Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Holy Mary, Mother of Unity

In the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, among the Masses indicated for use during the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year, is a Mass with the title "Holy Mary, Mother of Unity". The catechetical introduction to the texts of this Mass starts by referring to the words of Christ recorded in the Gospel of St John that "they all may be one", and describes them as an encouragement to the disciples of Christ that they be committed to prayer for Christian unity. Developing this in reference to the Catholic Church's "zeal for the unity of Christians, and indeed of the whole human family", the introduction goes on to say that Pope Paul VI more than once spoke of the Blessed Virgin as "mother of unity".

The Preface of this Mass is as follows:
[Jesus Christ our Lord] is the one who makes whole,
the lover of unity,
who chose for his mother
a woman unstained in heart and body,
and for his Bride
the one and undivided Church.

Lifted high above the earth,
in the presence of his mother,
he gathered your scattered children into unity,
joining them to himself
with bonds of love.

Returning to you
and seated at your right hand,
he sent upon the Blessed Virgin,
at prayer with the apostles,
the Spiritu of concord and unity,
of peace and forgiveness.
The texts of the proper prayers of the Mass reflect these three themes in the Preface. First, the Opening Prayer, where a reference to Mary as "mother of the human race" is best understood when Mary is seen as the "second Eve", Eve having been referred to in the Genesis accounts as "mother of the living":
All-holy Father,
fountain of unity and wellspring of harmony,
grant that all the families of nations,
through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
mother of the human race,
may be gathered together
to form the one people of the New Covenant.
And the Prayer over the Gifts:
as we honour the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
in whose virginal womb
your Son united divine and human nature,
we earnestly beg
that this offering my become
the sacrament of our worship,
the sign of our unity,
and the bond of love.
And, finally, the Prayer after Communion:
Lord God,
through your holy gifts
which we have received
on this memorial of holy Mary, mother of unity,
pour out upon us
the Spirit of gentleness and peace,
that we may work together in harmony
and so hasten the coming of your kingdom.

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