Saturday, August 22, 2009


“St. Mary Crowned” (detail)
from The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, 1432


Background Information about the Queenship of Mary [1]

Readings for the Memorial of The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings and Commentary:

Isaiah 9:1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
As they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
And the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.

For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
From David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
By judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
Commentary on
Is 9:1-6

It is presumed by some scholars that this oracle of Isaiah was developed as a liturgical piece used to celebrate the ascension of a king to the throne of Israel. The Prophet, however, speaks here of the “ideal or ultimate” king, Emmanuel [Immanuel] (see
Isaiah 7:14) not a historical person but a predicted future king (we of course see the Messiah in hindsight). The symbolism describes freedom from enslavement (The image of a yoked beast of burden is commonly used in this context) as the taskmaster (enslaver) is cast off.

The oracle celebrates this future King and Messiah as one who brings Wisdom from God and peace for all times. The passage concludes identifying the source or lineage of this Christ as from David’s line and references his promised succession.

CCC: Is 9:5 2305
Psalm 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. (2) Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
R. Alleluia.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
R. Alleluia.

From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
R. Alleluia.

Who is like the LORD, our God,
who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens
and the earth below?
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
R. Alleluia.

He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
To seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Commentary on
Ps 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

A song of praise and thanksgiving, Psalm 113, in this selection, focuses appropriately on servants of the Lord and how these leaders are lifted up from “the lowly”.

CCC: Ps 113:1-2 2143
Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.
Commentary on Lk 1:26-38

This passage, from St. Luke’s Gospel, is the story of Mary being informed by the Archangel Gabriel that she has been chosen for the great privilege of bearing the Savior of the World. St. Mary graciously accepts this honor, although with very human fear, indicating that her free will is at play. This response makes her obedience to God’s will more powerful. It is proposed that, with this acceptance, Mary entered into a vow of perpetual virginity because of the demands of Isaiah 7:14 : “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."

In St. Luke’s story of the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she will bear a son and names him Jesus (the eternal implication of this statement is made clear in the greeting which presupposes knowledge of Mary’s entire existence). Mary confirms the title “Virgin” given by the author as she questions Gabriel saying: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Even though she does not understand, Mary accepts her role and is told that the Holy Spirit will be the agent of the life within her. She then utters those amazing words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

This announcement is parallel to Zechariah’s news about John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-23), which is also delivered by the Angel Gabriel. This passage clearly identifies Jesus as Son of David and Son of God, thus linking it with the messianic predictions from the Old Testament.

CCC: Lk 1:26-38 497, 706, 723, 2571; Lk 1:26-27 488; Lk 1:26 332; Lk 1:28-37 494; Lk 1:28 490, 491; Lk 1:31 430, 2812; Lk 1:32-33 709; Lk 1:32 559; Lk 1:34 484, 497, 505; Lk 1:35 437, 484, 486, 697; Lk 1:37-38 494; Lk 1:37 148, 269, 273, 276; Lk 1:38 64, 148, 510, 2617, 2677, 2827, 2856

Even as we hear the Gospel story of Gabriel announcing to the Blessed Virgin that she would be the vessel of the Prince of Peace, the Wonder-Counselor, we are awed by the great sweeping strokes of God’s plan who knew Mother Mary even as he inspired Isaiah to predict his Son’s birth out of her. Before Ruth bore Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David her role was established

What better can be said about her role than was spoken by St. Amadeus of Lausanne who describes the duel roles of Heavenly Queen and Earthly Mother –

So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future
reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew
to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to
her neighbors with indescribable love. In heaven angels
served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the
service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her
in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin
Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her
with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to
see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and
both obeyed her with loving devotion.

-St. Amadeus of Lausanne [3]

The Blessed Virgin Mary, having done all that was required of her on this earth now reigns in Heaven as promised in the Psalms, the jewel of the New Jerusalem, honored by all for her great love of the Savior and the sacrifice she made for our salvation.


[1] The picture is “St. Mary Crowned” (detail) from The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, 1432
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] Hom.7 SC72, 188, 190, 192, 200

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