When the Council of Ephesus met in 431 A.D., they declared Mary to the Mother of God (Theotokos) to defend the divinity of Christ. The Blessed Mother was declared and understood to be not just a mother of an earthly savior, redeemer, revolutionary leader, or king. In calling her the Theotokos — God-bearer — the Council affirmed that Jesus is truly God incarnate, fully God and man.
Therefore, the universal Church begins each year with the spirit of who we are as Catholics, affirming our faith in Jesus Christ as true God and man, as well as inviting us to be like the Blessed Mother in following Him and defending our true faith. Like Mother Mary, the example par excellence of discipleship, we walk with Christ every step of the way, from the Crib to the Cross, from moments of joy to sorrow, in love as well as in doubt, always steadfast, persevere, and remain faithful to Him.
In all honesty, for those of us who are trying our best to live a life of faith and put into practice true love, the Devil is trying hard to attack our hope. He and his minions always try to make us lose hope, as if God ignores, forgotten, or has anything to do with us — as if things are so screwed and beyond saving — as if none of us are good enough for His grace to be at work. He makes everything dependent on us our humanity at large, as if we are the only or main movers and shakers of the world, and God cannot or will not be able to bring good out of what is going on.
He makes us think that if this or that person or thing would change, then life would be better! However, it is a hopeless trap because we tend to humanistically analyze and commentate on the problems as if we have control, yet many of these things are beyond our pay grade and we only end up being angry and resentful in the end. Too many think that if the liturgy, pope, bishops, priests, politics, or anything that they do not like change, life will be better and things will be OK. Yet, the Devil plays us so well! He easily steals our joy by simply sowing within us small seeds of despair and hopelessness. That is why the theological virtue of hope is often depicted as an anchor in spiritual writings and images, for it helps us to be steadfast, firm, and unmoved, by the things of this world because we are anchored on our Lord. In the midst of many life’s storms and trials, ups and downs, hope anchors our soul on the unmovable bedrock who is Christ.
However, the saints never lost hope in the midst of trials. The Blessed Mother never walked away. She stood next to her Son by the Cross. The saints chose to embrace the crosses that our Lord gave to them. They stayed. They remained faithful and steadfast in prayer. They responded to evil with wisdom, perseverance, and hope because they trust in the words, promises, and the person of Christ who loved them! He gave His life for us and He had won the world.
Please remember that this world will never be perfect because it is not our home, finish line, or endpoint. Its imperfections remind us that grace is still at work because St. Paul reminded us that where evil abounds, grace abounds even more. (cf. Romans 5:20) If everything is perfect and goes our way, would we ever turn to God, live by faith, persevere in our baptismal vocation to love and serve, and especially to learn to truly hope? Hope is real! The Blessed Mother and the saints learned and practiced it. Mother Mary is the mother of the Church because she is the mother of hope. Therefore, when you and I feel lost, do not be afraid to turn to her and ask her to wrap us under her mantle and leads us to her Son.
I pray that our 2020 is filled with hope! Even though things will not be perfect, nothing or no one can steal our joy from us because we have our hope anchored on our Lord Jesus Christ. He had won the world! Furthermore, we have the Blessed Mother and saints to intercede for us, too, so do not lose hope. We are not alone for we are Christians, His disciples who are still trying, walking toward our final destiny with faith, hope, and love.
I would like to invite you to begin this new year with me by praying the Memorare, asking for the Blessed Mother‘s intercession:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.