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Pope Benedict’s profound discourse of the union of Our Lady’s mystical suffering with those who suffer now on the occasion of the 2008 World Day of the Sick demonstrates a sublime understanding and articulation of the Coredemption of the Mother of Jesus. The homliy on Mary Co-redemptrix by Cardinal Lozano-Barragan for the 2008 World Day of the Sick Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica likewise manifests the Church’s belief, respect, and reverence for the Co-redemptrix title and role in reference to Our Lady. -Ed

 

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen ‘The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick’: the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us.

The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her ‘Yes’ of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the ‘Yes’ which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one’s turn ‘fiat’ to the will of God, with all one’s existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

2. One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards. ‘The flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is bread descended from heaven’, observed St. Hilary of Poitiers. In the “Bergomensium Sacramentary” of the ninth century we read: ‘Her womb made flower a fruit, a bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin’. And St. Pier Damiani observed: ‘That body that the most blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches’. The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the mystic Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, ‘is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery’ (Encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielles.

The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that ‘the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed’? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, “Salvifici doloris,” n. 26).

3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to worship Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to him as Hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through his suffering, his death and his resurrection, and he wanted to remain with us as the ‘bread of life’ on our earthly pilgrimage. ‘The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World’: this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasises how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the face of its Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation “Sacramentum caritatis,” ‘Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become “bread that is broken” for others’ (n. 88). We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.

4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man’s aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world.

My beloved Predecessor also stated that ‘The more a person is threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today’s world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human suffering possesses in itself. And the more the Church feels the need to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of the world’ (ibidem). If, therefore, at Quebec the mystery of the Eucharist, the gift of God for the life of the world, is contemplated during the World Day of the Sick in an ideal spiritual parallelism, not only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed. Thus pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of his Resurrection.

5. While I extend my cordial greetings to all sick people and to all those who take care of them in various ways, I invite the diocesan and parish communities to celebrate the next World Day of the Sick by appreciating to the full the happy coinciding of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes with the International Eucharistic Congress. May it be an occasion to emphasise the importance of the Holy Mass, of the Adoration of the Eucharist and of the cult of the Eucharist, so that chapels in our health-care centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of infirmity.

May the next World Day of the Sick be, in addition, a propitious circumstance to invoke in a special way the maternal protection of Mary over those who are weighed down by illness; health-care workers; and workers in pastoral care in health! I think in particular of priests involved in this field, women and men religious, volunteers and all those who with active dedication are concerned to serve, in body and soul, the sick and those in need. I entrust all to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, the Immaculate Conception. May she help everyone in testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who in resurrecting defeated death and gave us the life that knows no end. With these feelings, from my heart I impart to everyone my special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 January 2008

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On September 23, 2011 our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI delivered a beautiful reflection on Our Lady of Sorrows at Marian vespers in Etzelsbach, Germany.  Especially noteworthy was his reference to Mary as the “channel of the rivers of grace,” which is in keeping with the proposed dogma of Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Grace and Advocate.  –Asst. Ed.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I would like to greet all of you most warmly, all who have come here to Etzelsbach for this time of prayer. Ever since my youth I have heard so much about Eichsfeld that I thought at some point I must see it for myself and pray together with you. I offer sincere thanks to Bishop Wanke, who pointed out to me this strip of land from the aircraft, and I thank your speakers and representatives who have brought me gifts symbolic of this region, thereby giving me at least an indication of the variety that is found here.

So I am very glad that my wish to visit Eichsfeld has been fulfilled, and that here in Etzelsbach I can now thank Mary in company with you. “Here in the beloved quiet vale”, as the pilgrims’ hymn says, “under the old lime trees”, Mary gives us security and new strength. During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found. The special friendship with Mary that grew from all this, is what we seek to cultivate further, not least through today’s celebration of Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When Christians of all times and places turn to Mary, they are acting on the spontaneous conviction that Jesus cannot refuse his mother what she asks; and they are relying on the unshakable trust that Mary is also our mother — a mother who has experienced the greatest of all sorrows, who feels all our griefs with us and ponders in a maternal way how to overcome them. How many people down the centuries have made pilgrimages to Mary, in order to find comfort and strength before the image of the Mother of Sorrows, as here at Etzelsbach!

Let us look upon her likeness: a woman of middle age, her eyelids heavy with much weeping, gazing pensively into the distance, as if meditating in her heart upon everything that had happened. On her knees rests the lifeless body of her son, she holds him gently and lovingly, like a precious gift. We see the marks of the crucifixion on his bare flesh. The left arm of the corpse is pointing straight down.

Perhaps this sculpture of the Pietà, like so many others, was originally placed above an altar. The crucified Jesus would then be pointing with his outstretched arm to what was taking place on the altar, where the holy sacrifice that he had accomplished becomes present in the Eucharist.

