Through the Eucharist, we are ‘free to proclaim the word of God,’ Bishop Iffert preaches at SUMMIT22 Mass

Maura Baker, Staff Writer

Youth in the Diocese of Covington, age 13-22, attended SUMMIT22, a youth retreat, at Covington Catholic High School, Oct. 7–9. Following the model of World Youth Day, the weekend-long retreat engages youth in daily Mass, rosary, Eucharistic adoration and “dynamic catechesis.” Saturday, Oct. 8, Bishop John Iffert joined attendees of the weekend retreat to celebrate Mass. 

In his homily, Bishop Iffert draws parallels between the story of the lepers in Luke’s Gospel with the Eucharist. “Jesus sends them (the lepers) to the priest to be healed. He says to the priests, to pronounce them clean,” he said, “The priest examines the one who has been healed of leprosy. And if he finds no blotch on them, he might separate them out for seven days, and then examine them again. And if he still finds no blotch on them, then there’s a sacrifice that is prescribed… the person who has been declared healed of leprosy is to go procure two birds, perfect birds, without any blotch or scar.” Bishop Iffert then goes on to describe the process of this sacrifice as written in Leviticus 14, including the two “perfect birds” and a “pot of living water,” water from a flowing stream. 

“He takes one of the birds and he kills the bird, and he drains the blood from the bird into that pot of water that has been taken from a living source. And then, now with this pot of blood from the sacrifice bird, he takes the other bird, the one that is still live. He binds it to Cedar wood with scarlet thread. And then, the priest takes the living bird, the one who has been offered for sacrifice but is still alive… He takes the living bird and he dips that living bird into the blood of the bird that has been sacrificed, into that clay pot of blood and living water,” he said. After sprinkling the blood and living water with the bird seven times over the leper that has been declared clean, the living bird is then set free to “fly across the countryside.” 

Bishop Iffert goes on to compare the parallels of the sacrificial rites of the two birds to Jesus in the crucifixion, “What flows from Jesus’ side? When Jesus is pierced — blood, and living water,” he said, referencing the moment of the crucifixion when a Roman soldier pierces Jesus’s side with a lance. “We are washed in that. And, then like that bird, set free for a purpose, to proclaim the mercy and the glory of God.” 

Bishop Iffert then challenged those gathered to be “amazed at the hugeness of mercy” offered in the Eucharist, “and respond with hearts that respond well to graciousness. Hearts that are thankful. Can we do that? Are we determined?” He concludes by once again referencing and comparing us, the Church, to the “bird that was set free,” to proclaim the word of God. 

The annual Eucharistic retreat for youth and young adults is organized and sponsored by the diocesan Office of Catechesis and Evangelization and the Covington Retreat Committee. This year the retreat was led by the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament from Cleveland, Ohio.

Image: Bishop John Iffert addresses attendees of SUMMIT22 during his homily at the retreat’s Saturday Mass service, October 8. 

Like family, ‘With One Heart’ launches

Laura Keener, Editor

 Blue skies, cooler temperatures and a mostly gentle breeze made for a relaxed and enjoyable celebration and launch party, Sept. 30, at the Curia’s St. Mary Park, Covington. The celebration was for Bishop John Iffert’s one year — to-the-day — anniversary. The launch party was for the diocese’s strategic pastoral planning and leadership development initiative “With One Heart” (WOH). 

Organized by Deacon Jim Fortner, chief operating officer and Jamie Schroeder, chancellor, with assistance from the WOH Core Team and Planning Commission and members of the Curia staff, the event resembled a backyard family cookout. Hamburgers were donated by JTM Food Group and hotdogs by Bluegrass Meats. Local Catholic organizations and groups provided the sides — potato salad, broccoli salad, fruit salad, baked beans and desserts. These groups included the Catholic Order of Foresters, Cursillo, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of St. John, Mustard Seed Community, Parish Kitchen, Regnum Christi, Serra Club of Northern Kentucky, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, That Man Is You! and Walking with Purpose. Dan Walsh, parishioner, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Burlington, provided musical entertainment; Pam Schneider, parishioner, Divine Mercy Parish, Bellevue, made the cake and members of the Knights of Columbus manned the grill. 

“They asked me what kind of event I wanted to celebrate my first year anniversary and I said I want hamburgers, hotdogs and potato salad. I hope that you like that cuisine as well because it’s my favorite,” said Bishop Iffert as he began leading attendees in the prayer before meals. 

