Collection: Our Lady of the Harvest
ARTIST: Lewis Williams, OFS
Traditional Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Maronites, Eastern Catholics and Orthodox churches celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Harvest. Historically, the Irish celebrated the Festival of Our Lady of the Harvest on August 15th, which became the Feast of the Assumption. The pre-Christian celebrations also honored deities to offer thankfulness for bounty and fruitfulness.
Today, farming ranges from family use to feed the needs of your own to giant corporate entities genetically manipulating crops to increase yield. It is not easy work. Often migrants are required to harvest to help ensure a profit on the crops. All are challenged by threats of adverse weather, insect infestation and disease that can ruin crops and leave the populous in fear of sustenance.
In this image, Our Lady is pictured as if on an adobe mud wall in a small farming village, offering protection and support of the areas farmers and farm workers. She protects one corn stalk, as she protects us - as she protected her son; offering us the promise of a fruitful harvest.
Her Feast day is May 15.
Today Maronites along with many other Eastern Catholics and Orthodox honor Mary as Our Lady of the Harvest which in its pre-Christian origins arose from the needs of the farmers to seek help from the deities for a fruitful harvest.
Ancient Christian texts began to attribute to Mary protection not only in material terms of the crops of the field but also her role in the incarnation of the Son of God, the source of life, who gives life to the world when we receive His Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Many non-Catholics and even Catholics today ask: Why all the fuss about Mary? Jesus is the one and only Mediator and Savior. We could go all the way back to the formative days and councils of the early Church. But it is sufficient for this reflection to go back about 550 years to the Protestant Reformation.
A Dutch theologian named Desiderius Erasmus was born 17 years before Martin Luther. Erasmus became a loyal son of the Church; at the same time maintaining friendship and dialogue with Luther, Zwingli, and other reformers exchanging several letters between 1524-1529.
Liberal Protestant movement began to emphasize Jesus as the teacher of morals and model for social action. They began to abandon teaching of Jesus as the Incarnate Word. Without the importance of Mary, the Incarnation becomes unimportant; and when the Incarnation became unimportant, the uniqueness of Christ was lost.
Without the focus on Mary, the Church loses focus on Jesus. Without a right focus on Mary and the Incarnation of her Divine Son, the Church loses its unique position of proclaiming God's salvation through the sacrifice of her Son on the Cross. It is as simple as that—without Mary as His Mother, the entire Christian message falls apart. When the Catholic Church gathers for worship, fellowship or Bible study, we do not do so in the name of a social reformer, but in the name of the Divine Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, whom He gave to us as His Mother as He hung upon the Cross.
Erasmus continues to remain important today, for his warnings against removing the Virgin Mary from her prominence in the Church's devotional life. We all need to understand and to appreciate that Marian festivals of the Catholic and Orthodox churches are one way in which we celebrate the Christ event.
She is worthy of our homage because God chose her as the means of presenting us with His greatest gift possible, His Son. So why all the fuss? Because without it is the stake of losing His uniqueness, His Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection; so that He becomes nothing more than a social reformer, and Christianity becomes just another faith among the many; but in focusing on Mary, we remain faithful to her Son, the one and only Mediator and Savior.
—Excerpts from a Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls