Behold your mother…
The Magnificat is sung every night at Vespers in the western liturgy. It is sung at Matins in the East. This can mean 9AM in a parish church, but properly sung, it is well before dawn in the monastic office so that the monks can sing the last three psalms as the sun rises. So it is a night song in the East as well as the West.
Whenever I read it alone, it’s relatively quiet for me: just another part of the office. But when it is sung in community, there is always a sense of presence, of Mary herself hold her arms around us as we all sing together with her. This always feels comforting, overwhelmingly maternal, and intimately present.
Mary is our mother: for we are members of the Church which is the Body of Christ and she is Christ’s mother. That is, therefore, a collective reality for all the members of the Church, but it is an individual reality as well. As it is proper to say, “Christ died for me, and he would have done so were I the only person in the world,” it is also proper for you to say, “Mary is the mother of the Church and of me. She is my mother and her prayers for the Church are also said for me.”
Mary has been praying for the Church since before the day of Pentecost. She was present when the Church was born into the world and she continues to act in concert with the Church the full Gospel of her Son is proclaimed.
This present feast is in its second year, although the steps leading up to this feast go all the way back to Augustine’s reading of this passage, “behold your mother”. Mary is the Mother of the Church and, equally, of the Dominican Order:
Another vision St. Dominic received was one night after he returned from his vigil in the Priory church, he walked into the friar’s dormitory and saw this beautiful woman passing through the centre of the dormitory sprinkling the beds and sleeping friars with holy water. St. Dominic fell to his knees and asked who she was. She replied, “I am she whom you invoke each night at the Salve Regina, when you sing, turn then most gracious advocate, I prostrate myself before my Son for the preservation of the order.” St. Dominic then turned and saw our Lord seated in majesty with all the orders around him, but not one of his friars, The Lord smiled and said, “I have given your Order to my Mother,” and immediately the Lord turned to the Blessed Virgin who opened her mantle to reveal to Dominic his sons and daughters hidden beneath the folds. (Source.)
Let us cry out to her as she intercedes on our behalf and let us sing with her the nightly song.