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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Dr. Peter Howard, Featured, Mary, Memorial

Hail Holy Queen, Hail Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope!


Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary


What a beautiful salutation to call upon Our Most Blessed Mother! One may be tempted to think that these words are an exaggerated expression of piety as they apply also to her Son, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our Redemption.

StainedGlassStBernardOfClairvauxMNMA_Cl3273However, God’s Redemption began not with an imposition upon an unworthy humanity, but through the free gift of a woman’s fiat that first opened the door of heaven to bring down the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. This is why St. Bernard, and the Church throughout the ages echoing his words, refers to Mary as the “cause of our salvation”, for she is the instrument through which God entrusted His plan of Redemption to enter into the world – just as it was through Eve that Original Sin passed on from Adam to every generation.

From the moment of her fiat to the Angel, Mary was inseparably bound up in God’s work of Redemption, both in its accomplishment and in the distribution of its merits. And she exercises these roles as the New Eve, acting as both Spouse of the New Adam (Jesus Christ) and His Mother. Her motherhood extends over both His earthly life, and in His Mystical Life prolonged in the Church – as Jesus made crystal clear on Calvary.

And as the mother of the King, she assumed a powerful role in the administering of His Kingdom – the distribution of graces which flow from the pierced Sacred Heart of Jesus to a world in desperate need of His Divine Mercy. So powerful and vast is her jurisdiction (as one might call it), that Jesus has entrusted to her the entire treasury of His graces. This is why the Church has called Mary the Dispensatrix and Mediatrix of all graces; for just as God found her worthy to be the woman in whom and through whom He would bring grace upon the world via the Incarnation and Redemption, so also does He continue His perfect way when BlessedPiusIXHe distributes the merits of the Redemption, through Mary. The Church has hailed this singular prerogative of Mary from the earliest days of Christianity. In his encyclical Ubi Primum (1849) Blessed Pius IX summarizes the Church’s belief of this truth by making the famous teaching of St. Bernard that of the papal magisterium when he says:

The foundation of all our confidence . . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For, God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is His will, that we obtain everything through Mary [St. Bernard, In Nativit. S. Mariae de Aquaeduct].

VenFultonJSheenNYWTSWith these words, Blessed Pius IX provides a concise commentary on the first line of the Hail, Holy Queen highlighting why she is “our life, our sweetness and our hope.” At the same time he was launching the Church into the extraordinary Marian age in which we are living. An age in which we have seen the power of Mary’s queenship over the cosmos as she demonstrated in Fatima on October 13, 1917 when she made the sun “her play thing,” as Venerable Fulton Sheen described it, before thousands of observers.

FatimaOLFPCjf801601With the miracle of the sun at Fatima, one cannot help but think of Revelation 12 in which we see the heavenly reality underlying our current earthly battle, “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars . . . and behold a great red dragon . . .” This is the real war we see being played out the in the world today . . . and in every human heart. That is why Mary, the Queen Mother of Jesus Christ, is being sent to us today. She is her Son’s last resort for a rebellious world, for nobody ever held the hearts of a king’s people more than a loving and solicitous queen.

OurLadyofGuadalupeHolyCardAnd she is very solicitous . . . and powerful . . . for wherever she is sent by her Son she obtains conversions by the hundreds of thousands. Wherever she is sent, she “crushes the head of the serpent” (Gen 3:15) and firmly establishes the banner of the Kingdom of God, with churches and basilicas erected and millions of new converts to fill them as the sign of her victory. Nowhere was this seen so vividly than in 1531 when she appeared in Guadalupe, Mexico. She left behind a heavenly imprint of Revelation 12 on the tilma of St. Juan Diego and through her powerful mediation, she obtained the conversion of over eight million Aztecs – basically a Pentecost a day for seven years!StLouisMarieGrignionDeMontfort

St. Louis De Montfort summarizes why this is the common Marian effect wherever she is sent and welcomed:

HolySpiritDetailChairOfSaintPeterWhen the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse. One of the main reasons why the Holy Spirit does not work striking wonders in souls is that he fails to find in them a sufficiently close union with his faithful and inseparable spouse . . . [True Devotion, 36]

Let us therefore open our hearts for the most gentle, yet powerful, of Mothers to carry into them the greatest gift, which she alone was entrusted to give to the world; the gift that makes Mary “our life, our sweetness and our hope” – the gift of the grace of Jesus Christ, which alone can transform and satisfy this deeply wounded and thirsting world.