Nearly 300 people attended the event, including Bishop Emeritus Roger Foys, to celebrate Bishop Iffert and to hear his vision for WOH. Bishop Iffert began by sharing some of his many “firsts” as Bishop of Covington — confirmations, ordinations, Masses, classroom visits, parish festivals, etc. (A pictorial exhibit of some of his first year highlights is on display at St. Mary Park through the month of October.) He also recalled that, at the press conference “Weeks after that, I thought I really should have given a better answer than that,” said Bishop Iffert. “What I would like to have said was that there’s no way that I can enunciate for you on that first day a vision or pastoral plan. Because I really believe that God gifts every people with genius … I believe the Diocese of Covington has a genius and that you contain that hope, you have the answer, the ability and the gifts to address every difficulty that the Church faces here in Northern Kentucky today. You all contain all of the resources, have all of the wisdom, all of the knowledge, to address all of those critical problems that we face to carry on the mission of Jesus in the life of the Church. I believe that with my whole heart.” 

After being here a year, Bishop Iffert said, he is ready to announce his vision. “My vision is that God has given us together the gifts that we need to be his living mission. My vision is that we would work together to develop a vision that is in service to the entire body of the Church. That we would step outside of ourselves and our own little preferences and our own special interests and we would think about what is best for this group, this Church, this body that lives here in Northern Kentucky and that we would act and decide together.” 

Because pastors — the way they preach, the way they welcome, the way they interact with their parishioners — are instrumental to creating a parish that others would recommend to their family and friends, Bishop Iffert said, “I am unapologetic about saying, the first group of people we need to focus on are our priests, who put themselves out there to be leaders, to help embolden them, to invest in our priests the skills for leadership. Our priests are excellent priests. Our presbyterate is filled with good and holy and talented men. And to give them the support to be the leaders that they want to be and that we all know they can be, this is the first and centerpiece of the vision that I want to annunciate here.” 

Bishop Iffert said he also wants to empower the laity, to invite the laity to bring the skills that they have developed in all the areas of their life into the life of the Church to assist their priests. 

“That’s part of the vision … I want us to be set free from fear …I want a vision of Church that unleashes that potential; that priests and religious and deacons and laity respond free from fear,” he said. 

The content of that vision, Bishop Iffert said, “that’s up to us to develop together and that’s what this With One Heart initiative is all about. It’s all about assessing the situation together. Planning together. Accompanying one another with leadership formation together, and working to implement those plans, thanking God for them, reviewing them and then doing it again.” 

In closing, Bishop Iffert recognized and praised Bishop Foys for his over 40 years as an administrator both in the Diocese of Steubenville as vicar general for 22 years and as Bishop of Covington for 20 years. 

“I want to appreciate Bishop Foys in a very special way,” Bishop Iffert said. “He told me when I got here that he was going to step back for that first year and let me have some time on my own. Now we’re at the end of that year. I hope now that we can invite you back into the active life of the Church. Thank you, thank you so much.”announcing his appointment, a reporter had asked what his vision and pastoral plan was for the diocese and how he had quipped that he had only been here for 12 minutes. 

Image: Bishop John Iffert announces his vision for the With One Heart strategic pastoral plan and leadership development initiative, Sept. 30, at St. Mary’s Park, Covington. Nearly 300 people attended the event, which included a celebration of Bishop Iffert’s first year in Covington. 

At Walk for Life and Yes for Life Rally ‘life or death is on the ballot’ — ‘choose life’

Laura Keener, Editor

The second annual Walk for Life at the Kentucky state capital in Frankfort, Oct. 1, had a singular, focused and urgent mission — the passing of the Kentucky Constitutional Amendment #2 in the upcoming Nov. 8 election. 

“As we consider the challenge before Kentucky voters,” coming this election in November, said Dr. Albert Mohler, “we recognize that nothing less than life or death is on the ballot, it is represented in what is known as amendment two. Amendment two is one of the most clear, one of the most concise, one of the most necessary amendments, because what it would do is, with very clean and efficient language, simply state that there is no right to abortion within the Kentucky constitution.” 

