Where does the title, “Mary, Mother of Mercy,” come from? We have many popular prayers that speak of Mary as Mother of Mercy.
For example, “Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy” … and, later: “turn, then, your eyes of mercy towards us.” In another prayer, the Memorare, we hear: “To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful, O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions but in your mercy, hear and answer me.” Moreover, in the lives of the saints, we hear Mary referred to as “Mother of mercy.”
In the Miraculous Medal. We ask Mary to implore God’s mercy for us. We admist our sinfulness. We say “pray for us who have recourse to thee”. Once, St. Mari Faustina Kowalska had a vision of the Blessed Mother. Mary said to Sr. Faustina: “I am not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy, and your Mother” (Diary of St. Faustina, 330).
Also, Pope John Paul II refers to Mary as Mother of Mercy in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia: Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way … Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the “Mother of mercy” (§9).
Note that the Hebrew word for mercy, rahamim, comes from rehem, a mother’s womb. God’s mercy must have something of a maternal warmth about it—unconditional, intimate, and nurturing love, symbolized by a mother’s womb. God’s mercy is, therefore, tender and affectionate, lifegiving and indispensable. God chose Mary to reveal this merciful love to us.
Therefore, we need Mary in our lives as Christians. Many people, many sects, will tell you that you don’t need Mother Mary.
Have you heard that? One elderly Jesuit I know told me once that some people were arguing about how we don’t need Mary in order to know Jesus. They told him to go directly to Jesus. He replied that God has given us Mary for a reason, suggesting finally: “Okay, you go directly to Jesus; I will go through Mary. And we will see who gets there first!”
God has given us a mother for a reason. At the foot of the cross, Jesus said to his beloved disciple, St. John: “Here is your Mother,” and he said to Mary: “Here is your son” (Jn 19:27). Mary was able to stand fi rm at the foot of the cross a merciful love is a strong love! Merciful love is capable of withstanding the cross; capable of withstanding difficulties and challenges.
How many times in our lives are we in need of that firm and strong love of Mother Mary? Do you know the statue by Michaelangelo, called the Pieta? Mary is holding the dead body of Jesus in her hands. The left hand is small and feminine, but the right hand is under Jesus, supporting the weight of his body.
What does it mean? It means that the love of Mary is gentle and feminine, yet, also strong and fi rm. It is a love that does not give up. St Paul even said that love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things—the mercy of God, likewise, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
Let us ask for God’s mercy through her. On April 12, 2015, Pope Francis will declare the Jubilee of the Holy Year of Mercy which begins on December 8, 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
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