Article on the radio 22.03.2001

SANCTA MARIA, MATER DEI

Mammamia

Maria, photo Veli-Matti Hynninen

It was nice to notice, that the coach for the ice hockey team Jokerit, Master of Physical Education Erkka Westerlund has started his wonderful career in ice hockey at the sports team Valko of Loviisa. Before moving to Rauma Erkka's father built war indemnity ships at the harbour of Loviisa, which is called Valko. Therefore Erkka had the possibility to take his first steps as a sportsman in Loviisa. The sports team Valkon Urheilijat -48 will remain in history.

The playoffs that have just begun at the Finnish ice hockey championships league are a really exciting play. The teams that win three times get further in the league and one of these teams will become the new national champion. Besides cross-country skiers, Finland is full of players. Only the winter sports make a Finn a true Finn. We are sportspeople, and we can only be proud about it.

But something else exciting is coming up too. Here I do not mean the Finnish prime minister's trip to Canossa or the fact that the Finnish parliament cleared out the management of Sonera Telecommunications - firing the old ones and putting new cowboys on strings to throw the Finnish mobile phones 'til the other side of the world. There would be lots to talk about these things as well. But a far more exciting and further-reaching expectation is shimmering in the air.

We are now turning our faces to the most admired and beloved woman in the world - Mary. No sportsman gets anywhere near the worldwide fame Mary has had for centuries and millenniums. We have made pictures, writings, music of her; she has been admired, we have sung about her, rejoiced over her and we have begged her to pray for us: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death (Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae)

Mary has also given her halo of stars to European Union. It is partly thanks to Mary that a divine blessing has been considered reigning over our Europe. But not so many people know that the stars on the European Union's flag are from Mary's halo. This reflects the depth and complexity of the Christian culture's roots in our continent - and Mary has played a certain role in it.

We have just celebrated the name day of Mary's spouse, Joseph. Joseph has often been left with less notice, even though he deserves all our attention as a representative of a unselfish and modest life style. Also Mary attracts because of her plainness. She reminds us from God's way to work through ordinary people and events. God surprises us by dressing into his opposite, coming down to the lives of ordinary people, to our losses, our suffering, our death. Exactly this painful side of life was very familiar to Mary.

Already the wise Simeon predicted for Mary in the Bible: "...And a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2:35). The flight to Egypt and the experience of being a refugee was very painful for the holy family. It cannot have been easy for Mary as a mother to follow her son's unordinary life. What did it feel like for a mother to follow her son's road to the cross, as he carried the heavy burden, seeing her son suffering on the cross, burying her only son, Jesus? Mary's suffering can be heard in some hymns that harrowingly picture the painfulness of tremendous suffering: Stabat mater dolorosa.

Mary is our sister in suffering and pain. Just like Joseph, she confirms the attitude of obedience and humbleness. But her deepest significance is simply on being Mother of God, having given birth to God, being one of the main characters on the history of salvation. Mary is remembered, admired and honoured, but she is not worshipped. Not the created, only the Creator deserves our worshipping. Every holiday dedicated to Mary is fundamentally a celebration of Christ. It is to Christ that we bow, He is the one we put our faith in, and on Him we depend.

On the day of Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, angel Gabriel announced the good news to Mary and thereby to us. The world will be saved, because a saviour will be born. As God became a man through Mary, He changed our world and brought hope and reformation to it. On this celebration of Annunciation we do not only turn the clock into summer time, but we are also turning to a new warmth, the brightness of summer, to the sunshine. There is something totally new, wonderful beauty. The Annunciation Day is a noble day; it is a day of joy and fills us all with divine love.

Veli-Matti Hynninen