Thine Eyes of Mercy Towards Us

Catholic tradition holds August as the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To begin this month, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, is sharing reflections and insights on the great prayer "Hail, Holy Queen." We continue with the eighth line: "Thine eyes of mercy towards us."

What does "eyes of mercy" mean?

People often say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. When you look at somebody, you're making your
presence felt. When we are asking Mary to turn her eyes of mercy toward us, we're begging her to remember
us. So if you're asking Our Lady to turn her eyes of mercy towards us, you're asking her for a mother's look, a mother's gaze - that compassionate maternal presence in our miserable state, whatever it may be.

Jesus saw Mary's eyes all throughout His life - and He got to design them. How does that affect how we understand Mary's eyes?
When her gaze, her eyes are fixed upon us, we're seeing the same eyes that gazed with tenderness and love on Jesus. And we are her other children by adoption, so those are going to be eyes of love. Also, every son looks like his mother. We know Jesus is truly God and truly man, and on His human side, of all the people that this the world has ever seen, He wanted to look like His mother - so maybe Jesus has Mary's eyes, as well.

Heaven involves experiencing the beatific vision of the Trinity. Why is seeing so important in Christian spirituality?

Because Christianity is an incarnational religion. Computers and robots don't really see. They might view something or present something, but seeing implies a personal relationship. The divine Persons see us and we see Them. There's that gazing upon one another, that beautiful relationship of communion. One of the beatitudes is, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God" (Mt 5:8). And to be able to see God -you're seeing the uncontainable, the incomprehensible, the One who has no beginning and no end. To be able to see God is inexpressible.

So this line, in essence, says, "Mary, know us; Mary, acknowledge there's a relationship between us ... "

Right, like in the Memorare: "Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary." We're essentially saying, "You're the Mother of God and our spiritual mother; fix your eyes upon us in our current situation." If children invoke a mother, the mother is not going to look away. She's going to turn her face, her whole self toward the child. It's going to be a real, even a deeper, personal moment because the eyes are the windows to the soul. There's a deep spiritual communion there.

Does Mary wait for our invitation, our prayer, before she helps?

Yes and no. As our spiritual Mother, she's been given a special grace to be able to be aware of our needs and even anticipate them, as any mother does. At the same time, saints and mystics have said that she feels a certain predilection toward those who spend time with her and are devoted to her. If the child in the kitchen is at his mother's feet, constantly pulling at her skirt, the mother is going to gaze upon the child. The more you invoke her, the more she's going to look at you. That doesn't mean she doesn't love everyone else, but it's the child who calls the most, as Fulton Sheen says, that gets the most of the mother's kisses. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

What does this line tell us about how we are to live our lives as Christians?

When Mary's gazing at us, you would never want to do anything that would displease her. Since her will is in accord with God's will, hopefully you're going to be a better Christian and have greater trust, even in a fallen world where we are all going to face hardships. We imitate Jesus Christ Himself, because Mary watched Him go to Calvary; she watched Him in that agony. Her eyes were fixed upon Him. Her gaze can help us to have a greater resolve to go to our own Calvary, to carry our own cross. Our Lady said to St. Bernadette, "I can't promise you happiness in this life, but in the next." And they had a very, very close relationship. A mother's gaze gives you strength. Imagine a little boy going up to bat. His mother doesn't necessarily need to say anything. She just gazes at him and gives a little nod. He'd say, "I'm going to knock this one out of the park. Mom's watching."

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