Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR
Do not ever be troubled, do not ever be afraid, you have nothing to fear. Isn’t the Immaculate perhaps aware of everything? If this were not true, we would be in great trouble indeed. No one can hurt us without God’s permission, or even without the Immaculate’s permission. Therefore, everything is in her maternal hands…let us just allow her to lead us ahead every day, every minute a little more.
~St. Maximilian Kolbe, 1894-1941
In my years of experience with people of all walks of life and all cultures, whenever I would ask parents what they wanted for their children, they would invariably give me the exact same answer: “I just want my child to be happy.” I tell you the answer doesn’t vary from one culture to another, it is always that. Parents just want the best for their kids, in this life first, and then, even if they have ever really thought about it, in the life of heaven too (but honestly that is almost always an afterthought!) Nonetheless, it speaks to something deeply embedded in the heart of every parent. There is an innate desire that their children will find “happiness,” however they define it, and I would say that the Blessed Mother’s desire for her children is exactly the same. She only wants our happiness, defined in spiritual terms as “peace.” That is why we call her the “Queen of Peace.”
Now, peace has both an external and an internal dimension. It is true that society tends to define peace simply as an absence of war, but the effect of that kind of peace is not to be downplayed. Society needs peace for its proper functioning and survival. No society on earth has ever flourished in its economy or culture during times of war. Peace is a necessary precondition for human happiness, even in a worldly sense. Because of that, Our Lord attaches a blessing to those who make it their aim to pursue peace in a troubled world: “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt 5:9)
You may recall that just after she won the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Theresa helped to be a peacemaker in war-torn Lebanon. In the midst of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1982, when all of Lebanon was being wracked by war, Mother Theresa announced that she would go without protection to the city of Beirut to rescue fifty orphans and handicapped people who were trapped in a hospital, and their food was running out. Against all military advice, Mother Theresa found someone who would drive her and her sisters into the war zone, and a cease-fire was declared for several hours while the Missionaries of Charity and other helpers rescued the vulnerable people. A story was told of her taking a baby into her arms who had been crying inconsolably for hours, and as soon as the baby felt the touch of Mother Theresa, she stopped crying and was able to be fed.
This story illustrates, I think, the power that a consecrated person such as Mother Theresa can have on a situation of war, not only war among nations, but also conflict in the heart of a small child. Having met Mother Theresa personally numerous times, I am convinced that no one was more devoted to Mary than her, and it was through her deep Marian spirituality that she invited the Queen of Peace into that place of war with very tangible effects. Soon after she conducted her rescue mission a permanent cease-fire was declared, and the ever-fragile Mideast peace was once again restored. My point is that there is really no limit to the power of Mary’s Peace: all she needs is to be invited into situations of conflict, and there the Queen of Peace does her best work.
It is my experience that Mary’s peace reigns where men and women of faith bring it. She doesn’t force it on anyone. This is perhaps the reason why it has always been a Catholic tradition to pray the Rosary at funerals. It is a tremendously consoling influence to those who are grieving. How often have I seen people take up the Rosary in times of personal or family turmoil and find that there is some tangible lessening of the power of evil or strengthening of heart needed to get through the problems confronting them. Mary’s Peace doesn’t promise to take away conflict in all circumstances because she cannot and does not nullify the effects of human sinfulness. However, her mere presence brings an aura of peace to every war, whether in the heart of a person or in society, and her peace will prevail if we let it.
What conflicts in our lives need Mary’s peaceful presence today? Into whose lives can we invite Mary to reign and establish peace once again? How often have we taken seriously the power of the Rosary to wipe out the power of sin and chaos? The Queen waits for her invitation to enter all our conflicts. She is waiting to bring us the Peace of her Son, a Peace “that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:7)
Holy Mary, gentle “Queen of Peace,” graciously bring God’s gift of peace to the conflicts of our lives and world and reign over us with your mercy. May your consoling presence transform us into instruments of peace in our world and bestow upon us the blessings of the world that never ends. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Excerpted from: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Jesus and Mary: In Praise of their Glorious Names, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.: Huntington, Indiana, 2012.]