Mary, Mother of the Church
A reflection on the new statue, by Msgr. Richter
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother,
“Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. ”
This exquisite statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, located on the right (easterly) wall of the sanctuary of Queen of Peace Catholic Church was created by an Italian sculptor, Signore Retro – his full name is unknown – in a small town in northern Italy. The town is believed to be Ortisei, not many miles north of Trent and not far from the border of Switzerland.
It was made possible by the generosity of the children of Dorothy Kostelecky: Wanda, Bryan and Twilla. The statue was commissioned in May 2019 by Msgr. Thomas J. Richter through Mr. Brendan Hamtil of Fynders Keepers. It arrived at Queen of Peace in March 2020 and was placed in the sanctuary in May 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This statue of Mary, Mother of the Church, captures a particular moment in the life of the Blessed Mother.
On Good Friday, as Jesus was giving Himself for us on the cross, He gave His mother to the disciple whom He loved and the disciple to His mother.
The Gospel of John states it this way:
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”
This moment in Mary’s life, this act of beholding the disciple whom Jesus loved - her new son - is the moment captured in this extraordinary piece.
Furthermore, this is the moment that the mother of Jesus became the mother of the Church. Jesus does not say, “Behold, the disciple whom I love,” instead, He says, “Behold, your son.” In giving the disciple whom He loved to Mary as her son, Jesus made Mary the Mother of the Church. The disciple whom Jesus loved is each and every baptized person.
“Behold, your son.”
Mary listened. She beheld. The beloved disciple was beheld.
He received her gaze of love. What was that like? What was that gaze of love like, as Mary beheld him…as her son?
The gaze of Mary, Mother of the Church, has never stopped; that gaze is real; that gaze is present; that gaze is happening. She continues to behold every beloved disciple.
The placement of the statue at five feet off the ground and on the right side of the sanctuary, with the Blessed Mother turned looking out toward the people in the nave, invites the viewer into the experience of being beheld by Mary.
Every person who looks upon this lovely piece of Mary, Mother of the Church, stands now in the shoes of the beloved disciple and gets a taste of Her holy gaze. May that happen to everyone who gazes upon this statue!
But there is more. Mary’s beholding does not end with a gaze. She is seeing something.
It is clear from her piercing, blue, glass eyes and her contemplative focus that she is gazing into the heart of the believer who is beholding her. What she sees there does something to her. It stirs her.
The gentle gesture of her folded hands and serene face indicate that her gaze of love into the heart of the beloved disciple has moved her heart to pray - to intercede - for you, her child.
What Mary, Mother of the Church, now beholds in you she brings to her unique Son!
So, what does the believing viewer do? He does what the disciple whom Jesus loved did. He takes her into his home! Home is where one lives. In the life of grace, in the spiritual life, one’s home is one’s heart. The beloved disciple is to take Mary into his heart. How does one do that? The same way that one takes one into one’s home: he opens the door. Dear friend of Jesus, who looks upon this work of beauty, open up to her, acknowledge and share the needs of your heart with her. Have great confidence in her intercession for you. She is your mother. She is the Mother of the Church!
May 5, 2020
Msgr. Thomas J. Richter, Pastor