19 Mar Transcribed talks on Mother Mary – Mother Mary: Your True Mother – Fr. Antony Parankimalil VC
First, mother Mary is the example of selflessness. When the Holy Spirit came upon her, her life was completely transformed.
There are many people who ask different questions pertaining to their lives and they wonder if they can ever get out of a financial crisis and some have questions such as “will I ever get married”? The answer is Luke 1:35 through and in the life of the Blessed virgin Mary. It states “The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;”
Brethren, when people ask different types of question such as will they ever get married? Will they ever have a child? Will they be able to complete their studies? There are different people with different questions. The Blessed virgin Mary asked how it was going to happen. The answer to your questions is that the Holy Spirit will do it for you. Say to yourself: “Holy Spirit will do it for me.” While in Nairobi, Kenya, each time Fr. Antony and his team experienced some kind of fear or difficulty as they traveled from one place to another for parish retreats, they often prayed Acts of the Apostles 17:28. Here, St Paul is getting into a city where he does not know how to preach the word. He has a lot of fear and he is in a new strange place and he saw there was a place waken for an anonymous God and he quotes (Acts 17:28) – “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ St Paul is quoting what was already in that place.
Fr. Antony and his team repeated this word of God like this: ‘In Holy Spirit we live and move and have our being.’ Please repeat this word of God. Those who have difficulties such as fear of travelling, difficulty in facing exams, difficulty in facing people, the fear of going to an interview, the fear of going for an exam and fear of going for a driving test, should remember that they have the Holy Spirit inside of them. They should claim, “I live, I move and I have my being in the Holy Spirit.”
The best example of this word of God took flesh in the life of the Blessed virgin Mary. She lived, she moved and she had her existence in the Holy Spirit. And that’s why she could hear what the Holy Spirit was telling her. Immediately she was filled with the Holy Spirit, she got out of herself and she looked at somebody who was suffering like her – Elizabeth, who was childless and who was her cousin and she went and met Elizabeth.
Fr. Antony heard an incident of a young girl, who was just 17 years of age and got pregnant. She didn’t know what to do. When she informed her boyfriend that she was pregnant, the boyfriend rejected her and told her that there was not going to be any communication between them going forward. He asked her not to talk to him any longer and that she wasn’t his girlfriend. The boyfriend rejected her and the baby. To her, she had only two options, either to commit an abortion or to commit suicide, because she had brought shame upon herself, shame upon her family and upon her life. She had a lot of fear and she didn’t know the way forward and didn’t know what to do. In this difficulty, she came for a retreat. One of her friends who knew her well advised her to come for a retreat before making any decisions in her life. When she came and attended the retreat, the retreat preacher told her “why can’t you pray Holy Rosary”? The preacher advised her to go and sit in front of the Blessed virgin Mary, who is a mother that would understand her pain and share her pain with her. The Blessed virgin Mary got pregnant before her marriage. She was conceived and she had gone through that agony, that pain of being isolated, being rejected and having lots of insecurity feelings. She could understand this pain.
Brethren, Blessed virgin Mary is better than any human mother. She is a mother appointed by God to be your mother. She is not a stranger. She is not up there in heaven. She is with us because she is appointed. We see this in John 19:27. The most important word of a person is spoken when he or she is dying. The last word of your dad or mum before they die is the most important word. The word in John 19:27 is “Then he said to the disciple, (whom he loved) “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” Please remember that for every believer and every Christian, as Jesus was dying on the cross, he gave them a mother. So, from now on, whatever your pain, sorrow or affliction is, you have to share it with your mother – the Blessed virgin Mary, the mother of God.
