May is the Month of Mary Immaculate

“By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity.” (CCC 967)

Image credit: Ralph Hammann, CC BY-SA 4.0
Image credit: Ralph Hammann, CC BY-SA 4.0 (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Imagine the trouble we would get into with our mothers if we came into town after having been away and didn’t stop by their houses to say “Hello.”

Putting tradition, dogma and Scripture aside, despite the fact the Bible doesn't specifically mention Christ having a tête-à-tête with His Blessed Mother after He rose from the dead, we can safely presume He did in fact visit her — if for no other reason than one should never cross a Jewish mother. (For scale, it's roughly as bad as slighting an Italian mother. I know from experience.)

I recall a fundamentalist atheist of my acquaintance once insisting to me that there is as much evidence the Buddha was born of a virgin as was Christ.

First, this is perfect nonsense as the Buddha's story of being born of a virgin was first espoused only many centuries afterwards. If the Buddha was indeed born of a virgin, it's odd that no one mentioned it earlier.

Second, Christ's virginal birth was announced eight hundred years prior to His Incarnation. (Isaiah 7:14) It's intellectually dishonest to suggest differently.

But, these obvious flaws in the average atheist's thinking aside, the truth is, had any woman been a virgin when she divinely gave birth after having been notified thusly through several angelic visions, it stands to reason that that woman would have had an inordinately close relationship with her son. That is, she probably wouldn't have left his side.

Mara, the Buddha's mother, didn't even give him so much as fare-thee-well when he left the confines of his cushy, posh life in the palace while searching for "enlightenment."

Mary, on the other hand, was with Jesus at His first miracle at Cana and at His torture and Crucifixion.

In the superlative, soul-expanding joy with which Christians reckon Jesus' Resurrection―the cosmos-shaking event which gives meaning, order, purpose and healing to the universe and, indeed, to our lives―we might be given to misplacing the Blessed Virgin Mary in it all.

Scripture clearly points out that Mary stood near the foot of her son's cross along with other women and the Apostle John. (John 19:25) In fact, it's such an important point, that all four Gospel writers specifically mention the crowd of sympathetic women onlookers.

However, Mary doesn't reappear again in Scriptures until the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Lk 22:12–13, Acts 2:1–31)

Now, why would God grace Mary with the Holy Spirit but not visit for a spell after He resurrected? That's odd in the extreme. And, as every mother instinctually knows, "Everyone has time to visit his mother."

The Lord of Time and Space certainly knows this as well as I do.

Did Mary attend to her son's body at the sepulcher? It stands to reason that she would have, as it was a culturally mandated job for women to take charge at the burial of family members — and yet the Gospels don't mention her. Instead, it’s Mary Magdalen who shows up on Easter morning. (Mat 28, Mk 16, Lk 24, Jn 20-21, Acts 1)

Why not the Virgin Mary?

However, between the Sepulcher on Good Friday and the Cenacle at Pentecost, Mary seems to have been misplaced in Scriptures.

This would seem to be a major hermeneutical conundrum, but the truth is that her absence from Scriptures between these two faithful and faith-filled days actually solves an unspoken problem.

It seems to me that Mary wasn't in mourning for her son because she knew, in her heart of hearts in which she held the totality of the revelations given to her first by the Archangel Gabriel and supplemented by attentively listening to the daily message of Christ's Gospel, that He would indeed rise from the dead on the third day. Mary lived in such perfect faith that she didn't need to have Jesus' Resurrection proven to her. In fact, if we carefully examine the passages in question this seems to play out. Mary was not a bit player in Christ's life, death and rebirth. By not being mentioned immediately in the Resurrection narrative, it fits perfectly with what we already know of her.

How can we conclude that Mary had a more intimate and intuitive understanding of Christ and His Gospel? Scriptures points out several times in her life in which Mary specifically remembers important information about Jesus. The first time was at Bethlehem when shepherds came to worship her son at the stable―"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

The second time was at the Presentation at the Temple when Simeon blessed her child:

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2: 34-35)

The third time was when she and Joseph found their son talking to the teachers in the Temple at the age of twelve. They reprimanded Him, and He answered:

‘Why were you searching for Me?’ He asked. ‘Didn't you know I had to be in My Father's house?" But they did not understand what He was saying to them. Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these things in her heart.’ (Luke 2:49-51)

She pondered all of these mysteries in her heart. How could she not? Her son's birth was announced by an archangel. That would be difficult to forget.

Considering Mary knew she was the mother of her Creator and knowing, as we do, that she was trusted by the Trinity as part of the salvific plan for the universe, it's not odd at all to think that Mary indeed understood many things concerning Christ. She had not only a mother's love for her son but, in addition, the love of a Creature for her Creator who daily worshipped Him as she held Him to her breast.

By comparison, the Apostles were told on multiple occasions that Christ would resurrect upon the third day and despite that, they were still incredulous. Mary didn't need to have this proven to her as her trust in her son, the Lord of All, was unshakable.