A particular feature of the holy image of Etzelsbach is the position of Our Lord’s body. In most representations of the Pietà, the dead Jesus is lying with his head facing left, so that the observer can see the wounded side of the Crucified Lord. Here in Etzelsbach, however, the wounded side is concealed, because the body is facing the other way. It seems to me that a deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation: in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and his mother are turned to one another; the hearts come close to each other. They exchange their love. We know that the heart is also the seat of the deepest affection and the most intimate compassion. In Mary’s heart there is room for the love that her divine Son wants to bestow upon the world.

Marian devotion focuses on contemplation of the relationship between the Mother and her divine Son. In their prayers and sufferings, in their thanksgiving and joy, the faithful have constantly discovered new dimensions and qualities which this mystery can help to disclose for us, for example when the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is seen as a symbol of her deep and unreserved loving unity with Christ. It is not self-realization, the desire for self-possession and self-formation, that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which easily turns into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather it is an attitude of self-giving, self-emptying, directed towards the heart of Mary and hence towards the heart of Christ and towards our neighbour: this is what enables us to find ourselves.

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28), as we have just heard in the reading from the Letter to the Romans. With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and he does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world.

Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us his mother Mary to be our mother. At the moment of his self-offering for mankind, he makes Mary as it were the channel of the rivers of grace that flow from the Cross. At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveler and protector on life’s journey. “By her motherly love she cares for her son’s sisters and brothers who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home,” as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (Lumen Gentium, 62). Yes indeed, in life we pass through high-points and low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and helps us to discover the power of his divine love, and to open ourselves to that love.

Our trust in the powerful intercession of the Mother of God and our gratitude for the help we have repeatedly experienced impel us, as it were, to think beyond the needs of the moment. What does Mary actually want to say to us, when she rescues us from some trial? She wants to help us grasp the breadth and depth of our Christian vocation. With a mother’s tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, who is so rich in mercy. “Understand,” she seems to say to us, “that God, who is the source of all that is good and who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields wholly and joyfully to his will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise.” Where God is, there is a future.

Indeed — when we allow God’s love to pervade and to shape the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. Then it is possible so to shape the present that it corresponds more and more to the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions.

Confident of this, we pray to Mary; confident of this, we put our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. Amen.

http://www.zenit.org/article-33509?l=english

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We are pleased to present this beautiful statement on the sufferings of Mary, given by our beloved pontiff who is following in the footsteps of his Marian predecessor, Servant of God Pope Benedict XVI. In this message for the World Day of the Sick, a number of quotes draw our attention regarding the theme of Mary’s coredemption. The pope states that Mary “did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her ‘yes’ of the Annunciation.” He also states that Mary, associated with the Paschal Sacrifice, “suffers with her divine Son” and also “suffers with those who are in affliction.” Finally, Pope Benedict offers a succinct synthesis of the theology of coredemption, pointing out the value of suffering for the afflicted Christians of the world: “Mysteriously united to Christ, the one who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world. … Thus, pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus.” Asst. Ed.

 

 

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On February 11, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen, “The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick”: the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering is offered to us.

The 150 years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to God’s will: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted in God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her “yes” of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the “yes” which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, Redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one’s turn “fiat” to the will of God, with all one’s existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

[…]

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We present the Sunday Angelus  delivered last week in Cyprus in which  Pope Benedict again acknowledges Our Lady’s integral cooperation in Jesus’ saving plan for mankind. – Asst. Ed.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
 
At the midday hour it is the Church’s tradition to turn in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, joyfully recalling her ready acceptance of the Lord’s invitation to become the mother of God. It was an invitation that filled her with trepidation, one which she could scarcely even comprehend. It was a sign that God had chosen her, his lowly handmaid, to cooperate with him in his saving work. How we rejoice at the generosity of her response! Through her “yes”, the hope of the ages became a reality, the One whom Israel had long awaited came into the world, into our history. Of him the angel promised that his kingdom would have no end (cf. Lk 1:33).
 
Some thirty years later, as Mary stood weeping at the foot of the cross, it must have been hard to keep that hope alive. The forces of darkness seemed to have gained the upper hand. And yet, deep down, she would have remembered the angel’s words. Even amid the desolation of Holy Saturday the certitude of hope carried her forward into the joy of Easter morning. And so we, her children, live in the same confident hope that the Word made flesh in Mary’s womb will never abandon us. He, the Son of God and Son of Mary, strengthens the communion that binds us together, so that we can bear witness to him and to the power of his healing and reconciling love. Let us now implore Mary our Mother to intercede for all of us, for the people of Cyprus, and for the Church throughout the Middle East with Christ, her Son, the Prince of Peace.

