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Litany of Loreto - Virgin ...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The title ‘virgin’ introduces a series of titles under which Mary is invoked in the Litany of Loreto. More specifically the words ‘Virgin most …’ identify Mary as prudent, venerable, renowned, powerful, merciful, and faithful, all in the fullest degree.
Why these qualities? The first and last, prudence end faithfulness, point to virtues that help sustain a life dedicated to God, such as Mary had. Those in-between, point rather to the power of her intercession in prayer, something seen as fruitful because of her dedication to and intimacy with God. By her faith-filled and efficacious intercession she is closely linked with the power and mercy of God. It is all this that means she is renowned and venerable. There is perhaps a certain irony here: Mary is recorded as being humble in the Bible (Lk 1:29). However, it is this humility and openness to God, and a transparency that goes with it, that means that God can fill her with his life in a way that has been recognised as profound. Indeed all generations do call her blessed! (Lk 1:48).
Interestingly, many of the preceding titles in the litany under which Mary is invoked as mother - pure, chaste, and especially inviolate and undefiled - also point to aspects of her virginity, thus establishing that her motherhood, both physical and spiritual, flows from and is rooted in her virginity.

Whatever our sexual history and whatever our vocational calling, we are called to a life of dedication to God, and this lies at the spiritual heart of virginity. Let us then look to Mary and ask her to help us cultivate the virtues here linked with her. Dedicating ourselves to God, we also can be so overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (cf Lk 1: 35) that we become spiritual mothers and fathers, forming people spiritually, whether or not we are or become physical parents. Thus we can be amiable, admirable, and give good counsel – to cite other qualities of Mary named in these sections of the litany.

Andrew Brookes OP


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