+JMJ

A CELEBRATION OF HOLY MOTHER CHURCH


The following is a collection of prayers, hymns and Scripture readings about the Church as Bride and Mother. They may be used for personal reflection, or even as an outline for a prayer meeting. The purpose of this page is to increase our love for our dear Mother, Ecclesia.

Possible days on which to meditate on the Church's Motherhood:  One's baptismal day, Mothering Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Mother's Day, or during the week after Pentecost (Pentecost is the "birthday" of the Church)

We go into Jerusalem, to the city built by God;
To the comely built temple, that lily sprung up from love. 1

Hymn: The Church's One Foundation
The Church's one Foundation,
is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
by water and the word.
From heaven He came and sought her
to be His holy Bride;
With His own Blood He bought her
and for her life He died.

Elect of every nation
yet one o'er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation:
one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy Name she blesses,
partakes one holy Food,
and to one hope she presses
with every grace endued. 2

(Hear the tune in MIDI format.)

Prayer:
O LORD,
remember your Church.
You possessed her in your mind from all eternity,
thinking of her from the beginning.
You possessed her in your hands
when you created the universe out of nothing
at the beginning.

You possessed her in your heart
when your dear Son died on the cross
and watered her with his blood
and consecrated her by his death,
entrusting her to his holy Mother.

Heed, O Lord,
the designs of your mercy,
raise up new workers from your right hand,
as you have done in the past,
in giving proghetic qualities
to some of your greatest servants:
give us another St Frances de Paul, St. Vincent Ferrer
or St. Catherine of Siena. 3

Reading: Isaiah 66:10-13
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her. That you may suck, and be filled with the breasts of her consolations: that you may milk out, and flow with delights, from the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord: Behold I will bring upon her as it were a river of peace, and as an overflowing torrent the glory of the Gentiles, which you shall suck; you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you. As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem." 4
Psalm 87
He has set his foundation on the holy mountain;
the LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob

Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God. Selah

I will record Rahab and Babylon
among those who acknowledge me-
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush-
and will say, "This one was born in Zion."

Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
"This one and that one were born in her,"
and the Most High himself will establish her."

The LORD will write in the register of the peoples;
"This one was born in Zion." Selah
As they make music they will sing,
All my fountains are in you." 5

Suggested Readings from the Church Fathers
"The Church is one which with increasing fecundity extend far and wide into the multitude, just as the rays of the sun are many but the light is one, and the branches of the tree are many but the strength is one founded in its tenacious root, and, when many streams flow from one source, although a multiplicity of waters seems to have been diffused from the abundance of the overflowing supply nevertheless unity is preserved in their origin. Take away a ray of light from the body of the sun, its unity does not take on any division of its light; break a branch from a tree, the branch thus broken will not be able to bud; cut off a stream from its source, the stream thus cut off dries up. Thus too the Church bathed in the light of the Lord projects its rays over the whole world, yet there is one light which is diffused everywhere, and the unity of the body is not separated. She extends her branches over the whole earth in fruitful abundance; she extends her richly flowing streams far and wide; yet her head is one, and her source is one, and she is the one mother copious in the results of her fruitfulness. By her womb we are born; by her milk we are nourished; by her spirit we are animated."
-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, Chapter 5.
Alternate: The Shepherd of Hermes
An ancient Christian writing called The Shepherd of Hermes (or sometimes Pastor of Hermes) contains a series of "visions" of Mother Church (!), first as an elderly woman, later as a young bride. The visions are rather lengthy, however, so here are some links to online versions of this book:

Shepherd of Hermes (from the NonCanonical Home Page).
Shepherd of Hermes (from American University Catholic Resources Site).

A Sample Selection:

Now, brethren, a revelation was made unto me in my sleep by a youth of exceeding fair form, who said to me, "Whom thinkest thou the aged woman, from whom thou receivedst the book, to be?" I say, "The Sibyl" "Thou art wrong," saith he, "she is not." "Who then is she?" I say. "The Church," saith he. I said unto him, "Wherefore then is she aged?" "Because," saith he, "she was created before all things; therefore is she aged; and for her sake the world was framed."

Suggested Reading from Pope Pius XII
"Who regenerated you? Who gave you a new life which neither your father nor your mother could give you with their own blood? The Spouse of Christ, Holy Church, was the mother of your soul; she kissed you on the forehead with heavenly affection; she pressed you to her heart as the child of the blood poured out by her Divine Spouse who loves you and delivered Himself to death for you." 6
Ancient Liturgical Prayer:
O Christ, Our Lord, You have transmitted to Your Church the sovereign power which You have received. By virtue of Your dignity, You have made her Queen and Spouse. You have given her supreme power over the entire universe. You have commanded all men to submit to her judgment. She is the Mother of all the living, and her dignity increases with the number of her children.

Every day she give birth to new children by the operation of the Holy Spirit. As a vine, her brances cover the whole world. Her boughs are upheld by the wood of the Cross and they reach up to the Kingdom of heaven.

Your Church, O Christ, is a strong city built on a mountain, visible to all and enlightening all. You are her Founder and foremost Citizen, O Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Lord.

We beseech You, eternal King of souls, Christ our Lord, stretch Your omnipotent Hands over Your holy Church and the holy people who belong to You; defend them, guard them, preserve them; combat, challenge, subdue all their enemies.

May Your Church always remain pure and living! May she chant your praises under the guidance of the holy angels! We pray to You for all her members; gran them pardon and remission of all their sins; grant that they may sin no more. Be their defense; take away from them all temptation. Have pity on men, women and children; reveal Yourself to all, and let the knowledge of Your Holy Name be written in their hearts. 7

Invocations
Lord Jesus Christ, Head and Bridegroom of the Church,  have mercy on us
Holy Spirit, Soul of the Church,  have mercy on us

Holy Mary, Mother of the Church,  pray for us
Holy Michael the Archangel, Guardian of the Church,  pray for us
St. Joseph, Universal Patron of the Church,  pray for us

Prayer
O Jesus, Divine Master, I bless and thank Your most sweet Heart for the great gift of the Church. She is the Mother who instructs us in the truth, guides us on the way to heaven, and communicates supernatural life to us. She continues Your own saving mission here on earth, as Your Mystical Body. She is the ark of salvation; she is infallible, indefectible, catholic. Grant me the grace to love her as You loved and sanctified her in Your blood. May the world know her, may all sheep enter Your fold, may everyone humbly cooperate in your kingdom. 8

Works Cited
  1. Melody for the Feasts of the Church, Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, trans. Tiran Bp. Nersoyan (Bronx, NY: John XXIII Center, 1970) 108.
  2. The Church's One Foundation stanzas 1 & 2; written by Samuel John Stone, 1866. As far as I can tell, this hymn is in the public domain. If it is not, please email me the copyright information.
  3. Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort, "Prayer for the Church of God," New Saint Joseph's People's Prayer Book. Ed. Rev. Francis Evans (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1980) 420-421.
  4. Douay Version.
  5. The Psalms: New International Version (St Joseph's CATHOLIC Edition. (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1996) 227-228. The NIV is copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
  6. Pius XII, "Address to Members of Catholic Action of Italy". (9-10-40), from Papal Teachings: The Church, Selected and Arranged by the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, trans. Mother E. O'Gorman (Boston: DSP, 1962), 510.
  7. Prayer from an Ancient Liturgy. Taken from Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., (Rockford, IL: Tan Books, 1993), 196.
  8. Prayer in Thanksgiving for the Gift of the Church. The Vatican II Weekday Missal. (Boston: Daughters of Saint Paul, 1975) 2360-2361.
A.M.D.G


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