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Pope Benedict XVI, while in Fatima this week, made profound spiritual pleas on behalf of Our Lady in her role as Mediatrix and Advocate. He also taught the faithful, during the Blessing for the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, how consenting to God’s desire for mankind to offer its sufferings in cooperation with the plan of redemption , as she did, and to do this alongside her in union with her lifetime fiat given at the Annunciation, is accomplished by the consecration of mankind’s sufferings through her in union with Christ.

In light of these encouraging glimpses into Pope Benedict’s love for the Blessed Mother and her prominent place in his kerygma, several of our readers have alerted us of, and have revealed to us the reasons for their hopeful anticipation for a forth-with proclamation of the Dogma. This is a Papal pronouncement for which millions have petitioned and prayed for! Below please find an excerpt from the Pope’s words of  Blessing for the Sick  – Asst. Ed.

“Dear friends who are sick, welcome the call of Jesus who will shortly pass among you in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and entrust to him every setback and pain that you face, so that they become – according to his design – a means of redemption for the whole world. You will be redeemers with the Redeemer, just as you are sons in the Son. At the cross… stands the mother of Jesus, our mother.”

Click here for the complete text of Pope Benedict’s  Blessing of the Sick from Fatima, May 13, 2010

The following are some of the reflections we received from our readers.

 “You will be redeemers with the Redeemer,…”   In other words ‘coredeemers’, which would  make Our Lady ‘Co-Redemptrix’ in a super substantial sense unique to Her alone… This is an  astonishing statement…he did not specifically call Our Lady ‘Co-Redemptrix.’  Nevertheless, it seems that he came very close to doing so. …thank you for the sterling  (and courageous) work that you perform in making the Church understand why this glorious teaching should become part of her treasury of  (dogmatic) truth. – Cordially yours, Charles Bermudez

 …let us pray ever more fervently for Our Holy Father Benedict XVI’s protection, preservation, wisdom and ever more Divine Guidance, Divine Discernment and every gift of the Holy Spirit for him, until the predilected time for the Dogma arrives.  K.Bamberger, wife & mother, parishioner of St.Vincent dePaul Parish, Austin, Texas

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The Smile of Mary

Published on November 21, 2009 by in Papal Excerpts

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The following is the homily from the Holy Father’s Mass for the sick celebrated at Lourdes, France on September 15, 2008 – Asst. Ed.

Yesterday we celebrated the Cross of Christ, the instrument of our salvation, which reveals the mercy of our God in all its fullness. The Cross is truly the place where God’s compassion for our world is perfectly manifested. Today, as we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we contemplate Mary sharing her Son’s compassion for sinners. As Saint Bernard declares, the Mother of Christ entered into the Passion of her Son through her compassion (cf. Homily for Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption). At the foot of the Cross, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: her mother’s heart is pierced through (cf. Lk 2:35) by the torture inflicted on the innocent one born of her flesh. Just as Jesus cried (cf. Jn 11:35), so too Mary certainly cried over the tortured body of her Son. Her self-restraint, however, prevents us from plumbing the depths of her grief; the full extent of her suffering is merely suggested by the traditional symbol of the seven swords. As in the case of her Son Jesus, one might say that she too was led to perfection through this suffering (cf. Heb 2:10), so as to make her capable of receiving the new spiritual mission that her Son entrusts to her immediately before “giving up his spirit” (cf. Jn 19:30): that of becoming the mother of Christ in his members. In that hour, through the figure of the beloved disciple, Jesus presents each of his disciples to his Mother when he says to her: Behold your Son (cf. Jn 19:26-27).  Today Mary dwells in the joy and the glory of the Resurrection. The tears shed at the foot of the Cross have been transformed into a smile which nothing can wipe away, even as her maternal compassion towards us remains unchanged.

The intervention of the Virgin Mary in offering succor throughout history testifies to this, and does not cease to call forth, in the people of God, an unshakable confidence in her: the Memorare prayer expresses this sentiment very well. Mary loves each of her children, giving particular attention to those who, like her Son at the hour of his Passion, are prey to suffering; she loves them quite simply because they are her children, according to the will of Christ on the Cross. 

The psalmist, seeing from afar this maternal bond which unites the Mother of Christ with the people of faith, prophesies regarding the Virgin Mary that “the richest of the people … will seek your smile” (Ps 44:13). In this way, at the instigation of the inspired word of Scripture, Christians have always sought the smile of Our Lady, this smile which medieval artists were able to represent with such marvelous skill and to show to advantage. This smile of Mary is for all; but it is directed quite particularly to those who suffer, so that they can find comfort and solace therein. To seek Mary’s smile is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality, but rather the proper expression of the living and profoundly human relationship which binds us to her whom Christ gave us as our Mother.

