Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pope Francis and the Month of Mary

On May 1, Pope Francis in his General Audience spoke both of St. Joseph the Worker and the Virgin Mary.  This post does not contain the entire audience, just the references to Mary.  Let's take a look at the Marian references.

Today, the 1st of May, we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Pope Francis acknowledges this longstanding tradition of the Church to honor Mary during the month of May. 

The second thought: in the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: "She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (2:19.51).

Remember that Pope Francis has invoked Mary's protectress role and the role of Joseph protecting the Church from the first days of his papacy.  

And in this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!

It is nice to see Pope Francis recommending the prayer of the holy rosary for families and parishes.  The pope acknowledges that Jesus is at the center of the rosary prayer.  This is, of course, evidenced by the name of Jesus at the center of the Hail Mary.  Pope Francis' comment also helps us to call to mind the rosary priest Fr. Patrick Peyton's saying, "the family that prays together, stays together."

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to teach us to be faithful to our daily commitments, to live our faith in everyday actions and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.

As I mentioned in a recent post, Pope Francis speaks about specific actions of the Madonna.  He has spoken often about her protection, help, and today he tells us that she can teach us to be faithful to our daily commitments.  Also, Pope Francis speaks about contemplating Christ's face.  Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortaiton, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, referred to the rosary as an aid to contemplating the face of Christ in the school of Mary.  It seems that Pope Francis is inviting us to contemplate the face of Christ through the rosary.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pope Francis and Marian Devotion

A friend of mine sent me a youtube link to a Catholic News Service video featuring Archbishop Gomez speaking about Pope Francis and Marian devotion.  Take a look below:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mary, Pope Francis, and the Month of April

Due to a busy April, I was unable to post daily or weekly as I would desire.  I hope this month long summary for the month of April will suffice.  Now that we have commenced the month of May, the month of Mary, there will be much to share and write about, including the Pope's remarks from May 1st.  Below my commentary you will find the references of Pope Francis.  

The Help of Mary:

A common theme we find this month in the references is Mary's role of helping us.  On at least five occasions, Pope Francis invoked the help of Mary.  Let's take a look: 
  • "Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she help us, bishop and people, to walk together in faith and charity."  
  • "let us ask for the help of Mary Most Holy so that the Church throughout the world may proclaim the Resurrection."    
  • "May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us." 
  • "Mary our Mother, help us to recognize Jesus’ voice always better and to follow it to walk along the path of life! Thank you.
  • "I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to that which the Lord asks of you, and always to live and to walk according to the Holy Spirit!"  
Mary will help us to walk in faith, proclaim the Lord, help us on the journey, help us to recognize the voice of Jesus, and to follow the way of the Holy Spirit.  

The Action of Mary

Another quick summation of the references can be seen in how Pope Francis either spoke of Mary's role or how he implored her:

  • Mary leads us to Jesus.
  • Mary inspires our mind to listen and put into practice the will of God
  • She helps us in so many ways (as noted above).
  • The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to welcome the newness of God in our life. 

Specific Quotes

April 5 Homily
Domus Sanctae Marthae

"Mary always leads us to Jesus," as she did at Cana when she said: "Do whatever he tells you. Let us trust in the name of Jesus, let us invoke the name of Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit push us to say this prayer trusting in the name of Jesus ... it will do us all good."

April 7, 2013
Homily  Domus Sanctae Marthae

The Pope said that the road taken by Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for the imperial census was a road of humility. There was the humility of Mary, who "did not understand well," but "[entrusted] her soul to the will of God." Joseph was humble, as he "lowered himself" to take on the "great responsibility" of the bride who was with child. (Zenit)

April 7, 2013
Regina Caeli

Dear friends, this afternoon I will celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she help us, bishop and people, to walk together in faith and charity, always confident in the mercy of the Lord: He always waits for us, he loves us, he forgave us with is blood and he forgives us every time we go to him to ask forgiveness. Let us have faith in his mercy!