The priest introduced this girl who got pregnant and was thinking whether to do an abortion or commit suicide to the Blessed virgin Mary, by asking her to sit in front of the Blessed virgin Mary and pray the rosary. Remember that the rosary is a prayer with mother Mary, a meditation of the life of Jesus. When this girl started to pray, she slowly decided not to commit abortion or suicide. The more she thought about her boyfriend who cheated on her, abused her, used her and threw her, the more she felt a lot of heaviness in her heart. Again, the priest prayed and told her to do what mother Mary says. She asked the priest, “How do I know”? The priest told her “Continue to pray the rosary before the Blessed virgin Mary and she will help you”. When she continued to pray, she got an inspiration that “What did mother Mary do when she was going through a difficulty and when the disciples were going through a difficulty”? She joined all the disciples who were scattered and brought them together and started a community. So, mother Mary inspired her to join her group, which is a group of people who have the same affliction and rejection. You are not the only single women who is suffering rejection from her boyfriend. You are not the only girl who has been pregnant and or rejected by the boyfriend. There are many thousands like you. Can you pray for them? Can you intercede for them? Can you include them also in your rosary? mother Mary inspired her about being in a prayer group that prays for people with similar problems. That’s how this girl got an inspiration to pray and intercede for girls who are rejected by their boyfriends, girls who got pregnant and are confused, girls who got pregnant and are thinking of abortion or even committing suicide. There are many girls in desperation, but by God’s grace, this girl could come and get consolation through Mother Mary. She then developed a habit of praying for others having similar problems and eventually she started to guide people having these problems and staying in that retreat center, she got the gift of consoling those with similar problems. So, she got a new gift.
We read in Isaiah 50:4 that when you are going through a rough or difficult time or situation, the Lord God is giving you the tongue of a teacher. “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens – wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” God is giving you the grace to become a servant or a minister to help others. The Lord is training you as a teacher so that you may know and feel the pain of others. Until then, the girl who was pregnant was just thinking about her own pain – that she’s rejected, wounded, pregnant, and that her boyfriend cheated on her. But the moment she started praying the rosary and started the community of mother Mary, where they pray for people with similar pain and similar rejection, she got new meaning and a new purpose in her life. She came to know that she was not the only one suffering through this or having such sufferings. As she got new meaning and purpose in her life, she surrendered her pain to God.
St Margaret of Cortona, an Italian saint, was a single mother. Her boyfriend was brutally murdered, but Margaret did not give up. She went to a church and introduced herself to the Parish Priest and the Parish Priest consoled her and told her to surrender her life to the Lord. Because of her prayer and dedication, her son whom she bore out of wedlock joined the Franciscans and became a priest. Brethren, because Margaret surrendered her life to God, nothing was lost. You can look at mother Mary who had seven swords pierce her heart. But she did not give up.
What are the Seven Swords?
- The Prophecy of Simeon
The first one starts with the prophecy that Simeon made to her. This is in Luke 2:34. “Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed.” A mother is being told about the son, that this son will be a sign that will be opposed. We read in verse 35 “so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” This is a prophecy. A mother is carrying a child and they are making a prophecy, telling the mother that the child will cause troubles and difficulties for her. Because of this child, she would suffer a lot and a sword would pierce her own soul.”
When you get pregnant, maybe out of wedlock or maybe with your boyfriend and you are not married in the church, you might come to know that you will be rejected because you accept this pregnancy. The society will reject you because you are taking up a child. Abortion maybe an easy step for you, but mother Mary is setting an example. Though she was pierced with a sword, she did not give up. She surrendered her life for the glory of God and that’s why she is assumed into heaven. She did not reject a child. Never in history could a virgin get pregnant. In Isaiah 7:14, we read that it was a prophecy of God that the virgin shall conceive. “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Mother Mary, just because she had a baby, it was a sword that pierced her heart – the prophecy itself.
- Flight to Egypt
Mother Mary never had an easy life. She was a refugee. Are you a refugee and you find that nobody can console you? We read in Mathew 2:13 that “Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” This is a sword piercing the heart of mother Mary because the prophecy is that her child will be the Son of God, a super hero, the Immanuel, the God most high. But the angel comes and tells them that they have to flee for their lives, and live like refugees. Maybe you are in a foreign country and have no document, no immigration status, you are not entitled to work, you don’t have a visa or a passport, and you have no identity and you are in a foreign land. You are a refugee. So, remember that the Blessed virgin Mary was a refugee; St Joseph was a refugee; our most Holy Jesus was a refugee. If you have pain, sorrow or affliction because you are a refugee, remember that that refugee is mother Mary. That’s why Pope Francis recently added a special title to mother Mary in the litany, that she is the Queen of refugees. She’s a Refuge of the refugees. Hold onto her. Come to her. As we celebrate her feast, you have someone to understand your pain. There’s someone who can feel your affliction in a foreign land. Maybe you are imprisoned in a foreign land or maybe you are going through agony, but remember your mother, the mother appointed by God had the same pain. So, you also get consoled when you look at this Blessed virgin Mary.