Art:  Coronación de la Virgen [Coronation of the Virgin], Diego Velázquez, ca 1645, PD-US; Stained glass representing St. Bernard of Clairvaux, unknown artist, ca 1450, PD-US copyright expired; Pius IX, PD-US copyright expired; Fulton J. Sheen, “World-Telegram photo by Ed Palumbo”, 1952, PD-US; Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church of General Mamerto Natividad, 20 February 2013, own work Ramon FVelasquez, CC;  Louis-Marie de Montfort with Marie-Louise Trichet, in the foundation of the Daughters of Wisdom congregation, unidentified artist, 19th c, CC-PD-Mark; Holy Spirit Detail from Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, 03 05 2008, Sergey Smirnov, CCA-SA, Wikimedia Commons.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, from various sources with minor variations, source unidentified.

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About Peter Howard

Dr. Peter Howard presently lives in Aspen, Colorado, with his wife, Chantal, and four children. Dr. Howard is a professor of Theology at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is also a Catholic videographer, author and national Catholic speaker who has spoken at the 2012 Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas; the United States Air Force Academy; parish retreats and on Catholic radio programs. Dr. Howard served on the advisory board for the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation and he is the founder and President of The Fulton Sheen Society and Director of The Catholic Hour grassroots movement ( In addition to hosting a Catholic television program The Catholic Hour in Aspen, Colorado, Peter has served the Church in various capacities from working for a Metropolitan Tribunal to serving as the director of communications, theological consultant and executive assistant to Bishop Michael Sheridan in Colorado Springs. Since 2006, Peter has worked as Director of Evangelization and Adult Faith formation at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen, Colorado, during which time he completed his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome, Italy. Dr. Howard’s theological expertise lies in Mariology ~ especially that of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, which was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. Like his spiritual mentor, +Fulton Sheen, Dr. Howard is passionate about communicating the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith as the answer to the challenges and errors of the world. If you would like to invite Dr. Howard to speak at your parish or event, contact him at

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  • Jeffrey Fulford Herrington

    what a wonderful description of our Blessed Mother she is definitely the Mediatrix between us and Jesus . She fully embraces us as she leads us to her Son,OurLord Jesus!Br Jeffrey

    • LizEst

      Ave Maria! …thank you for your tribute to our Lady, this morning! God bless you! Brother Jeffrey

  • BlueMit11

    Thanks for this. However, I’d like to see more support cited from the saints and/or Church teaching before calling Mary the spouse of Jesus. The New Eve, yes, but that’s an analogy, not necessarily a one-to-one correlation. It’s also well-established that she is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, but being the spouse of Christ doesn’t follow from that either.

    • DrPeterHoward

      The New Adam-New Eve comparison is not a limited analogy, but a deeply theological typology — a typology in which what was prefigured in the OT is fully revealed and fulfilled in the NT figure to whom it points. So, it would not make sense to refer to Mary as the New Eve while denying her inseparable and primary role as spouse of Adam. It was as spouse of Adam, where Eve fell. Her motherhood simply bore the consequences of that failure as it became the instrument through which sin and death passed on to all humanity. Eve’s sin shattered the image of womanhood BOTH in her role as spouse of Adam and in her motherhood which was originally ordered to pass on the gifts of God to humanity, but instead she mediated the Original Sin and its effects passed on from Adam. Mary, as the New Eve, consequently and fittingly had the unique role in God’s salvific plan to, first, redeem the image of womanhood as faithful spouse of the New Adam; the consequences of this fidelity would then affect her motherhood in the order of grace in which she passes on to the new humanity all the blessings and gifts of God which come to us from the New Adam.

  • byonan

    Excellent article!

  • DianeVa

    Wonderful article, thank you! However I also stumbled a bit when I read “Mary as spouse of Jesus”. I find it very understandable to consider her the Mother of Jesus and Spouse of the Holy Spirit from whence would flow her role as Mediatrix. Thank you BlueMit11for clarifying the term as an analogy to the New Eve. I believe Our Mother’s role in the Church is better supported in this manner.