April 10, 2013
General Audience

Finally, an affectionate thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Monday we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation. May the Virgin Mary inspire your mind, dear young people, so that you may always listen to and put into practice the will of the Lord; may she warm your hearts, dear sick people, to offer your suffering for the good of the Church; and may she lead you, dear newlyweds, to recognize the presence of God and of His love in your new family life.

April 14, 2013
Regina Caeli

In praying the Regina Caeli together, let us ask for the help of Mary Most Holy so that the Church throughout the world may proclaim the Resurrection of the Lord with candour and courage and give credible witness to it with signs of brotherly love. Brotherly love is the closest testimony we can give that Jesus is alive with us, that Jesus is risen.

April 14, 2013
Homily, St. Paul Outside the Walls

The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us.

April 20, 2013
Regina Caeli

And let us invoke Mary’s intercession. Today there were 10 young men who said “Yes” to Jesus and were ordained priests this morning... This is beautiful! Let us invoke Mary’s intercession, she who is the Woman of “Yes.” Mary said “Yes” her whole life! She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time she carried him in her womb. Mary our Mother, help us to recognize Jesus’ voice always better and to follow it to walk along the path of life! Thank you.
Thanks so much for the greeting, but greet Jesus too. Cry out “Jesus,” loudly... Let us all pray together to Our Lady.

April 28, 2013
Regina Caeli

I would like to entrust the confirmandi and all of you to Our Lady. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to welcome the newness of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to welcome the Word of God, to welcome Jesus in ourselves and then bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Spirit with the Apostles in the upper room: every time that we come together in prayer, we are supported by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the ability to bear witness to the risen Jesus. I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to that which the Lord asks of you, and always to live and to walk according to the Holy Spirit!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


To the readers and followers of this blog,

I wish to apologize for my lack of posting.  The lack of posts was not caused by a dearth of references to Mary by our Holy Father.  Instead, my day to day duties as a seminarian have consumed much of my time, and in other free time I have been working on a few other side projects.  My hope is to post a comprehensive post for the month of April listing Pope Francis' Marian references with a brief commentary.  Look for that on May 1.  

Thanks for your understanding. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Anthology of Pope Francis' April Marian References

I wish to apologize for not posting immediately as I had been with the Pope's Marian references.  I guess you could say life happened.  My work load picked up over the past few weeks so blogging about the Pope had to go to the side for a bit.  Only time will tell, but I think that I will begin to post weekly on Sunday's with a post called, "Week in Review: Pope Francis and Mary."  You will find below the Pope's Marian references since the Easter Vigil, which was my last post.  

April 1, 2012- Regina Coeli

After reflecting for a few moments on the power of grace at work in our lives, Pope Francis called everyone to prayer, saying:

Let us pray together, in the name of the dead and risen Lord and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Paschal mystery might work deeply in us and in our time so that hatred may give way to love, lies to truth, revenge to forgiveness, and sadness to joy.

April 7, 2013- Regina Coeli

Together let us pray the Virgin Mary that she help us, Bishop and People, to walk in faith and charity, ever trusting in the Lord’s mercy: he always awaits us, loves us, has pardoned us with his Blood and pardons us every time we go to him to ask his forgiveness. Let us trust in his mercy!

Pope Francis encourages us to seek the help of the Virgin Mary, that the bishops and people, may walk in faith and charity ever trusting in the Lord's mercy.  Mary was a woman of great faith who surrendered herself obediently to God's will for her life, who showed love toward many people in the scriptures beginning with Elizabeth and the couple at Cana, and who trusted in the Lord's mercy as she was the recipient of the saving work of Christ from her conception in the womb of St. Anne.  

April 11, 2013- Telegram on the death of Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla of Novara, Italy on the death of Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti. In it the Pope stated: 

I pray fervently to the Lord Jesus that He, through the Virgin Mary, may give the late cardinal the eternal reward promised to his faithful disciples.