- The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
We read in Luke 2:48 that “When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” Do you have great anxiety about your children? Maybe they are lost. Maybe they have run away from your home. Maybe they are not being found. Maybe they are in prison. Maybe they have traveled to another country and you don’t have any contact with them. They are not making any phone calls and you don’t know whether they are dead or alive. There are many with this problem. As you read this, maybe your own children are missing, but remember that the Blessed virgin Mary can understand your pain. What do you have to do? Join the prayer group started by mother Mary. What is this prayer group? A prayer group of people having similar pain, similar sorrows and similar afflictions. Are you a single mother? Then pray for all the single mothers. Are you pregnant out of wedlock? Pray for all those who got pregnant out of wedlock. Are you thinking that you have no other way other than committing suicide? Join the group of people thinking of praying to stop this suicide. That is, those who have this similar pain, so that you can pray for them and they would come out of this and get deliverance. If one single person is praying, the others will be saved. We read in Jeremiah 5:1 that “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look around and take note! Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth – so that I may pardon Jerusalem.”
Fr. Antony heard the testimony of a priest who had a near dead experience – a life after dead experience. This priest in his testimony said that after his death, in the vision he reached the door of heaven. When Peter came and checked, this priest was so lukewarm. While alive, he missed even celebrating his mass on many days. He was not faithful in his confessional. Usually when people would come to him, he would tell them he was tired. Even though he did not commit such a big crime, he was in a way irresponsible in his priestly ministry. The priest said, still in the vision, Peter tells him “You have failed as a priest and therefore you don’t deserve heaven.” And as Peter was talking with this priest, Jesus came in and Jesus asked Peter “How is his report”? Then Peter said “See he has failed you. You have given him such a great investment of priesthood, with all the gifts, fruits, and charisms, but he failed. He was lazy. He was lukewarm. Master, he does not deserve entrance to heaven.” Then immediately, they saw a woman running and coming towards them. The priest immediately understood that this was mother Mary. Without saying anything, mother Mary told Jesus “My son, give my son, this priest, one more chance. Give him a little more grace and one more chance and send him back. I will make sure my son, this priest will do better.” The priest in his testimony said because mother Mary pleaded, Jesus gave him one more chance and he came back. It’s important to know this testimony. This priest became a new person because mother Mary intervened. The priest told Fr. Antony that what he never missed was praying the rosary. He said though he was lazy in many things, he had such a great affection for mother Mary and she came to his salvation and rescue. And that she came to plead for him. He said she came to recommend him and that’s when he realized that Jesus never says “No” to Mary, because Jesus has great respect for the Blessed virgin Mary. If one person is pleading, like mother Mary, when she is pleading and recommending us, she is praying for us. She is not the savior, but she is the one praying for us and supporting us. She is recommending us because she has gone through all this pain. She was fully human and so can pray for our human affliction. Maybe you have lost someone, lost communication with someone, or your husband has gone away for many years. If you pray and ask mother Mary to help you, she will give a compassionate heart to your husband who has gone away from you. He will come back to live with you and your children. Maybe your wife has gone away from you. But if you pray and ask mother Mary, she will help your wife to come back to you. Pray faithfully and ask mother Mary to help you because she had this pain of loss. She lost her son, and she herself said “I had deep anxiety about you.” So, are you extremely anxious? Are you suffering from stress, high blood pressure or any kind of struggle? There is a mother who can understand this pain better than anyone.
