Pierre Farrugia, director of St. Francis Centre, is leading an eight-part Bible study at the St. Francis Centre starting Jan. 10 focusing on Mary's role in salvation. Photo by David Chen

Mary’s role in salvation focus of Bible study series

  • December 27, 2016

For many people, the New Year marks a new beginning. For the Catholic Church, it is also a return to the beginning of our faith.

On Jan. 1, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It’s a perfect fit because Mary’s motherhood is a starting point in the story of our salvation, says Fr. Pierre Farrugia, director of St. Francis Centre in Caledon, Ont.

“The fact that God came in the world through her, we say that grace came into the world through her. She’s a starting point in that sense,” said Farrugia. “She can shed light, through her role, on other beautiful things in the Scripture.”

Farrugia is leading an eight-part Bible study at the St. Francis Centre on Jan. 10 and every first Tuesday of the month. Each session begins at 6 p.m. with a Holy Hour of Adoration and the Bible study begins at 7 p.m.

The feast day was moved from Oct. 11 to Jan. 1 when Pope Paul VI reformed the liturgical calendar in 1969.

“This celebration, placed on Jan. 1... is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation,” Paul VI wrote. “It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the ‘holy Mother... through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life.’ “

The monthly sessions led by Farrugia will be accompanied by an EWTN video series by theologian Edward Sri called Walking with Mary. The series unpacks “crucial passages” in the Bible that offer insight to Mary’s faith.

The study begins with The Annunciation and the Old Testament. She is portrayed as the bridge between the Old and New Covenants because of her life as the fulfillment of prophecies of Christ’s coming.

“In the litany, we call her the House of Gold because the Ark of the Covenant was completely made out of gold from the outside but the purest of gold from the inside that God commanded nobody would enter,” he said. “That was a symbol of our Blessed Mother who is spotless, the Immaculate Conception.”

Any serious Bible study, Farrugia said, will also have to look at extra-biblical documents and oral traditions from that time.

“Those things can shed light on things that we do find in the Bible,” he said. “For example, how is it that Mary was perplexed at the thought of giving birth to a child when she is already betrothed to Joseph... Why was she so confused that God was asking this for her? And it goes back to her decision to live for God alone. These extra-biblical documents shed light on that and so we’re able to look at those questions with more clarity because of the context.”

Farrugia said Mary has many titles — the Immaculate Conception, the Ark of the New Covenant, the Queen of Angels among them. But the highest title, Farrugia said, is that as Mother of God.

Though most of her life is hidden from the four Gospels, the few chapters that tell her story are meant to reveal God’s will.

“Nevertheless, (the Gospel writers) did emphasize the Mother’s role, but her words are a lot less indicated in Scripture because she’s always pointing to Jesus Himself,” said Farrugia. “She’s always saying, ‘Listen to Him’ and that’s a huge part of her role.”

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