The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, for “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:4-6)
Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, Paragraph 1
Time has a funny significance to Catholics at this period of the year. The world around us is dying, transitioning to its winter dormancy. We are invited to ponder this death, and especially the deaths of loved ones as we pray for the souls suffering in Purgatory this month. However, we are not simply meant to rest in this death, as we soon after begin the preparation for the joyful event of Christmas—hope in the dead of winter.
In the Church, our year ends and begins earlier than the temporal one, with good reason. Our Lord knows we need time to prepare our hearts—to hear the messages of the ones ‘crying in the wilderness’. We are granted the season of Advent as a beginning: a time to be ‘shaken’ into the realization of the coming of our Savior.
At the heart of this time of Advent is the preparation for the “fullness of time”, the moment when our Savior arrives. Key to this event is a young girl—one who was first prepared so that the fullness of time might arrive. She was prepared herself to receive Him, and then prepared to give Him to all of us, through giving him space and sheltering him as he grew into the one promised. During Advent, we especially contemplate her physical mediation, standing in suspense, as we all wait for her to give birth bringing the Savior to each of us.
The great saints knew this, and perhaps in modern times no one knew it better than Pope Saint John Paul II, who adopted her as his own mother long before he became pope. While he gave us many reflections on Mary, his encyclical on the Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater) stands out as a beautiful reflection on Mary’s role in the Church and the role she should have in each of our personal lives.
In it, he introduces us to the mother he loves, sharing her story and helping us to see how her very human story is a part of the Divine story. John Paul II invites us to get to know her better, showing how this woman can help us to grow closer to her Divine Son. In sharing his personal relationship with her, John Paul II shows us how building our own relationship with Mary can bring us closer both to Christ and his Church. In getting to know her better, we invite her to show us our way to Him.
For this reason, this Advent Endow invites you to join us in diving into a study of Redemptoris Mater. To accompany a daily reading plan, each week on The Endow Podcast or YouTube Channel, Simone Rizkallah and Father Paul Check of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI, will discuss the readings, helping listeners to truly get to know the woman and her Son who bring us to the fullness of time. In entering into this encyclical during Advent, we hope to help listeners to begin anew this year, building the relationships that will bring each closer to the joys of heaven.
To receive weekly updates and episode releases, subscribe here.
Image: Orazio Gentileschi, Madonna with Child (public domain)