A few days ago, I was listening to a random playlist and a song came on which took me back to when I was a teenager. [I knew it was a long time ago because it was a Scotland World Cup Song.] Music has the power to do that, it can transport us to certain times or moods, it can lift us, bringing tremendous joy, and also remind us of sad times.
Music within the liturgy multiplies that ability to transport us too. Many hymns take me back, ‘Our God Reigns’ reminds me of when Pope John-Paul II visited Ireland, with the massive crowds and the outpouring of joy. ‘Immaculate Mary’ reminds me of the weekly Novenas in the Parish I grew up in and ‘Mary Immaculate’ reminds me of my Confirmation; being Confirmed in May I guess they included a Marian Hymn. The more I thought about hymns that were important to me, the more I realised that Marian Hymns stood out. Then it struck me that Our Lady must have had more music written about [or to] her than any other woman who ever lived. Why is that?
The answer lies partly in the Solemnity we celebrate today. In the readings we have the ark of the covenant within the sanctuary of God and close by a woman in labour and a fierce dragon ready to devour the child as soon as it is born. The baby, a son is taken straight to the God while the woman escapes to a place of safety, which had already been planned for her. The dragon is denied, the victory is God’s, and all authority is Christ’s. This matches seamlessly with the reading from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, from which we hear today that Christ has all authority over every type of leader man chooses to have; be they kings, emperors or presidents. At the allotted time, Christ will hand that authority back to God the Father once all has been conquered; the last thing to be conquered being death.
The Gospel reminds us of the Visitation by Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary has become the ark of the covenant, carrying the Son of God, the Holiest of Holies. This was recognised by the last prophet, John, who before he was born pointed to the Lord as he would do again years later on the banks of the Jordan. This Gospel gives us the beautiful prayer and hymn the Magnificat. This prayer highlights the humility of Our Lady as well as the Glory of God. It sets the example, later taken up by John the Baptist, that we must make ourselves smaller and He must become greater (John 3:29).
Do we allow Jesus to be first in our lives?
The Gospel also tells us that Mary goes to those who are in need, when they are in need. Her cousin Elizabeth was an older lady who had become pregnant, Mary recognised that Elizabeth would need her support and went ‘as quickly as she could’.
On the cross, Jesus gave Mary to us as his followers as our Heavenly Mother. Mary, conceived without sin, did not suffer the corruptibility of death, her body did not return to dust and ashes; instead she was Assumed into heaven in her complete state.1 We, as her children here on earth join our Ave’s with the angels and saints of heaven thanking her for her intercession, thanking her for her yes when she agreed to be the Mother of God and thanking her for being the most perfect example of motherhood for the mothers of this world to try to emulate.
I started by mentioning music, in recent weeks we have had much to celebrate within the Parish of Holy Ghost; two weeks ago, the Bishop recognised two stalwarts from the 9 am Choir who have given 60 years of service to the Parish between them. This week we are celebrating another Choir who have been enhancing our liturgy for twenty years now. Just think how many people over the years have been given special moments by all of the musicians who serve our parishes. Their service has helped to bring people closer to God, they have helped people to pray. We thank them and we thank their families who have sacrificed their time with loved ones to allow them to take part in this Ministry. May the gift of music continue to bless our Parishes for many more years to come.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 411, 966-971, 974-975, 2853: Mary, the New Eve, assumed into heaven
CCC 773, 829, 967, 972: Mary, eschatological icon of the Church
CCC 2673-2679: at prayer with Mary
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those travelling, that they will arrive safely at their destination.
- All school children, teachers and other staff members of our schools, that they have good holidays, keep safe and well during their time away from school.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- All the priests who will be moving to new roles this September.
- The repose of the souls of the pilgrims who lost their lives in a bus crash on their way to Medjugorje last weekend and their families and communities who grieve for them.
- Those struggling with the extreme temperatures, may they have good family, friends and neighbours who look out for them.