Our Lady of the Atonement
At the Last Supper, Our Lord prayed "That all may be one." At the foot of the cross, Mary shared in the redepmtion for all mankind. The title of Our Lady of the Atonement is a title of unity. One of the most unusual facts about this title is that devotion to Mary under this name began outside of the Catholic church.
The Rosary League of Our Lady of the Atonement was formed in l901 with the purpose "to pray and work for the restoration of Mary's Dowry, England, to our Virgin Queen, the Holy Mother of God. " Later, the object of the league became more extensive and included not only the conversion of England but the entire world. The league was formed by Father Paul Wattson and Mother Lurana Mary Francis White, members of the Anglican communion until they, with fifteen others, were received into the Catholic church in l909. The little community grew, and is now known as the Franciscan friars and sisters of Graymoor. In l9l9, Pope Benedict XV gave his approval and apostolic recognition to the title of Our Lady of the Atonement.
In the beautiful representations of Mary under this title, she wears a red mantle, symbolizing the Precious Blood of which she was the Immaculate source, and by which she was made immaculate. It was by the shedding of this most precious blood that the redemption of the world was accomplished. She wears a blue inner tunic, and she holds the infant Jesus in her arms. The child Jesus is depicted holding a cross, the symbol of His suffering and glory.
The concept of Our Lady of the Atonement includes two parts. First, it emphasizes Mary's role as co-redemptrix in the mystery of the cross. Secondly, it points to Mary's role in effecting the unity or At-one-ment of men with God. Mary co-operated with Christ as no other creature did, in His work of reconciling man with God. In honoring Mary with this title, we remember her with gratitude and love for the great gift of her Son to us, just as Christ in His death on the cross, gave Mary to us to be our Mother ... "Behold thy Mother".
Mary is Our Lady of Unity, Our Lady of the At-one-ment. Even those who are seperated from the Church still have a claim upon her charity, and she longs to unite them to her Divine Son. Just as the father's heart went out to his prodigal son in love and forgiveness, Mary's Immaculate Heart reaches out to her children who have wandered from the Father. Father Paul, in speaking of Mary's longing for all mankind to come to her son said, "She will not be satisfied until all the Children of Eve, dwelling upon the face of the earth in all parts of the world have been born again into the Kingdom of Heaven and numbered among the elect Children of the Atonement."
Christian unity work always lends itself to a special emphasis on Mary's role. Our Lady is the Refuge of Sinners, the Help of Christians, the Mother of Mercy, and the Mother of Perpetual Help. More than any other being save God Himself, she desires men to be saved and to come to Her Son. Even those who do not call on her receive love and grace from Mary's Immaculate Heart. Although the atonement emphasizes Mary's sorrow, it also calls to mind her joy when a soul is saved. In the words of Our Lord, "Your sorrows are for a little while; your joys are eternal."
Pope John Paul II said, "The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is ever more harmoniously celebrated among Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. It is now spread throughout the world." By honoring Mary with the title Our Lady of the Atonement, we call to mind her wish that our prayers will be unceasing for the reunion of all God's sheep under one shepherd.
Our Lady of the Atonement, help me to win souls both by my prayers and by my actions. Let me assist the Divine Shepherd in gathering all of his lost sheep into the fold.
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Copyright © 2004 by Ann Ball
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