On the Queenship of Mary

"She is queen precisely by loving us"

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUG. 22, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held at Castel Gandolfo. The Holy Father focused his meditation on today's liturgical memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today marks the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked under the title: "Queen." It is a feast of recent institution, even though it is ancient in its origin and devotion: It was established by the Venerable Pius XII in 1954, at the conclusion of the Marian Year; its date was set at May 31 (cf. Lett. Enc. Ad caeli Reginam, 11 Octobris 1954: AAS 46 [1954], 625-640). On this occasion, the Pope stated that Mary is Queen above every other creature on account of the elevation of her soul and the excellence of the gifts she received. She never ceases to bestow all the treasures of her love and care on humanity (cf. Speech in honor of Queen Mary, 1 November 1954). Now, following the post-conciliar reform of the liturgical calendar, it has been placed eight days after the Solemnity of the Assumption, in order to emphasize the close bond between Mary's queenship and her glorification in body and soul next to her Son. In the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church, we read: "Mary was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son" (Lumen Gentium, 59).

This is the root of today's feast: Mary is Queen because of her unique association to her Son, both during her earthly journey as well as in heavenly glory. The great saint of Syria, Ephrem of Syria, said regarding the queenship of Mary that it derives from her maternity: She is Mother of the Lord, of the King of kings (cf. Is 9:1-6), and she points to Jesus as our life, salvation and our hope. The Servant of God Paul VI recalled in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus: "In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon Him. It was with a view to Christ that God the Father from all eternity chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else" (n. 25). 

But now we may ask ourselves: What does it mean that Mary is Queen? Is it merely a title along with others, the crown, an ornament like others? What does it mean? What is this queenship? As already noted, it is a consequence of her being united with her Son, of her being in heaven, i.e. in communion with God. She participates in God's responsibilities over the world and in God's love for the world. There is the commonly held idea that a king or queen should be person with power and riches. But this is not the kind of royalty proper to Jesus and Mary. Let us think of the Lord: The Lordship and Kingship of Christ is interwoven with humility, service and love: it is, above all else, to serve, to assist, to love. Let us recall that Jesus was proclaimed king on the Cross, with this inscription written by Pilate: "King of the Jews" (cf. Mark 15:26). In that moment on the Cross it is revealed that He is king. And how is he king? By suffering with us, for us, by loving us to the end; it is in this way that he governs and creates truth, love and justice. Or let us also think of another moment: at the Last Supper, he bends down to wash the feet of his disciples. Therefore, the kingship of Jesus has nothing to do with that which belongs to the powerful of the earth. He is a king who serves his servants; he showed this throughout his life. And the same is true for Mary. She is queen in God's service to humanity. She is the queen of love, who lives out her gift of self to God in order to enter into His plan of salvation for man. To the angel she responds: Behold the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Luke 1:38), and in the Magnificat she sings: God has looked upon the lowliness of His handmaid (cf. Luke 1:48). She helps us. She is queen precisely by loving us, by helping us in every one of our needs; she is our sister, a humble handmaid.

Thus we have arrived at the point: How does Mary exercise this queenship of service and love? By watching over us, her children: the children who turn to her in prayer, to thank her and to ask her maternal protection and her heavenly help, perhaps after having lost their way, or weighed down by suffering and anguish on account of the sad and troubled events of life. In times of serenity or in the darkness of life we turn to Mary, entrusting ourselves to her continual intercession, so that from her Son we may obtain every grace and mercy necessary for our pilgrimage along the paths of the world. To Him who rules the world and holds the destinies of the universe in His hands we turn with confidence, through the Virgin Mary. For centuries she has been invoked as the Queen of heaven; eight times, after the prayer of the holy Rosary, she is implored in the Litany of Loreto as Queen of the Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, of all Saints and of Families. The rhythm of this ancient invocation, and daily prayers such as the Salve Regina, help us to understand that the Holy Virgin, as our Mother next to her Son Jesus in the glory of Heaven, is always with us, in the daily unfolding of our lives.

The title of Queen is therefore a title of trust, of joy and of love. And we know that what she holds in her hands for the fate of the world is good; she loves us, and she helps us in our difficulties.

Dear friends, devotion to Our Lady is an important element in our spiritual lives. In our prayer, let us not neglect to turn trustfully to her. Mary will not neglect to intercede for us next to her Son. In looking to her, let us imitate her faith, her complete availability to God's plan of love, her generous welcoming of Jesus. Let us learn to live by Mary. Mary is the Queen of heaven who is close to God, but she is also the Mother who is close to each one of us, who loves us and who listens to our voice. Thank you for your attention.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

[The Holy Father then addressed the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Japan and the United States of America. I also greet the young altar servers from Malta and their families. Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May the prayers of Our Lady guide us along our pilgrimage of faith, that we may share in her Son’s victory and reign with him in his eternal Kingdom. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!