Queen Of Apostles
by Rev. Cornelius Joseph O’ Connell, 1914
The patriarchs slept with their fathers, the prophets passed into the home of their eternity: both in their day and generation fulfilled well the mission given them by the Almighty. They were His special servants among men, preserving and handing down to succeeding generations the comforting promise of a Messiah.
The great day dawned, and the Redeemer was born into the world. The promise was accomplished. The humble Virgin Mary of Nazareth was the chosen one among women, by reason of her immaculateness, to become the Mother ot the “Word made flesh.” He is the way, the truth and life of the world; its promised Redeemer.
Mary carried Him for nine months in her chaste womb, gave birth to Him, and cared for Him through the years of His infancy, childhood and young manhood. She presented Him to the world as the God-man: the Saviour foretold by patriarch and by prophet. She took Him to the temple, for the rite of circumcision, as required by law for all male children; she made Him known as God, when, at the marriage feast of Cana, He changed water into wine at her behest. She was the first to declare to men and nations, to Jew and Gentile, that her Son, Jesus, was the Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man.
Thereafter Christ went about doing good everywhere, preaching the glad tidings He had brought down from Heaven and working miracles. To perpetuate Himself among men, to continue His mission among the nations, He commissioned His Apostles to teach all peoples, that He is in very truth the promised Redeemer.
The twelve patriarchs were the fathers of the Jewish nation; the twelve Apostles were the spiritual fathers of the Christian people. It is also held by Saint Thomas that the number of the Apostles corresponded to the twelve stars that formed the crown that rested upon the head of the spouse spoken of in the Apocalypse, that is of Mary.
Christ selected His Apostles from among the poor and illiterate, that it might the better appear from what source they drew their power and knowledge.
“For God,” says Saint Paul, “hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise, and the weak things of the world hath God chosen that He may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible hath God chosen, and things that are not, that He might bring to naught, things that are. That no flesh should glory in His sight” (I Cor. I–27, 28, 29).
The world glories in its wisdom, power and honor, whilst God selects the less wise according to the world, the less powerful, that the world may know that the work done is a divine work.
The Apostles lived scantly; they neither desired nor sought earthly goods; they possessed nothing; they died to all around them to live but for God.
Such was the life of Mary in a sublime degree. She passed her days in comparative seclusion, as poor as the poorest, satisfied with her close union with God in prayer and contemplation. The Apostles lived not for themselves, but they lived and died for Christ, who first gave His life for them. Mary lived for Jesus, and died of pure love for Him. The Apostles lived and died for the good of souls. Mary’s life was one of sacrifice and love for the redemption of men. Isaias, seeing the Apostles through the light of divine revelation, spoke of them in transports of joy: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of Him that showeth forth good, that preacheth salvavation, that saith to Sion, thy God shall reign” (LII-7).
The Apostles were the ministers of Jesus Christ; the defenders of truth; the organs of the Holy Ghost; the messengers of the Word of God. They went everywhere, preaching Christ and Him crucified. Mary was the Virgin Mother of Jesus, the depository of eternal truth, the spouse of the Holy Ghost and the constant companion of the man of sorrows. Of the Apostles the words of Ecclesiasticus may be truly spoken: “These were men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed” (Eccl. XLIV–10).
Mary is the Mother of mercy and the dispenser of the graces that flow from the seat of mercy. Her deeds of godliness never abate, they are in our own times the admiration of the people of God. For years after the ascension of Jesus into Heaven, she remained with the Apostles, helping them by her prayers, and leading them onward to noble deeds by her admirable example. They were bowed in grief, when they laid the body of their queen in the tomb, where it was to remain, however, but a few days. It was soon taken into Heaven to enjoy for all eternity the beatific vision, and to welcome the Apostles at their death, into the kingdom of her Son, their Divine Master.
Mary at the Descent of the Holy Ghost
On their return from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (after the Ascension of Our Lord), the apostles betook themselves, as the Gospel tells us, to the Cenade. It was probably the chamber in which the Saviour, on the eve of His bitter Passion, had celebrated the Last Supper.
The Holy Scriptures expressly mention Mary as being present; for she was, so to say, the soul of the assembly. All those who were present in the chamber, the followers of Christ, persevered with one mind in prayer, preparing themselves in this manner for the reception of the Holy Ghost.
When the holy retreat and assembly of the apostles had lasted ten days, the feast of Pentecost arrived. About nine o’clock on the morning of that day, there suddenly “came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
“And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad the multitude came together and were confounded in mind, because every man heard them speak in his own tongue. They were all amazed and wondered, saying:
“Behold, are not all these that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
Then Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them with great power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; he also exhorted them to do penance and to be baptized. They therefore that received his word were baptized, and there were added that day to the Church about three thousand souls.
The Church of Jesus Christ was now founded, and it spread ever more and more in the world. The apostles had entered upon the path which their divine Master and Teacher had traced out for them; God was with them, they felt He was, and the fear of persecutions and of death did not touch them.
We can easily imagine what was the joy of the Blessed Virgin when she beheld the effects of the preaching of the apostles. The one single object of her efforts in this world was the glorification of her divine Son, and the salvation of men through their acceptation of the Christian religion. She encouraged and consoled the apostles in their labors and trials; she was the mother and queen of the infant Church, and she thereby fulfilled the mission for which Christ had left her upon earth.
Mary the Heart of the Church
The “upper chamber” in Jerusalem is nothing else than the Holy Catholic Church in miniature. There is the chief head, St. Peter. There are the bishops in the persons of the apostles. There, too, we find the doctrines of Christ and even the divine ceremonial services. For the Acts of the Apostles assures us that “they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers ” (Acts ii. 42). But is this all? No. We must necessarily add: There, too, was Mary the Mother of Jesus. Any religious denomination in whose midst the Mother of Jesus is not enthroned and venerated is not the Church of Christ. It is the Catholic Church alone which has received this precious legacy from the hands of her divine Founder, and who has kept it faithfully and lovingly till the present hour.
Rejoice, then, and from the bottom of your heart thank God that you have the good fortune and happiness, the undeserved grace, to belong to that holy Church to which Jesus Christ, its Founder, has bequeathed, not only His sacred flesh and precious blood, soul, and divinity in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but also His most beloved Mother, in order that she may be our Queen and Protectress. (“Life of the Blessed Virgin”–Rohner-Brennan.)