Dr. Mohler, president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was the lead speaker at the Vote Yes for Life Rally, which was held just before the Walk for Life. Bishop John Iffert of the Diocese of Covington was also a keynote speaker, with Pastor Jeff Fugate, Clays Mill Road Baptist Church offering the opening prayer. The rally and the Walk for Life is organized by Addia Wuchner, executive director, Kentucky Right to Life and the Yes for Life Alliance, of which the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and the Diocese of Covington Pro-Life Office are members. 

Despite what Dr. Mohler described as “the howls” from a small but vocal group of protestors, the spirit of the rally was joyful and uplifting with The Jason Lovins Band leading the crowd with Christian rock music. 

Acknowledging the increasingly loud chants from protesters, Bishop Iffert began his talk by encouraging those present to always respond with joy and shared a Dominican spiritual exercise. 

“I want you to remember that Jesus Christ on the cross came to take the anger of the world, came to take the bitterness of the world, came to take the violence of the world, came to take the death of the world, came to take the vehement opposition of the world and to take it to himself. Not responding in kind but in his own body, transforming it and creating in that great act of love, a path to life, a path to salvation,” Bishop Iffert said. 

“(Saint) Dominic gives us different ways to pray with our body. One of the ways he invites us to pray is to form our body into the form of the cross of Jesus Christ, and to hold ourselves there just as long as we can … and to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come and be with us, to transform us, to give us the gift of mercy that he witnessed in His incarnation, and in His death on the cross,” Bishop Iffert said. “I invite you to do that at some point today … to make yourself into the shape of the cross of Christ Jesus the Lord and to take all the bitterness, all the anger, all the violence, all the vehemence, all the fear that you hear in the voices of those who stand opposed to us today and pray, God, in you and your gentle witness to transform it for the salvation of babies, for the salvation of those whose voices we hear, for their conversion, for their recognizing that they make themselves servants of a culture of death. That we might win this debate, not just with votes at the ballot box, but that we might come to do what Christ calls us to do — to be instruments of the Holy Spirit of God that can lead to conversion.” 

Bishop Iffert acknowledged that one of the biggest concerns that is being spread as a mistruths by those protesting and other proponents of abortion is that “we are only concerned with unborn life and not with them, not with the mothers of these babies.” 

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Bishop Iffert said as he referred to the U.S. bishop’s “Walking With Moms in Need” initiative. With Walking With Moms in Need parishes and lay faithful are encouraged to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to all mothers and their children. 

Bishop Iffert explained what Amendment 2 would do and dispelled mistruths he’s been hearing about Amendment 2. “Legal scholars for a long time have been telling us that this amendment that is proposed for the Kentucky Constitution is the most important legal action that we can take to protect life,” by stating that nothing in the Kentucky constitution guarantees a right to abortion or state funding of abortion. With this amendment, no one judge or court, or individual could decide unilaterally to enforce abortions rights or the funding of abortion on the citizens of Kentucky. 

“It will return this matter to the people, so that the people, through their elected representatives, can have the conversation about how we are to treat the question of abortion in our society,” said Bishop Iffert. “That’s what this amendment will do. That’s all it will do. It will not create a new abortion ban. It will not create any new abortion laws. It will not create any new abortion restrictions.” Concluding, Bishop Iffert said about voting Yes on Amendment 2, “This is important because this is the one opportunity in our lifetime for the citizens of Kentucky to register your opinion on abortion and on life. Please, dear God, choose life. Please choose life.” 

Also during the program, Mr. Lovins shared a personal life-affirming witness. Mr. Lovins was conceived in rape when his mother was only 15 years old. 

“I’m very thankful to tell you that for my grandma and her 15-year-old daughter abortion was just not going to be an option,” said Mr. Lovins. “You see, for her it was that simple … My grandma very much understood how big God is. She believed that he’s so big that he wasn’t surprised by me. We think that when bad things happen, we think, ‘Oh Lord,’ as if he didn’t know what was gonna happen. She just knew that’s not how it works, y’all. These things that we read in the Bible, that he formed me in my mother’s womb and that he had plans for me — she believed that with all of her heart.” 

Originally his mother and “maw maw” were planning to have a family member adopt him. That was until his mother heard his heartbeat, then she told her mom that she wanted to keep her baby. 

“Listen, I know my 15-year-old mom had no idea what she was getting herself into. But my grandma did. And she said okay,” Mr. Lovins said. “My grandma very much understood that God is constant. That he doesn’t change even when you’re walking in your deepest, darkest valley or on your mountain top — he’s the same. She believed it with all her heart.” 

