Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Have you checked the devastating daily readings for Mass this week?
Do you know the Queenship of Mary memorial is also this week, on Aug. 22, as it is every year on the octave of her Assumption?
There is a great relation going on this year with readings and the feast. Let’s look at only, Aug. 22, the feast day itself. Ezekiel (34:1-11) has some hard words given to him that he must prophesy. There is no pleasure in saying the prophecy or repeating the ominous words. Obviously, they do not apply to everyone who holds the title of shepherd of Israel. There are specific accusations, but the Lord ultimately says he will save his sheep.
Rather than dwell on the severe words that should have the listeners hiding “in caves and among mountain crags” to conceal themselves “from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb,” (Rev. 6:15-17), let’s turn to where our hope lies — Mary, the Queen of Heaven.
In 1954, when Venerable Pope Pius XII officially proclaimed the Queenship of Mary with his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, his opening words aimed at the times remain just as prophetic for ours. The Holy Father set the scene:
“From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ.”
Neither, he said, has that faith failed in this Mother of God reigning “with a mother's solicitude over the entire world” and crowned with “the glory of a Queen.”
Pius XII did not stop there, but pointed out the “frightful calamities” that had reduced to ruins cities and towns. Then he added:
“We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.”
Could this description not apply to our day? Should this remedy not apply to our day?
Hail Holy Queen
Mother of mercy! Our life, our sweetness, and our hope! So begins the powerful thousand-year-old prayer recited at the end of the Rosary. Mary is our Queen, our hope, and that is why we turn to her in times of anguish and trouble. As Mother and Queen, she obtains what she asks of her son Jesus, the King of Heaven, King of the Universe.
Nothing new is decreed. Pius XII highlights this title and honor of Mary was believed from the earliest time because “it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary's royal office.”
Gabriel told her: “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Pius XII also noted the titles of Jesus as "the Prince of Peace,” and "King of Kings and Lord of Lords” as more proof.
Then he examined a litany of major church sources such as St. John Damascene: calling Mary “Queen, ruler, and lady,” and “the Queen of every creature,” and writing, “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.” That goes right along with what Gabriel said.
Pius XII also explained that Mary should be called Queen “not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation.”
On goes the evidence, from saints to documents to the sacred liturgy. Pius XII highlighted yet another ancient proof — the Rosary with its fifth glorious mystery “which can be called the mystical crown of the heavenly Queen.”
All was proof positive that Mary being our hope as Queen was known when Pius XII instituted this feast of the Queenship of Mary for the entire world with the purpose that “all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and motherly sovereignty of her who bore God in her womb.”
Originally celebrated on May 31, last day of the Marian month of May, the feast was moved by Blessed Paul VI in 1969 to Aug. 22.
Merciful Motherly Queen
Mary’s exceptional roles can get us back on the right path — if we go to her.
“Turning her maternal Heart toward us and dealing with the affair of our salvation,” Pius XII wrote, “she is concerned with the whole human race. Constituted by the Lord Queen of Heaven and earth…standing at the right hand of Her only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, she petitions most powerfully with Her maternal prayers, and she obtains what she seeks.”
Did she not obtain what she sought at Cana?
She wants to help us in these dire times that shake us. She wants our salvation. Pius XII quotes his predecessor Pius IX who said, “With a heart that is truly a mother's does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord…and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother's prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.”
To that Pius XII added we all should “try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow” and above all strive to free ourselves “from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother.”
Race to Our Queen
Remember, the Holy Father made clear that Mary as Queen “receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.”
It’s all at her disposal. And she wants to help us with it.
Remember, in this age of faithlessness, we should pray “to Our Lady as our Queen Mother for the graces to be faithful to her Son,” noted Scott Hahn. Because that’s what she’s there for. That’s what we’re here for.”
She never turns us away. Pius XII insisted all Christians should “glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love.”
No wonder with the feast of the Queenship of Mary he ordered that on its every celebration the renewal of the consecration of the world “to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary” should take place. It’s surely what we need for these times.
There’s yet this directive for us from Pius XII which is perfect counsel for our day. He concluded:
“Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother.”
How in the times of such spiritual and cultural upheaval can we do that in hope and with hope?
As Pious XII clearly indicated, “[M]ay the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all.”