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The Mysteries of Mary and the Mass

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 10, 2023

The Immaculate Conception—the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Ann without the stain of Original Sin—and the Last Supper both anticipate and participate in the historical events of the Cross and Resurrection. As we consider the mysteries of Mary, we gain a deeper understanding of our participation at Mass.

Mary is the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. The Immaculate Conception prepares Mary for her Motherhood. The Immaculate Conception re-establishes the covenant offered by God in the Garden. Unlike Eve, who disobeyed God, Mary confirms the covenant—the gift of her conception without sin—during the Annunciation with her obedient faith. Mary becomes the spouse of the Holy Spirit with her “yes” to the Angel Gabriel. The Blessed Virgin Mary gives birth to Jesus—the Word made Flesh and splendor of the Father. Mary is Mother of God.

The Last Supper has similarities to the Immaculate Conception. The Divine favor of the Immaculate Conception anticipates Mary’s participation in Jesus’ redemptive Sacrifice. The Cross and Resurrection, like the Incarnation, weds heaven and earth. The celestial aspects of the Cross and Resurrection help explain the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.

The Last Supper similarly participates in God’s saving redemption before the historical events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The Cross and the Resurrection—followed by Pentecost—brings the Mass to completion with the full incorporation of Mary and the disciples into the Church.

Jesus is the “one Mediator” between God and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5), heaven and earth. Jesus is the “Divine Bridegroom” (cf. Mk. 2:19). He formed His friends, the Apostles, to share in His nuptial relationship with His Church. So Jesus, during the Last Supper, ordained the “friends of the groom” to “do this in memory of me.” (Lk. 22:19) Priests are, paradoxically, sinful yet “sacraments” of Jesus (including His masculinity), sharing in His mediation of the Father’s love and choosing to continue His saving work in the Mass.

Mary wasn’t among the Apostles at the Last Supper. Mary had already mystically participated in the Redemption in her Immaculate Conception, and Mary remains forever without sin. But Mary lived the Holy Sacrifice as she stood by her Son Jesus at the foot of His Cross. A “sword of sorrow” (Lk. 3:35) pierced her maternal and Immaculate Heart. Her innocent and sinless suffering in union with her Son merited her the title “Co-Redemptrix.” Jesus suffers as God and man—for Mary and His Church; Mary suffers as His earthly Mother and Bride.

During the Annunciation, Jesus “was conceived by the Holy Spirit” (the Creed). Mary is Theotokos, Mother of God—Jesus Christ, true God and true Man—with the Holy Spirit as her Spouse. During the Crucifixion, Jesus continues to reveal Mary’s exalted role in our salvation.

From the Cross, Jesus, in His humanity, says, “It is consummated.” (Jn. 19:30) He speaks in communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The nuptial words of consummation recall the hidden gift granted to Mary during her Immaculate Conception. As the Immaculate Conception, Mary is the first among the redeemed. Mary is the Bride of Christ. Jesus—the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Divine Bridegroom—sacrificed His life for His spouse: Mary, then His Church.

Created in the Divine image, we carry the dignity of God’s imprint. Mary’s intimate and unique union with Jesus enhances her dignity. Priestly participation in His redemptive mission—throughout history in celebrating the Mass—enhances their dignity. But Mary’s dignity as Mother and Bride exceeds that of the friends of the Groom. Mothers who carry a child have an intrinsic intimate relationship greater than fathers. Mary is mother, not a father. Priests are fathers, not mothers.

Mary becomes the spiritual mother of John, and John her son, through the last testament of Jesus on the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:26-27). John takes Mary into his own home according to the directives of Jesus. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit incorporates Mary and the disciples into the Mystical Body of Christ. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, Mary also receives the graces of a universal mother, and by God’s grace, she becomes Mother of the Church.

Until the day of her Assumption, Mary—the Mother of God, Bride of Christ, and the Mother of the Church—sacramentally receives her glorified Son in the Blessed Eucharist. For Mary, every Mass is another Immaculate Conception, this time recalling her sorrow during the saving redemptive act of Jesus. At every Mass, Mary delights anew in the Incarnation because her resurrected Son becomes present—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist.

After the Assumption, for Mary, the sacramental celebration of the Mass and the Real Presence gives way to the beatific vision. The Divine Bridegroom receives His Mother and Spouse in glory, and He crowns her Queen of Heaven and Earth.

By God’s design, Mary enriches the heavenly wedding feast as Mother and Bride in union with Jesus. In the celestial wedding feast of the Mass, Mary’s words at Cana take on a new meaning: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn. 2:5) Mary’s last recorded words reinforce the words of Jesus during the Consecration: “Do this in memory of me.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)

The Immaculate Conception and the Last Supper remind us that the sacraments are sensory and celestial. The Mass is celebrated in time but not bound by time. As with Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we participate anew in our redemption. Like the Apostles at the Last Supper, we also enter into the one Sacrifice of Jesus. The Mass is the marriage of heaven and earth, time and eternity.

These aspects of the celestial liturgy of the Mass enrich our confidence in the consoling promise of Jesus: “And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt. 28:20)

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: agmw9350 - Apr. 11, 2023 7:06 PM ET USA

    "For Mary, every Mass is another Immaculate Conception, this time recalling her sorrow during the saving redemptive act of Jesus. At every Mass, Mary delights anew in the Incarnation because her resurrected Son becomes present—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist." This is the money quote. Yes, thank you so much Fr. Pokorsky for blowing my mind. How very 'Ratzingerian' of you! God bless. - Fr. Andrew

  • Posted by: padre3536 - Apr. 11, 2023 8:39 AM ET USA

    Blessedly beautiful! Alleluia! Thank you Triune Beloved!