Mr. Lovins said that he never knew his dad, his mother and grandmother didn’t even know who he was. And that even today when he shares that he was conceived in rape and was raised without a father, the initial reaction is “Oh, you poor kid. But that’s just not how the story goes,” he said. 

“My family made it very clear to me at a young age that you know what, you don’t have an earthly father … but you have a heavenly Father who loves you, who loves you more than you’ll ever know. And would just continue to remind me of that over and over and over. And it’s always been enough. That’s the best way I know to explain it to people. It’s always been enough.” 

Recognizing that other women do not always have the support his mother had, Mr. Lovins said, “We need more ‘maw maws.’ We need more people to step up and say, ‘Hey, I got you. I’m going to walk alongside you even in your deepest darkest valley because God is so great and he doesn’t change — he’s great either way.’” 

Image: Bishop Iffert demonstrates a Dominican spiritual exercise of standing in the form of a cross and asking Jesus to transform us for the salvation of others. 

cardinal-virtues

Catholic schools are designed to teach virtues and form saints

By David Cooley.

The beginning of a new school year is both exciting and overwhelming. There is so much to do, and when there is so much to do it becomes even more important for us to focus on what really matters.

The mission of the Catholic Church is to form disciples for Jesus Christ and our Catholic schools, more than any other system in place, provide a privileged way for countless young people to encounter the Lord. What a tremendous, awesome responsibility we all have!

Catholic schools don’t exist to form engineers, mathematicians, lawyers, athletes, artists, or even good citizens—although those are some positive outcomes for students. Catholic schools exist for nothing less than to create saints.

And what are saints? Simply put, saints are heroes who live virtuous lives in a challenging world despite all the obstacles.

How can Catholic schools, practically speaking, approach such a huge undertaking as forming saints and changing the world? The answer couldn’t be clearer — by primarily focusing on heroic Christian virtues!

No matter where we are, or whether we are teachers or students, principals or parents, coaches, or guidance counselors, the four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, and the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity must always be on the forefront of our minds.

Perhaps, these days, we hear a lot about faith, hope, and charity, but not so much about prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. These four Christian virtues have the power to change any atmosphere.

Prudence helps us to recognize our limits but also to discover the concrete means of putting our faith into action. Sometimes when we start something new, we take on too much at first and get burned out too quickly. If we get our priorities straight, center on prayer, and put God first in our lives, everything else should fall into place. Prudence is the virtue that will help us slow down and recognize our need for prayer and the sacred.

Temperance is so important today, for example, when it comes to our relationship with technology. The technology that exists today gives us a lot of power and leaves us with numerous distractions. It also provides a temptation to focus more and more on ourselves and to be less attentive to others. Unfortunately, Technology seems to be taking over many lives and leaving people, especially children, feeling empty and sad.

Temperance, while helping us seek excellence in enjoyable things, calls us to a moderation that protects our interior life and opens a way to contemplation. Today’s world tells us that all suffering must be avoided at all costs, but when pleasures and possessions become an end to themselves, they become idols that turn us away from God. We must limit our wants as best we can and teach young people to do the same. We could all spend a little more time (or a lot more time) in Eucharistic adoration.

Fortitude — Christian Bravery — is so important and will, ultimately, bring people back to God. We must not be afraid to preach and live the Gospel every day. Students in Catholic schools must learn to be the salt of the earth and a sign of contradiction for the world — the Lord did not ask us to avoid having enemies, just to love them. We need less “cool kids”, “influencers”, and “bullies”, and more Christian heroes who stand up for what is good, true, and beautiful.

Founded on their faith in God, students must have the courage to confront the contemptuous laughter and ridicule of those that conform to the ways of the world. They should learn through the examples of their parents and teachers to be brave witnesses, filled with joy and love for the Lord. The strength of Catholics comes from the truth of Christ. We have nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.

Finally, when we talk about justice, first and foremost, we must recognize that it is right and just to worship God, to love Him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. Gratitude for our lives, and the blessings in our lives, is the first step in seeking justice. From there we begin to understand what we have been given and what it means to give others—made in the image and likeness of God—their due. We also must come to the realization that not passing on our faith is unjust to others. If we keep the Gospel from those we love, we are doing them a great disservice. We cannot let our own shortcomings and ignorance prevent us from passing on what is ideal.