Many Catholics have a difficulty in understanding the idea of Mary as the dispenser of grace.  Many saints (for example, Bernard of Clairvaux) of the tradition have wrote about the way distribution of grace through Mary.  That God wishes to give graces through the hands of Mary.  While I do not wish to delve into this theological discussion at this time, it is interesting to note that Pope Francis prayed that the Lord Jesus, through the Virgin Mary, would give the Cardinal his eternal reward.  It seems to me that Pope Francis indicates that the grace being asked for, namely eternal rest, will be granted by Jesus through the mediation of Mary.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter and Mary

At the conclusion of his Easter Vigil homily, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of Mary. 

On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51) and ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May he open us to the newness that transforms, to the beautiful surprises of God. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day, dear brothers and sisters, not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen..

While this was a brief reference to Mary, it is nevertheless, filled with meaning.  His invocation mimics the closing prayer of the Regina Coeli in which we ask through the intercession of Mary to experience the joys of eternal life--to share in the Lord's resurrection.  But notice what Francis continues to do: he names what  we should ask the Lord to do in our lives.  I think we could say that Pope Francis lists these as specific graces of the Virgin Mary's prayers asking the Lord to share in the Resurrection.  He asks the Lord for these Easter graces which come through the mediation of Mary's intercession.
Furthermore, one of the graces he asks of the Lord are quite similar to Mary's Maginficat.

Pope Francis: May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world.

Mary:   "The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name."  Mary lists the marvels of the Lord in her song of praise:  "His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,  according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Mary's list are just a few things that we can remember how God has worked in our lives and in the history of the world.  

To read Pope Francis' full homily go here.

Read my own Marian Easter reflection, Celebrating Easter with Our Lady on Ignitum Today.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday, World Youth Day, and Mary

Today, as per the custom for Palm Sunday in Rome, the youth of Rome gathered to hear Pope Francis.  In both his homily and Angelus address the Pope spoke of Mary.  

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.”

Many saints of the tradition have regarded Mary as a teacher.  In fact our most recent popes referred to a specific "school of Mary."  Mary teaches us about her son and she is a guide for us as we strive to live more faithful lives.  By her example she teaches.  Today Pope Francis tells us that Mary specifically teaches us the joy of meeting Christ.  


Dear Brothers and Sisters, At the end of this celebration, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she may accompany us during Holy Week. May she, who followed her Son with faith all the way to Calvary, help us to walk behind him, carrying his Cross with serenity and love, so as to attain the joy of Easter. May Our Lady of Sorrows support especially those who are experiencing difficult situations. My thoughts turn to the people afflicted with tuberculosis, as today is the World Day against this disease. To Mary I entrust especially you, dear young people, and your path towards Rio de Janeiro: This July, Rio! Prepare your hearts spiritually. May all of you have a good journey!

Given the nature of today's liturgical celebration, Pope Francis rightly focuses on the sorrows Mary endured on the way to Calvary.  Catholics throughout the holy season of Lent have gathered at their local churches or on their own to pray the stations of the cross.  Many people who pray the stations often sing verses of the Stabat Mater after each station.  The Stabat Mater has been used as the Sequence for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  While the verses do not relate to each station, it incorporates an element of Marian piety within the Stations of the Cross, thereby allowing an individual to make the Way of the Cross with Christ and journey with His mother to Calvary.  

In the Angelus, Pope Francis invoked Mary's intercession to accompany us, that is the Church, throughout Holy Week.  He cites the example of Mary who journey with Christ along the way of the Cross.  As Mary walked with Christ, by her example then we too should carry our crosses with him.  He then invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows for those who suffer.  In so doing he implicitly invited them to unite their sufferings to Christ and to share their burden with Mary.  Finally he entrusted the young people to Mary's intercession as they prepare for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. 

