Entrust the cause of life to Mary – the Mother of Life
At the close of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he begins his prayer to the Mother of God by saying, “O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life.”
We can assist in the cause of life by saying the rosary and meditating on three consecutive decades of the Joyful Mysteries. The culture of death has taken direct aim against new life in three ways: through contraception, which negates the inception of new life; abortion, which destroys life already formed; and infanticide (euphemistically called “wrongful birth”), which destroys newborn life. Against these evils, the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity provide a strong remedy.
The Annunciation means saying “yes” to life that has yet to commence. Mary’s “yes” overturned Eve’s “no” and welcomed Christ into the world. It was a momentous event. As St. Irenaeus stated, “Being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”
The Visitation, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, occurs while Mary is pregnant with Jesus. It is a time of exultation for both women. Luke tells us that Elizabeth spoke out in a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1: 42-45). As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, her own child, John the Baptist, “leaped in my womb with joy.”
The Nativity is the time when Mary delivers her child into the world. It is the first Christmas, an occasion that has been celebrated throughout the world for 2,000 years with great jubilation. It is the third “yes” to life following the acceptance of life and the joy of carrying it to term.
These three decades of the rosary represent not only Mary’s affirmation of life, but offer an instruction for all of us to follow. Mary invites us to hear, cultivate, and express the Word of God.
Saying “yes” to the Word of God imitates the Annunciation. Here, we agree to accept God. Our Visitation period is to carrying the Word of God in our hearts while at the same time cultivating it. Our Nativity is to bring the Word of God into the world, expressing it with love and an affirmation of life. When we recite these three decades of the rosary, we pledge to imitate Mary in our own way by accepting, developing, and expressing our love of life.
Mary, along with our relationship to her, takes on a special significance in today’s world where life is routinely despised and destroyed. As the Mother of God, she is also the Mother of Life. Our relationship with her is a powerful means of counteracting the evils that are transpiring in today’s culture of death.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had great affection for the Catholic Church, once wrote about Mary’s special importance: “I have always envied Catholics their faith in that sweet, sacred, Virgin Mother who stands between them and the deity, intercepting somewhat His awful splendor, but permitting His love to stream on the worshipper more intelligibly to human comprehension through the medium of a woman’s tenderness.” These beautiful words suggest that it should be easy to pray to Mary. Hawthorne’s own daughter, Rose, entered the Church and, as Mother Alphonsa, established a new order within the Dominican community.
We can re-enact the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity in our own way. In so doing, we help to advance the culture of life. Prayer is a prelude to a powerful remedy in the war against life that is currently transpiring.
Dr. DONALD DEMARCO is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the St. Austin Review. His latest two books, How to Navigate through Life and Apostles of the Culture of Life, are available on Amazon.com.