To wish to contemplate this smile of the Virgin, does not mean letting oneself be led by an uncontrolled imagination. Scripture itself discloses it to us through the lips of Mary when she sings the Magnificat: “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47). When the Virgin Mary gives thanks to the Lord, she calls us to witness. Mary shares, as if by anticipation, with us, her future children, the joy that dwells in her heart, so that it can become ours. Every time we recite the Magnificat, we become witnesses of her smile. Here in Lourdes, in the course of the apparition of Wednesday 3 March 1858, Bernadette contemplated this smile of Mary in a most particular way. It was the first response that the Beautiful Lady gave to the young visionary who wanted to know who she was. Before introducing herself, some days later, as “the Immaculate Conception”, Mary first taught Bernadette to know her smile, this being the most appropriate point of entry into the revelation of her mystery. 

In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures, looking down on us, is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person. This smile, a true reflection of God’s tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope. Unfortunately we know only too well: the endurance of suffering can upset life’s most stable equilibrium, it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life. There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace. When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence: we seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but also the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith. Who could be more intimate to us than Christ and his holy Mother, the Immaculate One? More than any others, they are capable of understanding us and grasping how hard we have to fight against evil and suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews says of Christ that he “is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses; for in every respect he has been tempted as we are” (cf. Heb 4:15). I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness, in support of life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God. 

How true was the insight of that great French spiritual writer, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, who in L’âme de tout apostolat, proposed to the devout Christian to gaze frequently “into the eyes of the Virgin Mary”! Yes, to seek the smile of the Virgin Mary is not a pious infantilism, it is the aspiration, as Psalm 44 says, of those who are “the richest of the people” (verse 13). “The richest”, that is to say, in the order of faith, those who have attained the highest degree of spiritual maturity and know precisely how to acknowledge their weakness and their poverty before God. In the very simple manifestation of tenderness that we call a smile, we grasp that our sole wealth is the love God bears us, which passes through the heart of her who became our Mother. To seek this smile, is first of all to have grasped the gratuitousness of love; it is also to be able to elicit this smile through our efforts to live according to the word of her Beloved Son, just as a child seeks to elicit its mother’s smile by doing what pleases her. And we know what pleases Mary, thanks to the words she spoke to the servants at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (cf. Jn 2:5). 

Mary’s smile is a spring of living water. “He who believes in me”, says Jesus, “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). Mary is the one who believed and, from her womb, rivers of living water have flowed forth to irrigate human history. The spring that Mary pointed out to Bernadette here in Lourdes is the humble sign of this spiritual reality. From her believing heart, from her maternal heart, flows living water which purifies and heals. By immersing themselves in the baths at Lourdes, how many people have discovered and experienced the gentle maternal love of the Virgin Mary, becoming attached to her in order to bind themselves more closely to the Lord! In the liturgical sequence of this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary is honored under the title of Fons amoris, “fount of love”. From Mary’s heart, there springs up a gratuitous love which calls forth a response of filial love, called to ever greater refinement. Like every mother, and better than every mother, Mary is the teacher of love. That is why so many sick people come here to Lourdes, to quench their thirst at the “spring of love” and to let themselves be led to the sole source of salvation, her son Jesus the Savior.

Christ imparts his salvation by means of the sacraments, and especially in the case of those suffering from sickness or disability, by means of the grace of the sacrament of the sick. For each individual, suffering is always something alien. It can never be tamed. That is why it is hard to bear, and harder still – as certain great witnesses of Christ’s holiness have done – to welcome it as a significant element in our vocation, or to accept, as Bernadette expressed it, to “suffer everything in silence in order to please Jesus”. To be able to say that, it is necessary to have travelled a long way already in union with Jesus. Here and now, though, it is possible to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, as manifested through the grace of the sacrament of the sick. Bernadette herself, in the course of a life that was often marked by sickness, received this sacrament four times. The grace of this sacrament consists in welcoming Christ the healer into ourselves. However, Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world. In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; he eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him. Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces. Man no longer bears his burden alone: as a suffering member of Christ, he is conformed to Christ in his self-offering to the Father, and he participates, in him, in the coming to birth of the new creation. 

Without the Lord’s help, the yoke of sickness and suffering weighs down on us cruelly. By receiving the sacrament of the sick, we seek to carry no other yoke that that of Christ, strengthened through his promise to us that his yoke will be easy to carry and his burden light (cf. Mt 11:30). I invite those who are to receive the sacrament of the sick during this Mass to enter into a hope of this kind. 

