(an excerpt from “Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest” by Father Donald H. Calloway, MIC)
Jesus Himself said that in heaven, the holy neither marry nor are given in marriage (cf. Matthew 22:30), yet paradise is still called the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 19:9) because it is a spiritual union of persons….
The bridegroom, Jesus, already has His bride by His side in the person of the Immaculata. The Father gave her to Him in anticipation of His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross. The Immaculata is the perfect fruit of the bridegroom’s anticipated sacrifice on Calvary. Therefore, the Son must die for her since she has already been given to Him and is, in fact, the pattern for all others. In dying for her, He is dying for all who will be patterned off of her, His one true nuptial “other.”
And in the complementarity of masculinity and femininity, Jesus needs Mary by His side so that together they can journey toward Calvary and consummate the spiritual marriage between God and mankind. This is why from the Cross Jesus refers to Mary again as the woman. The consummation of the spiritual marriage requires that both the bridegroom and the bride be present and that their hearts and wills are one. Without Jesus and Mary, none of this is possible. And this is why the Father had to give the bride to His Son ahead of time, because, together, they must consummate the spiritual marriage. Therefore, Jesus and Mary make Christianity (the spiritual marriage) real and complete. It is consummated.
This also helps us understand that Jesus’ reason for establishing the Catholic Church was to make it the antechamber to the wedding feast, the Mary-maker, and the only path to true spirituality. Without Mary and the Catholic Church, our lives have no direction, finality, or consummation. If we are not members of the Church that offers persons the ability to become holy and immaculate, we have no nuptial blueprint or mold to be conformed to and are incapable of acquiring the immaculate robe necessary for the wedding.
We were born to be immaculate and live forever in an endless nuptial union with the Holy Trinity. Not to surrender to this reality is to experience an everlasting anthropological frustration (hell) in both our person and in our nature. Failure to accept the divine proposal and become immaculate is to condemn ourselves to be eternally cut off from ever attaining that for which we were brought into existence: the beatific vision. We were created and born for union with the Trinitarian God, and if it doesn’t happen, we are unfulfilled and exist in an everlasting torture of being incomplete.
So what does prayer and devotion have to do with all of this? Everything! If our relationship with Jesus is like a spiritual marriage, we must learn to be prayerful and devoted like the one model for what it means to be in nuptial spiritual union with Christ: the Immaculata.
Since the institutional Church’s purpose is to assist people into becoming like the Immaculata in order to enter into a perfect union of hearts and wills with Jesus Christ, leading a life of prayer and devotion, after the example of Mary, is an absolute necessity. As the model of what it means to live in nuptial union with God, Mary gives us the greatest example of living our spiritual marriage with God. She has “pondered all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19), and she has prepared the way for us to do the same. She is the lover of the Trinity and the holiest human person to ever live precisely because she is the most prayerful and devoted of all God’s creatures. Her person, heart, mind, and will are in complete union with the bridegroom. She is madly in love with God and is willing to do anything that He asks, even to undergoing a torturous spiritual, emotional, and mystical crucifixion at the foot of the Cross. And through her, it becomes possible for us to do the Will of God and become mothers, brothers, sisters, and even spiritually espoused, to Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 12:50; Luke 11:27-28).
The true Christian is a Marian Christian. To pray is to be Marian. To be devoted is to be like the Immaculata. She shows us that prayer is the heart-to-heart relationship and spiritual intimacy that makes union, faithfulness, and fruitfulness with God possible. To pray and be devoted to Christ, therefore, is to become Marian. There really is no other way.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.”(Revelation 22:14)
“Dear children! Today I am calling you to witness your faith in the colors of spring. May this be a faith of hope and courage. May your faith, little children, not waver in any situation, not even in this time of trial. Go courageously with the risen Christ towards Heaven, which is your goal. I am accompanying you on this way of holiness and am placing all of you in my Immaculate Heart. Thank you for having responded to my call.” -Our Lady of Medjugorje, in private revelation given to Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, on April 25, 2021
“My mother and my hope, do not abandon me, as I deserve. Behold my misery, pity me, help me, save me. I confess that I have often, by my sins, shut out the light and aid which thou hast obtained for me from the Lord. But thy compassion for the wretched and thy power with God are far greater than the number and malignity of my sins. It is known in heaven and on earth that he who is protected by thee will certainly not perish. Let all forget me, but do not thou forget me, oh mother of the omnipotent God. Say unto God that I am thy servant, tell Him that I am defended by thee, and I shall be saved. Oh Mary, I trust in thee: in this hope I live, and in this hope I wish to die, repeating always: ‘Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus, Mary.’ ” –Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori