On Mary's Maternal Presence at Pentecost

Interview With Father Jesús Castellano Cervera

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ROME, MAY 30, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Pentecost marks a time when Mary’s presence is of singular importance, says a specialist in Marian studies.

In this interview with ZENIT, Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, who is also a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, elaborated on the Blessed Virgin’s presence at the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

Q: The time we are now living is the conclusion of Eastertide and of the month of May. Is it of special Marian relevance?

Father Castellano Cervera: I think the time extending from the Ascension to Pentecost is a particularly Marian time.

The fact emphasized in the Acts of the Apostles, which reminds us of Mary’s presence in the Cenacle, must be stressed. Early iconography, Byzantine liturgy, and early information on Mary are unanimous in reminding us of the Virgin Mary’s presence in the episode of the Lord’s ascension to heaven.

Mary appears in prayer with the disciples while Jesus ascends to heaven. Thus, the Mother becomes the witness of the whole of Christ’s human life, from the coming from the bosom of the Father, to her maternity, and from the ascension to the bosom of the Father, with the flesh taken from the Mother.

Q: What is the meaning of Mary’s presence among the disciples in the Cenacle?

Father Castellano Cervera: I believe that Jesus entrusted his disciples to Mary before the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In reality, in a time of «emptiness,» when Jesus is no longer present and the Spirit has not yet descended, the Virgin Mary seems to be the most appropriate person to fill, in some way, these two presences at a time of remembrance and expectation.

Of remembrance, because Mary is the living memory of Christ, of his life from the beginning, of his words. Her maternal presence speaks of him in everything. And of expectation, because the Virgin Mary, who has received the Holy Spirit in fullness, becomes the guarantee and hope of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. The promised Spirit will come — Mary seems to assure — as he came upon me. God is faithful to his promises.

Q: Is her presence at the root of the title «Queen of the Apostles» ascribed to her?

Father Castellano Cervera: I think it is precisely so. Fathers of the Church and medieval authors say clearly that Mary in the Cenacle became the mother and teacher of the apostles with her testimony on Christ.

In Number 26 of the encyclical «Redemptoris Mater,» John Paul II speaks of this presence in the midst of Jesus’ disciples as singular witness of the mystery of Christ. Her maternal role in this time is obvious.

We can think that the words of Acts 1:14 reflect Mary’s maternal endeavor, which helps the disciples to «persevere» every day while awaiting the promised event of the coming of the Spirit, to be «in agreement and united,» to open their hearts «in prayer» with an attitude of invocation and confident expectation.

Mary maternally forges the apostles, makes them brothers, prepares the community to receive the Holy Spirit.

Q: Given that Mary had already received the Holy Spirit, wasn’t it perhaps superfluous for her to await Pentecost?

Father Castellano Cervera: According to the earliest images of Pentecost, Mary appears among the disciples and receives the Holy Spirit with the whole Church. Her circumstance, linked to the mystery of the Son and to his mission, is now indissolubly united to the mystery of the Church.

She forms part of the Church as the most excellent member and as Mother, as the Second Vatican Council states.

The new coming of the Spirit upon her unites her even more to the Church, to the latter’s communion and mission. It is not possible to think of the Church without Mary and of Mary without the Church.

The centrality of the Mother of Jesus in the midst of the disciples with the same flame of the Holy Spirit in an attitude of reception of the gift and of thanksgiving speaks to us of the «Marian profile» of the Church, where Mary represents the very essence of the Church: pure reception and transmission of the gift of God.

Mary is what the Church and every Christian should be, under the action of the Holy Spirit and in profound communion with everyone.

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