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Hail, Holy Queen Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 16 December 2013

Editor’s Note: Our esteemed colleague Brad Miner beautifully offers a different – and deeply Christian – perspective today on our world. Far too much public attention is given to the ways in which Catholicism may be used to support one political party or another, some policy question or its opposite. In many ways, it’s far more important for us to be clear about things that provide us with a whole other dimension entirely. There aren’t many places on the Internet where you will read such an essay, especially one that’s so accessible without sacrificing real depth. This is the kind of thing we try to bring to you along with much else on this site, a vital lifeline to the fullness of Catholic tradition in the midst of a world that doesn’t understand it – and no wonder, since many Catholics either don’t understand it or aren’t familiar with it themselves. We need your help in carrying on this task – and several others that we’d like to take on this year, if we can find the resources. I’m hearing from many of you, but I need to hear from many more at both low and high contribution levels to make sure that The Catholic Thing can continue its mission in 2014. Please, click on this 
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Living as we do in an age of democratic values – good in the sense that voices formerly silenced now speak (as with all modern voices, a little too loudly); bad in the sense that the hierarchy of ideas and ideals has been collapsed – we are grown reluctant to consider the virtues of monarchy.

In one sense, of course, we may argue with conviction that Christianity effectively abolished temporal monarchy, given that it is revealed that slave and freeman are equal in the eyes of God. Or as that secret Catholic Shakespeare put it: 

worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all
creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
thats the end.
Vile King Claudius pretends pity upon hearing his nephew say so, and Hamlet replies, smiling, playing at madness, that a man “may fish with the worm that hath eat of a/king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm,” which shows us the democracy by which a king may progress “through the guts of a beggar.”

It’s fine that Elizabeth II has been queen of England for more than six decades, and monarchy has its place – and one not dishonored among the other –archies, –ocracies, and –isms we endure on this earth, sterile promontory that it often seems, but one thing seems certain: those whose lives please God are headed for an eternal polity more like a monarchy than a democratic republic.

There’s a reason why we refer to Our Lady as the Queen of Heaven.

More properly, perhaps (at least in earthly terms), she is the Queen Mother of Heaven, since Christ the King is our only true sovereign. Our destiny lies in the Kingdom of God.

And our king is a paradox beyond all paradoxes. As Paul wrote to the Church at Phillppi, this was a king:

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Madonna of the Lilies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1899
I daresay that when the time comes most Americans may have some difficulty bending the knee.

After the Election of 2008, my wife and I had dinner with a woman of the Left (a “red-diaper baby,” in fact), who in discussing the President Elect insisted on calling him “Barack.” I, who did not vote for the man, bristled at that, but – partly for the sake of my wife and partly out of my own conviction that restraint is to be valued – I said nothing to this woman by way of correction. And it helped to clarify my understanding of the way too many Americans regard all as equal.

That we are all equal before the law (or ought to be) is a given. And we know we are all equally loved and judged by God. But enlisted men salute superior officers, and American citizens address (or ought to) the Commander-in-Chief as “Mr. President.” The idea that somebody at a town-hall meeting would call Mr. Obama “Barack” is as offensive – and as much a violation of decorum – as if in a papal audience the pope were addressed as “Jorge.”

If people imagine heaven as a really swell corner pub, where you shout out, “Yo, Jesus,” to the One behind the bar pulling draughts, they’ll not be in heaven when the drinks are served, although they will certainly be parched. Forever.

Heaven, about which Paul (quoting Is. 64:3) makes clear we can’t even imagine (1Cor. 2:9), is not anybody’s idea of a sweet, small American town, circa 1890. It is joy in the midst of glory. A place where we will be one with our king through worship at the foot of the Throne of God: He the sun, we the rays.

Who knows what song we’ll sing?

1954 was the Year of Mary, at the conclusion of which Pope Pius XII published Ad Caeli Reginam, all about our heavenly Queen. The pope cites scriptural evidence that “clearly signified that she derived a certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of her Son.” The world formerly accepted the notion that earthly kings and queens ruled by divine right, but there are no kings and queens in heaven; just one King and one Queen Mother over all.

And this makes it right and just that in church we kneel. Perfect posture.

Our most persistent prayers and, perhaps, our most singular goal in this life must be the cultivation of humility, which arises from love, and which places us in the appropriate posture for life in the world to come. 

                                                                                                   –  Written on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is the author of six books and is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His book, The Compleat Gentleman, read by Christopher Lane, is available on audio.
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
written by Manfred, December 16, 2013
All traditional Catholics have been addressing the Queen of Heaven as "Mary" all their lives. "Hail Mary, full of grace.....Holy Mary, mother of God..."
written by Winston, December 16, 2013
Worship of Mary is not authorized by the Bible and only Jesus can be intercessor of our Father in Heaven. The catholic church is worshiping pagan goddesses with its Mariolotry. The Bible gives scant attention to Mary, not that we should not respect this blessed woman. She was not born of immaculate conception and she was not without sin. Find me the scripture that says so.
written by Louise, December 16, 2013
Brad, since you brought it up I would like to ask you something. That particular quote about eye has not seen is seldom given in its entirety (the full quote seems to change the meaning to be that because of the teaching of Jesus we do have an idea of Heaven.) I'm not sure I've ever heard this addressed. Thoughts?
Full quote: “'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him,'
God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."
written by Brad Miner, December 16, 2013
@Louise: Of course we have ideas about heaven, some Biblically derived, some more a matter of the tradition arising from faith and reason. First of all, we know heaven and hell exist, because Jesus spoke of them, affirming their existence. As the Catechism (1024) puts it: "This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity—this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed—is called ‘heaven.’ Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." But, beyond confirming the joy to come, neither Paul, quoting Isaiah, nor the Catechism fleshes out, if you will, exactly what the experience will be like. Paul is saying that the Spirit confirms heaven, but he's not saying that the faithful are thus enabled to visualize heaven. That said, in 2 COR 2-4, Paul says he knows a man who was "caught up to the third heaven . . . was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things . . ." Of course, we also have the visions of John in Revelation. But here we're talking about saints. Perhaps the "pure of heart" see God (seeing heaven would be the same thing). But for most of us the idea and the promise of heaven remain ideas rooted in our own peak experiences, which is to say, not heaven as heaven really is.

written by Bruno, December 16, 2013

I think all men may have a monarchist spirit. We need hierarchy. As the body has one head, so does the nation, and no country works well without one head. The peculiarity of us moderns is that we like either to choose our king every 4 years or to let our representatives choose him for us.
written by Louise, December 17, 2013
Thanks Brad, but what about the examples that Jesus used? I admit that your corner pub scenario is attractive to me without of course the "Yo Jesus" element! Certainly it will be more sublime than that. I guess I've always rejoiced in the idea that Heaven is going to be spiritually akin to one big party with God at the center of it all.
What was a Jewish wedding banquet like back in those days anyway?
(Should I be calling you Mr. Miner?)
written by kristinajohannes, December 17, 2013
Winston, your statement, "not that we should not respect this blessed woman" is the basis of Catholic teaching so you are not as far from that teaching as you think. You do have some misconceptions though.
For example, Catholics agree with you that Mary is only a human, we don't adore her, we don't give her the same worship as God, and Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.

The Immaculate Conception refers to the state of her soul at conception, not the manner in which she was conceived. She was saved by Jesus just as all of us have been saved by Him but she was saved in a special way--the immaculate conception. This is what the angel was acknowledging when he greeted her. He called her "full of grace" and by that he meant that she had no stain of sin. How could this be since there was no Baptism yet since Jesus hadn't come? She was saved in light of what was to come.
Yes, Mary is blessed among women! That's what we celebrate. But even more so because we have become brothers and sisters of Jesus that makes Mary our mother too so we turn to her as a mother.
Imagine if you could design your own mother. Well God could so He gave Mary an abundance of grace and virtue. But she had free will so she could cooperate with all the gifts...she was not some sort of robot.
Mary could even have said "no" to the angel. Where would we have been then?
written by Louise, December 20, 2013
Brad, before this goes off page I wanted to tell you I've been thinking about this column all week and trying to absorb your point, especially your quote about every knee should bend in Heaven. I have never thought much about that part of the quote before. I guess I'll just keep thinking and studying.
I have always argued for solemnity at Mass which is Heaven on earth in a real sense but I've never taken that further than earth I guess.
written by Riki, December 20, 2013

Oh Thou,
most beautiful a woman
most tender of all mothers
most brilliant STAR of DAVID
Masterpiece of God's creation
to the Holy Trinity
most precious Pearl
towards your Son the Golden Bridge
Golden Gate
to the Holy City
thru which our Savior
came and comes
Most sacred Vessel
containing the most Holy
My soul,
is drowning
in the beauty of your eyes
in the sweetness of your smile
in the burning oven of your heart
in the greatness of your littleness
in the eloquence of your silence
in the mystery of your simplicity
Oh Thou,
safest of my earthly havens
dearest hiding-place of mine
truly my refuge
my sweetest, sweetest mother
keep me with your Son Divine
save me from the wordly evils
strengthen my so fragile faith
cover me
with your motherly mantle
Oh Mary, you most gentle
Your child I am FOREVER !!!

Rita Biesemans
August 10 1999 Feast of Saint Lawrence

Jesus' first public miracle was performed because Mary was the Advocate : "They have no more wine" She didn't push Him to do it, but He did it anyway because He can't say No to His Mother out of Love, She is the THEOTOKOS, the GOD BEARER !!!!

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