Jubilees mark special moments.
Recently a “diamond” jubilee celebrated Elizabeth II reaching her sixth decade as Queen of Great Britain. Around the same year that she first ascended to her earthly throne, the Church began to observe a royal jubilee – the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 22 – for the only woman ever crowned to a heavenly throne.
Pope Pius XII first proclaimed the universal feast day in his 1954 encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam. In it the Holy Father explored the “royal dignity” of Mary both as found in Scripture and witnessed by Church traditions for millennia. He taught that God first prepared Mary for royal responsibilities with the Immaculate Conception (cf. CCC, 492). Years later, once Mary answered “yes” at the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel confirmed that the true source of her royalty flowed from Jesus Christ, incarnate “Son of the Most High”, heir to the earthly throne of David, and the High King who would reign “without end” (cf. Luke 1:32-33). At the foot of the cross during the Crucifixion, Jesus entrusted all Christians to the care of his mother (cf. John 19:25-27). Ultimately the royal dignity of Mary reached fulfillment when she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven and “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things” to reign forever alongside her resurrected Son (CCC, 966).
Once we realize that Mary led a glorious life precisely because she united herself completely with Christ, a man serving the Blessed Virgin under her majestic banner strives for justice when he loves what is most important, practices gentleness in how he loves, and searches for purity with everyone whom he loves. When in the true service to Mary as Queen, a man finds ways to strive at all moments, in all ages, with sincere humility and without hesitation to defend the high ground of faith firmly against dark spirits trying constantly to overtake it. In short, his soul obtains grace and strength from a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).
St. Andrew of Crete called the Blessed Virgin Mary “the Queen of the entire human race faithful to the exact meaning of her name” because she “is exalted above all things save only God himself.” All the saints venerated Mary because she belongs totally to God. Her entire life, on earth and in heaven, testifies to a royal dignity that both originates and points to Christ. Mary walks with and intercedes for humanity in times of trial, and deserves our divine admiration because she humbles herself to exalt God.
This week consider some of the women in your life. Remember the mother who you ran to first for aid as a child. Recall the wife that grows closer to you as you grow older together. Perhaps rejoice for a daughter who establishes your silent strength as the highest standard that she sets for all men. Then reflect in prayer on how every one of them, each in their own unique way, displays a tiny radiance of the royal dignity of Mary.
Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us!
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.