Notice the way in which Pope Francis called upon Mary.  He first invoked her intercession that she may accompany.  Then he called upon her support for those suffering.  And then he entrusted to her intercession other people.  Invoke, accompany, support, and entrust.  In reading many of Pope Francis' other writings these are constant themes that he addressed in terms of Mary and in general the call to discipleship.  Expect to see this become a theme of his Mariological thought throughout his papacy.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pope Francis to Jesuits: Entrust Me to Mary's Protection

A consistent and constant theme for Pope Francis since is election is the theme of Mary acting as a protectress--as one who protects.  Again, Pope Francis referred to the protection of Mary in a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits.   Before imparting his Apostolic Blessing, Pope Francis requested the prayers of his brother Jesuits:  
With these sentiments I ask all Jesuits to pray for me and entrust me to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother in Heaven, while, as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours, I impart with special fondness my Apostolic Blessing, which I also extend to all those who work with the Society of Jesus in their activities, benefit from their good works, and partake of their spirituality.
Emphasizing Mary's role as protectress is interesting.  Why protectress?  Let me suggest a few ideas as to how Mary acts as a protectress.

1.  From Bernard of Clairvaux's homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother, he poetically writes that in the midst of danger, trial, tribulation, one should call upon Mary.  Bernard writes: When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of tribulation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary. ... Following her, you will never go astray.  Asking her help, you will never despair. Mary can help to protect us against temptation.  She is the one who crushes the serpent's head.  The devil will try to bring down the Church and one way he does this is through the Church's ministers.  Let us pray through Mary's intercession and protection, Pope Francis will be protected from the snares of the Evil One.  

2.  The prayers of the Madonna are powerful.  Perhaps the request to entrust the pope to Mary's loving protection is a call for us to ask Mary to protect him from harm or violence.  It is a call for us to ask Mary to wrap her mantle of protection around Pope Francis, to safeguard him so he can persevere in his ministry.  

Like any mother, Mary, our Mother in Heaven, loves, desires, and hopes that all Christians will return to the Lord with their whole heart.  She wants to protect her children from the harm of war, envy, evil, etc.  Under the inspiration of Pope Francis, who has revealed himself as dedicated to Mary's role as a protectress, may we invoke Mary's protection for our Holy Father, the Church, and the people of God.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Marian Collection of Pope Francis Links

Since March 19 the Pope has not made any Marian references, but I anticipate that he will during Holy Week.  Today I thought I would share a few links to news articles that have surfaced regarding Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis' Marian devotion.

1.  Cardinal Bergoglio was inspired by the example of Pope John Paul II who prayed 15 decades of the rosary everyday.  Because of John Paul II, Pope Francis began to pray 15 decades of the rosary each day.  Read more here. 

2.  Many sources have indicated that Cardinal Bergoglio has a devotion to Mary under the title "Undoer of Knots."  It is a devotion rising in popularity.  Dr. Taylor Marshall gives a good overview here.  Pope Francis also gave an image of Mary, Undoer of Knots, to Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miscellaneous Marian References for the Day

VIS New Blog
Pope Francis made a few other Marian references today.  

1.  He made a phone call to Argentina for a gathering in his honor.   The Pope remarked: "Do not be afraid of him. Draw near to him and may the Virgin bless you. May she, as a mother, protect you. Please do not forget this bishop who is far away but who loves you very much. Pray for me!”  Additionally, he also invoked the intercession of Mary for the gathering:  “Through the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, and each of your guardian angels, the glorious patriarch St. Joseph, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and each of your protector saints, may God All-mighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you.”  Again, Pope Francis shows the role of Mary as one who acts as protectress.  Interesting today he says, "May the Virgin bless you."  

2.  The Vatican Information Service reports that "At the end, after the [Inauguration] Mass, the Pope went to pray before the statue of the Virgin that stood next to the altar."  Pope Francis consistently is revealing himself to be a man truly dedicated to the Virgin through his various prayers at different Marian sites (e.g. St. Mary Major, Lourdes Grotto, Statue next to the altar).  

