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Friends, today we celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

We hear in today’s Gospel that, as he was dying on the cross, Jesus looked to his mother and the disciple whom he loved, and he said to Mary, “Woman, behold, your son,” and then to John, “Behold, your mother.” We are told that “from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

If Mary is the one through whom Christ was born, and if the Church is indeed Christ’s Mystical Body, then she must be, in a very real sense, the Mother of the Church. She is the one through whom Jesus continues to be born in the hearts of those who believe. This is not to confuse her with the Savior, but it is to insist on her mission as mediator and intercessor. At the close of the great “Hail Mary” prayer, we Catholics ask Mary to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death,” signaling that throughout one’s life Mary is the privileged channel through which the grace of Christ flows into the Mystical Body.

God delights in drawing secondary causes into the dense complexity of his providential plan, granting to them the honor of cooperating with him and his designs. The handmaid of the Lord, who is the Mother of the Church, is the humblest of these humble instruments—and therefore the most effective.