Today, July 21, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Doctor of the Church. A Capuchin, Saint Lawrence embodied a deep devotion to the Our Blessed Mother, Mary, and was among the first to write on all aspects of theology that concerns the Blessed Virgin. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1959 by Pope John XXIII, the writings of Saint Lawrence remain a treasure of the faith today, particularly those expounding upon the majesty and importance of the Virgin Mother of Christ. In the excerpt below, this holy man comments on the glory of Mary, and her place in the Divine Plan: the Woman Clothed with the Sun.
"We often read that God, Himself, appeared to the holy patriarchs and prophets acceptable to God, to manifest His glory to them. But never did God appear in a glory and majesty such as this. To Abraham He appeared in heaven in the midst of the stars. To Jacob He appeared with ministering angels on the summit of a heavenly ladder. To Moses He appeared in a burning bush, To Isaias He appeared upon His lofty and exalted throne, while Seraphim sang the thrice-holy song. To Jeremias He appeared with a watchful rod; to Ezechiel in a triumphant chariot of glory; to Daniel in the majesty of a judge. But nowhere do we read that He appeared with a garment, with a throne, with a crown such as this.
Christ showed His glory to His chosen apostles on the holy mountain when He was transfigured before them. And His face shone as the sun and His garments became white as snow. Still, He was not exalted above the moon. In other passages, as in the Apocalypse, we often read that Christ appeared to John in glory, His face shining like the sun. At one time He appeared to John in the midst of seven golden lamp-stands and stars; at another time crowned with a rainbow; at still another time surrounded with many crowns. And yet never did He appear with a glory such as this.
What then is this? Is the glory of the Virgin greater in heaven than the glory of Christ? than the glory of God? By no means. It is customary, at marriages and public solemnities in the courts of princes and kings of this world, that the queen, because of her beauty and sex, enters glittering with gold and adorned with such splendid and costly garments, that she appears more glorious than even the king or prince, the king's son. So Mary appeared in heaven surrounded with a glory greater than that which even God or Christ has ever appeared.
No difficulty lurks here. Though Christ shone on earth with the great glory of His signs and miracles, He wished His apostles, and especially Peter, His Vicar and the Prince of the Apostles, to shine with an even greater glory by their miracles. They who believe in me, the works that I do they also shall do, and greater than these shall they do. For this same reason He wished His Mother to appear with a glory more wonderful than His own: A great sign appeared in heaven.
How noble did Mary appear in the heaven of the Divine Plan! A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun. No more brilliant or splendid figure can be created by the mind of mortal man. Mary was not merely predestined for grace and glory with the holy angels and the elect of God and chosen for the greatest measure of grace and glory after Christ. She was also selected to fill the role of Mother of God, for she indeed is the Godbearer, the truly natural Mother of the Only-Begotten Son of God. She was the predestined Mother of Christ, having been predestined before all creatures, together with Christ, the firstborn of every creature. For Christ had been predestined to be the Son of Mary, just as Mary had been predestined to be the Mother of Christ. The light of the sun reflects the dignity of motherhood, which God had ordained for her. With a radiance surpassing that of the moon, her position above the moon signifies the excellence of her grace. The crown of stars bespeaks the dignity of her special glory. For to these three things had Mary been predestined: motherhood, grace, and glory. What a truly noble act of predestination, a selection so unique and ineffable that words cannot express it aptly!
Mary was seen clothed with the sun that we may know that she is like the sun which, although one, illumines and warms each man as if it had been created by God for him alone, for there is no one that can hide himself from his heat. So the Virgin Mother of God is both the mother of all men and the mother of each individual man. To all she is a common mother; to each his own personal mother. As the one sun can be seen in its entirety by each and every man (for every man at the same time sees a complete outline of the sun), so every one of the faithful, who from his heart devotes himself entirely to the Virgin, may enjoy her complete love as if he were her only son. For this reason Christ spoke to Mary in the singular when He said: Woman, behold thy son.
Mary also possessed Christ most perfectly as her only and beloved Son. How was it possible for the Virgin not to shine with sunlike splendor when she carried Christ, the Sun of infinite light, in her virginal womb? If God enclosed the sun in an immense crystal vase, would not that vase seem to be clothed with the very sun? In this way the sun clothes and adorns with its brilliant rays the pure substance of heaven, which it surrounds and engulfs. Just as the sun, glowing within the crystal on every side with its light, so the heavenly Virgin is clothed with Christ, the Sun of justice and glory. This divine vision signifies that, as bride and mother, the most holy Virgin shares in the glory of Christ and God to a high degree, so that no greater sharing or participation can be thought of.
If the sun signifies God, what does the moon signify if not everything under God? If the moon symbolizes everything under God, what is the significance of the moon under Mary's feet? Is it not that every creature under God lies beneath Mary's feet? It is written of Christ: Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou has subjected all things under his feet. This passage may also be accommodated to Mary. By this divine mystery, therefore, is portrayed the Virgin's wonderful exaltation above every creature.
I see still another mystery contained in this passage. Among the philosophers, the moon sometimes symbolizes the light of our human reason and mind. To have the moon under one's feet, therefore, signifies to hold one's intellect captive in submission to Christ.
As Josue ordered the sun and moon to cease their course, Elias bade fire to fall from heaven and closed and opened heaven itself, so Mary can command all things to all creatures. O most exalted, O most divine Queen! Upon her head a crown of twelve stars. Christ rebuked the winds and the sea and they, to the great astonishment of men, obeyed Him: What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? He spoke to the dead, and instantly they arose. Mary enjoys a similar dominion, for she has been invested with divine sovereignty and power and crowned goddess of the universe. As God said to Moses: I have appointed thee the God of Pharaoh, i.e. to exercise the same power over Pharaoh that God has over his kingdom, so God has set Mary over the works of His hands. She is the Goddess of Heaven, the Queen of the universe, the true Spouse of the omnipotent God, the true Mother of the almighty Christ. She stands at the right hand of God as heaven's exalted Queen: The queen stood on thy right hand in gilded clothing. Queen to whom neither angels nor men can give adequate praise! Could ever a man with fitting words give voice to the boundless and singular glory of this incomparable, this divine Queen? A Woman clothed with the sun... and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
It was from the Child in her womb that Mary received all her glory. He clothed her with the sun, rolled the moon ben eath her feet, and set upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The Virgin Mother of God had this glory not from herself, but from God, the Creator of heaven, Who had made the sun, the moon, and the stars, She had her glory from Christ, her Son, through Whom all things, even Mary herself, have been made. Christ was not only a son to Mary, but also a father who had created her, and adorned her with every virtue and blessing. He was her Lord, her true and supreme God.
The noble soul of Mary, therefore, found infinite motives and objects of love in Christ. It is written of Christ: He is all lovely, or, as it is in Hebrew: He is entirely desires, or He is all desires, i.e. everything desirable is found abundantly in Him. Christ was wholly desirable, infinitely lovable; Mary loved Him and worshipped Him with all her heart."
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."