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‘Mary, Explained’ series addresses Marian devotion in Arlington Diocese and beyond

June 11, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
When Pope Pius IX declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary on December 8, 1854, he had a golden crown added to the mosaic of Mary, Virgin Immaculate, in the Chapel of the Choir in St. Peter’s Basilica. / Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).

St. John Paul II said of Mary: “This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith.” And yet, many of us may not have a personal relationship with her. Perhaps we may not even understand why the Church reveres her so deeply.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is sparing no effort in addressing that through its new, seven-part video series “Mary, Explained.”

In preparation for its upcoming golden jubilee in 2024, the diocese has launched a three-year effort to prepare for the celebration. 

Year One, which began in November 2021, focused on the theme of the Eucharist. Out of that theme the diocese produced a series called “The Mass, Explained,” which received much positive feedback. 

This year, the second year of preparation, the theme for the diocese is “rejoice,” and the focus is Mary’s perfect example of joy.

Kerry Nevins, multimedia producer for the Arlington Diocese, told CNA: “‘Rejoice’ is centered around Mary’s response to the Annunciation when she is told that she’s going to be the mother of God.” He explained that this was their call from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who leads the diocese.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the "Mary, Explained" series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the “Mary, Explained” series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington

As Burbidge, Nevins, and their Arlington Diocese team continued to explore the theme, they decided to create a video series about Mary.

The seven-part series will unpack the Marian dogmas month by month by way of addressing the following topics: Who is Mary? (May); Was she the mother of God? (June); Was she immaculately conceived? (July); Was she assumed into heaven? (August); Was she ever-virgin? (September); Why do Catholics pray and have devotions to Mary? (October); and How can we embrace Mary as our model disciple? (November).

Nevins explained that the mission of the series is to “dive into who she is, what Catholics believe about her, what Catholics don’t believe about her, and why we should even be looking to her in the first place.”

“We don’t just want to know our faith for the sake of knowing our faith so we can get a couple of answers right on Catholic ‘Jeopardy,’” Nevins told CNA. “We want people to know their faith so that they can know Christ and come to be in a relationship with him, and I think the best way that you can get to know somebody is by meeting their mom.” 

Dr. Matthew Tsakanikas, associate professor of theology at Christendom College who is featured in the series, expressed how this project gracefully addresses a wide audience, hearing perspectives from priests, religious, and laypeople alike. Tsakanikas told CNA: “I think it’s written so that anyone accessing it has a chance to get insights at every level.”

Tsakanikas noted how “Mary, Explained” takes what might seem like lofty ideas and brings them down to us. “These dogmas aren’t supposed to be … just looking at Mary on a pedestal but also looking at Mary in terms of how these graces were assigning her a task and mission,” he said.

Through a deeper understanding of the Marian dogmas, viewers can understand how she, too, was commissioned to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth and hopefully encourage them to do the same. 

At a glance, it’s evident that the production quality was carefully considered.  

“A lot of planning went into it,” Nevins said. “We really believe that … quality is credibility.”  

With endless options to click through, Nevins acknowledged that the content had to be aesthetically appealing if they wanted people to consume it. “We really want to make Catholic media beautiful because we’ve got the greatest story to tell, but if the story doesn’t look good, people aren’t going to watch it,” he said. 

Beyond the production quality, the mission of the series is to stoke a fire of love for the Church and deepen devotion to Our Lady.

Father Daniel Hanley, formator at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, told CNA: “Letting people know and enter into relationship with Mary as spiritual mother is hugely important. She’s a real person, she’s involved in our life, and we should recognize it and let her be.”

The bishop’s leadership and inspiration is credited with the initial vision for the series, but the diocese was well suited for the project, according to Hanley. “There’s a lot of Marian devotion in our diocese,” he added.

Those involved in the production of “Mary, Explained” are hopeful that the series will bear the fruit of Marian devotion in their diocese and beyond. 

“It’s part of God’s plan for salvation that people know her and let her be part of their life,” Hanley said. “I noticed that they’ll lean in when you preach about Mary. There’s a desire to know more about her.”

A link to the series can be found at


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At All Souls’ Day Mass, Arlington bishop implores prayers for the faithful departed

November 2, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
In commemoration of All Souls’ Day, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated Mass at a Fairfax cemetery and blessed the gravesites of the priests buried there on Nov. 2, 2022. / Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 2, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Speaking at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, northern Virginia, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge said in his All Souls’ Day homily that it is a “sacred duty” to pray for all the faithful departed.

The 11 a.m. Mass, attended by about 750 people, was followed by a blessing of the gravesites of deceased priests. It was the sixth such Mass that Burbidge has presided over as bishop of Arlington.

“[A]s we continue this earthly journey, we are reminded today of the great privilege that is ours: the sacred duty we have to pray for our loved ones who have died and all the faithful departed, and each day to honor them — to honor them by putting into practice all that they have taught us,” Burbidge said in his homily.

It is a tradition in the Arlington Diocese that many of those in attendance have lost a loved one in the past year, diocesan spokeswoman Mary Shaffrey explained.

More than 750 people attended the Nov. 2, 2022, All Souls' Day Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington
More than 750 people attended the Nov. 2, 2022, All Souls’ Day Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington

Burbidge said in the homily that taking a leave from home for a long time deepens the desire to return home.

“Our spiritual lives are no different,” he added.

“Right now, we are merely on a journey, a pilgrimage, and everything we do here on earth should be preparing us for our return home to the dwelling place, the eternal place that God has prepared for us from the beginning of time,” Burbidge said.

Burbidge reflected upon the mystery of eternal life. He said that Jesus tells us about eternal life. “There he says, ‘You will know rest and peace and life without end,’” he said.

“The Book of Wisdom says that the souls of the just will be in the hands of God and no torment will touch them. They will know grace and mercy,” he noted.

“St. Paul says that those who are reconciled with God, who die with him, will come to live with him,” he said. “And our Lord himself says, ‘All those who believe in me will be raised up on the last day.’”

Burbidge said that “on the day that the Lord calls us home to himself, we will be greeted by the loving embrace of God, his angels and saints, our beloved parents and spouses, and children and family members and friends who have died.”

“No wonder in a spiritual sense we long to return home,” he added.

Burbidge then implored all to strive for holiness and love of God through compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. He added that by attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, those present are united with the faithful departed in “the most profound way possible.”

“We are united with them today in the most profound way possible as we gather around this altar, to celebrate the heavenly banquet and to celebrate the truth that by his cross and resurrection, Jesus has transformed darkness into light, suffering to glory, and even death to life,” he said.

Burbidge concluded his homily with the communal recitation of the ages-old eternal rest prayer.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen,” he concluded.