A terrible beauty

In these times of growing evils and persecution, we need the protective mantle of Mary Our Mother

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

“Who is this that comes forth as beautiful as the Sun, resplendent as the moon, as awe-inspiring (and terrible) as bannered troops?” — Songs 6:10-11

A mother’s protective love. A protective mother may sometimes be described as something of a “momma bear.” As declared in one social media posting that caught my eye—“The most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her children.”

But the very first “posting” of this maternal instinct of fiercely protecting one’s children against evil is found within the opening pages of Scripture when God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.” And with the Latin Vulgate translation, “She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Genesis 3:15), we can better understand why Satan fears his fate through a mother so much.

For among all mothers, there is none more beautiful, and yet so terrible to Satan, than our Blessed Mother Mary, the New Eve, “the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).

Prayer of protection. During the first three centuries of the Church when so many of the faithful suffered terrible persecution under the Roman Empire, a beautiful prayer arose imploring the help of the “Holy Mother of God.” Known as Sub tuum praesidium—“Beneath Thy Protection”—it is the oldest recorded Marian prayer, older than even the Hail Mary: “We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God; do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.”

Daily protection. Out of this prayer, devotion to “Mary Help of Christians” grew, and in time became closely associated with the rosary. And given the growing persecutions and evils of our day, in 2018 Pope Francis urged the faithful to pray the Sub tuum praesidium “in the moments of spiritual turbulence,” and to pray the rosary and St. Michael Prayer daily.

But he also decreed that the memorial of the “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church” be celebrated each year on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the birth of the Church.

Bringing us closer to Christ. Why does the Church urge us to recognize Mary as Our Mother and to entrust and consecrate ourselves to her immaculate heart? Because with the words of Jesus from the cross, “Behold your mother” (John 19:27), and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Mary became the mother of the “whole Christ”—Head and Mystical Body, the Church.

And as members of the Church, we must draw ever closer to Mary as our mother for, as Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen explained, “Only she who raised Christ can raise a Christian.” More than anyone, she can bring us closer to Christ and help us to better live our baptismal life in Him. After all, who can make our heart a better home for Jesus than His Mother and ours? This is the essence of Marian consecration.

Baptismal renewal. St. Louis de Montfort states that a correct devotion to Mary is in fact a perfect consecration to Jesus Christ because “it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.” This is because in making our consecration we give ourselves entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. “Of all God’s creatures,” the saint reminds us, “Mary is the most conformed to Jesus.”

It follows, then, that “The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.” Our consecration to Mary is summed up in this short exclamatory prayer: “I am all Thine, and all that I have belongs to Thee, O my sweet Jesus, through Mary, Thy holy Mother.”

A mother most fearsome. Because the spiritual life is one of constant spiritual battle against the Blessed Mother’s sworn enemy, the dragon who “wages war against her children” (Revelation 12:17), St. Louis de Montfort explains why we should stay particularly close to Mary:

“The most terrible of all the enemies which God has set up against the devil is His holy Mother Mary.” And because Satan is so full of pride, he fears Mary more, in a certain sense, than God Himself because “he suffers infinitely more by being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of the Lord.”

Why Satan hates her so much. To invite Mary into our heart is to also invite the Holy Spirit as well who makes her “fiat”—her “yes” to God—grow fruitful in our heart. And there is nothing that Satan hates more than Mary’s fiat echoing in our heart, which “crushes” his efforts to turn our heart away from God with his Non serviam—“I will not serve.”

This is why he also hates the rosary so much. The famous Vatican exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth (1925-2016), shared how during one exorcism, Satan said to him through the possessed person, “Each Ave Maria of the rosary is a blow to my face. If Christians knew the power of the rosary, it would be the end of me.” Perhaps this explains why the rosary is now being attacked as a “symbol of extremism” by pro-abortionists.

Our help in waging battle. In the Preface prayer of the Mass celebrating “Mary, Help of Christians,” the Church prays:

“For you chose the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, to be the Mother and Help of Christians, so that under her protection we might be fearless in waging the battle of faith, steadfast in holding the teachings of the Apostles, and tranquil in spirit in the storms of this world, until we reach the joy of your heavenly city.”

Making our mother happy. In the month of May, when we traditionally honor our earthly mothers, let us give even greater attention in honoring our heavenly mother. Do so by drawing ever closer to her protective mantle, consecrating yourselves to her immaculate heart, and heeding her urgent plea made at Fatima to “Pray the rosary every day.”

In doing so, you will become the “extremist” that Satan fears most!

O Mary, our most beautiful mother, crush the head of the serpent!

Comments 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *