The mere thought of Mary the Mother of God has caused faithful Christians the world over to
exult in joy. Why? Because she, the humble maiden of Nazareth, freely and cheerfully accepted
her august role in the redemption of men wrought by her Divine Son. Consequently, it is possible
for a human person to become holy!
The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Volume I (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1992) offers the traditional rationale for why
the Ever-Virgin Mother of Christ is venerated under the glorious title of Cause Nostrae
Laetitiae ("Cause of our Joy"):
The Church as the Bride of Christ has always found joy
in its (her) Bridegroom and returned His love with ever-increasing joy. Since Jesus had come to
us through Mary, the Church came gradually to understand that the Blessed Virgin, because of her
cooperation in the Incarnation of the Word, is the cause or origin or source of this great joy;
the Church has known too that the sorrow brought into the world by Eve's disobedience has been
changed into joy by Mary's obedience, and so it began to honor her with the title "cause of
our joy." Devotion to our Lady under this title has developed especially in France and
Canada (Notre Dame de Liesse).
In the Litany of Loreto, we hail Mary as "the
Cause of our Joy," recognizing her submission to the power of the Holy Spirit, resulting in
the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity coming to earth. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, makes
us joyful because of His influence over our destiny. We now have the opportunity to inherit
everlasting life, thanks to His unsurpassable Incarnation, His selfless Passion, His agonizing
Death, and His jubilant Resurrection. Mary also makes us joyful because we acknowledge how her
fiat changed the course of human history. Her "yes" broke the chains of death
established by Eve's haughty "no."
Sadly, the word joy, like love or charity, is often
misused in modern discourse. Authentic joy (which is one of the Twelve Fruits of the Holy
Spirit), writes Father John A. Hardon, S.J., in his helpful Modern Catholic Dictionary (Garden
City, New York: Doubleday Company, Inc., 1979), is "the feeling aroused by the expectation
or possession of some good." This is true spiritual joy, which "is possessed by angels
and human beings, and its source is the rational will." One may speak about the joy of
baseball or cooking; however, spiritual joy is quite a different reality.
Mary does really cause us joy because through her
legacy we hold the expectation of the good which she has won through her fidelity to the
inscrutable plan of the Almighty, namely friendship with Christ (for us, now here on earth; for
Our Blessed Lady, now in Paradise).
It has been said that real joy is contagious. Mother
Teresa of Calcutta has often quipped that she can immediately discern - even without looking -
when several members of the Missionaries of Charity are present: the spiritual joy which they
experience is tangible. Moreover, that very joy is waiting to be shared. Undoubtedly, the close
connection which these pious religious have to the Immaculate Heart of Mary continually inspires
them to be consecrated religious striving to imitate the abundant joy found deep in the words
and actions of Mary.
To ponder the role of Mary in our redemption leads to
astonishment. How good God has been to His people! How trusting Mary was - and remains today -
in the Word of the Lord!
The Opening Prayer of the Mass of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, Cause of Our Joy, not only asserts the truth of the belief that, indeed, Mary is the cause
of our joy but also offers the hope that we - the children of the Mother of Jesus - will benefit
from this reality:
Lord, our God, You were pleased to bring joy to the
world through the incarnation of Your Son. Grant that we who honor His Mother, the cause of our
joy, may always walk in the way of Your commandments with our hearts set on true and lasting