Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mary is our mother and our teacher

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

The following are excerpts from Bishop Barnes’s homily at a Mass and Mary Crowning held at Holy Innocents Parish, Victorville today, May 1.

When it comes to celebrating May and the Mary crowning, many of us go back to our younger days and we remember the activities that celebrated around Mary. I remember as a child growing up in Los Angeles going to Mary’s hour at the Coliseum. We would go as a family. The Coliseum would be filled with people. And of course you couldn't have Mass in those days in the middle of the afternoon but we had benediction and we had the rosary and we had Marian hymns.

I remember during the month of May as a child. That’s when we would pray the Rosary together. We didn’t always pray the rosary together as a family. Only in May, June and October would we gather as a family to pray the rosary. There was a time when you did those kinds of things. I remember my sister would dress in her first communion dress and would go offer flowers every afternoon at the church because there was a rosary there.

The flores de mayo that the Filipino community celebrates, the great Marian celebrations, home altars in May we have all these remembrances. Those were practices way back then. Some people still practice them. At the same time, a recent survey of Catholics in the United States asked how do Catholics identify themselves. Three things came out of the survey:
1. Eucharist

2. Mary

3. Social teachings of the Church
View photos of Mary Crowning at Holy Innocents, Victorville
It’s interesting to see how Mary is up there. There are all these titles of Mary and images of Mary, more images of Mary than images of saints or even the Lord. Mary is a myriad of names and colors.

There is a town in the Coachella Valley called Mecca. They are very poor agricultural workers and they celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the persons from my staff in charge of communications went down there during the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There was a child sitting next to an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He says to the child, do you know who that is, pointing to the image of Our Lady. The little boy says, “Yes, she is my other mother.”

It tells you who Mary is: she is our mother and she is also our teacher. She teaches us how to pray. She teaches how to ponder. She teaches us how to embrace the unexpected.

For many of us, there are things that come up that are unexpected. How do we greet those? She met those by embracing them. She is the first of the believers. She was the first to show us how to trust and how to obey, two very difficult things for most people.

We need to know more about Mary, because for the most part our understanding is very limited. It is limited to practices and some personal experiences. Mary is the one that leads us to the Lord, so we need to find Mary more, principally in the scriptures. We need to go back to the scriptures and study the person of Mary. We need to see how Mary lives her life in the scriptures so that we can take on her attitudes, her behavior. So we can know what it means when we refer to Mary by her different titles, such as the First of the Disciples. We need to understand what discipleship means. There is so much that Mary has to teach us. Mary’s place in our Church is very much alive, but you and I must study through the scriptures what that means.

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