The Second Vatican Council presented Mary as the figure in whom the entire mystery of the Church is typified (cf. Lumen Gentium 63-65). Her personal journey outlines the profile of the Church, which is called to be just as attentive to those who suffer as she herself was. I extend an affectionate greeting to those working in the areas of public health and nursing, as well as those who, in different ways, in hospitals and other institutions, are contributing to the care of the sick with competence and generosity. Equally, I should like to say to all the hospitaliers, the brancardiers and the carers who come from every diocese in France and from further afield, and who throughout the year attend the sick who come on pilgrimage to Lourdes, how much their service is appreciated. They are the arms of the servant Church. Finally, I wish to encourage those who, in the name of their faith, receive and visit the sick, especially in hospital infirmaries, in parishes or, as here, at shrines. May you always sense in this important and delicate mission the effective and fraternal support of your communities! 

The service of charity that you offer is a Marian service. Mary entrusts her smile to you, so that you yourselves may become, in faithfulness to her son, springs of living water. Whatever you do, you do in the name of the Church, of which Mary is the purest image. May you carry her smile to everyone! 

To conclude, I wish to join in the prayer of the pilgrims and the sick, and to pray with you a passage from the prayer to Mary that has been proposed for this Jubilee celebration: 

“Because you are the smile of God, the reflection of the light of Christ, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, 

Because you chose Bernadette in her lowliness, because you are the morning star, the gate of heaven and the first creature to experience the resurrection,

Our Lady of Lourdes”, with our brothers and sisters whose hearts and bodies are in pain, we pray to you!

 

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Pope Benedict XVI gave the following homily in the square outside the Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii on Sunday, October 19, 2008. We present here his reflections on Pompeii, Our Lady and the Rosary, and her apostle Bl. Bartolo Longo. In addition, we have included a petition prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.
Asst. Ed
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Following in the footsteps of the Servant of God John Paul II, today I have come on pilgrimage to Pompeii to venerate the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, together with you. I have come in particular to entrust to the Mother of God, in whose womb the Word was made flesh, the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which is under way at the Vatican on the theme of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. My Visit also coincides with World Mission Sunday; contemplating in Mary she who accepted within her the Word of God and gave him to the world, we shall pray at this Mass for all those in the Church who spend their energy in the service of proclaiming the Gospel to all the nations. Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for your welcome! I embrace you all with fatherly affection, and I am grateful to you for the prayers you raise ceaselessly to Heaven for the Successor of Peter and for the needs of the universal Church.

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The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI gave the following address concerning suffering earlier this week on the Feast of St. Joseph while traveling in Africa.
Asst. Ed.

Dear Cardinals,
Minister of Social Affairs,
Health Minister,
Brother Bishops,
Bishop Joseph Djida,
Director of the Léger Centre,
Dear Carers and Patients,

I have been looking forward to spending this time with you, and I am happy to be able to greet you, dear brothers and sisters who bear the burden of sickness and suffering. You are not alone in your pain, for Christ himself is close to all who suffer. He reveals to the sick and infirm their place in the heart of God and in society. The Evangelist Mark gives us the example of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law: “Immediately they told him of her,” it is written, Jesus “came and took her by the hand and lifted her up” (Mk 1:30-31). In this Gospel passage, we see Jesus spending a day with the sick in order to bring them relief. He thereby shows us, through specific actions, his fraternal tenderness and benevolence towards all the broken-hearted, all whose bodies are wounded.

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Eucharistic Celebration for the Sick – Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI

Esplanade in front of the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Rosaire, Lourdes, Sept. 15, 2008

Dear Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood,
Dear Friends who are sick, dear carers and helpers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Yesterday we celebrated the Cross of Christ, the instrument of our salvation, which reveals the mercy of our God in all its fullness. The Cross is truly the place where God’s compassion for our world is perfectly manifested. Today, as we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we contemplate Mary sharing her Son’s compassion for sinners. As Saint Bernard declares, the Mother of Christ entered into the Passion of her Son through her compassion (cf. Homily for Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption). At the foot of the Cross, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: her mother’s heart is pierced through (cf. Lk 2:35) by the torment inflicted on the Innocent One born of her flesh. Just as Jesus cried (cf. Jn 11:35), so too Mary certainly cried over the tortured body of her Son. Her self-restraint, however, prevents us from plumbing the depths of her grief; the full extent of her suffering is merely suggested by the traditional symbol of the seven swords. As in the case of her Son Jesus, one might say that she too was led to perfection through this suffering (cf. Heb 2:10), so as to make her capable of receiving the new spiritual mission that her Son entrusts to her immediately before "giving up his spirit" (cf. Jn 19:30): that of becoming the mother of Christ in his members. In that hour, through the figure of the beloved disciple, Jesus presents each of his disciples to his Mother when he says to her: "Behold your son" (cf. Jn 19:26-27).

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Pope Benedict XVI has released the following prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan to mark China’s annual day of prayer, May 24, Memorial of Our Lady Help of Christians. We must be united in prayer with China, particularly on this feast, to support the Holy Father and the many Chinese who are authentically Catholic in this great spiritual battle.