Fr. Antony said as a priest, he faces certain difficulties sometimes. He said one day, while he was in Thika in Kenya, he was going through some kind of difficulty and personal struggle. He said he had realized that when someone is experiencing some difficulty he or she should go before the Blessed virgin Mary, kneel down and pray. He said he prayed to mother Mary saying, “Mother Mary, I know you are a mother…” When a child is crying, a mother cannot just stay there as if you are a stone. A mother’s heart is soft. A mother feels. A mother will cry because based on Fr’s experience, his mother would cry when she was happy and when she was sad. A mother is full of compassion and love. Fr. said he knelt down one day with a lot of difficulty and told mother Mary “You have to help me.” He said after this prayer he felt some lightness, but he asked mother Mary for a sign that she was intervening in the issue. He came out of the house where he was and told mother Mary that when he looked up, he wanted to see the full moon – a sign of mother Mary. He said he knew it would never be there, but after this prayer, he came out of the house and when he looked up at the sky, he saw the moon exactly above his head and then he knew mother Mary has such a high influence. She has such a high power and great love for us, because her son Jesus entrusted her to look after us. Everyone should believe this. Jesus, while he was dying, told Mary to look after us. Believe it. That’s why mother Mary is so faithful and very committed, because mother Mary cannot be disobedient to what her son Jesus says. Jesus told Mary “This is your son, look after him.” It was not just for John to look after Mary, but also for Mary to look after John. That’s why Mary took all the disciples who were scattered to the upper room. She knew her duty. The first church was instituted at the upper room with mother Mary and that’s why she’s called the Mother of the Church. It’s a great honor and an extra privilege to be linked with the Blessed virgin Mary. It’s such an honor to call her mother. To Fr Antony, whenever he prayed the litany, without any body hearing, he used to add one more litany i.e., Queen of Fr. Antony – pray for Fr. Antony. He said he has made Mary as his Queen and mother and the one who will protect him.
Fr. Antony gave another testimony about his mother. While growing up, whenever Fr. was alone, she would always get so upset with him. She would beat him, twist his ear, or shout at him for no reason. She would always tell him to shut up even when he was not talking because she knew he had a habit of talking too much. One day Fr. asked her why she always told him to shut up even when he was not talking? She told Fr. she knew he was going to talk because she knew his character and if she did not ask him to shut up, he would shout again. In all of this, he had heard her boasting and speaking very highly of him to guests during family functions, how Antony was her son, how excellent he was, studying well and very obedient. One day Fr. Antony asked his mum, why she always called him stupid whenever they were a lone and would get angry with him but would tell others in public that he was very intelligent. He asked her why she lied to other people. But his mother told him that she did not want to tell him that he was intelligent because he would become so proud and she did not want to get the sin of pride inside of him. She said as a mother, she had to speak well of him to others. To Fr. Antony, if his mother is so proud of him in front of others what about the Blessed virgin Mary. She will always talk good about him whether he’s alone or with others. She cannot tolerate people talking ill about him. That’s a good mother. A true mother cannot tolerate anyone talking bad about Fr. Antony or any other person. Remember to get associated with this Blessed virgin Mary. Fr. Antony has really experienced the privilege and the honor of getting associated with the Blessed virgin Mary. The Blessed virgin Mary will never humiliate you.
Fr. Antony heard a testimony of a lady who is very fond of mother Mary. She had a great dream to go to Fatima for a pilgrimage. So, she completed forty days of fasting in preparation to go for the pilgrimage in Fatima. After these prayers, she went to Fatima and she had a desire to go and pray in front of that miraculous statue in Fatima. So, her prayer and dream was to go and touch the feet of mother Mary to express her love for the Blessed virgin Mary. She did fasting for that purpose. But when she reached Fatima, she was so shocked to see that there were thousands and thousands of people and she could not reach anywhere near the statue of mother Mary. She realized in the evening that a procession with the statue was taking place. A priest was holding the statue and some people were following behind him. There were thousands of people. She said to mother Mary, “Mama Mary, I took forty days of fasting, if it was an issue of doing it from far away, I could do it at home on the TV. I came all the way and I can’t even come near you. I can’t even touch you. Is my fasting gone in vain? Are you really listening to my prayer? Are you really pleased with the sacrifices I have made to embark on such a great pilgrimage”? The moment she prayed and thought like this, immediately there were showers of rain. When the rain started falling, it scattered all the people, as it was an open ground. She found at this time the great opportunity to go and touch the statue. She ran and she reached the statue since people were scattered all around because of the rain and she seized this opportunity as the best. The priest was holding the statue as the people were scattered and as she ran to the statue, the priest asked her if she could hold the statue so that he could wipe water off of his head. She started crying, embracing mother and kissing mother Mary for more than ten minutes until the priest came back. This lady told mother Mary that she just wanted to touch her. Brethren, this is not about touching the statue of mother Mary. It is an act of the heart, where if God honors his mother, everyone who has a little heart to honor mother, mother Mary will also honor that person. The lady had prayed to go somewhere near the statue of mother Mary and mother Mary told her “Here I am; You hold on to me.” Brethren, she’s a mother. She can feel even the innermost desires of your heart because she’s a mother honored by the Father. We read in John 12:26, why God respects and honors Blessed virgin Mary. This is because He says “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” Mother Mary served Jesus. Mother Mary followed Jesus and now where Jesus is mother Mary is also. Whoever serves Jesus, Abba Father will honor. This is exactly what happened. This was not just for mother Mary. Mother Mary is a sign, symbol and an example. If anybody is serving God with an undivided heart or if anybody is following Jesus with a great heart of love, they will also reach where mother Mary is. God will honor everyone, and that’s why we have saints. It’s not only mother Mary who is a saint. There are people who followed this and because they honored God on this earth, now God is honoring them up there in heaven. Whatever your pain maybe, there is a mother who can understand this pain. We were just reflecting on the swords that pierced her heart. There was a prophecy, a flight and she was a refugee. Mother Mary lost her child.