Christ appeared on the road to Emmaus not because those two followers were great believers but rather because they were “foolish” and slow “to believe everything the prophets said.” (Luke 24:25)

Even St. Thomas (the Doubter) needed to be reminded. (Luke 24: 37)

Mary didn't need such promptings.

She had a mother's trust and God's personal assurance that He would return from the dead.

When Jesus appeared to His Apostle's post-Resurrection, He had to sit and have two fish fries with them to prove He was real and had really risen from the dead. (Luke 24:40-45, John 21:1) This helps explain why the Knights of Columbus are always pushing fish on us for the sake of Lenten charity.

It's simply impossible to believe that Mary, having been addressed by the Archangel Gabriel and bearing in her immaculate, virginal body, the God-man Jesus would someone have a moment's doubt as to her son's divinity and the truthfulness of His promises to return from the dead.

Christ did so in order so they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24: 45)

Mary didn't need such promptings.

In addition, as believers go, the Virgin Mary suffered the most at contemplating Christ's death who died in front of her. It must have truly felt as Simeon has prophesized, a sword piercing her heart. (Luke 2:35)

Consider any mother's reaction to any pain her children experience. Mary saw her son brutalized, humiliated, tortured to death. No one has had or will ever have, greater access to Christ's Passion as does the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As Fr. James Spencer Northcote, a 19th-century Anglican convert to Catholicism, explained in a series of lectures on the centrality and cohesiveness of Catholic doctrine, Mary's intimate relationship with Christ raised her to a "higher sphere of the supernatural order, a region of clear unshaken faith and mystical vision of God, alone worthy of her close relationship to Him. Jesus showed Himself to others, because as yet they did not really know Him as He was; they knew Him only 'according to the flesh' (2 Cor 5:16), not by faith; so that when His visible presence was withdrawn from them, they saw Him not at all; they knew not that He was near them."

As Fr. Northcote pointed out, Mary had already "drunk deeply of the chalice of bitterness at the foot of the Cross." Why indeed would she need proof that He had returned. In fact, it would have been odd had she been given a gratuitous visit by our Lord. Her faith in Jesus was as He already pointed out on the Mount near Lake of Gennesaret, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20: 29)

The Believers around Jesus showed nothing but incredulity, ignorance and a reticence to believe in His Resurrection. (Jn 20:24–29)

As St. Bernardine of Siena points out, Jesus lovingly chose to bestow the privilege of seeing and touching Him to such sinners as Mary Magdalene and the Apostles. However, such an honor was unnecessary for the Virgin Mary who already had a clear and certain knowledge and faith of her son's Resurrection, and embraced Him with the most tender embraces of Her soul." (Serm. 52).

Consider the first thirty-years of Jesus' life in which He and Mary and Joseph worked side by side in the family business, ate three meals a day together, traveled together and celebrated family celebrations together. She taught Him and He taught her. Consider all of the lost conversations, intimacies, moments of love, exchanges of confidences, and, indeed, Divine instructions that passed from one to the other. Mary is the most blessed of all Creatures because she had God all to herself for 30 years. Why wouldn't she be blessed considering she learned at the feet of the Master Himself. (Luke 1:28-30,1:42)

And throughout it all, as Paul reminds us, Mary, like any Christian, had Christ living in her. (Gal 2: 20)


The Blessed Virgin was "raised up together with Christ Jesus and made to sit in the heavenly places" (Eph. 2: 6) by virtue of her intimate association and union with her son.

Mary didn't need to see the empty tomb as she already knew the details of His divine plan. She was so intimate with Him, that her knowledge of Him knew no interruption and required no increase.

Mary stood at the foot of her son's Cross and knew she looked upon the God of All. She knew that His suffering and death were part of parcel of the Trinity's Divine plan. The pain at seeing her son and God suffer must have been overwhelming. Perhaps only though Divine favor could we ever hope to come to understand even the slightest fraction of that pain.

However, be careful of what you ask for. (Mat 7:7)

Mary's faith was intuitive and didn't depended upon sight. In other words, there was no need for verification as St. Thomas the Doubter demanded. (Jn 20:25)

However, how many of us would have believed unquestioningly, other than Mary, if we were there in that room? Through our collective eyes, we see only dim images in a mirror and our knowledge is only partial. Mary didn't suffer from the same encumbrances. Her knowledge of God was by far more complete―as complete as God's knowledge of her. (1 Co 13:12)

Unlike the preoccupied and self-blind fellows on the Road to Emmaus, Mary recognized her son immediately. (Luke 24:16)

It was as if Mary saw “Him Who cannot be seen” without actually seeing Him. (Heb 11: 27) Mary stands unique in Christian history in that she anticipates Christ and His saving grace thus. It's not odd in the least that Scriptures doesn't record a specific physical meeting between Mother and Son.

They've already met on most personal and intimate of levels and already knew each other's hearts.