I am the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, founded by the Apostle St. Thomas in India. The Apostle had already instilled into the hearts of his disciples a great devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus. This devotion was further nurtured by the Carmelite missionaries from Europe who ruled our church for nearly 300 years. The Rosary used to be recited in every Catholic home and the brown scapular of the Blessed Virgin was worn by every single one of the faithful. This extraordinarily ardent devotion of the Syro-Malabar Church to the Mother of God is mentioned by Pope Pius XI in his apostolic constitution ‘Romani Pontifices’ erecting the Syro-Malabar Hierarchy in 1923.
I have no doubt that it is the intercession of the Blessed Virgin with God that has helped our Church never to be formally separated from the See of Peter all these twenty centuries. It is her prayers that have given great vitality and missionary zeal to our Church, which proportionately has by far the greatest number of priestly and religious vocations among all the Sui Iuris Catholic Churches in the world. Even though the onslaught of secularism, materialism and worldliness is eroding the faith of Catholics throughout the world, including that of Syro-Malabarians, still Our Lady’s prayers have preserved a strong Catholic faith generally among our people.
To preserve our Church in this faith we are promoting everywhere devotion to the Mother of God, especially the recitation of the Holy Rosary which has fallen into disuse in some families. Even though the doctrine of Mary Mediatrix of all graces has not yet been solemnly defined by the Church, we believe that all graces, even sacramental graces, coming to us from God through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, come through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, His Mother. After all, the Author of all graces, Jesus Christ Himself, came to us through Mary, His Mother. Let us hope and pray that this faith of ours will one day be defined by the Church as a dogma of our Faith.
Mary is the Mother of all peoples, because she is the Mother of the only Saviour of the world, Jesus, who includes within Himself all those who are saved by Him. As a Redemptorist and spiritual son of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote ‘The Glories of Mary,’ devotion to Our Lady is in my bloodstream. I do not lose any opportunity to speak to my people about the role that Mary plays in each one’s life. It is my experience that after a sermon on Our Lady during a parish mission, a great number of people flock to the confessional through the grace that Mary, Refuge of Sinners, obtains for them.
May the effort of the Mother of All Peoples Magazine to spread devotion to the Mother of God bring in an era of renewal in Christ throughout the world in the new millennium.
Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, C.Ss.r., was the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamal for Syro-Malabars in India, and President of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church.