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  • Fr. Scott Haynes

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

One day Pope John XXIII visited the Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Rome, which is administered by the Sisters of the Holy Spirit. The mother superior, deeply stirred by the papal visit, was so honored to be in the presence of the Holy Father, and a little nervous. So, as she went up to him, she introduced herself:

Most Holy Father, I am the Mother Superior of the Holy Spirit.

In reply, the Pope said,

It is good to find out who is the Mother Superior of the Holy Spirit, but I’m only the Vicar of Christ.

A person’s importance is indicated by his or her title. The title signifies the responsibility that person has been entrusted with; the title reveals who that person is. Ask a toddler, lost in a department store, the name of his parents. He will say “Mommy” and “Daddy.” That’s how he knows them. A little child does not call his mommy, Margaret Hilda Thatcher or his father, Richard Milhous Nixon. Because Mary is so important in the spiritual order, she has innumerable titles.

Catholics honor Mary as Queen. In her canticle the Magnificat, Mary says,

All generations will call me blessed.

We do just that as we honor Mary in the liturgy calling her by her many titles: "Our Lady of Guadalupe," "Our Lady of Grace," "Our Lady of Perpetual Help," and "Mary, Our Queen." Related to Mary's royal title, there is a beautiful devotion called the "Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary." It was popularized by St. Louis de Montfort. It is a prayer in which we pray 12 "Ave’s" to recall 12 of Mary’s virtues. These Marian virtues are signified by the 12 stars that surround the image of Mary in the Book of Revelation.

When we talk about the Rosary we usually mean the form of the Rosary popularized by St. Dominic with the traditional 150 Ave’s – the Psalter of Our Lady which mirrors the 150 Psalms of David. There is also the Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows—a seven decade Rosary meditating upon the Passion of the Lord. But there is another devotion to Mary’s Queenship in the Franciscan Crown Rosary. It shows us how to make our devotion to Mary real and fruitful.

A pious young man named James had been accustomed to adorning a beautiful statue of Mary every single day with a crown of flowers, which he had picked and woven himself. He later entered the Franciscan Order. As a novice, his schedule no longer permitted him to continue this sweet devotion to Our Lady. Distraught because of this, he decided to abandon the religious life, leaving the Franciscans, and return to the world, so that he could again practice this way of honoring Mary as his Queen. Our Lady then appeared to him and prevented him from carrying out his purpose, sweetly saying:

Do not be sad and cast down, my son, because you are no longer permitted to place wreaths of flowers on my statue. I shall teach you to change this pious practice into one that will be far more pleasing to me and far more meritorious to your soul. In place of the flowers that soon wither and cannot always be found, you can weave for me a crown from the flowers of your prayers that will always remain fresh and can always be had.

Mother Mary explained to James further:

1) Recite one Our Father and ten Hail Mary's in honor of the joy I experienced when the angel announced to me the Incarnation of the Son of God.

2) Repeat these same prayers in honor of the joy I felt on visiting my cousin, Elizabeth.

3) Say them again in honor of the supreme happiness that filled my heart on giving birth to Christ the Saviour, without pain and without the loss of my virginity.

4) Recite the same prayers a fourth time in honor of the joy I felt when presenting my Divine Son to the adoration of the Magi.

5) Repeat them for the fifth time in honor of the joy that thrilled my soul when, after seeking Jesus with deep sorrow for three days, I found Him at last among the doctors in the Temple.

6) Sixthly, recite the one Our Father and ten Hail Mary's in honor of the joy I experienced on beholding my Divine Son gloriously risen from the grave on Easter Sunday.

7) Finally, for the seventh time, repeat these prayers in honor of my own most glorious and joyful Assumption into heaven, when I was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. If you recite these prayers as I have directed, rest assured, dear son, you will weave for me a most beautiful and acceptable crown and will merit for yourself innumerable graces.

When Our Lady had disappeared, the overjoyed novice at once began to recite the prayers in honor of her Seven Joys, as she had directed. While he was deeply engrossed in this devotion, the novice master happened to pass by, and behold! He saw an angel weaving a marvelous wreath of roses and after every tenth rose, he inserted a golden lily. When the wreath was finished, the angel placed it on the head of the praying novice.

The novice-master demanded that the youth tell him the meaning of the vision. Joyfully, yet fearfully, the novice complied. The good priest was so impressed with what he had seen and heard, that he immediately made it known to his brethren. Thus the practice of reciting the Crown of the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary soon spread over the entire Franciscan Order and became one of the favorite devotions of the friars.

Later, it became customary at the end of the Franciscan Crown to add two Hail Mary's in honor of the seventy-two years that Our Lady is said to have lived on earth, and one Our Father and Hail Mary for the intention of the Pope to gain indulgences.

On this day of Mary’s Queenship (May 31), let us resolve to honor Mary as our Queen personally as did this young Franciscan novice. As he offered his simple prayer in love for Mary, so can we. And by our Rosaries we can enter in to mystical contemplation. This is what Saint John XXIII taught when he said,

"The well-meditated Rosary consists in a threefold element. For each decade there is a picture, and for each picture a threefold emphasis, which is simultaneously: mystical contemplation, intimate reflection, and pious intention."

On this day of Our Lady’s Queenship listen in the depths of your heart to this pray of St. Louis de Montfort:

Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father. Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son. Hail Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost. Hail Mary, my Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign. Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul. Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am thine by justice.

But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest anything in me which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and make thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine.

Destroy in me all that may displease God; root it up and bring it to nought. Place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. May the light of thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind.

May thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination. May the continuous sight of God fill my memory with His Presence; may the burning love of thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine.

May thy virtues take the place of my sins; may thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of God and make up for all that is wanting in me.

Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but thine to know Jesus, and His Divine Will; that I may have no other soul but think to praise and glorify God; that I may have no other heart but thine to love God with a love as pure and ardent as thine.

I do not ask thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotions, or spiritual pleasures. It is thy privilege to see God clearly, it is thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is thy privilege to triumph gloriously in heaven at the right hand of thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men, and demons.

It is thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of God, just as thou willest. Such, O heavenly Mary, the ‘best part’, which the Lord has given thee, and which shall never be taken away from thee–and this thought fills my heart with joy.

As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was thine, to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures, to suffer joyfully without human consolation, to die continually to myself without respite, and to work zealously and unselfishly for thee until death, as the humblest of thy servants.

The only grace I beg thee, for me, is that every moment of the day, and every moment of my life, I may say, “Amen, so be it, to all that thou art doing in heaven. Amen, so be it, to all thou didst do while on earth. Amen, so be it, to all thou art doing in my soul,” so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.

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