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Mary, Cause of Our Joy

Mary, Cause of Our Joy  (October 3, 2015 – Annual Mass for the Worldwide Apostolate of Fatima, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception 


I chose to celebrate today the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title “causa nostrae laetitiae,” “Cause of Our Joy.”  This is a beautiful and very meaningful title of Our Lady.  The sorrow brought into the world by Eve’s disobedience has been changed into joy by the obedience of the New Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The prophet Zechariah foretold this as he spoke God’s words that we heard in our first reading:  “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion!  See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.”  The angel Gabriel repeated this call to rejoice when he spoke to Mary at the Annunciation and told her she was to conceive the Messiah, the Son of God. 


This great joy was communicated by Mary to Elizabeth at the Visitation.  At that joyful encounter, even the unborn infant John the Baptist rejoiced.  As Saint Luke tells us, the infant John leapt for joy in his mother’s womb.  And Mary, on that occasion, sang the beautiful canticle of joy, the Magnificat, which we prayed as our responsorial psalm today.  We sing with Mary:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 

Our Lord came into the world to bring peace and joy to the human family.  At His birth, He filled the humble shepherds outside Bethlehem with joy.  At His resurrection, He brought joy to the disciples, and, at His Ascension, He left the apostles in great joy.  And now, from His place at the right hand of the Father, He sends joy upon the Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and joy.  Just one week ago, our Holy Father exuded that Spirit of joy and love, touching the hearts of millions of Americans.  During those days in Washington and Philadelphia, I was reminded of the joy of the primitive Church. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that those first Christian communities were filled “with joy and the Holy Spirit.” 


My brothers and sisters, we are called to imitate the life of those first Christians who, together with Mary, were disciples filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.  The Acts of the Apostles tells us they were devoted to the teaching of the Apostles, shared in common prayer, in the Eucharist (the breaking of the bread) and in sharing their goods with those in need.  These are the basics of our Christian life.  Living this way brings true joy, not only to our hearts, but to others with whom we are called to share the joy of the Gospel.  What joy we can all experience when we live Our Lord’s new commandment of love which we heard in today’s Gospel. 


Jesus exhorted the disciples to remain in His love.  How?  By keeping His commandments, most importantly by loving one another as He has loved us.  Notice how this love is connected to joy!  Jesus says:  “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” 


People Francis has lamented the fact that too often Christians look like they’re coming back from a funeral.  An angry demeanor, constant negativity, gossip, complaining – all those things turn people off.  People need to hear and see the Good News. Too often we can turn people away from the faith by not showing them the joy of following Jesus, the joy of His Gospel, the joy of salvation. 


We can learn this joy from the saints, especially the Queen of All Saints, our mother Mary.  It’s true that she was Our Lady of Sorrows at various events in her life, especially at the foot of the cross.  But her faith was such that in those sorrowful mysteries, she persevered with great love. She cooperated in the mystery of our redemption.  She did not wallow in her sorrows.  She endured them with a love that would fill her heart with joy.  She teaches us the surpassing joy of knowing, loving, and serving her Son. 


The Holy Spirit filled the immaculate heart of Mary with a joy that we can only begin to fathom.  She knew deep in her the Father’s love for her.  This is what she wants us to know.  Mary desires that we too find joy in God our Savior.  With Mary at our side as our loving mother, we can walk joyfully along the path of life, both in good times and in bad.  In our joys and our sorrows, she walks with us; she accompanies us.  And as Queen of heaven, she waits for us with loving care until we too may join her and all the saints in glory.  May Mary, the cause of our joy, pray for us!


--Bishop Kevin Rhoades


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