Normally, thousands of Chinese make the pilgrimage to the shrine in Sheshan.  Unfortunately we have received news that this year an estimated 200,000 may be obstructed from making the pilgimage by Chinese government and Patriotic Church Association officials, reports Vatican insider Sandro Magister.

The prayer itself is extraordinarily crafted, providing a profound catechesis on the Blessed Mother’s role in the work of redemption. In it he states that the Blessed Mother "willingly and generously co-operated" in Christ’s work of redemption and has become "the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross." Here is the prayer in its beautiful entirety from the Vatican Information Service.
—Asst. Ed.

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

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Pope Benedict XVI gave the following catechesis on the Rosary at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on May 3, 2008.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the conclusion of this moment of Marian prayer, I would like to address my cordial greeting to all of you and thank you for your participation. In particular I greet Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest of this stupendous Basilica of St. Mary Major. In Rome this is the Marian temple par excellence, in which the people of the City venerate the icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani with great affection. I gladly welcomed the invitation addressed to me to lead the Holy Rosary on the First Saturday of the month of May, according to the beautiful tradition that I have had since my childhood. In fact, in my generation’s experience, the evenings of May evoke sweet memories linked to the vespertine gatherings to honor the Blessed Mother. Indeed, how is it possible to forget praying the Rosary in the parish or rather in the courtyards of the houses and in the country lanes?

Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the center, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the center of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can “water” society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the center of each “Hail Mary.”

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God who has allowed us to live such a beautiful hour this evening, and in the following evenings of this Marian month, even if we will be far away, each in their own family and community, may we, just the same, feel close and united in prayer. Especially in these days that prepare us for the Solemnity of Pentecost, let us remain united with Mary, invoking for the Church a renewed effusion of the Holy Spirit. As at the origins, Mary Most Holy helps the faithful of every Christian community to form one heart and soul. I entrust to you the most urgent intentions of my ministry, the needs of the Church, the grave problems of humanity: peace in the world, unity among Christians, dialogue between all cultures. And thinking of Rome and Italy, I invite you to pray for the pastoral goals of the Diocese, and for the united development of this beloved Country. To the new Mayor of Rome, Honorable Gianni Alemanno, who I see present here, I address the wish of a fruitful service for the good of the city’s entire community. To all of you gathered here and to those who are linked to us by radio and television, in particular the sick and the infirm, I gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing.

This translation may be found on the official Vatican Web site and was published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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Pope Benedict XVI gave the following general audience address on January 2 this year, regarding the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. In it, he highlights the offering of the Child Jesus for adoration, emphasizes Pope Paul VI’s solemn proclamation of Mary, Mother of the Church, and offers some valuable insight into the depths of just what it means that the Beloved Disciple “took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27). The pope takes the faithful from the Annunciation to Calvary to show her spiritual motherhood over John and all humanity.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A very ancient blessing formula recorded in the Book of Numbers says: “The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6: 24-26). I would like to use these words which the liturgy yesterday, the first day of the year, repeated for us once again, to express cordial greetings to you who are present here and to all those who sent me attestations of affectionate spiritual closeness for these feasts.

Yesterday, we celebrated the solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God. “Mother of God,” Theotókos, is the title that was officially attributed to Mary in the fifth century, to be exact, at the Council of Ephesus in 431, but which had already taken root in the devotion of the Christian people since the third century, in the context of the heated discussions on the Person of Christ in that period. This title highlights the fact that Christ is God and truly was born of Mary as a man: in this way his unity as true God and true man is preserved. Actually, however much the debate might seem to focus on Mary, it essentially concerned the Son. Desiring to safeguard the full humanity of Jesus, several Fathers suggested a weaker term: instead of the title Theotókos, they suggested Christotokos, “Mother of Christ”; however, this was rightly seen as a threat to the doctrine of the full unity of Christ’s divinity with his humanity. On the one hand, therefore, after lengthy discussion at the Council of Ephesus in 431, as I said, the unity of the two natures—the divine and the human (1)—in the Person of the Son of God was solemnly confirmed and, on the other, the legitimacy of the attribution of the title Theotókos, Mother of God, to the Virgin (2). […]

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Explanatory note to help promote the practice of continuous Eucharistic adoration (1) in dioceses (parishes, rectories, chapels, monasteries, convents, seminaries) for the benefit of priests and priestly vocations

In his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI concretised the perennial teaching of the Church on the centrality of Eucharistic adoration in ecclesial life by a direct appeal addressed to all pastors, bishops, priests, as well as the People of God, for perpetual Eucharistic adoration:

With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church’s pastors and to the People of God the practice of Eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community. Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully. Wherever possible, it would be appropriate, especially in densely populated areas, to set aside specific churches or oratories for perpetual adoration. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist (Sacramentum Caritatis, 67).