These are just a few short reflections that barely begin to scratch the surface of the importance of Christian virtues that can serve as a springboard for a blessed school year. Even as the world gets more complicated and confusing, the answers lie in the constant wisdom of the ages.  Students at Catholic schools must be formed to see the world through the eyes of faith. They must be strengthened by the sacraments.

As the world continues to organize itself more and more against God, our Catholic school communities must not be content to just make a little room for Him on the calendar but determine to place Him at the center of everything. That is how others will come to recognize what it is that makes Catholic schools so different, and they will desperately want to be a part of it. Let us be ready to open the doors because we can never have too many saints!

SUMMIT22 — youth and young adults invited to experience the Eucharistic mountain

By David Cooley.

Last year at SUMMIT21 over 200 attendees shared a powerful three-day experience together centered on the Eucharist. This year, teens and young adults, ages 13 to 22, are invited to the state-of-the-art Covington Catholic High School campus, Oct. 7–9, for SUMMIT22.

The weekend retreat (Friday 6:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) is designed to lead young people to Christ through prayer and instruction before the Blessed Sacrament. SUMMIT22 is designed to respond to the call of Pope Francis to prepare young people to live and proclaim the Gospel in a world that desperately needs it.

This past June on Corpus Christi Sunday — the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — the United States bishops launched a national Eucharistic Revival — a three-year initiative to help God’s people understand the extraordinary gift we have been given in the Eucharist. SUMMIT22 is a perfect and profound way for youth and adults to prayerfully begin this grace-filled time centered around the mystery of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

The Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian life.” All blessings flow from the Eucharist, and it is a foretaste of heaven – the goal of Christian life. In the Blessed Sacrament Christ is truly Emmanuel — “God with us” — giving us the grace we need to become the saints we are called to be.

Fittingly, a summit is a large gathering of people coming together for a singular purpose, and SUMMIT22 is an assembly of God’s people coming together to pray before the Eucharist and grow in their relationship with Christ. However, a summit is also the highest point of a hill or mountain that one can reach.

In our lives we have “mountain” experiences and “valley” experiences. SUMMIT22 is intended to be a spiritual mountain experience for those who attend. In the Gospel Jesus would often go off to a mountain to separate himself from the crowds and be close to his Father in heaven. SUMMIT22 is an opportunity for young people to separate from everyday life and mundane routines.

There was a time in the Gospel when Jesus did not go to a mountain alone. Jesus brought Peter, James and John to a mountain, where they were given just a glimpse of his glory. Naturally, they wanted to stay there at the summit, but they were called to come down from the mountain and go out to be salt of the earth and light for the world.

Those who attend SUMMIT22 — just as all of those who meet Christ in the Eucharist — are also called to mission. We are called to receive Jesus and then bring him out into world. The Eucharist is both the source of our strength and the summit of our desires.

In years past the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal led this event (formally called YOUTH 2000). This year the diocesan team is excited to welcome the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament from Cleveland, Ohio, to help to discover more of the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As consecrated women, the sisters extend their Eucharistic Mercedarian spirit of adoration and praise to Jesus in the Eucharist, and filial love and devotion to Our Lady of Mercy, Mother of the Redeemer, all over the world.

Attendees of SUMMIT22 can expect a prayerful experience with music, meditations and Eucharistic adoration. There will be dynamic talks and testimonies, as well as a Catholic expert panel that will entertain any and all questions about the Catholic faith. There will be prayer services, the sacrament of confession and holy Mass, including Mass Saturday evening celebrated by Bishop John Iffert. There will be food, fun, fellowship and more.

In a world full of noise drowning out the call to holiness, and in a landscape that is secular, materialistic and hostile toward Christian values, followers of Christ need a place where they can withdraw from the crowds and focus on what really matters in life. SUMMIT22 is that place. It is never too early or too late to learn to let go of things that are passing away in this world, and hold fast to the things that are eternal.

Blessed Virgin Mary – Our Queen Mother

By David Cooley.

Among the many beautiful Marian feast days of the Church — such as Mary the Mother of God, the Annunciation, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception — the feast of Mary’s Queenship, established by Pope Pius XII in 1954, often goes by unnoticed. We celebrated recently celebrated the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Aug. 22.

