MARY, CAUSE OF OUR JOY


"My spirit finds joy in God my Savior." —Luke 1:47

The well-known prayer, "Litany of the Blessed Virgin," addresses Mary as the "cause of our joy." This title of Mary is most appropriate for the feast of her Assumption into heaven.

Mary's entire being found joy in the Lord (Lk 1:46). She spread that joy to others, even the pre-born baby John, who leapt "for joy" at the sound of Mary's voice as she carried Jesus into their home in her womb (Lk 1:44). Mary was also present in the upper room at Pentecost (see Acts 1:14ff) and surely exulted with joy as her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, filled the apostles, who then brought three thousand people into the Church.

Mary "was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory" (Catechism, 966). "She already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body" (Catechism, 974). She has been "exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son" (Catechism, 966). Her assumption is a sign of sure hope (Lumen Gentium, 68, Vatican II) that Jesus will raise us up to live with Him forever.

The Lord in His word commands us to rejoice with Mary as she is honored today. Since Mary "is honored, all the members share [her] joy" (1 Cor 12:26). We are to "rejoice with" her (Rm 12:15). Mary would be the first to proclaim: "Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4) Rejoice with Mary, the "cause of our joy."


Prayer: Holy Spirit, some Christians respond to the joy of Your spouse, Mary, with disdain. Convert their frowns into smiles of joy today.
Promise: "God's temple in heaven opened and in the temple could be seen the ark of His covenant." —Rv 11:19
Praise: Praise the risen and returning Jesus, drawing all people to Himself! (Jn 12:32)

Cause of Our Joy

Joy is a thing we all love. We all naturally want to be happy, to have what causes us delight, to be free from what is distressing and irksome.

The Church sings to Our Lady: "Thy Birth, O Virgin Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world." Why was this? Because Jesus was to come through Her. Jesus is the Joy of the whole world, of every soul that ever was or ever will be created, and this joy came through Mary.

Without Jesus, Who has redeemed us from sin and Hell, there would be no joy for us, either in this world or in the next. But more than this, Mary's consent was necessary, in order that Jesus might become our Redeemer. Our Lord would not even have come, had She not consented to be His Mother. She, as the Fathers of the Church tell us, cooperated in our Redemption by Her full and free consent to deliver Jesus to death for us. Could She not, for instance, have interceded with Pilate for the life of Her Son, and got witnesses to prove His innocence? But She knew Jesus was offered because He Himself willed it, and so She remained silent, hidden, patient, suffering all in Him and with Him, knowing fully, as none other ever will, the reasons for it all. This is the first way in which She is the "Cause of Our Joy," through Her share in our Redemption. And also through Her position in the Kingdom of Her Son, all the joys that come to us through the Divine Kingdom of Grace, the Sacraments, and the Church, pass through the hands of Her Who is the Queen of the Church Militant, Triumphant, and Suffering. But never in this world shall we realize fully how Mary is truly the Cause of Our Joy. It is only when we get to Heaven that we shall see how Her prayers, Her maternal solicitude, Her powerful help, followed us in every step of our lives, how She interceded for us in our sorrows that we might receive comfort and consolation, how She presented our petitions to Her Son, and helped to get our prayers answered, how She saved us from temptations and falls. How She, the Star of the Sea, piloted us through the countless storms and shipwrecks on the sea of life. Above all, how we shall love to salute Her as the "Cause of Our Joy," when at last we enter the heavenly Jerusalem, and Mary presents us to Jesus, as the fruit of Her tears, labors, and sufferings! "My power is in Jerusalem."

When Our Lord said to Her on the Cross, "Behold Thy Son," and to St. John, "Behold thy Mother," She became the "Cause of Our Joy" in a new and most special way.

Let us then love to salute Our Mother by this most sweet title, and ask Her to be indeed to us throughout life the true Cause of Our Joy. Yes, let us ever seek true joy where alone it is to be found, where She is ever pointing it out to us, and guiding us to find it, in Her Son Jesus Christ, the Joy of All the Angels.

