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Vita!

Vita!

Adam named his wife Eve, a name which means 'life' because she is the Mother of the human race. As Scripture says: "The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Gen 3:20) Unfortunately through the original sin of our first parents, all human beings were henceforth deprived of God's friendship, and so were exiled from his light, his life, from gazing upon his loving face. This is the fundamental sorrow of our fallen human condition, sunk in sin, and in this "vale of tears". 

Mary, therefore, as Mother of the Redeemer, and by her "Yes" to St Gabriel when he reveals God's awesome plan of salvation, overturns the sin of Eve. Indeed, she becomes the New Eve. For as St Irenaeus says: "As Eve was seduced into disobedience to God, so Mary was persuaded into obedience to God; thus the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve." The beautiful hymn, 'Ave Maris Stella', which has been sung at Vespers of Our Lady since about the 8th century has a fun play on words, saying that the name of Eve ('Eva' in Latin) has been turned around by the 'Ave' of the angel Gabriel to Our Lady.  Therefore the Annunciation to Mary, which is central to the message of Walsingham, is the source of our joy because it is in the Holy House of Mary that she overturns the sorrow of Eve's sin, and she becomes the New Eve, truly the new Mother of all living. 

Therefore, she is hailed as "Vita", Life! For from within Mary's womb comes the One who is Life itself. And from her "Yes" at Nazareth comes the promise of eternal life through Christ, the God-Man. As such, Mary is truly Mother of all living because she is the Mother of us Christians. We have, through Baptism, received a share in the life of the immortal and Living God. Indeed, through the Sacrament's, God lives within us. Therefore, we are, by grace, made to be truly alive in Christ. As St Irenaeus says, "the glory of God is man fully alive", meaning, Man who has been vivified by God's grace. For life without God, without his grace is barely living – it is to remain dead in the sin of Adam and Eve, sunk in their sorrows, which is why sinners seek consolations from so many transient earthly pleasures that never truly satisfy; one remains sad in one's sins. But those who have been brought to life in Christ, who are fully alive by grace, bring glory to God. This is who we are! We, who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, who have received the Sacraments of his Church, and who are therefore children of Mary, the New Eve. She is, after all, always Mother of the Living and not of the dead!

To claim Mary as our Mother and as 'Vita' (Life) is therefore to declare that we live in the light and vitality and glory of God's grace. Through your Rededication to Mary, you are declaring that you are fully alive in God! 

And, finally, Mary who bore Life itself in her womb, and who is the Mother of all Living cannot and does not suffer the corruption of death. Rather, as Pope Pius XII declared, Our Lady "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." Therefore Mary is the first of Christians to be most fully alive in God, sharing in his glory in heaven, which is fitting for the Mother of Life itself! Hence Pope Benedict XVI said: 

Mary has left death behind her; she is totally clothed in life, she is taken up body and soul into God's glory and thus, placed in glory after overcoming death, she says to us: Take heart, it is love that wins in the end!

Calling upon Mary as "our Life", therefore, we profess our faith in her assumption, and in the promise of the victory of God's love that is promised to us too. No earthly sorrow, no difficulty, no trial except mortal sin itself can take the deep joy of this promise of life and glory away from us. 

Let us, therefore, pray with joy to Mary, our Mother of Life, resolving to be her true children!


Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)

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