3.  Like many of the Holy Fathers (and bishops for that matter), Mary typically finds a place in the coat of arms.  For Pope Francis, Mary is represented by a star.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother states that the name of Mary means star.  In Catholic piety we call Mary the Star of the Sea, or the Star of the New Evangelization.  Zenit has a nice piece on the Pope's motto having both a Marian and Joseph dimension. 

Mary and the Installation of Pope Francis
Today Pope Francis was installed as the Bishop of Rome, on this the feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church.  In Pope Francis' homily he reflected on the role of St. Joseph as protector and the similarities it shares with the Petrine ministry.  He also focused on the many roles that the Christian faithful have in protecting our families and the environment.  

And of course, when talking about St. Joseph, it would be difficult to not speak about Mary.  Below are the Marian references of Pope Francis during his Installation homily:

1.  Pope Francis acknowledged the fact that St. Joseph was the spouse of the Virgin Mary. He commented quite nicely on Joseph's role as spouse:  "As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus."

2.  He spoke about St. Joseph as the protector of Jesus and Mary and by extension, to the entire Church.  He quoted Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos:  "Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model."

3.  Pope Francis also elaborated on the role of the Bishop Rome as protector.  He said his role is "To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly.  Let us protect with love all that God has given us!"

From the very first days of Francis' pontificate he has constantly spoke of Mary's role as protectress.  Today he developed the theme of protector with St. Joseph and extended it to his own ministry.  He said he is protect Jesus with Mary.  Over the years we have seen Jesus protected through dogmatic declaration regarding Mary such as her Divine Motherhood.  Each of the dogmas of the Church reveals a truth about Jesus and allows us to better understand Jesus through Mary.  The Holy Father as a protector of Jesus though is also the protector of Mary, because he will defend her from the attacks by coming her to assistance by preaching and defending Mary through teaching and homilies.  

4.  He implored the Holy Spirit through the intercession of the Virgin Mary and the intercession of Sts. Joseph, Peter and Paul, and Francis.  

Read the full homily here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope Francis's First Angelus Address

Today Pope Francis delivered the first Angelus address of his pontificate.  Given that he spoke before and after a Marian prayer, the Angelus, one should not be surprised that Our Lady was invoked in some way.  He shared three pertinent things regarding Mary. 

1.  Pope Francis relayed the story of an event on the occasion of welcoming Our Lady of Fatima into Argentina (I presume this is a pilgrim statue that arrived for the first time in the country.)  Pope Francis recounted "Our Lady of Fatima had just arrived in Buenos Aires and there was a big Mass for the sick. I went to hear confessions at that Mass.And near the end of the Mass I got up, because I had to administer holy oil. ..."  Pope Francis by no means intended to covey a theological point about Our Lady of Fatima.  But what is important in this situation is to notice what happened.  Our Lady of Fatima arrived in Buenos Aires, and there was a Mass for the sick.  Additionally, the Archbishop went to hear confessions.  As he set up the scene to convey a story about mercy, Pope Francis found it necessary to reference the specific occasion, a celebration in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.  

The Church has a great devotion to Mary; on certain occasions festivals are held in her honor.  But the focus was not on Our Lady, but it was on the sacraments--Holy Eucharist, Confession, and Anointing   Our Lady brought together large numbers in order to present them to her Son.  Our Lady's apparition in Fatima in 1917 was the catalyst of conversions throughout the world and a return to the sacramental life of the Church.  While it was just a simple, scant reference to Fatima, there is much more that can be drawn from it as the Holy Father addressed the theme of mercy.  As seen by his story, Mary brought people together to experience the mercy of God in the sacraments. 