    • BlueMit11

      Just to be clear, I don’t support the use of the title “Spouse of Jesus” referring to Mary. I definitely support the title, “New Eve,” since it’s been used at least since St. Irenaeus. If Dr. Howard can provide a citation from the Church Fathers, the saints, the popes, or Church documents referring to Mary as Jesus’ spouse (obviously in an analogous sense) then I’d reconsider.

      • DrPeterHoward

        Thank you for your comments BlueMit. The Adam/Eve – New AdamNew Eve typology (introduced by St. Justin Martyr and more deeply developed by St. Irenaeus) falls short if it only refers to Mary’s spiritual motherhood. Eve’s role in creation was first to be the spouse of Adam followed by her motherhood of all the living. Thus, in like manner, Mary can only be called the New Eve in a fitting way if she truly relates — in the spiritual order of Redemption — to the New Adam (Christ) as spouse and mother. This is precisely why Jesus called Mary “woman” at Cana and then again at Calvary where the deepest reality taking place is the context of nuptials between the New Adam and the New Eve. The old humanity was generated and perpetuated physically through the nuptials of Adam and Eve. The new humanity redeemed by God would be generated mystically by the New Adam and the New Eve, a reality which Jesus makes clear by saluting Mary with the title “woman” pointing to the full purpose in God’s redemptive plan.

        Spouse of Christ is not too difficult to understand that in the order of redemption we can share many relationships with others. For example, in the order of redemption, my wife is also my “sister” in Christ. Jesus revealed this when he said: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, my sister and my mother” (Mt 12:50). And being the “spouse of Christ” is at the heart of the mystical life of all Christians. Some call it the “mystical marriage” between Christ and the soul. We are espoused to Christ by the power of His Spirit.

        Well, no other soul is espoused to Christ so perfectly than the woman who was also chosen by the Father to be His Mother and the Mother of the new humanity in Christ. Mary is the “spouse of Christ” par excellence, so much that the entire Church is born of her mystical union with Him” by the power of His Spirit.

        In the natural order maternity begins with the union of spouses. Anything offspring born outside that, the world calls “illegitimate”. Similarly, in the order of the Spirit, the spiritual maternity of Mary, the New Eve, begins with her mystical and fruitful spousal union with the New Adam, Christ. This mystical marriage is beautifully described by St. Augustine in his commentary on Calvary which he places within the context of nuptials. Venerable Fulton Sheen, drawing from St. Augustine, also beautifully describes this reality in his works. I look forward to sharing that with you in greater depth when my new book on Mary, in which this theme is central, comes out in late September.

        Thank you again for your comments and God bless you.

      • Blake Helgoth

        Read the wedding feast at Cana from St. John’s Gospel. Ask yourself, ‘who are the bride and groom here?’. You’ll find it is Jesus and Mary. Wine, being symbolic of grace, is poured out in abundance through this marriage. That is why the Apostles believe for the first time.

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  • samidoss paulraj

    THE RIGHT DIRECTION :- The lives of SAINTS never point to themselves,but always and for ever beyond themselves to the ONE who chose them,uses them and loves them.(from American Catholic .org)
    Let our souls magnify the LORD !
    With regards,

    For our thoughts & contemplation

    This feast day(Assumption -15/8/14), as well as other Marian feasts, are primarily about
    Jesus and secondarily about Mary. Today, on this special feast
    day, Mary is visiting us as she visited Elizabeth. Mary is a walking
    tabernacle. She brings Jesus to us, or, more precisely, she brings us to
    Jesus. The purpose of this holy day is not so much to praise Mary as to
    praise Jesus with Mary by proclaiming the greatness of the Lord and
    finding joy in God our Savior (Lk 1:46-47). Mary’s purpose in mothering
    us is to call us to do whatever Jesus tells us (Jn 2:5). She is happiest
    when we worship and live for Jesus alone. … Presentation Ministries

    How many times we pray the ‘magnificat ‘ with Mary in a day,proclaiming the greatness
    of the LORD and finding joy in GOD our Savior ??!!
    I love the above Catholics !
    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj


    It is a
    sign which
    stands for the decision to:
    -follow Jesus like Mary ( Like
    Saints )
    -be open to God and to His Will
    -be guided by faith, hope and love
    -to pray at all times
    -to discover God’s presence in all that happens around us
    let us understand as Mary understands,
    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj

    The Clear Truth
    is room for only one on the throne of the Christian life, and that is
    Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our King, our God. Professing that truth
    out loud and often during your daily time of prayer brings great grace
    and clarity as you go through
    your day.
    — from To Be Like Jesus
    Let us follow this truth !
    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj

    Only From God
    one can save your soul
    but God in Jesus and the Spirit. God’s grace—that is, the total,
    unconditional love surrounding every human being—comes only from God. We
    ask the saints in heaven to pray for us. But none of them grants
    — from Saint Anthony of Padua
    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj

    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj

    Mary understands,
    profoundly, where her salvation is coming from—not from her virtue
    but from God’ overflowing
    goodness. If in the future all nations come
    to call her blessed, Mary knows, in all humility, that it is because of what the
    Mighty One has done for her, and not what she has done.

    — from Friar Jack’s Favorite Prayers

    To honor Mary’s heart is to honor her total dedication to God.

    samidoss paulraj

  • samidoss paulraj

    ( MARY’s magnificat is not ‘ I ‘ centered ,but GOD
    centered ! )

    ” Sometime back, when
    we were praying the
    Magnificat – the prayer of Mary during the visitation (Lk 1:46-55) – it seemed
    to me that Mary was very proud, and I was reminded of the parable of the
    Pharisee and the Publican. So I started
    comparing the two texts. What I
    discovered was very uplifting. In
    contrast to the prayer of the Pharisee, Mary’s prayer is God-centred. Almost every clause begins with a ‘He’ (at
    least nine times); when she refers to herself, it is only as an object of the
    action of God. True, Mary feels exalted,
    but it is because of HIM. It is a similar attitude that we recognise in the
    prayer of the Tax Collector. He focuses on the mercy of God. He sees himself as
    the object of God’s mercy.

    So, who is the centre of my own prayer? What is God like in my prayer? ”
    ( excerpts from the Sunday sermon for 30th Sunday by Rev.Fr.Sahaya G Selvam sdb , Nairobi )
    samidoss paulraj

  • Nathaniel M. Campbell

    Another of the Church’s Doctors, St. Hildegard of Bingen, wrote powerfully in her liturgical texts about the Virgin’s unique place in salvation history as the portal for God’s entrance into time. Among her most spectacular pieces is the sequence, O virga ac diadema:

    1a. O branch and diadem,
    in royal purple clad, who in
    your cloister strong
    stand like a shield:

    1b. You burst forth blooming
    but with buds
    quite different than Adam’s progeny—
    th’ entire human race.

    2a. Hail, o hail! For from your womb
    came forth another life
    that had been stripped by Adam from his sons.

    2b. O bloom, you did not spring
    from dew nor from the drops of rain,
    nor has the windy air flown over you; but radiance
    divine has brought you forth upon that noblest bough.

    3a. O branch, your blossoming
    God had foreseen within the first
    day of his own creation.

    3b. And by his Word he made
    of you a golden matrix,
    O Virgin, worthy of our praise.

    4a. How great in strength
    is that man’s side,
    from which God brought the form of woman forth,
    a mirror made
    of his own every ornament,
    and an embrace
    of his own every creature.

    4b. The heavens’ symphony resounds,
    and all the earth in wonder stares,
    O Mary, worthy of our praise,
    for God has loved you more than all.

    5a. O cry and weep! How deep the woe!
    What sorrow seeped with guilt
    into our womanhood
    because the serpent hissed his wicked plan!

    5b. That woman, whom God made to be the mother of the world,
    had pricked her womb
    with the wounds of ignorance,
    and offered to her offspring
    the full inheritance of grief.

    6a. But, O dawn,
    forth from your womb has come the sun anew;
    the guilt of Eve he’s washed away
    and through you offered humankind a blessing
    even greater than the harm that Eve bestowed.

    6b. O Lady Savior,
    who offered to the human race a light
    anew: together join the members of your Son
    into the heavens’ harmony.

    Other pieces that I would recommend include:
    Cum processit factura (Antiphon for the Virgin)
    O quam magnum miraculum (Antiphon for the Virgin)
    O tu illustrata (Votive Antiphon for the Virgin)
    Alleluia! O virga mediatrix (Alleluia verse for the Virgin)
    Ave generosa (Hymn to the Virgin)
    Ave Maria, O auctrix vite (Responsory for the Virgin)
    O clarissima mater (Responsory for the Virgin)

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