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In just the second Angelus of his pontificate, Pope Francis again shows his deep Marian devotion by invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany us during Holy Week, she who is the “Virgin of Sorrows.” How refreshing it is to have such an early papal testimony to Our Lady’s coredemptive role with Jesus! – Editor.

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this celebration, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary that she might accompany us during Holy Week. May she who followed her Son to Calvary help us to follow him, carrying his cross with serenity and love, to reach the joy of Easter. May the Virgin of Sorrows especially comfort those who are facing the most difficult situations. A thought goes out to those who suffer from tuberculosis since today is the World Tuberculosis Day. To Mary I entrust you in particular, dear young people, and your journey toward Rio de Janeiro.

See you in Rio in July! Prepare your heart spiritually.

Buon cammino a tutti!
Bonne route à tous !
I wish you all much joy on your journey.
Alles Gute für euren Weg auf Ostern hin und nach Rio!
¡Buen camino para todos!
Um bom caminho a todos!
Dóbrey drógui!

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Pope Francis’ First Homily

Published on March 16, 2013 by in Papal Excerpts

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In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.

Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!

Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups – there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.

This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.

My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.

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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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Ineffabilis Deus

Published on December 2, 2011 by in Papal Excerpts

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Here we present the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, given to the Church on December 8th, 1854, which solemnly defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

God ineffable—whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom “reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly”—having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

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We are already on the threshold of the month of October, which, with the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, inspires us to rediscover this traditional prayer, so simple yet so profound.

The Rosary is a way of contemplating the face of Christ, seeing him—we may say—with the eyes of Mary. For this reason, it is a prayer that drawing upon the core of the Gospel is in full accord with the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council and very much in keeping with the direction I gave in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte: the Church has to launch out “into the deep” in the new millennium beginning with the contemplation of the face of Christ.

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The Rosary is… and always has been, a prayer of and for the family. At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary.

In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I encouraged the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours by the lay faithful in the ordinary life of parish communities and Christian groups; (1) I now wish to do the same for the Rosary. These two paths of Christian contemplation are not mutually exclusive; they complement one another. I would therefore ask those who devote themselves to the pastoral care of families to recommend heartily the recitation of the Rosary.

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In light of the unfortunate satanic activities which typically take place on October 31, we publish the following exorcism prayer issued by Pope Leo XIII, which can be used by both clergy and laity* for the repelling of evil spirits and for spiritual protection. – Ed. * The crosses indicate a blessing to be given if a priest recites the Exorcism; if a lay person recites it, they indicate the Sign of the Cross to be made silently by that person.


 

Published by Order of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII

The Holy Father exhorts priests to say this prayer as often as possible, as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm. The faithful also may say it in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities. It could be used as a solemn exorcism (an official and public ceremony, in Latin), to expel the devil. It would then be said by a priest, in the name of the Church and only with the Bishop’s permission.

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The Queenship of Mary

Published on August 22, 2011 by in Papal Excerpts

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Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam of Pope Pius XII

1. From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

2. Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.

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1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him (1).
 
2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.
 
3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has “when the fullness of time came” (2) put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.
 
4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.
 
5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.
 
6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church’s supreme teaching authority.
 
7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.
 
8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.
 
9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.
 
10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated (3).
 
11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” a letter in which these words are contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?”
 
12. But those whom “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God” (4) gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This “outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful” (5), affirming that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church’s ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly (6). Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth (7), and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith” (8). Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church’s ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven—which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned—is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, “all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed” (9).
 
13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.
 
14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.
 
15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.
 
16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ’s faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, “because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine” (10).
 
17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself” (11).
 
18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary’s as “an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin’s Assumption is something unique among men.” And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God’s Providence. “God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb” (12).
 
19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith (13), has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (14). Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful (15). Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which “the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes” (16).
 
20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ—truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.
 
21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God” (17).
 
22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. “You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life” (18). And another very ancient writer asserts: “As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him” (19).
 
23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.
 
24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.
 
25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.
 
26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers (20), have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified” (21); and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer (22). Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned (23). These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.
 
27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos (24). Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women” (25), since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.
 
28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt—for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption—because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care” (26).
 
29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet’s words: “I will glorify the place of my feet” (27), he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that “you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord’s feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified.”‘ And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification “has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling” (28).
 
30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true” (29). And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”—words used by the angel who addressed her—the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve (30).
 
31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul (31).
 
32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes (32). Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: “Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?” (33) and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: “From this we can see that she is there bodily…her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude (34).
 
33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul—a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King—makes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is” (35). Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience (36).
 
34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms” (37).
 
35. In like manner St. Francis de Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: “What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?” (38). And St. Alphonsus writes that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust” (39).
 
36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle (40) and is called by the Apostle “the pillar and ground of truth” (41). Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady’s Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word “assumption” signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary’s Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: “This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic” (42).
 
37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that “keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence” (43). Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.
 
38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.
 
39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium (44), would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles (45). Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: “When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory” (46).
 
40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination (47), immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages (48).
 
41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith—this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians—we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.
 
42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.
 
43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.
 
44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
 
45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.
 
46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.
 
47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
 
48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

Notes
 
(1) Rom 8:28.
(2) Gal 4:4.
(3) Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in Caelum Definienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).
(4) Acts 20:28.
(5) The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.
(6) The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.
(7) Jn 14:26.
(8) Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.
(9) Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.
(10) The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).
(11) Sacramentarium Gregorianum.
(12) Menaei Totius Anni.
(13) Lk 22:32.
(14) Liber Pontificalis.
(15) Ibid.
(16) Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.
(17) St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.
(18) St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.
(19) The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.
(20) Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St. Modestus.
(21) Ps 131:8.
(22) Ps 44:10-14ff.
(23) Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.
(24) Rv 12:1ff.
(25) Lk 1:28.
(26) Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.
(27) Is 61:13.
(28) St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. Mariae Virginis Sermo.
(29) St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.
(30) St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. also Mariale, q. 132.
(31) St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I, lla; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2.
(32) St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.
(33) Song 8:5.
(34) St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.
(35) St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.
(36) Ibid.
(37) St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.
(38) Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.
(39) St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.
(40) Eph 5:27.
(41) 1 Tim 3:15.
(42) St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.
(43) Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.
(44) Gen 3:15.
(45) Rom 5-6; 1 Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.
(46) 1 Cor 15:54.
(47) The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.
(48) 1 Tim 1:17.

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Message of Blessed John Paul II to the Carmelite Family on the 750th Anniversary of the Bestowal of the Scapular

To the Most Reverend Fathers
Joseph Chalmers
Prior General of the Order of Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.Carm.)

and

Camilo Maccise
Superior General of the Order of Discalced Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.C.D.)

1. The providential event of grace, which the Jubilee Year has been for the Church, prompts her to look with trust and hope to the journey we have just begun in the new millennium. “At the beginning of this new century”, I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, “our steps must quicken…. On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom … I entrusted the third millennium” (n. 58).

I therefore learned with deep joy that the two branches of the Order of Carmel, the ancient and the reformed, intend to express their filial love for their Patroness by dedicating the year 2001 to her, invoked as the Flower of Carmel, Mother and Guide on the way of holiness. In this regard, I cannot fail to stress a happy coincidence: the celebration of this Marian year for the whole of Carmel is taking place, according to a venerable tradition of the Order itself, on the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular. This celebration is therefore a marvellous occasion for the entire Carmelite Family to deepen not only its Marian spirituality, but to live it more and more in the light of the place which the Virgin Mother of God and of mankind holds in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and therefore to follow her who is the “Star of Evangelization” (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, n. 58).

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After Jesus had been laid in the tomb, Mary “alone remains to keep alive the flame of faith, preparing to receive the joyful and astonishing announcement of the Resurrection.” (1) The expectation felt on Holy Saturday is one of the loftiest moments of faith for the Mother of the Lord: in the darkness that envelops the world, she entrusts herself fully to the God of life, and thinking back to the words of her Son, she hopes in the fulfillment of the divine promises.

The Gospels mention various appearances of the risen Christ, but not a meeting between Jesus and his Mother. This silence must not lead to the conclusion that after the Resurrection Christ did not appear to Mary; rather it invites us to seek the reasons why the Evangelists made such a choice.

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FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is an excerpt from the Vatican translation of the Act of Entrustment and Consecration of Priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, prayed today by Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the celebration of vespers with the religious, seminarians and diocesan priests at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima. The encounter was dedicated to the priesthood in this Year for Priests.

 

“May the Church Be Thus Renewed by Priests Who Are Holy” 

Immaculate Mother,
in this place of grace,
called together by the love of your Son Jesus
the Eternal High Priest, we,
sons in the Son and his priests,
consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart,
in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will…

…Mother of the Church,
we priests want to be pastors
who do not feed themselves
but rather give themselves to God for their brethren,
finding their happiness in this.
Not only with words, but with our lives,
we want to repeat humbly,
day after day,
Our “here I am”.

Guided by you,
we want to be Apostles
of Divine Mercy,
glad to celebrate every day
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar
and to offer to those who request it
the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocate and Mediatrix of grace,
you who are fully immersed
in the one universal mediation of Christ,
invoke upon us, from God,
a heart completely renewed
that loves God with all its strength
and serves mankind as you did….

Click here for the complete Vatican translation.

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In this extraordinary homily given at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Pope John Paul II not only uses the Marian title, “Co-redemptrix,” but also provides a larger theological context which makes unquestionably clear the doctrinal legitimacy of both the title and coredemptive role of the Woman who was, in the words of the Holy Father, “crucified spiritually with her crucified Son.” -Ed.

Most Reverend Archbishop, Brother Bishops, Authorities, Beloved Brothers and Sisters:

1…You have chosen for this sanctuary the significant title of Our Lady of Alborada, which with symbolic beauty speaks to us of the first light that announces the day. Mary is, in fact, the light that announces the nearness of the Sun about to rise, who is Christ. Where Mary is, Jesus will soon appear. With her luminous and resplendent presence, the Most Holy Virgin shines brightly with the light that awakens faith, prepares hope, and enkindles charity. For her part, she is only and nothing more than a reflection of Christ, “the rising Sun, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice” (Liturgy of the Hours, Magnificat Antiphon, 21 December): like the dawn which, without the sun, would not be what it is.

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At Nazareth Our very first thoughts must be turned toward Mary Most Holy, to offer her the tribute of Our devotion and to nourish that devotion with reflections that will make it genuine, profound and unique, in conformity with the plan of God. It is Mary who is full of grace, who is the Immaculate, the ever-virgin, the Mother of Christ and hence God’s Mother and ours, she who was assumed into heaven, our most blessed Queen, the model for the Church and our hope.

Before all else We offer Our humble filial promise to venerate her with that special devotion which recognizes the wonders God has accomplished in her; with singular homage manifesting the most holy, pure, affectionate, personal and confident movements of Our heart; with such devotion as causes her encouraging example of human perfection to shine upon the world from on high.

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To Our Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries having Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Greeting and Apostolic Benediction.

1. At the coming of the month of October, dedicated and consecrated as it is to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, we recall with satisfaction the instant exhortations which in preceding years We addressed to you, venerable brethren, desiring, as We did, that the faithful, urged by your authority and by your zeal, should redouble their piety towards the august Mother of God, the mighty helper of Christians, and should pray to her throughout the month, invoking her by that most holy rite of the Rosary which the Church, especially in the passage of difficult times, has ever used for the accomplishment of all desires.

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On June 4, 1979 at the Marian Shrine of Jasna Gora (Czestochowa) John Paul II presided at a concelebrated Mass in the vast open space before the Pauline Monastery, at which an innumerable crowd of people assisted. After the Gospel the Holy Father delivered the following homily.

1.   “Holy   Virgin   guarding   bright   Czestochowa….”

To my mind come back these words of the poet Mickiewicz, who in an invocation to the Virgin at the beginning of his “Pan Tadeusz” expressed what then beat and still beats in the hearts of all Poles, by making use of the language of faith and that of our national tradition. It is a tradition that goes back some 600 years to the time of the blessed Queen Hedwig at the dawn of the Jagellonian dynasty. The image of Jasna Gora expresses a tradition and a language of faith still more ancient than our history and also reflecting the whole of the content of the Bogurodzica, on which we meditated yesterday at Gniezno, recalling the mission of St. Wojciech (Adalbert) and going back to the first moments of the proclamation of the Gospel in the land of Poland.

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Introduction

1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simplae yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn.” (1)

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. (2) It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

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Munificentissimus Deus

Published on August 14, 2010 by in Papal Excerpts

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1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.(1)

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has “when the fullness of time came”(2) put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.

5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church’s supreme teaching authority.

7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.

9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.

10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated.(3)

11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” a letter in which these words are contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?”

12. But those whom “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God”(4) gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This “outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,”(5) affirming that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church’s ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.(6) Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,(7) and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith.”(8) Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church’s ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, “all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.”(9)

13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.

