Mary, the New Eve and Mother of the Church
St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.
Reading: Genesis 3:14-20
Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. To the woman he said: I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master. To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, as you eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return. The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
This text provides the first promise of the Savior to come, the only balm to the painful curse upon our race. The snake, symbol for Satan, will be crushed under the heel of Eve’s offspring, who is eminently Jesus Christ, of course. The Church has also applied this passage to Mary, who is the enemy of the tempter. Since we are Mary’s children by adoption and consecration, the warfare is carried on today by us, her “offspring.”
Humankind’s capacity for good was not entirely destroyed by original sin, only impaired. God made several covenants with the chosen people and finally through Christ with the Church. The possibility of a sacred relationship with God flowered most perfectly when in the fullness of time Mary conceived the Savior. Her fullness of grace reversed the triple alienation of our first parents from God, one another, and nature itself. She has made it possible to restore paradise even on earth to those who establish harmony and reason in their own triple relationships.
Some Christians, hesitant in their commitment to Mary, point out that she appears in only a few passages of the Gospels, only once in the Epistles, and only mysteriously in Revelation. Yet it is not the number of passages, but their significance that counts. The Christian Testament is not a detailed biography of Jesus as such, but rather His Good News as proclaimed by the first believing community. That community recorded Mary’s role at the significant times of Jesus’ life, her modeling as the “ponderer” of sacred events, her consent to the Incarnation, her presence at the Cross and on Pentecost, her hearing the Word of God and keeping it, her symbolizing the perfect discipleship.
The totally consecrated person likewise ponders the Christian mysteries and joins his or her life to that of Jesus and Mary. Total consecration is also a “covenant” made by an act of the will. It does not lie in feeling, but in action. The fact that one does not repudiate this covenant, but tries to remember it as often as possible and live by its implications concretely suffices for its effectiveness. One can scarcely have a continuous awareness all day long of one’s consecration. We do our duty and know we belong to her entirely.
The Words of St. Maximilian
(Magazine article: “The First Condition,” May 1922)
The aim of the Militia of the Immaculata is so difficult to achieve, that if we relied only on natural energy, activity, and effort, we could with reason doubt about the possibility of achieving it. Daily experience, in fact, teaches us that the Church’s enemies have more abundant natural means, and often, as Christ has told us, they are wiser in their own ways than the children of light. Further, to obtain the conversion and sanctification of souls, grace is needed, whereas corrupt nature tends by its own inclination towards sin. Consequently we can count solely on help from on high.
In this area the easiest and surest help is, by God’s Will, the most holy Virgin Mary. To her the Church applies the words of the Holy Scripture: “She shall crush your head” (Gn 3:15), that is, of the infernal serpent. Of her the Church sings: “You have overcome all heresies in the whole world” (Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
Furthermore, history teaches that no conversion ever has taken place without a particularly evident presence of Mary’s hand (all the saints have entertained a special devotion towards her), while Pope Leo XIII affirms in an encyclical on the Rosary: “It can be said that by a divine disposition nothing can be communicated to us from the infinite treasure of grace except through Mary. Thus just as no one can draw near to the Father save by means of the Son, so too ordinarily no one can draw near to Christ except by means of his mother.”
Can we, therefore, set about our task of fulfilling the purpose of the Militia of the Immaculata in any other way than by consecrating ourselves unreservedly, totally, and forever to the most Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, to be instruments in her hands so that she herself may act in us and through us? A consecration of this kind, therefore, constitutes the essence of the Militia of the Immaculata.
Sub Tuum Praesidium Prayer
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Miraculous Medal Prayer
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and all those recommended to you.