Father Tim Finigan’s old friend, the great Father Z, describes Fr Finigan as “a terrific priest, an outstanding parish priest, and great supporter of renewal of our liturgical worship”. Two months ago Father Z was calling for “prayers and penance” to be offered for his friend who was “quite ill and awaiting the results of some tests. He would much appreciate your prayers”. Fr Finigan is now moving from Margate (in S.E. England), where he was much-loved by the congregation, for a period of convalescence in Bournemouth. Yesterday, Fr Finigan (a.k.a. His Hermeneuticalness), a great devotee of Our Lady, wrote this post for his blog , linked to on our sidebar.
Quite rightly, we usually think of Our Lady as having care for us, rather than us caring for her. The titles of the Litany of Loreto remind us of many different ways in which she acts as our Mother: she is among other things the refuge of sinners, consoler of the afflicted, and health of the sick.
So how can we talk about our care and responsibility for Mary? Let me first explain where this thought came from. The third saying of Jesus from the Cross is related by St John as follows:
“When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (Jn 19:26-27)
These verses are part of the gospel for the Mass of Mary the Mother of the Church. St John represents the whole Church, Our Lady is given to him as his mother, and therefore by extension we recognise Our Lady as Mother of the Church. Pope Paul VI proclaimed this title in 1964, at the end of the third session of the second Vatican Council. (He was opposed by many, and criticised for proclaiming the title on his own initiative.)
Now that all concerns the first part of the saying of Jesus, but He also said to St John “Behold thy mother” and we are told that the disciple took Our Lady “to his own” or into his keeping, to his own house and care.
I think that it is reasonable to extend this part of Our Lord’s saying also and to draw from it an understanding of the duty of care towards Our Lady that we all have, as members of the Church, represented by St John.
We cannot, of course, give anything of advantage to Our Lady in heaven. She enjoys the beatific vision and is the Queen of all the angels and saints for ever in perfect happiness. There is nothing we can add to that. Here on earth, however, Our Lady is blasphemed, misunderstood, mocked, and ignored. Only recently, there have been sad photographs from churches in France where the statue of Our Lady has been knocked down and smashed. We can care for Our Lady in the sense of showing our devotion to her in reparation for these outrages as well as trying to introduce others to her, so that she can continue to help more and more people to “do whatever He tells you.”
What I am suggesting is nothing new – it is essentially what Our Lady herself asked for at Fatima, that we should offer up our prayers and sacrifices in reparation to her Immaculate Heart. In our own time, we might just emphasise another aspect of this reparation which may not be so obvious. In addition to the offering of penance and prayer, we can also offer the charitable work of helping others to understand the truth about Our Lady and know accurately what our Catholic doctrine is. When we do so, we also help them to know Jesus Christ better, and understand better His true divinity and perfect humanity.