14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.

15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption into heaven.

16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ’s faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, “because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine.”(10)

17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”(11)

18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary’s as “an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin’s Assumption is something unique among men.” And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God’s Providence. “God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb.”(12)

19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,(13) has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.(14) Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.(15) Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which “the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.”(16)

20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”(17)

22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. “You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”(18) And another very ancient writer asserts: “As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”(19)

23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.

24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers,(20) have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”(21); and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.(22) Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles “that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense” to be crowned.(23) These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.

27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.(24) Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,”(25) since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.

28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary’s flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. “For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care.”(26)

29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet’s words: “I will glorify the place of my feet,”(27) he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that “you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord’s feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified.”‘ And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification “has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling.”(28)

30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true.”(29) And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.(30)

31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul.(31)

32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.(32) Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: “Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?”(33) and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: “From this we can see that she is there bodily…her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude.(34)

33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul – a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King – makes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is.”(35) Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.(36)

34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”(37)

35. In like manner St. Francis de Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: “What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?”(38) And St. Alphonsus writes that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust.”(39)

36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle(40) and is called by the Apostle “the pillar and ground of truth.”(41) Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady’s Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word “assumption” signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary’s Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: “This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”(42)

37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that “keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence.”(43) Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.

38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.

39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium,(44) would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.(45) Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: “When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.”(46)

40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.(48)

41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith–this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians – we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.

42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.

43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God’s providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God’s Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

PIUS XII

ENDNOTES

1. Rom 8:28.

2. Gal 4:4.

3. Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in Caelum Definienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).

4. Acts 20:28.

5. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.

6. The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.

7. Jn 14:26.

8. Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.

9. Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.

10. The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).

11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.

12. Menaei Totius Anni.

13. Lk 22:32.

14. Liber Pontificalis.

15. Ibid.

16. Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.

17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.

18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.

19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.

20. Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St. Modestus.

21. Ps 131:8.

22. Ps 44:10-14ff.

23. Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.

24. Rv 12:1ff.

25. Lk 1:28.

26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.

27. Is 61:13.

28. St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. Mariae Virginis Sermo.

29. St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.

30. St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. also Mariale, q. 132.

31. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I, lla; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2.

32. St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.

33. Song 8:5.

34. St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.

35. St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.

36. Ibid.

37. St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.

38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.

39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.

40. Eph 5:27.

41. I Tim 3:15.

42. St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.

43. Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.

44. Gen 3:15.

45. Rom 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.

46. I Cor 15:54.

47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.

48. I Tim 1:17.

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The following article by Dr. Miravalle was recently published by the Zenit News Organization in light of the recent prayers of Pope Benedict XVI during his visits to Fatima and Cyprus. – Asst. Ed.

Reflection for Feast of the Immaculate Heart

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, JUNE 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- “Immaculate Mother, in this place of grace, called together by the love of your Son Jesus the Eternal High Priest, we, sons in the Son and his priests, consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart, in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will” (Benedict XVI, Fatima, May 12, 2012).

What is the “heart” of Mary? St. John Eudes, master of the devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, explains that the heart designates the entirely of the person: his will, his intellect, his soul, his passions, and even incorporates his body in so far as it includes reference to the physical organ. Scripturally, “heart” signifies person, much more than “head” signifies person.

Consider, in pondering the mystery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the perspective of three Persons.

[…]

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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 following is an excerpt taken from the:

 Encyclical Letter of John Paul II

on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church

Mother of the Redeemer – Redemptoris Mater

 promulgated on 25 March 1987

21. From this point of view, particularly eloquent is the passage in the Gospel of John which presents Mary at the wedding feast of Cana. She appears there as the Mother of Jesus at the beginning of his public life: “There was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples” (Jn. 2:1-2). From the text it appears that Jesus and his disciples were invited together with Mary, as if by reason of her presence at the celebration: the Son seems to have been invited because of his mother. We are familiar with the sequence of events which resulted from that invitation, that “beginning of the signs” wrought by Jesus–the water changed into wine–which prompts the Evangelist to say that Jesus “manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn. 2:11).
Mary is present at Cana in Galilee as the Mother of Jesus, and in a significant way she contributes to that “beginning of the signs” which reveal the messianic power of her Son.

[…]

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“Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife” (cf. Mt 1 :24).

Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing (1), he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model.

On the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries (2), and in line with the veneration given to St. Joseph over the centuries, I wish to offer for your consideration, dear brothers, and sisters, some reflections concerning him “into whose custody God entrusted his most precious treasures” (3). I gladly fulfill this pastoral duty so that all may grow in devotion to the Patron of the Universal Church and in love for the Savior whom he served in such an exemplary manner.

[…]

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John Paul the Great’s Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, “On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering,” ranks among the greatest spiritual documents from the papal magisterium ever written. It is second to none in capturing the redemptive value of human suffering, and constitutes a quintessential spiritual meditation for our Lenten season. – Ed.

1. Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (1).

These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (2). The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help—just as it helped him—to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

[…]

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Contemplation of the mystery of the Savior’s birth has led Christian people not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God. This truth was already confirmed and perceived as belonging to the Church’s heritage of faith from the early centuries of the Christian era, until it was solemnly proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

In the first Christian community, as the disciples became more aware that Jesus is the Son of God, it became ever clearer that Mary is the Theotokos, the Mother of God. This is a title which does not appear explicitly in the Gospel texts, but in them the “Mother of Jesus” is mentioned and it is affirmed that Jesus is God (Jn 20:28; cf. 5:18; 10:30, 33). Mary is in any case presented as the Mother of Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (cf. Mt 1:22-23).

Read more: Mary, “Mother of God”

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The following homily was delivered by Pope John Paul II at the Mass of Canonization for St. Juan Diego, given at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Mexico City, July 31, 2002.

“I thank you, Father…that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Mt 11:25-26).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, these words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are a special invitation to us to praise and thank God for the gift of the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent. With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of Mexico….

Read more: St. Juan Diego, “True and Faithful Man”

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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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Our Mother’s participation in the Redemption has been profoundly expressed by our Holy Father in his Wednesday Audience of April 2, 1997, in which he said the following about Our Lady’s participation in the historic redemptive act of Jesus Christ:

 

“Mary joins her suffering to Jesus’ priestly sacrifice. With our gaze illumined by the radiance of the Resurrection, we pause to reflect on the Mother’s involvement in her Son’s redeeming Passion, which was completed by her sharing in his suffering. Let us return again, but now in the perspective of the Resurrection, to the foot of the Cross, where the Mother endured ‘with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, associated herself with His sacrifice in her Mother’s heart, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her’ (Lumen Gentium, n.58).

With these words, the Council reminds us of ‘Mary’s compassion’; in her heart reverberates all that Jesus suffers in body and soul, emphasizing her willingness to share in her Son’s redeeming sacrifice and to join her own maternal suffering to his priestly offering.

The Council text also stresses that her consent to Jesus’ immolation is not passive acceptance but a genuine act of love, by which she offers her Son as a ‘victim’ of expiation for the sins of all humanity.

Lastly, Lumen Gentium relates the Blessed Virgin to Christ, who has the lead role in Redemption, making it clear that in associating herself ‘with his sacrifice’ she remains subordinate to her divine Son.

. . . Mary’s hope at the foot of the Cross contains a light stronger than the darkness that reigns in many hearts: in the presence of the redeeming Sacrifice, the hope of the Church and of humanity is born in Mary.” (3)

 

In his Wednesday Audience of April 9th, 1997, the Holy Father further elucidates:

 

“Mary’s co-operation is unique and unrepeatable. However, applied to Mary, the term ‘co-operator’ acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with the Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.” (4)

 

Not only is our Mother the Mediatrix of all grace, distributing the grace of Calvary, but the Pope tells us here that she also (and first of all) participates sacrificially in the event, she actively participates in the acquisition of the graces of the Redemption. In the obtaining of the graces of Calvary as the New Eve with the New Adam, she takes an intimate part in what has been called “objective redemption.” She is Mediatrix of all grace because she is first the Coredemptrix.

 

To reject the gift of Mary Coredemptrix is to reject the final gift of the crucified Lord to each human heart. Why do many have difficulty accepting this gift? We are living in a time of great confusion, and thus some think that to speak the whole truth about Mary is a violation of authentic Catholic ecumenism. I would say in the most explicit terms that in order to be fully ecumenical we must be fully Marian. It is only through the full truth about the Mother that we find the foundation for ultimate Christian unity.

 

During times of doubt we can hear the words of the Savior saying to us, and saying to our separated brothers and sisters from Calvary, “It is I who give you my Mother. It is I” (cf. Jn 19:26). The gift of Mary’s motherhood comes from the merciful heart of the Crucified, and it is given to every single human being. This is not a gift initiated by the Mother; it is initiated by our Savior himself.

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Part of an address delivered by the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to a group of Italian legionaries on 30th October 1982

1. My welcome is addressed to each and every one of you. It is reason for joy for me to see you in this hall in such great numbers from various regions of Italy, more so in that you are only a small part of that apostolic movement, that in the span of sixty years has rapidly spread in the world and today, two years from the death of its founder, Frank Duff, is present in so many dioceses in the universal Church.

My predecessors, beginning with Pius XI, have addressed words of appreciation to the Legion of Mary, and I myself on 10 May 1979, when receiving one of your first delegations, recalled with great pleasure the occasions I had previously had to come in contact with the Legion, in Paris, Belgium and Poland, and then, as Bishop of Rome, in the course of my pastoral visits to the parishes of the city.

Today, therefore, as I receive in audience the Italian pilgrimage of your movement, I would like to emphasise those aspects which constitute the substance of your spirituality and your modus essendi within the Church.

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The Mysteries of Light

Published on October 24, 2009 by in Papal Excerpts

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The following excerpt is from the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, where Pope John Paul II made history by providing the additional “Mysteries of Light” to the Rosary, Our Lady’s favored prayer. – Ed.

Of the many mysteries of Christ’s life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church’s approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.

I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).

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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
.

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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Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae 

 Prayer for peace and for the family

6. A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. At the start of a millennium which began with the terrifying attacks of 11 September 2001, a millennium which witnesses every day innumerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence, to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace,” since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Consequently, one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace, especially in the land of Jesus, still so sorely afflicted and so close to the heart of every Christian. 

A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.

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In Rosary Prayer With Mary

Published on October 10, 2009 by in Papal Excerpts

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Superiore Anno
Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII
on the Recitation of the Rosary

To All Our Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops,
and Bishops of the Catholic World in the Grace and Communion of the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

Last year, as each of you is aware, We decreed by an Encyclical Letter that, to win the help of Heaven for the Church in her trials, the great Mother of God should be honored by the means of the most holy Rosary during the whole of the month of October. In this We followed both Our own impulse and the example of Our predecessors, who in times of difficulty were wont to have recourse with increased fervour to the Blessed Virgin, and to seek her aid with special prayers. That wish of Ours has been complied with, with such a willingness and unanimity that it is more than ever apparent how real is the religion and how great is the fervour of the Christian peoples, and how great is the trust everywhere placed in the heavenly patronage of the Virgin Mary.

Read more: In Rosary Prayer With Mary

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Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam of Pope Pius XII

1. From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

2. Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.

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July is the month of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. In light of this, we offer this sublime apostolic letter from our beloved Pope John XXIII, Inde a Primis, on promoting devotion to the Precious Blood.
—Asst. Ed
.

On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Apostolic Letter of Pope John XXIII

To his venerable brother patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops and other local ordinaries in peace and communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.

From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that marvelous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.

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Venerable Brethren: Health and Apostolic Benediction.

1. “You shall draw waters with joy out of the Savior’s fountain” (1). These words by which the prophet Isaiah, using highly significant imagery, foretold the manifold and abundant gifts of God which the Christian era was to bring forth, come naturally to our mind when we reflect on the centenary of that year when our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, gladly yielding to the prayers from the whole Catholic world, ordered the celebration of the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Universal Church.

2. It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues. Therefore, recalling those wise words of the Apostle St. James, “Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights” (2), we are perfectly justified in seeing in this same devotion, which flourishes with increasing fervor throughout the world, a gift without price which our divine Savior the Incarnate Word, as the one Mediator of grace and truth between the heavenly Father and the human race imparted to the Church, His mystical Spouse, in recent centuries when she had to endure such trials and surmount so many difficulties.

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The following is the Prayer of Consecration with which Pope John Paul II consecrated the world, inclusive of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984, in fulfillment of the Fatima request. – Ed.

“We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God.”

As we utter the words of this antiphon with which the Church of Christ has prayed for centuries, we find ourselves today before you, Mother, in the Jubilee Year of the Redemption.

We find ourselves united with all the pastors of the Church in a particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college, just as by Christ’s wish the Apostles constituted a body and college with Peter.

