Eucharist and Marian Devotion
Fr. Michael F. Hull
YORK, NOV. 21, 2005 (ZENIT) - Here is the text of a talk given by
Father Michael F. Hull, who participated in the recent
videoconference of theologians on the topic of the Eucharist. The
Vatican Congregation for Clergy organized the event. Father Hull is
a professor of sacred Scripture at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers,
to the Holy Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady are so closely bound
as to be inseparable. As Mother and Son are united in an
"indissoluble tie" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 53), so too devotion to
Mother and Son are tightly linked. This is expressed most
beautifully by the medieval religious poem "Ave Verum," immortalized
as a motet by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791.
In his encyclical letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," the late Pope
John Paul II devotes the sixth and final chapter to Mary, which he
entitles "At the School of Mary: 'Woman of the Eucharist.'" Therein,
the Pope points out significant parallels in the lives of Jesus and
For example, Jesus' words at the Last Supper -- "Do this in
remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19) -- echo Mary's words at the wedding
at Cana -- "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5). Likewise, Mary's
fiat to the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:38) prefigures the Amen of
each communicant at the reception of Holy Communion.
Speaking of Mary's own reception of holy Communion after the Lord's
paschal mystery, John Paul remarks: "For Mary, receiving the
Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb
that heart which had beat in unison with hers and reliving what she
had experienced at the foot of the Cross" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia,"
No. 56). "Mutatis mutandis," we are also brought to the foot of the
Cross in holy Communion, where we are united not only with the Lord,
but also with the "stabat Mater dolorosa."
Finally, we find Our Lord entrusting his Mother to St. John, who as
the "beloved disciple" had such a prominent place at the bosom of
Jesus at the Last Supper, and St. John to his Mother (John
19:26-27). Holy tradition recounts how Mary and St. John eventually
settled at Ephesus, the place where Mary kept so much in her heart
until her assumption (cf. Luke 2:33-35 and 2:51).
During the public ministry of the Lord, Mary is rarely in the
foreground. Except for the wedding at Cana -- when Jesus prefigured
his miracle of the Eucharist by turning water into wine at Mary's
request (John 2:1-11) -- and at the foot of the Cross -- when Jesus
concluded his passion (John 19:25) -- Mary is always in the
background. Her presence is always pointing toward her Son. And that
is the very heart of Marian devotion: a strong, omnipresent, and
relatively silent expression of devotion to the will of God oriented
to his and her Son.
Throughout the history of the Church, the saints have understood
this truth. Two examples will suffice.
In the fourth century, St. Ambrose expressed the hope that all of
his people would inculcate the spirit of Mary as a means to glorify
God: "May the heart of Mary be in each Christian to proclaim the
greatness of the Lord; may her spirit be in everyone to exult in
Similarly, 1,400 years later St. John Bosco had a vision of two
pillars anchoring the bark of Peter in the midst of a stormy sea:
the pillar of the Eucharist and the pillar of the Blessed Virgin
Mary. The larger pillar, that of the Eucharist, had the words
"Salvation of Believers," and the smaller, that of Mary, "Help of
Mary is, indeed, the help of Christians, leading them to Jesus and
the Eucharist. Devotion to Our Lady is always together with devotion
to Our Lord, especially in the Eucharist, as the Church sings: "Ave
verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine …"
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