2.  Before praying the Angelus, Pope Francis stated: "We invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man."  People can relate to this image of Mary.  Mother's can relate to Mary who held Jesus in her arms.  This image is evocative of many scenes in Christ's life, of course it evokes Mary holding the Christ child, but in this season of Lent, it also evokes the image of Mary holding the lifeless body of her son  in her arms.  Jesus, giving his life for the salvation of the world, was the supreme act of mercy par excellence.  By saying yes to the angel, Mary cooperated in God's plan for the redemption of the world through the mercy of the Father, Son, and Spirit.  Lastly, Pope Francis spoke of the incarnation, God made man, which looks to Mary as the Mother of God, a title that we so often pray in the Hail Mary.  In the Hail Holy Queen we even call Mary the "Mother of Mercy," that is, Mother of the one who is Mercy Himself.  

3.  In concluding his address, Pope Francis stated: "But Jesus has called us to be part of a new family: his Church, this family of God, walking together along the way of the Gospel. May the Lord bless you, may Our Lady protect you. Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving! We are the ones who weary of asking for forgiveness."  

There are two important things to note from this reference.  The first is the fact Pope Francis invoked the protectress role of Mary.  He prayed for Mary's protection over Pope Benedict and over Rome, and made a special pilgrimage to Shrine of Our Lady Protectress of Rome at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.  This theme I believe will remain consistent over his papacy as seen by other writings as archbishop of Buenos Aires.  Secondly, He spoke of Jesus calling us to be part of a new family, his Church, which is the family of God.  At first glance it may not seem to be overtly Marian, but it is!  The constitutive elements of a family are a father, mother, and children.  If we view the Church as a family, then God is our Father, and the Church is mother.  But what can be said of the Church can be said of Mary.  So Mary also is our mother.  She is the mother of God's children.  She is in fact Mother of the Church.  In this Christian family then, it is necessary for there to be a mother, and that mother is both Mary and the Church.  