In the bond of this union, we utter the words of the present Act, in which we wish to include, once more, the Church’s hopes and anxieties for the modern world.

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On May 13, 2000, John Paul II delivered the following homily in honor of Jacinta and Francisco, the two Fatima visionaries, on the occasion of their beatification in Fatima. – Ed.

“Father… to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children” (Mt 11:25).

With these words, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus praises the heavenly Father for his designs; he knows that no one can come to him unless he is drawn by the Father (cf. Jn 6:44); therefore he praises him for his plan and embraces it as a son: “Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Mt 11:26). You were pleased to reveal the kingdom to the merest children.

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The month of May is here, a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.

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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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John Paul the Great’s Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, “On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering,” ranks among the greatest spiritual documents from the papal magisterium ever written. It is second to none in capturing the redemptive value of human suffering, and constitutes a quintessential spiritual meditation for our Lenten season. – Ed.

1. Declaring the power of salvific suffering, the Apostle Paul says: “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (1).

These words seem to be found at the end of the long road that winds through the suffering which forms part of the history of man and which is illuminated by the Word of God. These words have as it were the value of a final discovery, which is accompanied by joy. For this reason Saint Paul writes: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (2). The joy comes from the discovery of the meaning of suffering, and this discovery, even if it is most personally shared in by Paul of Tarsus who wrote these words, is at the same time valid for others. The Apostle shares his own discovery and rejoices in it because of all those whom it can help—just as it helped him—to understand the salvific meaning of suffering.

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To Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

1. History, the light of truth, and the witness of the ages, if only it be rightly discerned and diligently examined, teaches us that the divine promise of Jesus Christ: "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20), has never failed the Church His Bride, and therefore that it will never fail her in time to come. Nay, further, the more turbulent the waves by which the divine bark of Peter is tossed, in the course of ages, the more present and powerful is her experience of the help of heavenly grace. This happened more especially in the first age of the Church, not only when the Christian name was regarded as an execrable crime, to be punished by death, but also when the genuine faith of Christ, confounded by the perfidy of the heretics who were spreading, chiefly in the eastern regions, was placed in grave jeopardy. For even as the persecutors of the Catholic name, one after another, perished miserably, and the Roman Empire itself came to ruin, so all the heretics, as withered branches (cf. Jn 15:6) torn from the divine vine, could neither drink the sap of life nor bring forth fruit.

2. The Church of God, on the contrary, in the midst of so many storms and the vicissitudes of things that perish, trusting in God alone, has ever gone on her way, with firm, secure steps, and has never ceased from her strenuous defense of the integrity of the sacred deposit of Gospel truth, entrusted to her by her Founder.

3. These things come to our mind, Venerable Brethren, when we are about to speak to you, in these letters, concerning that most auspicious event, namely, the Ecumenical Synod which was held at Ephesus, fifteen hundred years ago; for there, assuredly, the crafty perversity of those who erred was exposed, and there, too, was manifest the most firm faith of the Church upheld by heavenly aid.

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Pope John Paul II, on the first pilgrimage of his pontificate, gave the following homily in the basilica of Guadalupe on January 27, 1979.
—Asst. Ed
.

Hail Mary!

Dear Brothers in the episcopate and dear sons and daughters, how deep is my joy that the first steps of my pilgrimage, as Successor of Paul VI and John Paul I, bring me precisely here. They bring me to you, Mary, in this shrine of the people of Mexico and of the whole of Latin America, the shrine in which for so many centuries your motherhood has been manifested.

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The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, “through the envy of the devil,” separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.
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Signum Magnum

Published on October 18, 2008 by in Papal Excerpts

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Introduction

The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, "a woman clothed with the sun," (1) is interpreted by the sacred Liturgy, (2) not without foundation, as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

The memory, venerable brothers, is still vivid in our mind of the great emotion we felt in proclaiming the august Mother of God as the spiritual Mother of the Church, that is to say, of all the faithful and of the sacred pastors, as the crowning of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, after having solemnly promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. (3) Great also was the happiness of numerous Council Fathers, as well as of the faithful, who were present at the sacred rite in St. Peter’s basilica and of the entire Christian people scattered throughout the world.

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The first part of Saint John Paul II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae appeared in the previous Mother of All Peoples Bi-Monthly Issue.

CHAPTER II – MYSTERIES OF CHRIST—MYSTERIES OF HIS MOTHER

The Rosary, "a compendium of the Gospel"

18. The only way to approach the contemplation of Christ’s face is by listening in the Spirit to the Father’s voice, since "no one knows the Son except the Father" (Mt 11:27). In the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus responded to Peter’s confession of faith by indicating the source of that clear intuition of his identity: "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 16:17). What is needed, then, is a revelation from above. In order to receive that revelation, attentive listening is indispensable: "Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery" (27).

The Rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ’s face. Pope Paul VI described it in these words: "As a Gospel prayer, centered on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany-like succession of Hail Marys, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel’s announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb’ (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Marys constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin" (28).

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1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn” (1).

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium (2). It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

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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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July is the month of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. In light of this, we offer this sublime apostolic letter from our beloved Pope John XXIII, Inde a Primis, on promoting devotion to the Precious Blood.
—Asst. Ed
.

On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Apostolic Letter of Pope John XXIII

To his venerable brother patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops and other local ordinaries in peace and communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.

From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that marvelous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.

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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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The Queen of Peace

Published on April 12, 2008 by in Papal Excerpts

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The month of May is almost here, a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.

We are delighted and consoled by this pious custom associated with the month of May, which pays honor to the Blessed Virgin and brings such rich benefits to the Christian people. Since Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise. For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her? To Him men are to turn amid the anxieties and perils of this world, urged on by duty and driven by the compelling needs of their heart, to find a haven of salvation, a transcendent fountain of life.

A Time for Special Prayers

Because the month of May is a powerful incentive to more frequent and fervent prayers, and because our petitions more readily find access to her compassionate heart during it, it has been a favorite custom of Our predecessors to choose this month, dedicated to Mary, for urging the Christian people to offer up public prayers whenever the needs of the Church demanded it or some grave crisis threatened the human race. This year, Venerable Brothers, We in turn feel compelled to call for such prayers from the whole Catholic world. Looking at the present needs of the Church and the status of world peace, We have sound reasons to believe that the present hour is especially grave and that a plea for concerted prayer on the part of all Christians is a matter of top priority…. […]

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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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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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Mother of the Redeemer

Published on March 24, 2007 by in Papal Excerpts

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In special honor of the Feast of the Annunciation, we are happy to present John Paul II’s monumental Marian encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on March 25. – Ed.

1. The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, for “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Gal. 4:4-6)

With these words of the Apostle Paul, which the Second Vatican Council takes up at the beginning of its treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (1) I too wish to begin my reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church. For they are words which celebrate together the love of the Father, the mission of the Son, the gift of the Spirit, the role of the woman from whom the Redeemer was born, and our own divine filiation, in the mystery of the “fullness of time.” (2) […]

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On Fast and Abstinence

Published on March 10, 2007 by in Papal Excerpts

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We are pleased to present Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini, On Fast and Abstinence, of February 17, 1966, for your Lenten encouragement. – Ed.

“Be converted and believe in the Gospel” (1)

It seems to us that we must repeat these words of the Lord today at a moment when—with the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council—the Church continues along its path with more vigorous steps. Among the grave and urgent problems which in fact summon our pastoral concern, it seems to us that not the least is to remind our sons—and all religious men of our times—of the significance and importance of the divine precept of penitence. We are prompted to this by the fuller and more profound vision of the Church and its relationship with the world given us recently by the supreme ecumenical assembly.

During the council, in fact, the Church, in an effort to arrive at a more profound meditation on the mystery of itself, examined its own nature in all its dimensions and scrutinized its human and divine, visible and invisible, temporal and eternal elements. By first of all examining more thoroughly the link which binds it to Christ and His salvific action, it has underlined more clearly how all its members are called upon to participate in the work of Christ and therefore to participate also in His expiation. (2) […]

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1. Ever since We were raised, by the design of Divine Providence, to the supreme Chair of Peter, We have never ceased, in the face of approaching evils, to entrust to the most powerful protection of the Mother of God the destiny of the human family, and, to this end, as you know, We have from time to time written letters of exhortation.

2. You know, Venerable Brethren, with what zeal and with what spontaneous and unanimous approval the Christian people everywhere have answered Our invitation. It has been magnificently testified many times by the great demonstration of faith and love towards the august Queen of Heaven, and above all, by that manifestation of universal joy which, last year, Our eyes had the pleasure to behold, when, in St. Peter’s Square, surrounded by an immense multitude of the faithful, We solemnly proclaimed the Assumption into Heaven of the Virgin Mary, body and soul.

3. The recollection of these things comes back pleasantly to Us and encourages Us to trust firmly in Divine Mercy. However, at present, We do not lack reasons for profound sorrow which torment and sadden Our paternal heart. […]

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Praying the Rosary for Peace

Published on October 13, 2006 by in Papal Excerpts

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The recurrence of the month of October provides Us with an occasion for inviting the entire Christian people once more to the practice of a form of prayer which is rightly dear to Catholic piety, and which has lost none of its importance amid the difficulties of the present day. We are speaking of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Misunderstandings Prevalent

The intention which We would propose this year to all Our sons and daughters, since it seems to Us more serious and urgent than ever, is that of peace among men and between peoples. Despite some progress and some legitimate hopes, murderous conflicts are continuing, new points of tension are appearing, and even Christians, who appeal to the same Gospel of love, are seen to be in opposition to one another. Within the Church itself, misunderstandings arise between brothers who mutually accuse and condemn each other. Hence it is more urgent than ever to work and pray for peace. […]

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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 April 9, 1997, Pope John Paul II offered the following commentary on Our Lady’s role as unique “co-operator” in the Redemption. Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, a Consultor to the Holy See, testified that during the actual audience on April 9 the word “Co-redemptrix” (in Italian, Corredentrice) was the actual term used three times by Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately the later English translation, as issued by the Secretary of State, opted for the term “co-operator,” which in itself has not been used with any frequency in the Church’s Tradition. We here offer the April 9 audience in its final English translation. – Ed.

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary’s co-operation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. St Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title “co-operator” in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary’s joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer.

Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the fifteenth century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church’s teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin’s subordination, as co-operator, to the one Redeemer.

Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to co-operate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.

Mary’s Co-operation Is Unique and Unrepeatable

However, applied to Mary, the term “co-operator” acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity.

The Blessed Virgin’s role as co-operator has its source in her divine motherhood. By giving birth to the One who was destined to achieve man’s redemption, by nourishing him, presenting him in the temple and suffering with him as he died on the Cross, “in a wholly singular way she co-operated … in the work of the Savior” (Lumen Gentium, n. 61). Although God’s call to co-operate in the work of salvation concerns every human being, the participation of the Savior’s Mother in humanity’s Redemption is a unique and unrepeatable fact.

Despite the uniqueness of her condition, Mary is also the recipient of salvation. She is the first to be saved, redeemed by Christ “in the most sublime way” in her Immaculate Conception (cf. Ineffabilis Deus, in Pius IX, Acta, 1, 605) and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

This assertion now leads to the question: what is the meaning of Mary’s unique co-operation in the plan of salvation? It should be sought in God’s particular intention for the Mother of the Redeemer, whom on two solemn occasions, that is, at Cana and beneath the Cross, Jesus addresses as “Woman” (cf. Jn 2:4, 19, 26). Mary is associated as a woman in the work of salvation. Having created man “male and female” (cf. Gn 1:27), the Lord also wants to place the New Eve beside the New Adam in the Redemption. Our first parents had chosen the way of sin as a couple; a new pair, the Son of God with his Mother’s co-operation, would re-establish the human race in its original dignity.

Mary, the New Eve, thus becomes a perfect icon of the Church. In the divine plan, at the foot of the Cross, she represents redeemed humanity which, in need of salvation, is enabled to make a contribution to the unfolding of the saving work.

Mary Is Our Mother in the Order of Grace

The Council had this doctrine in mind and made it its own, stressing the Blessed Virgin’s contribution not only to the Redeemer’s birth, but also to the life of his Mystical Body down the ages until the “eschaton”: in the Church Mary “has co-operated” (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 63) and “co-operates” (cf. ibid., n. 53) in the work of salvation. In describing the mystery of the Annunciation, the Council states that the Virgin of Nazareth, “committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of Redemption by the grace of Almighty God” (ibid., n. 56).

The Second Vatican Council moreover presents Mary not only as “Mother of the divine Redeemer,” but also “in a singular way (as) the generous associate,” who “co-operated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior.” The Council also recalls that the sublime fruit of this co-operation is her universal motherhood: “For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace” (ibid., n. 61).