There seems to be a reluctance to apply the title “queen” to the Blessed Virgin. Some seem to think it’s passe, almost a medieval form of praise. On top of that, in America, we are not very familiar or comfortable with kingships and queenships, due to our democratic sensibilities. And the most likely reason for people’s reluctance to claim Mary as our queen is to avoid those misunderstandings among our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters. One of the biggest misconceptions about Catholics is that they worship Mary, as opposed to loving and honoring her. Even among theologians it is argued that the title of “queen” evokes more of a Mariology of privilege rather than a Mariology of service.

However, the nature of Mary’s regality is not only rooted in Scripture (both New and Old Testaments), but also has important theological implications that have been explored throughout Church history.

At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” Christ is king of all creation and Mary is closely associated with her son — her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.

In the Old Testament we have the fascinating figure of the Queen Mother. In ancient times, the mother of an heir to the throne or of a young king had a great influence in the royal court. In the Davidic kingdom, the mother of the king held an official position in which she shared in her son’s reign and served as an advocate for the people and as a counselor for her son. For us we think of a queen as the wife of a king, but the queen mother of Israel was their most powerful, and therefore preferred, advocate. Her specific place of honor and intercession is dramatically illustrated in 1 Kings 2:13-21.

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 involves the sign of a queen mother who will conceive and bear the future Davidic King — Immanuel. The queen-mother figure also seems to appear prototypically in Genesis 3:15, which associates a mother and her royal offspring in the context of God’s kingdom.

Applied to Mary, we recognize that she is closely related to Christ’s kingship and her whole being is involved in the spread of his kingdom. In contrast to many historical queen mothers, Mary did not seek the throne for her son because of any personal ambition. Her ministry was one of service, to the point of sacrificing her motherly rights for our sake.

As Queen Mother, Mary never rules in Christ’s stead; she does not command her son, yet it gives him joy to fulfill her wishes. Her authority in the kingdom is authentic but always dependent on the King. (Cf. John 2:5. “Do whatever He tells you.”) Mary’s queenly function consists in interceding on our behalf. It is anchored in her early role as Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the redeemed.

The feast of Mary’s Queenship is celebrated on the octave day of the feast of the Assumption. The coronation of Mary connects to her Assumption into heaven. While the assumption has been the object of dogmatic definition (1950), the coronation of Mary is a traditional devotion. The coronation points to the Marian title of “queen,” known in Christianity since from the beginning of the fourth century.

Her queenship is an an indication of her excellence based primarily on her role as the Mother of Jesus Christ, “Theotokos,” and as “the all holy one” (“panagia”). As the glorified Jesus remains with us as our king until the end of time (Matt 28:20), so does Mary, who was assumed into heaven and crowned queen of heaven and earth.

The Second Vatican Council, perched on hundreds and hundreds of years of tradition, reaffirmed authoritatively the doctrine of Mary’s queenship: “When her earthly life was over,” she was “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son.” (Lumen Gentium n. 59)

The coronation of Mary was the outcome of Mary’s journey of discipleship. At the end of her earthly life, she was borne to the Kingdom of her beloved Son (cf. Col 1:13) and received for her faithfulness “the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10; cf. 1 Cor 9:25) This outcome has universal significance because the Blessed Virgin, now having attained fullness of freedom and full communion with Christ, is the icon of the advance of the Church and of all of history and creation, as it moves forward toward becoming “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1; cf. Is 65:17), God’s dwelling, in which “there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” (Rev 21:4; cf. Is 25:8)

Pope St. John Paul II saw the Assumption of Mary into heaven as the ultimate exaltation of the noble “Daughter of Zion,” and he associated her assumption with her established queenly position. He states that Christ raises his mother to be eternally glorified as “Queen of the Universe.” We recognize Christ as the ultimate Davidic king — the realization of everything Israel and the whole world could hope for, ushering in the kingdom of God — and by his side is the Queen Mother. And, just as the Queen Mother found in the Old Testament (cf. Jer 13:18; 1 Kg 2:19), was granted the office of sitting beside her king son and mediating on behalf of the people, the Virgin Mary, our Holy Queen, speaks on our behalf to her Son, our King. In this heavenly role, she serves as a protector to us all.

Mary’s Queenship, like her Son’s kingship, is one of love and service, not pomp and power (John 18:36; Matt 20:20). The roots of Mary’s Queenship are to be found in the Paschal Mystery of Christ, which is a mystery of self-giving, death and resurrection and ascension — the reaching of glory through humility.

Hail, Holy Queen!