We think perhaps now that there are plenty of joys in the world without this heavenly joy, of which Mary is the Cause, but we must not mistake mere "enjoyment" for joy. Enjoyment may make us feel glad for a while, but it soon palls and wearies, and above all when it is made the goal and end of life. The more it is sought, the less does it satisfy. True joy is something deeper, quieter, more lasting, than this fleeting, exciting, deceptive thing which we call enjoyment or pleasure. It is that peace of soul, that contentment of heart, that deep enduring satisfaction which comes to us when we refuse God nothing, when we are faithful to our conscience, to our duty, to our principles, to the practice of our Religion, when we really make God "the beginning of our joy." True joy is to be found in a quiet, simple life, such as was Mary's life with Jesus, Her Joy, on earth. Her life at Nazareth was more full of deep, true joy than any human life has ever been, when She had Jesus all to Herself for so many quiet years, and yet it was only the simple life of a Mother with Her Son, taking care of Him, and watching His growth and development. We need not rush wildly hither and thither, seizing every occasion of pleasure or excitement that presents itself, in our search for joy. It can be had in the quietest and most ordinary life, if our hearts are right.

St. Teresa says that earthly satisfactions reach no farther than, as it were, the husk or rind of the soul. It is thus we may for a time imagine that earthly enjoyments satisfy us, but they penetrate no farther than this outside surface, and that is why they can never fill or satiate the soul. Yet we may persuade ourselves that they are what we are craving for, because of the superficial satisfaction that we find in them.

Let us lay this truth deeply to heart, that true joy is found only in Jesus. Sooner or later we shall all be taught this by our own experience of life and our disappointment in the joys of earth; but let us forestall this sad experience now by our firm conviction and understanding that only in God is there true joy, and thus save ourselves the bitter heartaches of those who seek their joy in the pleasures and delights of the earth and forget that Mary is the real "Cause of Our Joy." We shall not be less happy—far from it, we shall lose nothing of our earthly joys, for they will be blessed and sanctified; and in the sorrows which no one can escape, and which we, too, must suffer in our turn, we shall have that which is the only true consolation—the testimony of a good conscience.

Motto: All good things come to me together with Her.

Practice: Ask Mary to bless all your joys, and offer them to Her.

Example

Juan Diego One Saturday, December 9th, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Indian, bidding him go to his Bishop and tell him to have a temple built on the spot where She stood, saying that She would be in the same place on Sunday evening to get his answer. But the Bishop was incredulous and said he must have some sign to show that the message really came from the Mother of God. All day on Monday, Juan stayed at home to nurse a sick uncle, and on Tuesday he set off to call for the priest. In doing this he purposely chose another path than that whereon he had seen the apparition, but Our Lady met him on the road, and said: "Why takest thou this road, my son?" He told Her about his dying uncle. She reassured him, promising to cure the sick man, and bade Juan once more give Her message to the Bishop. "But I must have a sign, Mother," he replied, "the Bishop said so." Then Our Lady bade him gather roses on the rocks above the road. This he did, though everyone knew it was not the season for roses. He found them and carried them in his tilma—a long cloak worn by Mexican Indians.

Juan Diego and Our LadyOur Lady arranged them in his cloak for him, and told him to keep them undisturbed and hidden till he went to the Bishop. When he arrived before the Bishop and unfolded the cloak, the roses fell out, and to Juan's surprise both the Bishop and all those in the room with him fell on their knees before him. He did not know that on his poor tilma was glowing a beautiful life-size image of Our Lady. The tilma was kept in the Bishop's chapel until it was removed to the church and put in a shrine for veneration. The beautiful expression of gentleness and modesty which Our Lady wears has defied the attempts of all artists who have attempted to copy this picture. Artists are unable to define the material used in the painting; it is of no known pigment, not oils, water-color, or distemper, and the coarse fibrous material has no tempera or surface preparation to receive paint, the fibers even showing through the coloring. The texture of the coarse cactus fiber of the tilma proves the truth of the apparition. Such is the origin of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the National Patroness of Mexico; Pope St. Pius X named Her Patroness of Latin America; and Pope Pius XII declared Her Patroness of the Americas. May we bring joy to our Most Holy Mother by zealously practicing our Holy Catholic Faith! 

photo: A smiling young Virgin Mary full of Joy at the time of the Annunciation

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