We can therefore turn to the Blessed Virgin, trustfully imploring her aid in the awareness of the singular role entrusted to her by God, the role of co-operator in the Redemption, which she exercised throughout her life and in a special way at the foot of the Cross.

This text was first published in the April 16, 1997, English edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

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The following is the Prayer of Consecration with which Pope John Paul II consecrated the world, inclusive of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984, in fulfillment of the Fatima request. – Ed.

“We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God.”

As we utter the words of this antiphon with which the Church of Christ has prayed for centuries, we find ourselves today before you, Mother, in the Jubilee Year of the Redemption.

We find ourselves united with all the pastors of the Church in a particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college, just as by Christ’s wish the Apostles constituted a body and college with Peter.

In the bond of this union, we utter the words of the present Act, in which we wish to include, once more, the Church’s hopes and anxieties for the modern world. […]

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Today, on the first of May, we observe Labor Day. We Christians place the celebration under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker. We observe such an important day with initiatives that tend to emphasize the importance and value of the work by which the human person, transforming nature and adapting it to his needs, realizes himself as a human being.

The Lord’s invitation to subdue the earth (cf. Gen 2:28), that we find at the beginning of the history of salvation, holds a definitive and contemporary importance. Creation is a gift that God entrusts to the human being so that by carefully cultivating and safeguarding it, it can supply his needs. From our work comes the “daily bread” that we pray for in the Our Father.

One can say that through his work the human person becomes more human. This is why industriousness is a virtue. For industriousness effectively to permit the person to become more human, it must always be joined with the social disposition of work. Only in this way will we protect the inalienable dignity of the person and the human and social value of the work that is done. To the watchful protection of St. Joseph the Worker we entrust those who belong to the great family of work in every place in the world.

Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady a favourite of popular devotion. In accord with a longstanding tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a “Marian” month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives!

May it really be a month of intense prayer with Mary! This is the wish I wholeheartedly formulate for each of you, Brothers and Sisters, recommending to you once again the daily prayer of the Rosary. It is a simple and repetitive prayer but very profitable for drawing us into the mysteries of Christ and of his and our Mother. It is also a way of praying that the Church knows is pleasing to Our Lady. We are invited to make use of it, especially in the more difficult moments of our earthly pilgrimage.

Beginning the month of Mary, I invite all of you to join with me in praying for workers, especially those who experience difficulties in the workplace. We also need to intensify our confident and unceasing prayer for peace in the Holy Land where we hope that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, who are so dear to me, will come to live in security and serenity. May the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Joseph, her Spouse and the Guardian of the Redeemer, obtain it for us…

– Excerpted from May 1, 2002 General Audience.

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The Peace of the World

Published on April 29, 2006 by in Papal Excerpts

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… It was comforting for Us in past years to appeal earnestly to all—especially to the young so dear to us—to crowd around the altar of the great Mother of God during the month of May, imploring the end of a cruel war; so now, similarly today by means of this encyclical letter, We invite you not to cease from this pious practice; and further, to prayers add resolutions for Christian renewal and salutary works of penance.

Above all, speak to the Virgin Mother of God and our most tender Mother words of most heartfelt thanks for having obtained, through her powerful intercession, the long desired termination of that great world conflagration, and also for so many other graces obtained from the Most High.

At the same time, implore her, with renewed prayers, that at long last there may shine forth, as a gift from Heaven, mutual, fraternal and complete peace among all nations and the longed for harmony among all social classes. […]

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Last year, when the dark clouds obscured the horizon, and talk of armed strife, forerunner of war, held all in trepidation, We, whose paternal heart participates in the sorrows and troubles of Our children… urged the entire Catholic world to offer, during the forthcoming month of May, fervent prayers and devout aspirations to the great Mother of God, begging her to intercede with her Son, already offended by so many sins, in order that peace might be restored to the nations through the just settlement of conflicting interests and reasonable agreement among men’s minds.

Now, inasmuch as the international situation has grown worse, and a fierce war has broken out with so much harm to mankind and intense sorrow, We cannot fail to appeal again to Our children throughout the world with the plea that they gather around the shrine of the Virgin Mother of God and on each day, during this coming month which is consecrated to her, send up to her their fervent prayers.

Popes Efforts for Peace—Mary’s Powerful Intercession

And since, as St. Bernard declares “It is the Will of God that we obtain all favors through Mary” (1) let everyone hasten to have recourse to Mary. May all mankind bring its petitions, sorrows and anxieties, and lay them on her altar, beseeching her for aid and comfort. And in this present and most grave peril, confidently following the example of our forefathers, let us not fail to do that which, as history testifies, they did with such gratifying results in their days of peril and fearful uncertainty.

So powerful, indeed, is the Blessed Virgin with God and His only-begotten Son that, as Dante observes, (2) anyone who desires His help and fails to have recourse to Mary is like one trying to fly without wings. Indeed is she the most powerful Mother of God, but also—a fact sweet to contemplate!—our own most lovable Mother. Wherefore let it be a joy to everyone of us to place ourselves under her motherly protection and her help and to have complete confidence in her maternal goodness.

Get the Children to Pray for Peace

Now it is Our particular wish, Beloved Son, that in this coming month of May the white legions of innocent children will flock again to the shrines of Our Lady and that, through her intercession and her mediation for peace, there may be obtained from God the eagerly desired peace for all nations. Daily, let them assemble before the shrine of our heavenly Mother. With bended knees and suppliant hands let the little ones together with their prayers offer their flowers—these dear children who themselves are the flowers in the mystical garden of the Church.

Great is our trust in the prayers of those “whose angels in heaven always see the face of my Father,” (3) whose childish faces radiate innocence, whose glistening eyes seem to reflect the splendor of heaven. We know that our divine Redeemer loves children with a special affection, and that His most holy Mother has for them a special tenderness. We know that the prayers of the innocent pierce the heavens, assuage divine justice, and obtain heavenly graces for themselves and for others.

Letter Superiore anno, to Cardinal Luigi Maglione, April 15, 1940.

Notes

(1) St. Bernard, Serm. in Nativitate B.V.M.

(2) Cf. Paradiso, 33, 13.

(3) Mt. 18:10.

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All the saints were undoubtedly great servants of Mary and they all lead souls to her. Grignion de Montfort is one of those saints who worked more ardently and more efficaciously to make her loved and served.

Devotion of Father de Montfort to the Holy Cross and to Our Lady.—His Character

The greatest force behind all his apostolic ministry and his great secret for attracting and giving souls to Jesus was his devotion to Mary. All his activity depended on that devotion; in it he placed all his security: and he could not have found a more efficacious weapon for his age. To the sad austerity, the somber terror, the depressing pride of Jansenism he opposed the filial, trusting, ardent, expansive and effective love of the devout servant of Mary, towards her who is the Refuge of sinners, the Mother of Divine Grace, our life, our sweetness and our hope (1). Our Advocate, placed between God and the sinner, takes it upon herself to invoke clemency of the Judge so as to temper His justice, touch the heart of the sinner and overcome his obstinacy. Convinced by his own personal experience of Mary’s role, the missionary declared with a picturesque simplicity all his own that “never did a sinner resist him after he had touched his coat collar with the rosary.” […]

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A work destined to become a classic of Marian spirituality was published 160 years ago. St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin at the beginning of the 1700s, but the manuscript remained practically unknown for more than a century. When, almost by chance, it was at last discovered in 1842 and published in 1843, the work was an instant success, proving extraordinarily effective in spreading the “true devotion” to the Most Holy Virgin. I myself, in the years of my youth, found reading this book a great help. “There I found the answers to my questions,” for at one point I had feared that if my devotion to Mary “became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ.” (1) Under the wise guidance of St. Louis Marie, I realized that if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ this risk does not exist. In fact, this Saint’s Mariological thought “is rooted in the mystery of the Trinity and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God.” (2)

Since she came into being, and especially in her most difficult moments, the Church has contemplated with special intensity an event of the Passion of Jesus Christ that St. John mentions: “Standing by the Cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19: 25-27). Throughout its history, the People of God has experienced this gift of the crucified Jesus: the gift of his Mother. Mary Most Holy is truly our Mother who accompanies us on our pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity towards an ever more intense union with Christ, the one Savior and Mediator of salvation. (3) […]

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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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Guardian of the Redeemer

Published on March 18, 2006 by in Papal Excerpts

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“Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife” (cf. Mt 1 :24).

Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, (1) he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model.

On the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries, (2) and in line with the veneration given to St. Joseph over the centuries, I wish to offer for your consideration, dear brothers, and sisters, some reflections concerning him “into whose custody God entrusted his most precious treasures.” (3) I gladly fulfill this pastoral duty so that all may grow in devotion to the Patron of the Universal Church and in love for the Savior whom he served in such an exemplary manner. […]

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On November 6, 1994, Pope John Paul II discussed the tears of Mary in a scriptural and mystical context. While referring to historical occasions, like Syracuse, Italy, where weeping statues of Our Lady have been authenticated, John Paul tells us, “These are tears of sorrow for all those who refuse the love of God, for those families who are broken or in difficulty, for the young people seduced by a consumerist civilization and so often disoriented, for the violence that still spills so much blood and for the misunderstandings and hate which dig deep trenches between individuals and peoples.” – Ed.

Dominus flevit (cf. Lk 19:41).

There is a place in Jerusalem, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, where according to tradition Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. In those tears of the Son of Man there was almost a distant echo of other weeping, which is spoken of in the first reading taken from the Book of Nehemiah. After their return from the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites prepared to rebuild the temple. But first they listened to the words of the Holy Scriptures and of Ezra the priest, who then blessed the people with the Book of the Law. Then they all broke into tears. In fact we read that the governor Nehemiah and the priest Ezra said to those present: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep… do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” (Neh 8:9, 10). […]

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Reparatrix of the Lost World

Published on February 4, 2006 by in Papal Excerpts

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This exceptional Marian encyclical, Ad Diem Illum, was composed by St. Pius X. It is a true classic of Marian theology and piety and remains one of the greatest Marian encyclicals of all time. – Ed.

An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX, Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

2. And, Venerable Brethren, why should we not hope today after the lapse of half a century, when we renew the memory of the Immaculate Virgin, that an echo of that holy joy will be awakened in our minds, and that those magnificent scenes of a distant day, of faith and of love towards the august Mother of God, will be repeated? Of all this We are, indeed, rendered ardently desirous by the devotion, united with supreme gratitude for benefits received, which We have always cherished towards the Blessed Virgin; and We have a sure pledge of the fulfillment of Our desires in the fervor of all Catholics, ready and willing as they are to multiply their testimonies of love and reverence for the great Mother of God. But We must not omit to say that this desire of Ours is especially stimulated by a sort of secret instinct which leads Us to regard as not far distant the fulfillment of those great hopes to which, certainly not rashly, the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception opened the minds of Pius, Our predecessor, and of all the Bishops of the universe. […]

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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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The Perfect Mediatrix

Published on October 22, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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Octobri Mense

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

At the coming of the month of October, dedicated and consecrated as it is to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, we recall with satisfaction the instant exhortations which in preceding years We addressed to you, venerable brethren, desiring, as We did, that the faithful, urged by your authority and by your zeal, should redouble their piety towards the august Mother of God, the mighty helper of Christians, and should pray to her throughout the month, invoking her by that most holy rite of the Rosary which the Church, especially in the passage of difficult times, has ever used for the accomplishment of all desires.

This year once again do We publish Our wishes, once again do We encourage you by the same exhortations. We are persuaded to this in love for the Church, whose sufferings, far from mitigating, increase daily in number and in gravity. Universal and well-known are the evils we deplore: war made upon the sacred dogmas which the Church holds and transmits; derision cast upon the integrity of that Christian morality which she has in keeping; enmity declared, with the impudence of audacity and with criminal malice, against the very Christ, as though the Divine work of Redemption itself were to be destroyed from its foundation—that work which, indeed, no adverse power shall ever utterly abolish or destroy.

2. No new events are these in the career of the Church militant. Jesus foretold them to His disciples. That she may teach men the truth and may guide them to eternal salvation, she must enter upon a daily war; and throughout the course of ages she has fought, even to martyrdom, rejoicing and glorifying herself in nothing more than in the occasion of signing her cause with her Founder’s blood, the sure and certain pledge of the victory whereof she holds the promise. Nevertheless we must not conceal the profound sadness with which this necessity of constant war afflicts the righteous. It is indeed a cause of great sorrow that so many should be deterred and led astray by error and enmity to God; that so many should be indifferent to all forms of religion, and should finally become estranged from faith; that so many Catholics should be such in name only, and should pay to religion no honor or worship. And still sadder and more beset with anxieties grows the soul at the thought of the fruitful source of most manifold evils existing in the organization of States that allow no place to the Church, and that oppose her championship of holy virtue. This is truly a terrible manifestation of the just vengeance of God, Who allows blindness of soul to darken upon the nations that forsake Him. These are evils that cry aloud, that cry of themselves with a daily increasing voice. It is absolutely necessary that the Catholic voice should also call to God with unwearied instance, “without ceasing;” (1) that the Faithful should pray not only in their own homes, but in public, gathered together under the sacred roof; that they should beseech urgently the all-foreseeing God to deliver the Church from evil men (2) and to bring back the troubled nations to good sense and reason, by the light and love of Christ.

