Mother Mary is referred to as ‘Mary, Vessel of Honor’ because as Christians we are all vessels. We are all vessels, carrying the message and grace of Christ to those around us. Mary was the ultimate vessel, both physically and metaphorically, as she carried the literal body of Jesus within her and also carried his holy spirit to those she encountered. Mary did not suffer the typical martyrdom of a saint- she was not dishonored on the outside with her suffering. Instead, she was a Vessel of Honor as she interiorly was martyred while watching her son die. Watching Jesus die on the cross was the ultimate pain, the ultimate suffering. She felt every laceration and bruise of her Beloved Son, but held the pain within her. In her martyrdom she did not have to endure the humiliation of public stripping, ridicule or blows. This does not mean she did not suffer, but God did allow her to maintain her honor in her special position. Mother Mary serves as an example to us here, carrying internal pain as an offering to and for the Lord. Let us turn to Mary when we are suffering, asking her to show us how to be vessels of honor for the Lord.
These reflections on Mary’s role as the Vessel of Honor come from St. John Henry Newman.