Although the Church does not officially celebrate an Octave proceeding from the Solemnity of the Assumption, the timing of the liturgical celebration of the Queenship of Mary eight days later sets up what could still be viewed as an “Octave in spirit.” The timing is especially apt because her coronation completes the picture first presented to us in the Assumption. Quite literally, it crowns everything that we know about Mary and, even more importantly, about her Son, Jesus Christ. It is in the spirit of entering more fully into these two Marian celebration that it is particularly helpful to reflect specifically on her role as Queen.
The Church often finds herself in a defensive stance when it comes to proclaiming the truth about Mary. This posture mostly follows from a belief, even if only unconscious, that Our Lady’s greatness diminishes Christ’s greatness. We grow anxious that we might love Mary too much and thus take away from Jesus. But everything that we believe about Mary flows from the fact that she was predestined to be the Mother of God. God never calls a person without also giving that person the necessary natural and supernatural endowments to carry out their mission. Mary’s plentitude of grace comes from God because of her role as the Mother of God. Her union with her Son was not just mystical but natural and His dependence upon her made her cooperation in His work of redemption wholly unique.
Mary’s Role as Mother of God and Its Consequences
There are consequences that follow from her role as Mother of God. Related to our particular reflection, she was the mother of the One Whom God would give “the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). In short, she is the Mother of the King of Kings.
St. Gabriel’s message confirms what we already find in many other places in Scripture, namely that the Davidic kingdom provides a blueprint for the Kingdom of God. And like the other the other near-East kingdoms of the time, the Mother of the king or the Gebirah in the Davidic kingdom played a pivotal role in the management of that kingdom.
This unique role of the Gebirah has been studied and written about extensively (I especially recommend Dr. Edward Sri’s book called Queen Mother), so I won’t duplicate those efforts here (**see footnote). Instead, I will point out two passages that are particularly illustrative. Both involve David’s wife Bathsheba, the mother of future King Solomon. Early in the First Book of Kings (1:6) when an aging David is coming to the end of his reign, she enters the royal chamber in a posture of obeisance and offered homage to the king. While acknowledging her, he pays her no particular honor. Fast forward a chapter (1Kings 2:19ff ) and we find that once Solomon becomes king she enters the royal chamber and the narrative finds him bowing before her, having a throne brought in and placed at his right hand. She intercedes on behalf of Adonijah and the king says he cannot refuse her.
The juxtaposition of these two passages confirms for us two things and help us to see more clearly what role Queen Mary, as the Gebirah, plays in the fulfilled Davidic Kingdom. First, Bathsheba has no authority as wife of the king, but once her son becomes king, she is given a throne. Without her son on the throne, she has no authority so that her authority depends upon his royal authority. Likewise, all that we say about Mary’s Queenship flows only from Christ’s authority. She has only a share in His authority. But as is always the case with the Church’s Marian beliefs, take away from Mary and you diminish Christ. Mary’s exaltation puts flesh, literally and figuritvely, on what we believe about Christ. Without those beliefs, the teachings about Christ gravitate towards abstraction. If you take away her queenship, you will be saying that Christ is not the true heir to the throne of David. The throne of David always had a throne at the king’s right hand for the Queen Mother.
Second, the Queen Mother was no mere figurehead but had royal authority. The king could not refuse her. This helps us to shed light on what can otherwise seem like a rather odd interaction between Our Lord and Our Lady at Cana. As Queen Mother, Our Lord could not refuse anything that His Mother asked even though His “hour had not yet come.” She assumes He will do it, because she had such authority to “command” Him.
Why Mary Should Steal Your Heart
While this biblical proof-texting is necessary, we must always have the same goal in sight that Pope Pius XII had when he instituted the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, namely, to “renew the praises of Our Heavenly Mother, and enkindle a more fervent devotion towards her, to the spiritual benefit of all mankind.” The reasons for our devotion might satisfy our heads, but unless it also engages our hearts it will remain sterile facts. The aforementioned Pontiff helps us begin the longest 18-inch journey by summarizing what we have already said and pointing out that “…as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer’s Kingdom.”
Well-schooled in democratic logic, we reflexively dismiss monarchical terms and neglect their import. We must not forget that we are citizens in the Kingdom of God, not in the Democratic Republic of the United States of Humanity and Divinity. Christ is the benevolent King and seated at His right hand is the benevolent Queen. You cannot have Christ as King without Mary as Queen. You cannot honor Him while neglecting to honor her. A man who pledged loyalty to the King while disrespecting the Queen would be labeled as a traitor. Our devotion for Christ should overflow onto His Mother (which will always flow back on Him). We must see her as both Queen and Mother.
A sure way to increase that devotion is to reflect upon the fact that Our Lady has a “royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer’s Kingdom.” The role of Advocate and Queen are practically synonymous—the Queen Mother in her royal office in the kingdom of David exercised her role primarily as an advocate, interceding for the people of the Kingdom. In fact she did not share in any way in the royal judicial power. Our Lady is never referred to as the Mother of Justice, but Mother of Mercy because her role is to distribute from the treasury of her Son. When we realize that she has real power and real authority and that she exercises it as a Mother to each one of us, it is hard not to fall more deeply in love with Our Queen.
In a very real way, then, we see why the Queenship of Mary completes the Assumption. Although her earthly life came to an end at the Assumption, her throne reminds us that her mission was really only just beginning. She is the Advocate who always makes an offer that can’t be refused and our celebration of her Queenship must be a time of gratitude to God for so solicitous a Queen and to her for her constant intercession before God.
**For those interested in looking up some further passages supporting this see the succession narratives from 1 and 2 Kings, when each of the kings is mentioned, his mother is also mentioned with him emphasizing her important place beside the king. The Queen Mother is alsodescried as having a crown (Jer 13:18), a throne (1 Kings 2:19) and is a member of the royal court (2 Kings 24:12-15).