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On May 11, 2007, during a homily at the canonization Mass of Fr. Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão, O.F.M., in Brazil, Benedict XVI gave one of his strongest statements ever on Our Lady as Mediatrix of all graces, when he said: “There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady.” This should serve as an encouragement for those who continue to pray and work for the papal proclamation of Our Lady as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. – Ed.

“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips” (Ps 32:2).

Let us rejoice in the Lord, on this day when we contemplate another marvel of God, who in his admirable providence allows us to taste a trace of his presence in this act of self-giving Love that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.

Yes, we cannot fail to praise our God. Let all of us praise him, peoples of Brazil and America, let us sing to the Lord of his wonders, because he has done great things for us. Today, Divine Wisdom allows us to gather around his altar with praise and thanksgiving for the grace granted to us in the canonization of Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão. […]

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Queen of Peace

Published on August 18, 2006 by in Papal Excerpts

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The following two excerpts from the early twentieth century pontiff, Pope Benedict XV, a pope renowned for his great Marian love and his untiring efforts for peace and reconciliation, reveal his extraordinary love for Our Lady, his articulation of her role as Queen of Peace and Mediatrix of all graces, and the Pope’s belief in her intercessory power to bring peace during a troubled time for the world (World War I). Let us invoke this former pontiff for the pontificate of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to follow the pattern of his predecessor of name in calling upon Our Lady, Queen of Peace, for the spiritual and global peace so needed in our present day. – Ed.

Mediatrix of Peace

The scene of Jesus’ birth is complete through the presence of Mary. The faith of her believers and her children’s love consider her not only God’s Mother, but also the Mediatrix with God.

Mother of the Prince of peace, Mediatrix between rebellious man and the merciful God, she is the dawn of peace shining in the darkness of a world out of joint; she never ceases to implore her Son for peace although His hour is not yet come (John 2:4); she always intervenes on behalf of sorrowing humanity in the hour of danger; today she who is the mother of many orphans and our advocate in this tremendous catastrophe will most quickly hear our prayers. […]

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On March 25, 2006, at the Mass during which he conferred the cardinalatial ring on each of the 15 new cardinals, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, offered a truly magnificent homily on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of Christ and the Church. Referring to her as the “channel” through whom “the divine wellspring flows,” our Holy Father points to St. Bernard’s image of Our Lady as the “aqueduct,” aquaeductus, the conduit from which the divine wellspring reaches humanity. He mentions that “full of grace” is the “divine name” of Mary and also underscores the fact that the “Marian principle” of the Church is more fundamental than even the “Petrine principle.” We invite you to take the time to appreciate this extraordinary Marian homily by our Holy Father. – Ed.

For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new Cardinals after yesterday’s Consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and under the sunshine that the Lord gives us. In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there.

Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating:  Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.

And yet—today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery—the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary. […]

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With the celebration of First Vespers of the First Sunday in Advent we are beginning a new liturgical year. In singing the Psalms together, we have raised our hearts to God, placing ourselves in the spiritual attitude that marks this season of grace: “vigilance in prayer” and “exultation in praise” (cf. Roman Missal, Advent Preface, II/A).

Taking as our model Mary Most Holy, who teaches us to live by devoutly listening to the Word of God, let us reflect on the short Bible Reading just proclaimed.

It consists of two verses contained in the concluding part of the First Letter of St Paul to the Thessalonians (I Thes 5:23-24). The first expresses the Apostle’s greeting to the community: the second offers, as it were, the guarantee of its fulfillment.

The hope expressed is that each one may be made holy by God and preserved irreproachable in his entire person —”spirit, soul and body”—for the final coming of the Lord Jesus; the guarantee that this can happen is offered by the faithfulness of God himself, who will not fail to bring to completion the work he has begun in believers.

This First Letter to the Thessalonians is the first of all St Paul’s Letters, written probably in the year 51. In this first Letter we can feel, more than in the others, the Apostle’s pulsating heart, his paternal, indeed we can say maternal, love for this new community. And we also feel his anxious concern that the faith of this new Church not die, surrounded as she was by a cultural context in many regards in opposition to the faith.

The “Coming” of the Lord

Thus, Paul ends his Letter with a hope, or we might almost say with a prayer. The content of the prayer we have heard is that they (the Thessalonians) should be holy and irreproachable to the moment of the Lord’s coming. The central word of this prayer is “coming.” We should ask ourselves what does “coming of the Lord” mean? In Greek it is “parousia,” in Latin “adventus,” “advent,” “coming.” What is this “coming”? Does it involve us or not?