3. Wonderful and beyond hope or belief is this. The world goes on its laborious way, proud of its riches, of its power, of its arms, of its genius; the Church goes onward along the course of ages with an even step, trusting in God only, to Whom, day and night, she lifts her eyes and her suppliant hands. Even though in her prudence she neglects not the human aid which Providence and the times afford her, not in these does she put her trust, which rests in prayer, in supplication, in the invocation of God. Thus it is that she renews her vital breath; the diligence of her prayer has caused her, in her aloofness from worldly things and in her continual union with the Divine will, to live the tranquil and peaceful life of Our very Lord Jesus Christ; being herself the image of Christ, Whose happy and perpetual joy was hardly marred by the horror of the torments He endured for us. This important doctrine of Christian wisdom has been ever believed and practiced by Christians worthy of the name. Their prayers rise to God eagerly and more frequently when the cunning and the violence of the perverse afflict the Church and her supreme Pastor. Of this the faithful of the Church in the East gave an example that should be offered to the imitation of posterity. Peter, Vicar of Jesus Christ, and first Pontiff of the Church, had been cast into prison, loaded with chains by the guilty Herod, and left for certain death. None could carry him help or snatch him from the peril. But there was the certain help that fervent prayer wins from God. The Church, as the sacred story tells us, made prayer without ceasing to God for him; (3) and the greater was the fear of a misfortune, the greater was the fervor of all who prayed to God. After the granting of their desires the miracle stood revealed; and Christians still celebrate with a joyous gratitude the marvel of the deliverance of Peter. Christ has given us a still more memorable instance, a Divine instance, so that the Church might be formed not upon his precepts only, but upon His example also. During His whole life He had given Himself to frequent and fervent prayer, and in the supreme hours in the Garden of Gethsemane, when His soul was filled with bitterness and sorrow unto death, He prayed to His Father and prayed repeatedly. (4) It was not for Himself that He prayed thus, for He feared nothing and needed nothing, being God; He prayed for us, for His Church, whose prayers and future tears He already then accepted with joy, to give them back in mercies.

4. But since the salvation of our race was accomplished by the mystery of the Cross, and since the Church, dispenser of that salvation after the triumph of Christ, was founded upon earth and instituted, Providence established a new order for a new people. The consideration of the Divine counsels is united to the great sentiment of religion. The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity. (5) With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. (6) Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother. How great are the goodness and mercy revealed in this design of God! What a correspondence with the frailty of man! We believe in the infinite goodness of the Most High, and we rejoice in it; we believe also in His justice and we fear it. We adore the beloved Savior, lavish of His blood and of His life; we dread the inexorable Judge. Thus do those whose actions have disturbed their consciences need an intercessor mighty in favor with God, merciful enough not to reject the cause of the desperate, merciful enough to lift up again towards hope in the divine mercy the afflicted and the broken down. Mary is this glorious intermediary; she is the mighty Mother of the Almighty; but—what is still sweeter—she is gentle, extreme in tenderness, of a limitless loving-kindness. As such God gave her to us. Having chosen her for the Mother of His only begotten Son, He taught her all a mother’s feeling that breathes nothing but pardon and love. Such Christ desired she should be, for He consented to be subject to Mary and to obey her as a son a mother. Such He proclaimed her from the cross when he entrusted to her care and love the whole of the race of man in the person of His disciple John. Such, finally, she proves herself by her courage in gathering in the heritage of the enormous labors of her Son, and in accepting the charge of her maternal duties towards us all.

5. The design of this most dear mercy, realized by God in Mary and confirmed by the testament of Christ, was comprehended at the beginning, and accepted with the utmost joy by the Holy Apostles and the earliest believers. It was the counsel and teaching of the venerable Fathers of the Church. All the nations of the Christian age received it with one mind; and even when literature and tradition are silent there is a voice that breaks from every Christian breast and speaks with all eloquence. No other reason is needed that that of a Divine faith which, by a powerful and most pleasant impulse, persuades us towards Mary. Nothing is more natural, nothing more desirable than to seek a refuge in the protection and in the loyalty of her to whom we may confess our designs and our actions, our innocence and our repentance, our torments and our joys, our prayers and our desires-all our of fairs. All men, moreover, are filled with the hope and confidence that petitions which might be received with less favor from the lips of unworthy men, God will accept when they are recommended by the most Holy Mother, and will grant with all favors. The truth and the sweetness of these thoughts bring to the soul an unspeakable comfort; but they inspire all the more compassion for those who, being without Divine faith, honor not Mary and have her not for their mother; for those also who, holding Christian faith, dare to accuse of excess the devotion to Mary, thereby sorely wounding filial piety.

6. This storm of evils, in the midst of which the Church struggles so strenuously, reveals to all her pious children the holy duty whereto they are bound to pray to God with instance, and the manner in which they may give to their prayers the greater power. Faithful to the religious example of our fathers, let us have recourse to Mary, our holy Sovereign. Let us entreat, let us beseech, with one heart, Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Mother. “Show thyself to be a mother; cause our prayers to be accepted by Him Who, born for us, consented to be thy Son.” (7)

7. Now, among the several rites and manners of paying honor to the Blessed Mary, some are to be preferred, inasmuch as we know them to be most powerful and most pleasing to our Mother; and for this reason we specially mention by name and recommend the Rosary. The common language has given the name of corona to this manner of prayer, which recalls to our minds the great mysteries of Jesus and Mary united in joys, sorrows, and triumphs. The contemplation of these august mysteries, contemplated in their order, affords to faithful souls a wonderful confirmation of faith, protection against the disease of error, and increase of the strength of the soul. The soul and memory of him who thus prays, enlightened by faith, are drawn towards these mysteries by the sweetest devotion, are absorbed therein and are surprised before the work of the Redemption of mankind, achieved at such a price and by events so great. The soul is filled with gratitude and love before these proofs of Divine love; its hope becomes enlarged and its desire is increased for those things which Christ has prepared for such as have united themselves to Him in imitation of His example and in participation in His sufferings. The prayer is composed of words proceeding from God Himself, from the Archangel Gabriel, and from the Church; full of praise and of high desires; and it is renewed and continued in an order at once fixed and various; its fruits are ever new and sweet.

8. Moreover, we may well believe that the Queen of Heaven herself has granted an especial efficacy to this mode of supplication, for it was by her command and counsel that the devotion was begun and spread abroad by the holy Patriarch Dominic as a most potent weapon against the enemies of the faith at an epoch not, indeed, unlike our own, of great danger to our holy religion. The heresy of the Albigenses had in effect, one while covertly, another while openly, overrun many countries, and this most vile offspring of the Manicheans, whose deadly errors it reproduced, were the cause in stirring up against the Church the most bitter animosity and a virulent persecution. There seemed to be no human hope of opposing this fanatical and most pernicious sect when timely succor came from on high through the instrument of Mary’s Rosary. Thus under the favor of the powerful Virgin, the glorious vanquisher of all heresies, the forces of the wicked were destroyed and dispersed, and faith issued forth unharmed and more shining than before. All manner of similar instances are widely recorded, and both ancient and modern history furnish remarkable proofs of nations saved from perils and winning benedictions therefrom. There is another signal argument in favor of this devotion, inasmuch as from the very moment of its institution it was immediately encouraged and put into most frequent practice by all classes of society. In truth, the piety of the Christian people honors, by many titles and in multiform ways, the Divine Mother, who, alone most admirable among all creatures, shines resplendent in unspeakable glory. But this title of the Rosary, this mode of prayer which seems to contain, as it were, a final pledge of affection, and to sum up in itself the honor due to Our Lady, has always been highly cherished and widely used in private and in public, in homes and in families, in the meetings of confraternities, at the dedication of shrines, and in solemn processions; for there has seemed to be no better means of conducting sacred solemnities, or of obtaining protection and favors.

9. Nor may we permit to pass unnoticed the especial Providence of God displayed in this devotion; for through the lapse of time religious fervor has sometimes seemed to diminish in certain nations, and even this pious method of prayer has fallen into disuse; but piety and devotion have again flourished and become vigorous in a most marvellous manner, when, either through the grave situation of the commonwealth or through some pressing public necessity, general recourse has been had—more to this than to even other means of obtaining help—to the Rosary, whereby it has been restored to its place of honor on the altars. But there is no need to seek for examples of this power in a past age, since we have in the present a signal instance of it. In these times—so troublous (as we have said before) for the Church, and so heartrending for ourselves—set as We are by the Divine will at the helm, it is still given Us to note with admiration the great zeal and fervor with which Mary’s Rosary is honored and recited in every place and nation of the Catholic world. And this circumstance, which assuredly is to be attributed to the Divine action and direction upon men, rather than to the wisdom and efforts of individuals, strengthens and consoles Our heart, filling Us with great hope for the ultimate and most glorious triumph of the Church under the auspices of Mary.

10. But there are some who, whilst they honestly agree with what We have said, yet because their hopes—especially as regard the peace and tranquility of the Church—have not yet been fulfilled, nay, rather because troubles seem to augment, have ceased to pray with diligence and fervor, in a fit of discouragement. Let these look into themselves and labor that the prayers they address to God may be made in a proper spirit, according to the precept of our Lord Jesus Christ. And if there be such, let them reflect how unworthy and how wrong it is to wish to assign to Almighty God the time and the manner of giving His assistance, since He owes nothing to us, and when He hearkens to our supplications and crowns our merits, He only crowns His own innumerable benefits; (8) and when He complies least with our wishes it is as a good father towards his children, having pity on their childishness and consulting their advantage. But as regards the prayers which we join to the suffrages of the heavenly citizens, and offer humbly to God to obtain His mercy for the Church, they are always favorably received and heard, and either obtain for the Church great and imperishable benefits, or their influence is temporarily withheld for a time of greater need. In truth, to these supplications is added an immense weight and grace—the prayers and merits of Christ Our Lord, Who has Loved the Church and has delivered Himself up for her to sanctify her… so that He should be glorified in her. (9) He is her Sovereign Head, holy, innocent, always living to make intercession for us, on whose prayers and supplication we can always by divine authority rely. As for what concerns the exterior and temporal prosperity of the Church, it is evident that she has to cope with most malicious and powerful adversaries. Too often has she suffered at their hands the abolition of her rights, the diminution and oppression of her liberties, scorn and affronts to her authority, and every conceivable outrage. And if in their wickedness her enemies have not accomplished all the injury they had resolved upon and striven to do, they nevertheless seem to go on unchecked. But, despite them the Church, amidst all these conflicts, will always stand out and increase in greatness and glory. Nor can human reason rightly understand why evil, apparently so dominant, should yet be so restricted as regards its results; whilst the Church, driven into straits, comes forth glorious and triumphant. And she ever remains more steadfast in virtue because she draws men to the acquisition of the ultimate good. And since this is her mission, her prayers must have much power to effect the end and purpose of God’s providential and merciful designs towards men. Thus, when men pray with and through the Church, they at length obtain what Almighty God has designed from all eternity to bestow upon mankind. (10) The subtlety of the human intelligence fails now to grasp the high designs of Providence; but the time will come when, through the goodness of God, causes and effects will be made clear, and the marvellous power and utility of prayer will be shown forth. Then it will be seen how many in the midst of a corrupt age have kept themselves pure and inviolate from all concupiscence of the flesh and the spirit, working out their sanctification in the fear of God; (11) how others, when exposed to the danger of temptation, have without delay restrained themselves gaining new strength for virtue from the peril itself; how others, having fallen, have been seized with the ardent desire to be restored to the embraces of a compassionate God. Therefore, with these reflections before them, We beseech all again and again not to yield to the deceits of the old enemy, nor for any cause whatsoever to cease from the duty of prayer. Let their prayers be persevering, let them pray without intermission; let their first care be to supplicate for the sovereign good—the eternal salvation of the whole world, and the safety of the Church. Then they may ask from God other benefits for the use and comfort of life, returning thanks always, whether their desires are granted or refused, as to a most indulgent father. Finally, may they converse with God with the greatest piety and devotion according to the example of the Saints, and that of our Most Holy Master and Redeemer, with great cries and tears. (12)

