For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor. 15:3-7)
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; Despise not our prayers in our necessities, But ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Saturday is Mary’s day. The origin of this custom seems to be the sense among Christians that Mary alone believed firmly in Christ’s resurrection from the dead once his body was laid in the tomb on Holy Saturday. All of the other disciples were, at best, distraught and confused by Jesus’ promise that he would rise from the dead. Mary alone did not falter in her faith. It is precisely this faith that the Church honors each Saturday of the year. Saint John Paul II explained in a General Audience Address that Mary was very likely the first disciple to see and embrace the risen Lord: Indeed, it is legitimate to think that the Mother was probably the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared. Could not Mary’s absence from the group of women who went to the tomb at dawn (cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1) indicate that she had already met Jesus? This inference would also be confirmed by the fact that the first witnesses of the Resurrection, by Jesus’ will, were the women who had remained faithful at the foot of the Cross and therefore were more steadfast in faith. Indeed, the Risen One entrusts to one of them, Mary Magdalene, the message to be passed on to the Apostles (cf. Jn. 20:17-18). Perhaps this fact too allows us to think that Jesus showed himself first to his Mother, who had been the most faithful and had kept her faith intact when put to the test. Lastly, the unique and special character of the Blessed Virgin’s presence at Calvary and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering on the Cross seem to postulate a very particular sharing on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection. (21 May 1997) The Scriptures tell us that after Christ ascended into heaven, Mary remained with the Apostles as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). She was with the Twelve on Pentecost and, with them, received the Holy Spirit. The Twelve received the Spirit for their work of preaching the Gospel and baptizing people of every nation. Mary received the Holy Spirit for her mission as mother of Christ’s disciples. Until the end of the world Mary, Mother of the Church, will help her children live by faith, spread the faith, and work tirelessly for the conversion of all men and women to Christ. St. Louis de Montfort in his masterpiece, True Devotion to Mary, explains that Mary, assumed into Heaven, shares her faith with her children on earth: Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints. Now that she is reigning in heaven she no longer has this faith, since she sees everything clearly in God by the light of glory. However, with the consent of almighty God she did not lose it when entering heaven. She has preserved it for her faithful servants in the Church militant. Therefore the more you gain the friendship of this faithful Virgin the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life (214). Catholics today need to be strengthened by Mary to stand firm in the fight for the protection of human life from conception to natural death and the preservation of the religious freedom guaranteed to American citizens by the Constitution. May she who has been chosen by God to crush the head of the ancient serpent (Gen. 3:15), accomplish the renewal of faith and apostolic zeal in our land through the labor of Catholics dedicated to the Gospel.
Confer, O Lord, on us, who serve beneath the standard of Mary, that fullness of faith in you, and trust in her, to which it is given to conquer the world. Grant us a lively faith, animated by charity, which will enable us to perform all our actions from the motive of pure love of you, and ever to see you and serve you in our neighbor; a faith, firm and immovable as a rock, through which we shall rest tranquil and steadfast amid the crosses, toils and disappointments of life; a courageous faith which will inspire us to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for your glory and for the salvation of souls; a faith which will be our Pillar of Fire – to lead us forth united – to kindle everywhere the fires of divine love – to enlighten those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death – to inflame those who are lukewarm – to bring back life to those who are dead in sin; and which will guide our own feet in the way of peace; so that when the battle of life is over, all of Mary’s children without the loss of any one, may be gathered together in the kingdom of Your love and glory. Amen. (Adapted from Tessera of the Legion of Mary)