The sacrament of the Virgin

Every morning as I get ready to start a new day, an inevitable part of my attire is my wristwatch. Apart from being very useful in telling time, it is for me a true sacrament of my father, may he rest in peace. On the back, I had engraved my father’s name, the date of his death and the phrase “With eternal gratitude.” Most probably, we all have sacraments like this in our lives.

The Acts of the Apostles mentions: “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God” (2:46-47). Without a doubt, one of the privileged homes where the “Breaking of the Bread” was celebrated was that of Mary the mother of Jesus. That was the house where Jesus grew up and learned to be a man. What better sacrament-sign of Jesus’ perfect humanity.

Mary herself was a living sacrament for the new disciples. She carried Jesus in her womb, becoming the house of “God with us.” There was no more suitable place to perpetuate that sacred memorial bequeathed by Jesus. I imagine Mary receiving from the hands of Peter or John the bread of the communion of believers in her own home and praying with profound faith as
no one else could, “This is my God and he is my son.”

Mary, human sacrament of faith in the infinite power of God, gives us the Sacrament par excellence. She gives us the eternal Word of God, taking from her womb her earthly flesh and blood to transform them into divine flesh and blood and nourish the world with the Bread from heaven for centuries to come.

How much Mary must have enjoyed and suffered each time she participated in the Eucharist. How she must have grown in understanding of that great mystery. How her gratitude must have grown to be the instrument chosen to offer the Bread of Life to the world. How she must have suffered each day the physical separation from her child. How she must have longed to be reunited with her beloved son and Lord.

The Venerable Father Félix Rougier, founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, in his book titled Mary, wrote: “When Jesus wanted his holy mother to work long years after his Ascension, in the formation of his Church, he foresaw the loneliness of his mother and how cruel would be the separation that he was going to ask of her. To not leave her alone, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. That was the only consolation capable of calming the pains of her loneliness.”

After receiving her son and God in the breaking of bread, surely Mary’s soul exploded in joy with the praise of the Magnificat. Thanks to St. Luke, we know such an exalted Marian prayer: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (Luke 1:46). In this Year of the Eucharist, let us do the same. 

Read the Spanish version of this column. 

Northwest Catholic - July/August 2020

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.