11. Our fatherly solicitude urges Us to implore of God, the Giver of all good gifts, not merely the spirit of prayer, but also that of holy penance for all the sons of the Church. And whilst We make this most earnest supplication, We exhort all and each one to the practice with equal fervor of both these virtues combined. Thus prayer fortifies the soul, makes it strong for noble endeavors, leads it up to divine things: penance enables us to overcome ourselves, especially our bodies—most inveterate enemies of reason and the evangelical law. And it is very clear that these virtues unite well with each other, assist each other mutually, and have the same object, namely, to detach man born for heaven from perishable objects, and to raise him up to heavenly commerce with God. On the other hand, the mind that is excited by passions and enervated by pleasure is insensible to the delights of heavenly things, and makes cold and neglectful prayers quite unworthy of being accepted by God. We have before Our eyes examples of the penance of holy men whose prayers and supplications were consequently most pleasing to God, and even obtained miracles. They governed and kept assiduously in subjection their minds and hearts and wills. They accepted with the greatest joy and humility the doctrines of Christ and the teachings of His Church. Their unique desire was to advance in the science of God; nor had their actions any other object than the increase of His glory. They restrained most severely their passions, treated their bodies rudely and harshly, abstaining from even permitted pleasures through love of virtue. And therefore most deservedly could they have said with the Apostle Paul, our conversation is in Heaven: (13) hence the potent efficacy of their prayers in appeasing and in supplicating the Divine Majesty. It is clear that not every one is obliged or able to attain to these heights; nevertheless, each one should correct his life and morals in his own measure in satisfaction to the Divine justice: for it is to those who have endured voluntary sufferings in this life that the reward of virtue is vouchsafed. Moreover, when in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church, all the members are united and flourish, it results, according to St. Paul, that the joy or pain of one member is shared by all the rest, so that if one of the brethren in Christ is suffering in mind or body the others come to his help and succor him as far as in them lies. The members are solicitous in regard of each other, and if one member suffer all the members suffer in sympathy, and if one member rejoice all the others rejoice also. But you are the body of Christ, members of one body. (14) But in this illustration of charity, following the example of Christ, Who in the immensity of His love gave up His life to redeem us from sin, paying Himself the penalties incurred by others, in this is the great bond of perfection by which the faithful are closely united with the heavenly citizens and with God. Above all, acts of holy penance are so numerous and varied and extend over such a wide range, that each one may exercise them frequently with a cheerful and ready will without serious or painful effort.

12. And now, venerable brethren, your remarkable and exalted piety towards the Most Holy Mother of God, and your charity and solicitude for the Christian flock, are full of abundant promise: Our heart is full of desire for those wondrous fruits which, on many occasions, the devotion of Catholic people to Mary has brought forth; already We enjoy them deeply and abundantly in anticipation. At your exhortation and under your direction, therefore, the faithful, especially during this ensuing month, will assemble around the solemn altars of this august Queen and most benign Mother, and weave and offer to her, like devoted children, the mystic garland so pleasing to her of the Rosary. All the privileges and indulgences We have herein before conceded are confirmed and ratified. (15)

13. How grateful and magnificent a spectacle to see in the cities, and towns, and villages, on land and sea—wherever the Catholic faith has penetrated—many hundreds of thousands of pious people uniting their praises and prayers with one voice and heart at every moment of the day, saluting Mary, invoking Mary, hoping everything through Mary. Through her may all the faithful strive to obtain from her Divine Son that the nations plunged in error may return to the Christian teaching and precepts, in which is the foundation of the public safety and the source of peace and true happiness. Through her may they steadfastly endeavor for that most desirable of all blessings, the restoration of the liberty of our Mother, the Church, and the tranquil possession of her rights—rights which have no other object than the careful direction of men’s dearest interests, from the exercise of which individuals and nations have never suffered injury, but have derived, in all time, numerous and most precious benefits.

14. And for you, venerable brethren, through the intercession of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, We pray Almighty God to grant you heavenly gifts, and greater and more abundant strength, and aid to accomplish the charge of your pastoral office. As a pledge of which We most lovingly bestow upon you and upon the clergy and people committed to your care, the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, St. Peter’s, the 22nd day of September, 1891, in the fourteenth year of Our Pontificate.

Notes

1. Thes 5.17.

2. 2 Thes 3.2.

3. Acts 12.5.

4. Lk 22.44.

5. III. q. xxx, a. 1.

6. Jn 1.17.

7. Ex sacr. liturg.

8. S. August. Epi CXCIV al 106 Sixtum, c. v., n. 19.

9. Eph 5.25-27.

10. S. Th. II-II, q LXXXIII, a. 2, ex S. G. reg. M.

11. 2 Cor 7.1.

12. Heb 5.7.

13. Phil. 3.20.

14. 1 Cor 12. 25-27.

15. Cf. ep. encycl. Supremi Aposcolatus officio (September 1, 1893); ep. encycl. Supreriore anno (August 30, 1884); decree S. R. C. Inter plurimos (August 20, 1885); ep. encycl. Quamquam pluries (August 15, 1889).

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The Psalter of the Virgin

Published on October 15, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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Ingravescentibus Malis
Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the Rosary

More than once have We asserted – and We recently repeated this in the Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris (Acta Ap. Sedis, 1937, Vol. XXIX, p. 65) – that there is no remedy for the ever-growing evils of our times except a return to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His most holy precepts. Truly, only He “hath the words of eternal life” (Cf. John, vi, 69), and individuals and society can only fall into immediate and miserable ruin if they ignore the majesty of God and repudiate His Law.

However, anyone who studies with diligence the records of the Catholic Church will easily recognize that the true patronage of the Virgin Mother of God is linked with all the annals of the Christian name. When, in fact, errors everywhere diffused were bent upon rending the seamless robe of the Church and upon throwing the Catholic world into confusion, our fathers turned with confident soul to her “alone who destroys all heresies in the world” (Roman Breviary), and the victory won through her brought the return of tranquility. […]

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Mysteries of the Rosary

Published on October 8, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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Joyful Mysteries

Annunciation of the Angel to Mary

This is the brightest point which links Heaven and earth; the greatest event of the centuries. The Son of God, the Word of the Father, by Whom all was made that was made in the order of creation, took on human nature to become the Redeemer and Savior of mankind and of the whole human race.

Mary Immaculate, the most beautiful and fragrant flower of creation, at the voice of the Angel accepts the honor of divine maternity which, with her “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” was fulfilled in her at that moment. And we all, as brothers redeemed in Christ, become her sons. She is the Mother of God and our Mother.

Oh, the sublimeness and tenderness of this first mystery! Reflecting on it, it is our chief and constant duty to thank the Lord who deigned to save us, becoming man, and, as man became our brother, associating us in the filial adoration of His own Mother.

The intention of the prayer in the contemplation of this picture is, in addition to the daily habit of thanksgiving, the study and the sincere effort to acquire that humility, purity and great charity of which the Blessed Virgin gives Us such an amiable example.

Mary’s Visit to Her Cousin Elizabeth

What tenderness and what gentleness there was in that three-month visit of Mary to her beloved cousin! Both are custodians of an imminent maternity, but for the Virgin Mother it is to be the most sacred maternity that it is possible to imagine on earth.

What sweetness of harmony in those two intertwining hymns; from one, “Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:42), and from the other, “He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid … henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

This vision of Ain-Karim on the hill of Hebron illuminates with a heavenly light, at the same time very human, the relations of good families brought up in the ancient school of the Rosary recited each evening in the home among the members of the family.

This is done in all parts of the world, where men are called by the lofty inspiration of the priesthood, or where one is called by missionary charity or the apostolate or even by lawful motives of different natures, such as work, military service, study, teaching and the like.

What a beautiful coming together this is in which, during the recitation of the ten Hail Marys of this mystery, so many souls are united by the bond of blood, by domestic bonds, by all those things which sanctify and strengthen the sentiments of love among those closest to one another; parents and children, brothers, relatives, neighbors, fellow nationals, united in an act which supports and illuminates universal charity; the practice of which is the joy and honor of life.

Birth of Jesus in the Stable of Bethlehem

At the proper time, according to the laws of the assumed human nature, the Word of God made man emerges from the holy tabernacle which is the immaculate bosom of Mary.

He appears for the first time to the world in a manger used for feeding hay to animals. Silence, poverty, simplicity and innocence fill the scene.

The voices of angels are heard in the heavens announcing the peace which the newborn Infant brings into the world. The first to adore Him are Mary, His mother, and Joseph, His foster father. Then come the humble shepherds, called down from the hills by angelic voices. Later a caravan of illustrious men will come, led from afar by a star, and they will offer precious gifts full of significance.

Through it all, everything in that night of Bethlehem assumes a language of universality.

In this third mystery, which compels every knee to bend before the cradle, some like to see the smiling eyes of the Divine Infant in the act of beholding all the people of the earth passing before Him one after the other as in a procession.

He identifies them: Jews, Greeks, Chinese, Africans, all people from every region of the universe, from every age of history, past, present and future.

Others prefer, instead, during the recitation of the ten Hail Marys of this mystery of the birth of Jesus, to recommend to Him the countless numbers of children of the human race who have been born into the world in the past twenty-four hours of the day and night.

All of these children, baptized or not, belong to Jesus of Bethlehem and to the continuation of His reign of light and peace.

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

While still in His mother’s arms, the life of Jesus unfolds to the meeting of the two Testaments. He is light and revelation to the nations, the splendor of the chosen people. St. Joseph must be present and also participate in the rite of offering prescribed by the law.

This episode is perpetuated in the Church. As we recite the Hail Marys of this decade, it is beautiful to observe the joyful hopes of the perennial reflowering of the promises of priests, of men and women who cooperate in great numbers in the Kingdom of God.

Here also are the young students of the seminaries of religious houses, of mission students’ hostels and of the Catholic universities, those other young plants of a future lay apostolate, whose growth in numbers, in spite of the difficulties and setbacks of the present hour, harassed even by persecutions in many nations, never ceases to be a comforting sight which evokes words of admiration and joy.

Jesus Is Found Again Among the Doctors of the Temple

Jesus is now twelve years old. Mary and Joseph accompany Him to Jerusalem for the ritual prayer of that age. Suddenly He disappears from the sight of His loving and vigilant parents. There is great anxiety in the three-day search.

He is found in the temple reasoning with the doctors about the law. How significant are the words of St. Luke who describes Him so clearly! They found Him sitting in the midst of the doctors “listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

That meeting place of the doctors constituted everything in those times: knowledge, wisdom and practical directives in the light of the Old Testament.

In every age, this is the duty of human intelligence: to gather together the voices of the centuries, to transmit good doctrine humbly to make way for the vision of scientific investigation about the future.

Christ is found everywhere in the midst of men, and that is His proper place: “You call me Master. .. and you say well, for so I am” (John 13:13).

This fifth decade of Hail Marys of the joyful mysteries is a special prayer for the benefit of all those who are called to the service of truth and charity, in research, in teaching and in the diffusion of the new audio-visual techniques.

All of them are urged to imitate Jesus: scientists, professors, teachers, journalists—and particularly journalists, who have the characteristic duty to do honor always to good doctrine in its purity without the counterfeit of fantasy.

Sorrowful Mysteries

Jesus at Gethsemane

The mind, moved with emotion, turns to the image of the Savior in the hour of supreme abandonment. “And His sweat became as drops of blood running down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).

This expresses the intimate suffering of the mind, the extreme bitterness of solitude, the failing of the broken body. The agony is caused by the imminence of that which Jesus sees most clearly: the impending Passion.

The scene at Gethsemane encourages the exertion of the will to accept suffering: “Not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

These are heart-rending words which teach one how to suffer, and they give the last touch to the acquisition of the most distinct merits. But they are also of real and interior comforts for all souls who suffer the most acute and mysterious pains.

In this light, what nuances of confidence and tenderness does the invocation of Mary acquire, who underwent this burning sorrow in union with her Son!

The intention of prayer is raised in devout reference to the Pope, seen in his universal responsibility, the object of pressing concerns which he keeps in his heart, but which he entrusts however to the ceaseless assistance promised by Christ to His Vicar.

The intention of this decade invokes furthermore strength and consolation for those who suffer with Christ, for those who are troubled and afflicted.

The Scourging at the Pillar

This mystery arouses memory of the ruthless torture of the beating of the immaculate and innocent limbs of Jesus.

The human being is composed of body and soul. The body suffers the most humiliating temptations. There is, then, in this mystery a call to that salutary penance which can encompass and protect the true welfare of man in his totality as a corporal and spiritual being.

A great lesson for everyone is drawn from this. We are not called to a bloody martyrdom, but to the constant and daily discipline of suffering. Along this path one arrives at an ever more perfect likeness to Jesus Christ and to a participation in His merits.

The sorrowful Mother sees Him thus scourged. How many mothers would like to have the joy of seeing their children, and to see them pass through the disciplines of education and instruction to a wholesome life. Sometimes, instead, they must weep at seeing the collapse of all their hopes and toil.

The intention here, then, will be to ask the Lord for the gifts of purity of habits in the family and in society, but especially in the souls of youth who are the most exposed to the seductions of the senses, and to ask at the same time for strength of character, for fidelity to good resolutions made and to lessons received.