To understand the meaning of this word, hence, of the Apostle’s prayer for this community and for communities of all times—also for us—we must look at the person through whom the coming of the Lord was uniquely brought about: the Virgin Mary.

Mary belonged to that part of the People of Israel who in Jesus’ time were waiting with heartfelt expectation for the Savior’s coming. And from the words and acts recounted in the Gospel, we can see how she truly lived steeped in the Prophets’ words; she entirely expected the Lord’s coming.

She could not, however, have imagined how this coming would be brought about. Perhaps she expected a coming in glory. The moment when the Archangel Gabriel entered her house and told her that the Lord, the Savior, wanted to take flesh in her, wanted to bring about his coming through her, must have been all the more surprising to her.

We can imagine the Virgin’s apprehension. Mary, with a tremendous act of faith and obedience, said “yes”: “I am the servant of the Lord.” And so it was that she became the “dwelling place” of the Lord, a true “temple” in the world and a “door” through which the Lord entered upon the earth.

We have said that this coming was unique: “the” coming of the Lord. Yet there is not only the final coming at the end of time: in a certain sense the Lord always wants to come through us. And he knocks at the door of our hearts: are you willing to give me your flesh, your time, your life?

This is the voice of the Lord who also wants to enter our epoch, he wants to enter human life through us. He also seeks a living dwelling place in our personal lives. This is the coming of the Lord. Let us once again learn this in the season of Advent: the Lord can also come among us.

God Continues His Saving Work

Therefore we can say that this prayer, this hope, expressed by the Apostle, contains a fundamental truth that he seeks to inculcate in the faithful of the community he founded and that we can sum up as follows: God calls us to communion with him, which will be completely fulfilled in the return of Christ, and he himself strives to ensure that we will arrive prepared for this final and decisive encounter. The future is, so to speak, contained in the present, or better, in the presence of God himself, who in his unfailing love does not leave us on our own or abandon us even for an instant, just as a father and mother never stop caring for their children while they are growing up.

Before Christ who comes, men and women are defined in the whole of their being, which the Apostle sums up in the words “spirit, soul and body,” thereby indicating the whole of the human person as a unit with somatic, psychic and spiritual dimensions. Sanctification is God’s gift and his project, but human beings are called to respond with their entire being without excluding any part of themselves.

It is the Holy Spirit himself who formed in the Virgin’s womb Jesus, the perfect Man, who brings God’s marvelous plan to completion in the human person, first of all by transforming the heart and from this center, all the rest.

Thus, the entire work of creation and redemption which God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, continues to bring about, from the beginning to the end of the cosmos and of history, is summed up in every individual person. And since the first coming of Christ is at the center of the history of humanity and at its end, his glorious return, so every personal existence is called to be measured against him—in a mysterious and multiform way—during the earthly pilgrimage, in order to be found “in him” at the moment of his return.

May Mary Most Holy, the faithful Virgin, guide us to make this time of Advent and of the whole new liturgical year a path of genuine sanctification, to the praise and glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Benedict XVI, talk given at First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, November 30, 2005.

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As with the doctrine of Our Lady as Mediatrix of grace and peace, Pope Benedict XV also gave unprecedented papal articulation to Our Lady’s role in coredemption with his famous statement that “she redeemed the human race together with Christ.”   We here quote that  brief excerpt of Benedict XV from his Apostolic Letter, Inter Sodalicia:

“To such extent did (Mary) suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated Him—insofar as she could—in order to appease the justice of God, that we may rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ.”

Apostolic Letter Inter Sodalicia, 1918, A.A.S. 10, 1918, p. 182.

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Mediatrix of Peace

Published on April 23, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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The following two excerpts from the early twentieth century pontiff, Pope Benedict XV, a pope renowned for his great Marian love and his untiring efforts for peace and reconciliation, reveal his extraordinary love for Our Lady, his articulation of her role as Mediatrix of all graces and Queen of Peace, and the Pope’s belief in her intercessory power to bring peace during a troubled time for the world (World War I). Let us invoke this former pontiff for the new pontificate of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to follow the pattern of his predecessor of name in calling upon Our Lady, Mediatrix of all graces for the spiritual and global peace so needed in our present day. – Ed.

Mediatrix of Peace

The scene of Jesus’ birth is complete through the presence of Mary. The faith of her believers and her children’s love consider her not only God’s Mother, but also the Mediatrix with God.

Mother of the Prince of peace, Mediatrix between rebellious man and the merciful God, she is the dawn of peace shining in the darkness of a world out of joint; she never ceases to implore her Son for peace although His hour is not yet come (John 2:4); she always intervenes on behalf of sorrowing humanity in the hour of danger; today she who is the mother of many orphans and our advocate in this tremendous catastrophe will most quickly hear our prayers. […]

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