady." Another writer in the same era refers to Mary as the "Queen of mortal man, the most holy Mother of God."

St. Andrew of Crete referred to Mary as the "Queen of the human race." Likewise, St. Germanus spoke to the humble Virgin in similar words, "Queen of all of those who dwell on earth." Mary is called "Queen, ruler, and lady" and also "the Queen of every creature" by St. John Damascene. Gathering together almost all of the titles in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Ildephonsus of Toledo says, "O my Lady, my Sovereign, You who rule over me, Mother of my Lord... Lady among handmaids, Queen among sisters."

In the seventh century, St. Martin I called Mary "our glorious Lady, ever Virgin." In the eight century, in his letter sent to St. Germanus, Gregory II called the Mother of God, "The Queen of all, the true Mother of God," and also "the Queen of all Christians."

Furthermore, the sacred liturgy, which acts as a faithful reflection of traditional doctrine believed by the Christian people through the course of all the ages, both in the East and in the West, has sung the praises of the heavenly Queen and continues to sing them. For years, the Latin Church has been singing that sweet and ancient prayer called the "Hail, Holy Queen" and the lovely antiphons "Hail, Queen of the Heavens," "O Queen of Heaven, Rejoice," and those others which we are accustomed to recite on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "The Queen stood at Thy right hand in golden vesture surrounded with beauty"; "Heaven and earth praise thee as a powerful Queen"; "Today the Virgin Mary ascends into heaven: rejoice because she reigns with Christ forever.'

Finally, art which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan.

In truth, "when she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature." Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary's royal office. But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation.

From these few quotes that are a part of the Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Pius XII, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall," then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam.

Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the Divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in His struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature. From her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom. From her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.

Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all. "You have surpassed every creature," sings St. Sophronius. "What can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from God"? To this St. Germanus adds: "Your honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation; your greatness places you above the angels." And St. John Damascene goes so far as to say, "Limitless is the difference between God's servants and His Mother."

Besides, the Blessed Virgin possessed, after Christ, not only the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but also a share in that influence by which He, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign over the minds and wills of men. For if through His Humanity the Divine Word performs miracles and gives graces, if He uses His Sacraments and Saints as instruments for the salvation of men, why should He not make use of the role and work of His most holy Mother to impart to us the fruits of redemption?

"With a heart that is truly a mother's," Pope Pius IX stated, "does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother's prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused." On this point Pope Leo XIII said that an "almost immeasurable" power has been given Mary in the distribution of graces. St. Pius X adds that she fills this office "as by the right of a mother."

From the ancient Christian documents, from prayers of the liturgy, from the innate piety of the Christian people, from works of art, from every side, witnesses are gathered to the regal dignity of the Virgin Mother of God. The Church likewise shows that the arguments deduced by Sacred Theology from the treasure store of the faith fully confirm this truth.

Since Pope Pius XII was convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good would accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shined forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by his Apostolic authority, he decreed and established the Feast of Mary's Queenship.

Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother.

All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud and you have said, 'I am a god: I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,' yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god. You are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have amassed wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries. By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth.

Therefore thus says the Lrod God: Because you compare your mind with the mind of a god, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendour. They shall thrust you down to the Pit, and you shall die a violent death in the heart of the seas.

Will you still say, 'I am a god,' in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a mortal, and no god, in the hands of those who wound you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners." [Ezek. 28:1-10]

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Gospel Reading...

"A man came to Jesus and said, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?'

And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.' The man said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'

When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions." [Mt. 19:23-30]

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