Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since we Americans do not live under a monarchy, it might be tempting for us to think of a queen as a merely historical personage, as someone whose influence is frozen in the past. But this is not the case with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was a real, historical person, who walked the earth about two thousand years ago, but she is not limited to history. She still lives, body and soul, in heaven, and even now her powerful intercession brings about real effects in our lives and in our world. By celebrating her Queenship, the Church draws our attention to this fact. Mary is a queen whose reign has not ceased and never will cease.
During college, I was in a small Catholic reading group, and in various books we kept coming across stories of conversions brought about by Our Lady’s intercession. Up to that point in my life, I thought that most conversions were brought about by intellectual means or, perhaps, through a serious illness. I figured that Our Lady’s role in conversion was almost always remote or imperceptible. Accordingly, I posed a question to the reading group: “Does anyone know someone who was converted to the Catholic faith due to Mary’s intercession?”
To my amazement, not only were there a plenitude of stories, but they were all personal. One friend explained that she grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness but began praying to Mary; soon after, she was led to the faith. Another friend explained how he grew up Protestant, but as a child always felt jealous of Catholics because of their devotion to Mary. When he defiantly decided to pray to Mary anyway, he was led to the Church. Three others who had grown up Catholic shared stories of being given a miraculous medal; they explained that this had been the turning point for them, the time when they began to take “ownership” of their faith.
There I sat, thinking that conversions through Mary’s intercession were a thing of medieval religious lore, and moments later I was inundated by these personal testimonies. And they were testimonies not just to the influence of a theory or an idea; they were stories that made it abundantly clear that Our Lady herself had been at work in the lives of the people surrounding me.
It seems safe to say that the blessed are given knowledge of the people for whom they have special concern. For example, a mother in heaven knows the welfare of her children on earth. Well, Mary has been given to us as a mother. In effect, Jesus spoke to all the faithful when, hanging on the cross, he said to St. John, “Behold your Mother.” Just as, on earth, Mary acted as Mother to the early Church—for instance, when she prayed for the coming of the Spirit with the Apostles in the upper room—so, in heaven, she cares for and has been given knowledge of all of her pilgrim children. We, who are so often mourning and weeping in this valley of tears, have the great consolation of knowing that Mary, our Queen and Mother, hears us whenever we call to her. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”