The Crowning with Thorns

This is the mystery whose contemplation is better suited to those who carry the burden of grave responsibility in the care of souls and in the direction of society. It is therefore the mystery for the Popes, the Bishops and pastors, the mystery for governors, legislators and magistrates. The crown which is placed upon their heads carries a halo of dignity and distinction. It is also a crown that weighs heavily and pierces with thorns and annoyances.

Wherever there is authority, the cross cannot be wanting. Sometimes it comes in the form of misunderstanding, contempt, indifference or loneliness. Another application brings to mind the grave responsibilities of those who have received the most talents and are bound to make them bear fruit in the constant exercise of their faculties and intelligence. The service of intellect, of being a light and a guide to others, which is the duty required of those who are more gifted, must be borne with patience, rejecting temptations of pride, of egotism and of that dissension which destroys. The prayer in this decade, then, is for the leaders of men who belong to the religious and civil orders, and also those who bear the responsibilities of the pen, of thoughts and of artistic creation.

The Way of the Cross

Human life is a long, continuous and burdensome pilgrimage, down the rock-strewn hill on the path indicated for everyone.

In this mystery Christ represents the human race. Woe to Us, if there were not a cross for each one of us. Without it, man would be tempted by egotism, hedonism, insensibility, and he would succumb.

The fruit which comes from the contemplation of Jesus on Calvary is that of embracing and kissing the cross, carrying it with generosity and joy, according to the words of The Imitation of Christ: “In the cross there is protection from one’s enemies and the effusion of a heavenly sweetness.” (1)

There is likewise in this mystery an extension of the prayer to the Sorrowful Mother who followed Jesus with a spirit of participation in His merits and in His sorrows.

The intention (of the mystery) opens one’s eyes to the immense vision of the afflicted: the orphans, the aged, the sick, the prisoners, the weak, the exiles, asking for all strength and consolation which hope alone gives: “Hail O Cross, the only hope.” (2)

The Death of Jesus on the Cross

Vita et Mors, life and death, represent two precious and orienting points of the sacrifice of Christ.

From the smile of Bethlehem, which wishes to show itself to all men at their first look upon earth, to the last breath, which contains in itself all the sorrows to sanctify them, all the sins to cancel them.

And Mary is near the Cross, as she was near the Babe of Bethlehem.

We pray to her, this pious Mother, that she herself may pray for us, “nunc et in hora mortis nostrae” (now and in the hour of our death).

Here is also included the great mystery of obstinate sinners, of unbelievers, of those who did not receive and will not receive the light of the Gospel, who are unable to take heed of the Blood shed also for them by the Son of God.

And the prayer expands into a sigh of saddened reparation, into a horizon of missionary fullness, because the Most Precious Blood, shed for all men, gives to all salvation and conversion: “Blood of Christ, pledge of eternal life.”

Glorious Mysteries

The Resurrection of the Lord

It is the mystery of death dominated and overcome; from death to the splendors of victory and of glory.

It marks the greatest triumph of the Holy Catholic Church over the adversities and persecutions of past history and those of the future.

“Christ triumphs, reigns, rules.” It is well to remember that the first apparition of the Risen Christ was to the pious women who were close to His life and His sufferings even at Calvary.

In these splendors the gaze of the faith contemplates, united to the Risen Jesus, the most dear souls, those with whom we have enjoyed the closeness and with whom we have shared the pains. Thus in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus there comes alive the remembrance of our dead! They are recalled and blessed in the sacrifice of the Risen Lord.

It is not for naught, that the oriental liturgy concludes the funeral rite with an Alleluia for all the dead. For them we invoke the light of the eternal tabernacle, while the mind thinks also of the resurrection which awaits our mortal remains: “and I expect the resurrection of the dead.”

Wait and hope in the very sweet promise, the sure pledge of which is given to us by the resurrection of Jesus.

The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven

In this picture we contemplate the consummation of the promises of Jesus. It is His answer to our longing for Heaven. The final return to the Father, from whom He came into the world, is a certainty for all of us, to whom He promised a place on high: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

This mystery is offered to us above all as a light and guide for souls in preparation for the vocation of each person. It contains the spiritual movement which leads to sanctification, the desire for constant ascensions which prepare the soul for the “mature measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

And united in this effort for perfection are priests, men and women religious, men and women missionaries, very distinguished laymen, souls who wish to be the good fragrance of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 2:15), and who live already in relation to heavenly life.

The teaching of this decade is an exhortation not to allow ourselves to be held back by that which weighs us down but to abandon ourselves to the Lord who bears us on high.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

The Apostles gathered together around Mary in the Cenacle to receive the last gift of Christ, His Spirit, the Comforter and Advocate.

With the descent and diffusion of the Holy Spirit, the heirs of Christ, still filled with fear and anxiety, receive the seal of Catholicity, which spreads beyond all boundaries.

The Holy Spirit continues (to pour forth) effusions on His Church every day; the centuries and the nations belong to Him. His triumphs are not always evident from without, but they are in fact rich in surprise and wonder.

The special intention embraces the beginning and preparation of the Ecumenical Council, which is entrusted to the working of heavenly grace, and which intends to be in the world “like a new Pentecost.” (3)

May the Paraclete pour upon it the fullness of His gifts.

The Most Blessed Mary Assumed into Heaven

The sweet image of Mary shines and radiates in supreme exaltation. How beautiful is the sleep of Mary, as seen by the Christians of the East. She lies in the peaceful sleep of death with Jesus at her side, and He holds the soul of the Virgin close to His breast like a child, to indicate the miracle of immediate resurrection and glorification.

It is a reason for comfort and confidence in the days of sorrow for those privileged souls—and we can all be privileged souls—whom God prepares in silence for the highest triumphs.

The mystery of the Assumption keeps us familiar with the thought of our death, in the light of peaceful abandonment in the Lord, Whom we like to hope will be close to us at the time of our agony to gather our immortal soul into His hands.

The Coronation of Mary Above All the Choirs of Angels and Saints

Behold the synthesis of the whole Rosary, which closes the great vision, opened by the herald angel. A single flux of life runs through the individual mysteries and reminds us of the eternal plan of God for our salvation: the beginning hidden, the conclusion in the splendor of Heaven.

The meditation applies to ourselves, to our vocation to become associated one day with the angels and the saints, the mysterious and comforting reality which sanctifying grace anticipates in this life.

Oh! What joy! Oh! What glory! We are “citizens with saints and members of God’s household, built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

The intention prays for final perseverance and for peace on earth which opens the gates of blessed eternity.

These beautiful meditations from Blessed John XXIII were excerpted from 17 Papal Documents on the Rosary, St. Paul Editions, 1980.

Notes

(1) Book II, ch. XII, 2.

(2) Hymn ad Vesp. Dom 1, Passionis.

(3) Prayer for the Ecumenical Council: cf. A.A.S. LI. (1959) p. 832.

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O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and a wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things into your hands. Make my troubles your own—speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you are—to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life,” beg her as Queen of the Heart of Jesus to obtain for me by her powerful intercession, the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment, and that you join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during my life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

– Pope Benedict XV

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It is a solemn custom of the faithful during the month of October to weave the prayers of the Rosary into mystical garlands for the Mother of Christ. Following in the footsteps of Our predecessors, We heartily approve this, and We call upon all the sons of the church to offer special devotions to the Most Blessed Virgin this year. For the danger of a more serious and extensive calamity hangs over the human family and has increased, especially in parts of eastern Asia where a bloody and hard-fought war is raging. So We feel most urgently that We must once again do what We can to safeguard peace. We are also disturbed by what We know to be going on in other areas, such as the growing nuclear armaments race, the senseless nationalism, the racism, the obsession for revolution, the separations imposed upon citizens, the nefarious plots, the slaughter of innocent people. All of these can furnish material for the greatest calamity.

A Special Task from God

2. Like Our immediate predecessors, We seem to have received a special task from God in His providence to work patiently and constantly to preserve and strengthen peace. This task, as is evident, arises from the fact that We have been entrusted with the governing of the whole Church, which, as a “sign lifted up to the nations,” (1) does not serve political ends but rather must bring the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, its divine Founder, to mankind. […]

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…I wish to draw your attention to the rosary. In fact, throughout the whole Church, October is the month dedicated to the rosary.

The rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and in its depth. In this prayer we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman Elizabeth. The whole Church joins in these words. It can be said that the rosary is, in a certain way, a prayer-commentary on the last chapter of the Constitution Lumen gentium of Vatican II, a chapter which deals with the wonderful presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church.

[…]

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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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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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Mary In the Upper Room

Published on April 16, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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Retracing the course of the Virgin Mary’s life, the Second Vatican Council recalls her presence in the community waiting for Pentecost. “But since it had pleased God not to manifest solemnly the mystery of the salvation of the human race before he would pour forth the Spirit promised by Christ, we see the Apostles before the day of Pentecost ‘persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren’ (Acts 1:14), and we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.” (1)

She Helped the Disciples Prepare For Spirit’s Coming

The first community is the prelude to the birth of the Church; the Blessed Virgin’s presence helps to sketch her definitive features, a fruit of the gift of Pentecost. […]

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The following is an excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptoris Hominis, where he immediately identifies the central importance of Our Lady as Mother of the Church and the spiritual Mother of all peoples. – Ed.

When therefore at the beginning of the new pontificate I turn my thoughts and my heart to the Redeemer of man, I thereby wish to enter and penetrate into the deepest rhythm of the Church’s life. Indeed, if the Church lives her life, she does so because she draws it from Christ, and he always wishes but one thing, namely that we should have life and have it abundantly. (1) This fullness of life in him is at the same time for man. Therefore the Church, uniting herself with all the riches of the mystery of the Redemption, becomes the Church of living people, living because given life from within by the working of “the Spirit of truth” (2) and visited by the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts. (3) The aim of any service in the Church, whether the service is apostolic, pastoral, priestly or episcopal, is to keep up this dynamic link between the mystery of the Redemption and every man. […]

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The Tears of Mary

Published on April 16, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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On November 6, 1994, Pope John Paul II dedicated the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears in Syracuse, Italy. The following is the homily he delivered during the dedication Mass. – Ed.

Dominus flevit (cf. Lk 19:41).

There is a place in Jerusalem, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, where according to tradition Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. In those tears of the Son of Man there was almost a distant echo of other weeping, which is spoken of in the first reading taken from the Book of Nehemiah. After their return from the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites prepared to rebuild the temple. But first they listened to the words of the Holy Scriptures and of Ezra the priest, who then blessed the people with the Book of the Law. Then they all broke into tears. In fact we read that the governor Nehemiah and the priest Ezra said to those present: “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep (…) do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” (Neh 8:9, 10). […]

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The following is the Prayer of Consecration with which Pope John Paul II consecrated the world, inclusive of Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984, in fulfillment of the Fatima request. – Ed.

“We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God.”

As we utter the words of this antiphon with which the Church of Christ has prayed for centuries, we find ourselves today before you, Mother, in the Jubilee Year of the Redemption.

We find ourselves united with all the pastors of the Church in a particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college, just as by Christ’s wish the Apostles constituted a body and college with Peter. […]

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The following prayer is the Act of Entrusting of the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, made by Pope John Paul II on October 8, 2000. – Ed.

“Woman, behold your son!” (Jn 19:26).
As we near the end of this Jubilee Year,
when you, O Mother, have offered us Jesus anew,
the blessed fruit of your womb most pure,
the Word made flesh, the world’s Redeemer,
we hear more clearly the sweet echo of his words
entrusting us to you, making you our Mother:
“Woman, behold your son!”
When he entrusted to you the Apostle John,
and with him the children of the Church and all people,
Christ did not diminish but affirmed anew
the role which is his alone as the Savior of the world.
You are the splendor which in no way dims
the light of Christ,
for you exist in him and through him.
Everything in you is fiat: you are the Immaculate One,
through you there shines the fullness of grace.
Here, then, are your children, gathered before you
at the dawn of the new millennium.
The Church today, through the voice
of the Successor of Peter,
in union with so many Pastors assembled here
from every corner of the world,
seeks refuge in your motherly protection
and trustingly begs your intercession
as she faces the challenges which lie hidden in the future. […]

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In this extraordinary homily given at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Pope John Paul II not only uses the Marian title, “Co-redemptrix,” but also provides a larger theological context which makes unquestionably clear the doctrinal legitimacy of both the title and coredemptive role of the Woman who was, in the words of the Holy Father, “crucified spiritually with her crucified Son.” -Ed.

