As we descend the ladder of the Litany of our Lady, we come to see that our Lady’s Litany is more than a prayer or invocation; it is a list of fundamental human values. Today, being the fifth day of our devotion in this Marian Month of May, we find ourselves stationed around the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her litany: “Mother Most Pure”
To begin with, Christ is the source of all purity. He is that unblemished Sacrificial Lamb that redeemed humanity. We understand that in the Old Testament, only the animals without blemish could be offered to God in sacrifice – this we see in the book of Leviticus which devotes several chapters to the rules of ritual purity (chaps. 11-13) and to the holiness of people and things (chaps. 17-22); and also, in Malachi 1:8, we hear the prophet Malachi reproaching those who used defective victims for their sacrificial rites. Thus, purity in the Old Testament consisted of the physical perfection of the person, the animal or the thing. Nevertheless, in the New Testament, purity finds its true meaning in the person of Christ.
In the New Testament, he who is clothed with the virtues of Christ is pure. Mary is, therefore, the first human who was not only clothed with the virtues of Christ but also conceived and bore in her womb, the embodiment of all the virtues there is – our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to be a worthy bearer of Christ the purest of all and the source of all virtues, she must be pure herself. Just as the Ark of the Covenant of the Israelites that housed the source of purity and virtues (God himself) was made of pure gold both in and out (cf. Exd. 25:10-11), Mary too must be totally pure from the stain of sin, in and out, from the first moment of her existence – “Full of Grace” (Lk. 1:28) in order to bear Christ in her womb. Thus, Mary’s purity finds its meaning in Christ. Her purity is complete: in her thoughts towards God, in her words full of charity and prudence, and in her actions, always faithful to her total dedication to the mission of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed the beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Mat. 5:8). This purity is not born out of the efficacy of the ritual sacrifices of the Mosaic law, or of the prayer made in the Temple of God, nor is it based on the search for legal or moral purity for the fulfilment of the law; rather, it exists in us through the active presence of Christ in our lives: “You are pure, but not all” (Jn. 13:10), were the words Jesus said to the apostles (after washing their feet), with the exception of Judas, the traitor. By living with Jesus and accepting God’s message, as it was with Mary’s fiat (Lk. 1:38 – “dixit autem Maria ecce ancilla Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”), and also with the case of the apostles, we too become purified: “You are clean already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.” (Jn. 15: 3).
In the Old Testament, only a man with clean hands and pure heart shall climb the mountain of the Lord – God’s holy place, the Sacred temple (cf. Ps. 24:3-4); however, in the New Testament, this very holy place of God – “the temple” comes to dwell spiritually in clean and pure hearts. Put differently, the clean and pure of hearts become the very temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Cor. 6:19). Therefore, purity is an entirely “human” virtue, which tends to value the body in its sacred dimension that is born from the very mystery of the incarnation. If God took on a human body through the laws of ordinary human living, it is a sign that it is of great value. Hence, in invoking Mary as a “Mother Most Pure”, we ask her to help us in our daily search for God; we ask her to show us the “blessed fruit of her womb” that he might come and dwell in our bodies (hearts) and souls spiritually, the same way He dwelt in her physically and still fills her heart today in the heavenly places.
The purity of Mary has a special attraction, a real fascination in the innocence of children, in the chastity of intending couples, in the chastity of consecrated religious, in the chastity of the married, in the charity and generosity of people, and in the simple and humble faith we demonstrate. It represents an ideal of beauty, dignity and true love in this world so marked today by the exacerbation of eroticism, by sensuality erected as a greater value in the relationship between people, by the profanity of the sanctity of our body, by disrespect and contempt for the ideal of purity, and the innocence of children and the sanctity of the family. No doubts, we live in an age that can hardly understand this message of purity. As such, we must continually rely on the help of God, through the intercession of our “Mother Most Pure” that we may come to imitate her purity which has its roots in Christ. In today’s society, we need pure and law-abiding citizens; we also need pure politicians, without corruption. In today’s Church, we need pure priests and religious, full of anointing, without malice or indifference; we also need pure laity ready to adhere to the message of salvation through her Pastors. In today’s family, we need pure fathers and mothers capable of living out purity, training and giving their children the wonderful gift of a pure look, which is responsible for shaping the Church and the Society.
Dear friends in Christ, in a world that finds it difficult to understand the message of purity (a fundamental human value, we are called to beckon on our Lady in her litany, saying: “Mother Most Pure”, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb (the source of all purity), so that he might help us to grow in the virtue of purity (an indispensable virtue to see the face of God) and live it out in order to build a just and utopic world, for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?