- The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross
Then she met Jesus on the way of the cross. There’s no mother who can tolerate everything she went through and seeing her innocent son carrying a heavy cross for having done nothing wrong. She just accepted it. There are many mothers who are holding a grudge because your son is being introduced to drugs through other people. Maybe your son is in prison because somebody betrayed them. There are people who destroyed your family or the lives of your children and you feel such heavy bitterness and anger. You are not imitating the Christian life expressed by the first Christian – Blessed virgin Mary. She forgave those who brutally murdered her only son. So, if you are struggling to forgive those who murdered, manipulated, imprisoned, made your children to drink alcohol, take drugs etc., look at mother Mary as an example. If you refuse to forgive, you cannot call yourself a Christian. The first Christian – the Blessed virgin Mary, is an example of forgiveness, by forgiving us.
A fellow priest said we should imagine that mother Mary thought ill against us in all that happened to her and her son. It would have been a disaster for us. Because she had all the reasons to curse us given the way we brutally dealt with her only son. This mother would have destroyed the whole humanity. But she just forgave. Brethren, are you keeping a grudge against people who destroyed your marriage, the marriage of your children, the lives of your children and their future? The Lord wants you to forgive them. Mother Mary did that and that’s why she is in the high summit of the glory of heaven. This is because she forgave.
- The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
Her son is crucified. You may love your children, and cannot tolerate a small pain on your children. But what about the crucifixion? Especially when you know that your child is so innocent. Mother Mary wants you in the same way to surrender your children to the Lord. She set an example.
- The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross
Again, the body of her only son was taken down after his death and put on the lap of the Blessed virgin Mary. In the statue of the Pieta, we see the faithfulness of a mother. To know why she did that, we read in Luke 1:45 that it’s because “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Brethren, she believed in a God who fulfills all his promises. She knew that her son is the Savior of the whole world. She knew that her son is not her private property, but a property given for the salvation of all the world. Many mothers get so hurt because they take their children as their own properties, their own investments and their own inventions. That’s why you’re wounded. Mother Mary gave up her son.
- The Burial of Jesus
Where was Jesus buried? In a hired tomb. Jesus had nothing. The greatest pain of a mother or of the parents is that their children have no place of their own. Maybe your child is jobless or has no money. Maybe they are going through lots of poverty. Remember, you have a mother in front of you as an example. She did not live for this world. She lived for heaven. And that’s why she is in the high summit of heaven. We find this in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” In Colossians 3:1, mother Mary is setting an example for us today, telling us and inspiring us to keep our eyes on the things that are above, not on the things that are below. “So, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” All your confusion, questions and difficulties will go away when you look up in heaven. Today, if mother Mary is in the high summit of heaven, it’s because she accepted all those seven sorrowful swords. Remember, if you are submitting yourself to suffering, to persecution, to humiliation, you accept your status as a refugee, and you don’t question God because you lost your son or your daughter, your boyfriend cheated on you and you became pregnant and the only way is for you to commit suicide or abortion, remember not to do that because you have an example in mother Mary. Maybe you are going through an agony because your children are being misused or abused by your neighbor and you find it hard to release them, remember that you have an example in mother Mary who is in heaven.