Most Reverend Archbishop, Brother Bishops, Authorities, Beloved Brothers and Sisters:

…You have chosen for this sanctuary the significant title of Our Lady of Alborada, which with symbolic beauty speaks to us of the first light that announces the day. Mary is, in fact, the light that announces the nearness of the Sun about to rise, who is Christ. Where Mary is, Jesus will soon appear. With her luminous and resplendent presence, the Most Holy Virgin shines brightly with the light that awakens faith, prepares hope, and enkindles charity. For her part, she is only and nothing more than a reflection of Christ, “the rising Sun, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice” (1): like the dawn which, without the sun, would not be what it is. […]

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Mary, Mediatrix

Published on April 9, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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Among the titles attributed to Mary in the Church’s devotion, chapter eight of Lumen gentium recalls that of “Mediatrix.” Although some Council Fathers did not fully agree with this choice of title, (1) it was nevertheless inserted into the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church as confirmation of the value of the truth it expresses. Care was therefore taken not to associate it with any particular theology of mediation, but merely to list it among Mary’s other recognized titles.

Moreover the conciliar text had already described the meaning of the title “Mediatrix” when it said that Mary “by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (2) […]

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If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist. (1) Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.

At first glance, the Gospel is silent on this subject. The account of the institution of the Eucharist on the night of Holy Thursday makes no mention of Mary. Yet we know that she was present among the Apostles who prayed “with one accord” (cf. Acts 1:14) in the first community which gathered after the Ascension in expectation of Pentecost. Certainly Mary must have been present at the Eucharistic celebrations of the first generation of Christians, who were devoted to “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42). […]

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In the mystery of Christ’s Birth the encounter of God with man takes place and the earthly journey of the Son of God begins, a journey which will culminate in the gift of his life on the Cross. By his death Christ will conquer death and become for all humanity the source of new life.

The one who accepted “Life” in the name of all and for the sake of all was Mary, the Virgin Mother; she is thus most closely and personally associated with the Gospel of life. Mary’s consent at the Annunciation and her motherhood stand at the very beginning of the mystery of life which Christ came to bestow on humanity (cf. Jn 10:10). Through her acceptance and loving care for the life of the Incarnate Word, human life has been rescued from condemnation to final and eternal death.

For this reason, Mary, “like the Church of which she is the type, is a mother of all who are reborn to life. She is in fact the mother of the Life by which everyone lives, and when she brought it forth from herself she in some way brought to rebirth all those who were to live by that Life.” (1) […]

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Mediatrix of Mercy

Published on March 12, 2005 by in Papal Excerpts

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During the years of Jesus’ hidden life in the house at Nazareth, Mary’s life too is “hid with Christ in God” (cf. Col. 3:3) through faith. For faith is contact with the mystery of God. Every day Mary is in constant contact with the ineffable mystery of God made man, a mystery that surpasses everything revealed in the Old Covenant. From the moment of the Annunciation, the mind of the Virgin-Mother has been initiated into the radical “newness” of God’s self-revelation and has been made aware of the mystery. She is the first of those “little ones” of whom Jesus will say one day: “Father, …you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Mt. 11:25). For “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt. 11:27). If this is the case, how can Mary “know the Son”? Of course she does not know him as the Father does; and yet she is the first of those to whom the Father “has chosen to reveal him” (cf. Mt. 11:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:11). If though, from the moment of the Annunciation, the Son—whom only the Father knows completely, as the one who begets him in the eternal “today” (cf. Ps. 2:7) was revealed to Mary, she, his Mother, is in contact with the truth about her Son only in faith and through faith! She is therefore blessed, because “she has believed,” and continues to believe day after day amidst all the trials and the adversities of Jesus’ infancy and then during the years of the hidden life at Nazareth, where he “was obedient to them” (Lk. 2:51). He was obedient both to Mary and also to Joseph, since Joseph took the place of his father in people’s eyes; for this reason, the Son of Mary was regarded by the people as “the carpenter’s son” (Mt. 13:55). […]

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Introduction

The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, “a woman clothed with the sun,” (1) is interpreted by the sacred Liturgy, (2) not without foundation, as referring to the most blessed Mary, the mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer.

The memory, venerable brothers, is still vivid in our mind of the great emotion we felt in proclaiming the august Mother of God as the spiritual Mother of the Church, that is to say, of all the faithful and of the sacred pastors, as the crowning of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, after having solemnly promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. (3) Great also was the happiness of numerous Council Fathers, as well as of the faithful, who were present at the sacred rite in St. Peter’s basilica and of the entire Christian people scattered throughout the world. […]

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Mother of Mercy

Published on February 26, 2005 by in February 2005, Papal Excerpts

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These words of the Church at Easter re-echo in the fullness of their prophetic content the words that Mary uttered during her visit to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah: “His mercy is…from generation to generation.” (1) At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and of the resurrection and “sealed” (2) with the sign of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman’s house: “His mercy is…from generation to generation.” (3) […]

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This extraordinary Marian encyclical, Ad Diem Illum, composed by St. Pius X, remains one of the greatest Marian encyclicals of all time. – Ed.

An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX, Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

2. And, Venerable Brethren, why should we not hope today after the lapse of half a century, when we renew the memory of the Immaculate Virgin, that an echo of that holy joy will be awakened in our minds, and that those magnificent scenes of a distant day, of faith and of love towards the august Mother of God, will be repeated? Of all this We are, indeed, rendered ardently desirous by the devotion, united with supreme gratitude for benefits received, which We have always cherished towards the Blessed Virgin; and We have a sure pledge of the fulfillment of Our desires in the fervor of all Catholics, ready and willing as they are to multiply their testimonies of love and reverence for the great Mother of God. But We must not omit to say that this desire of Ours is especially stimulated by a sort of secret instinct which leads Us to regard as not far distant the fulfillment of those great hopes to which, certainly not rashly, the solemn promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception opened the minds of Pius, Our predecessor, and of all the Bishops of the universe. […]

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The witnesses of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ have handed on to the Church and to mankind a specific Gospel of suffering. The Redeemer himself wrote this Gospel, above all by his own suffering accepted in love, so that man “should not perish but have eternal life.” (1) This suffering, together with the living word of his teaching, became a rich source for all those who shared in Jesus’ sufferings among the first generation of his disciples and confessors and among those who have come after them down the centuries. […]

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After recognizing in Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32), Simeon announces to Mary the great trial to which the Messiah is called and reveals her participation in that sorrowful destiny.

His reference to the redeeming sacrifice, absent at the Annunciation, has shown in Simeon’s prophecy almost a “second Annunciation” (Redemptoris Mater, n. 16), which will lead the Virgin to a deeper understanding of her Son’s mystery.

Simeon, who up to that moment had addressed all those present, blessing Joseph and Mary in particular, now prophesies to the Virgin alone that she will share in her Son’s destiny. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he announces to her: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34 35).

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In accepting with complete availability the words of the Angel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of the Messiah, Mary began her participation in the drama of Redemption. Her involvement in her Son’s sacrifice, revealed by Simeon during the presentation in the Temple, continues not only in the episode of the losing and finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus, but also throughout his public life.

However, the Blessed Virgin’s association with Christ’s mission reaches its culmination in Jerusalem, at the time of the Redeemer’s Passion and Death. As the Fourth Gospel testifies, she was in the Holy City at the time, probably for the celebration of the Jewish feast of Passover.

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Praying the Rosary for Unity

Published on October 30, 2004 by in Papal Excerpts

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Adiutricem Populi

To Our Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

The mightiest helper of the Christian people, and the most merciful, is the Virgin Mother of God. How fitting it is to accord her honors ever increasing in splendor, and call upon her aid with a confidence daily growing more ardent. The abundant blessings, infinitely varied and constantly multiplying, which flow from her all over the whole world for the common benefit of mankind, add fresh motives for invoking and honoring her.

Catholic Devotedness to Mary

2. For such magnanimous favors, Catholics on their part have not failed to return to her the tender devotion of grateful hearts; because, if ever there was a time when love and veneration of the Blessed Virgin were awakened to new life and inflaming every class of society, it is in these days so bitterly anti-religious. The clearest evidence of this fact lies in the sodalities which have everywhere been restored and multiplied under her patronage; in the magnificent temples erected to her august name; in the pilgrimages undertaken by throngs of devout souls to her most venerated shrines; in the congresses whose deliberations are devoted to the increase of her glory; in other things of a like nature which are praiseworthy in themselves and augur well for the future. […]

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Fifteen Hundred Families

Published on October 30, 2004 by in Papal Excerpts

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We wish to express to you our paternal gratitude for the news communicated to us by your zealous pastor and which, by itself, would suffice to fill us with joy: namely, that fifteen hundred families of your parish have begun to honor Mary through the daily recitation of the rosary. Every night, therefore, the incense of prayer will rise to heaven from fifteen hundred homes. It will include the invocations of the Our Father, the praises, greetings, and petitions of the Hail Mary, the hymn of glory to the Most Blessed Trinity. Every evening, while they are praying, they will meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and of Mary, and it will not be difficult to imagine that Mary will beam a heavenly smile upon her children, just as she did at Lourdes when she saw Bernadette and the people lift up their rosaries to her.

The family united in prayer

But above all, every night an event will occur, simple in appearance but of such a nature as to enrapture the angels who are looking down from heaven and listening: families united in prayer in so many homes, saying the rosary before an image of the most holy Virgin. Beloved children, perhaps you cannot imagine how this can suffice to give us confidence that your parish is well oriented from now on toward that integral religious rebirth which we wished for in the Encyclical Fulgens Corona and which we again stressed in the Radio Message to Italian Catholic Action. […]

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Excerpt From: Fausto Appetente Die

Encyclical of Pope Benedict XV on St. Dominic

Loving the Blessed Virgin as a Mother, confiding chiefly in her patronage, Dominic started his battle for the Faith. The Albigenses, among other dogmas, attacked both the Divine maternity and the virginity of Mary. He, attacked by them with every insult, defending to the utmost of his strength the sanctity of these dogmas, he invoked the help of the Virgin Mother herself, frequently using these words: “Make me worthy to praise thee, Sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine enemies.”

How pleased was the Heavenly Queen with her pious servant may be easily gathered from this, that she used his ministry to teach the Most Holy Rosary to the Church, the Spouse of her Son… […]

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The Rosary: A Social Remedy

Published on October 23, 2004 by in Papal Excerpts

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Laetitiae Sanctae

Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII
Commending Devotion to the Rosary

To Our Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries, having Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

Venerable Brethren, Greeting and Apostolic Benediction.

The sacred joy which it has been given to Us to feel in attaining the fiftieth anniversary of Our Episcopal Consecration has been deepened by the knowledge that it was shared by the people of the whole Catholic world, and that as a father in the midst of his children We have been consoled by the touching testimonies of their loyalty and love. We gratefully accept it and record it as a fresh proof of God’s special providence, and one which is markedly full of bounty to Ourselves, and of blessing to the Church.

2. At the same time We love to offer Our thanks for this signal benefit to the august Mother of God, whose powerful intercession We feel to have been exercised in Our behalf. For hers is the loving kindness which, during the length of years and the vicissitudes of life, has never failed Us, and which day by day seems to draw nearer to Us than ever, filling Our soul with gladness, and strengthening Us with a confidence of which the surety is higher than the things of time. It is as if the voice of the heavenly Queen made itself heard to Us, at one moment graciously consoling Us in the midst of trials; at another guiding Us by her counsel in directing the great work of the salvation of souls; at another, urging Us to admonish the Christian people to advance in piety and in the practice of every virtue. For Us it is once more a joy as well as a duty to respond to her inspirations. Amongst the happy results which have already rewarded Our exhortations which were due to her prompting, We have to reckon the remarkable impulse given to the Devotion of the Most Holy Rosary. […]

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CHAPTER III

“FOR ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST”

The Rosary, a way of assimilating the mystery

26. Meditation on the mysteries of Christ is proposed in the Rosary by means of a method designed to assist in their assimilation. It is a method based on repetition. This applies above all to the Hail Mary, repeated ten times in each mystery. If this repetition is considered superficially, there could be a temptation to see the Rosary as a dry and boring exercise. It is quite another thing, however, when the Rosary is thought of as an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.

In Christ, God has truly assumed a “heart of flesh.” Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and in forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection. If we needed evidence for this from the Gospel, we could easily find it in the touching dialogue between Christ and Peter after the Resurrection: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times this question is put to Peter, and three times he gives the reply: “Lord, you know that I love you” (cf. Jn 21:15-17). Over and above the specific meaning of this passage, so important for Peter’s mission, none can fail to recognize the beauty of this triple repetition, in which the insistent request and the corresponding reply are expressed in terms familiar from the universal experience of human love. To understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love. […]

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CHAPTER II

MYSTERIES OF CHRIST—MYSTERIES OF HIS MOTHER

The Rosary, “a compendium of the Gospel”

18. The only way to approach the contemplation of Christ’s face is by listening in the Spirit to the Father’s voice, since “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:27). In the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus responded to Peter’s confession of faith by indicating the source of that clear intuition of his identity: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What is needed, then, is a revelation from above. In order to receive that revelation, attentive listening is indispensable: “Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery.” (27) […]

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