The Mariology of Cardinal Bergoglio Part I

            Pope Francis has made Marian devotees and Mariologists smile in the first few days of his papacy.  In his initial actions, homilies, and addresses, Pope Francis has made it a point to honor the Virgin Mary.  He made a personal pilgrimage to Santa Maria Maggiore, he has called upon the Holy Spirit through Mary’s intercession, and he has called Mary Mother of the Church and the Star of Evangelization.  Given his already expressed Marian piety, it will be interesting to see the continued development of it throughout his papacy.  Since we now know Pope Francis has a filial love for the Virgin Mary, it would be wise to look at his Mariological beliefs as Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  In Part One, I will look at Pope Francis’s Marian devotion from a wider perspective with material gathered from the Internet.  In Part Two, I will specifically look at a series of homilies that Cardinal Bergoglio delivered on an annual basis as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. 
Eucharistic Marian Devotion and Ecclesiology
            In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio addressed the Synod of Bishops with a specific address on Mary and the Eucharist.[1]  In 2008 during the International Eucharistic Congress held in Quebec City in Canada, Cardinal Bergoglio shared similar insights into Mary and the Eucharist as he did in 2005.  Since nearly 5 years have passed since that Eucharistic Congress, I did not remember that Cardinal Bergoglio delivered a catechesis, even though I was an attendee at the Congress.  Whispers in the Loggia provided a link to his catechesis.  In it, we find a remarkable reflection on the connection between Mary and the Eucharist.
            Bergoglio begins by calling Mary the woman of the Eucharistic covenant.  He says that if we want to appreciate the richness of the Church and the Eucharistic, we must not forget Mary.  Bergoglio makes an interesting analogy; he compares Mary to Russian dolls known as nestling dolls or Matryoshkas.  These Russian dolls are unique as there are six dolls, ranging from smallest to largest, and each of the dolls fit into each other.  Bergoglio said that Mary was like the Russian dolls, and that Our Lady is the smallest of the dolls because in her we see the mystery of the bond that allows the gift of God to be shared with the world, the Universal Church and each single soul.  Mary is an instrument that gives way to something greater, namely Jesus, who gives us the Eucharist and the Church.  By making Mary the littlest of the dolls, we acknowledge her humility as it leads to things much greater.   
            Cardinal Bergoglio then reflected on three aspects of Mary and the Eucharist: accompaniment, trust, and hope.  Mary is a member of the Church.  Furthermore she was present at participated in the Eucharist of the early Church (Acts of the Apostles).  The second attribute of Mary, trust, is an attitude of abandonment which we see exemplified by Mary’s fiat at the Annunciation.  Thirdly, Bergoglio spoke of the Eucharistic covenant as hope, that there is something of anticipation.  He uses the analogy of transforming into new wineskins.  Cardinal Bergoglio reflected on how Mary and the Church are the first new wineskins of Jesus Christ.  He first points to Mary as being the first Eucharistic image with Jesus contained within her womb.  The Church is also being transformed into new wineskin because of the covenant the Lord made with her.  The Church is holy and pure; she is a faithful spouse; she is the Mother.  Furthermore Mary was sanctified because she was the source of God’s gift for the world.  Similarly God is sanctifying the Church just as he did his mother.
Just a last Eucharistic, Mariological, and Ecclesiological reflection, Bergoglio described a Marian and Eucharistic spirituality as part of the School of Mary.  He suggested the Magnificat was the very program of what Mary teaches us.  Mary anticipated God’s program of salvation; similarly the Eucharist is the anticipation of the creation of new history.  The Eucharist, he described, is celebrating poverty for the Church and for everyone.  It is a sharing of Our Lady’s spirituality.  It seems that Cardinal Bergoglio was right about the spirituality of Mary being expressed in the Magnificat.  Mary’s prayer is a perfect prayer of thanksgiving after communion.  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.”   Mary received Christ into her own life by becoming the Mother of God.  Bergoglio said that we can ask God for same grace to receive Holy Communion in the same way Mary received Christ. [2]
It is clear from Cardinal Bergoglio’s reflections that his ecclesiological views are shaped by the Eucharist and Mary.  Bergoglio referenced Isaac of Stella in his catechesis, “what is said of the whole Church is said of Mary, and each individual faithful soul.”  Cardinal Bergoglio sought to reflect on this analogy by comparing Mary and the Church to the Russian dolls and new wineskins.  Bergoglio described Mary as the bond between Jesus and his bride the Church, between God and each person.   If that is Eucharistic, Mariological ecclesiology, then I do not know what is!
            During his initial comments after his papal announcement, Pope Francis invoked Mary’s protection for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and he stated he was going to visit Mary and ask her to protect Rome.  His first speech as Pope hailed Mary’s role as protectress.  This reference to Mary was not unique, but was one that was used on other occasions.  In a letter to the Carmelite nuns of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio closed with “Let us look towards Saint Joseph, to Mary, the Child, and let us ask with fervor that they will defend the Argentine family in this moment. … May Jesus bless you, and may the Blessed Virgin protect you.[3] Pope Francis even then used this image of Mary as a protectress.  It will be interesting to see how frequently Pope Francis will use this invocation of Mary’s intercession throughout his papacy.
A Model
            Mary is a unique person in the history of salvation.  Unlike Jesus who was a divine person with a human and divine nature, Mary is one of us.  She was a human person called into relationship with God.  This should make her relatable.  The Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus focused on the anthropological aspect of Mary’s relationship to humanity.  Paul VI spoke of the difficulty some have in connecting with Mary because of the modern world.  Nevertheless, Paul VI held Mary up as an individual to be imitated because of her abandonment to God’s will.[4]
In 2006, Cardinal Bergoglio addressed the issue of Church unity.  A key component to unity he argued was service.  To this end, he encouraged bishops to follow the example of service given by Mary in the gospels.  He called Mary “the first disciple, will give us the paternal ‘tenderness’ and the fraternal ‘compassion’ to exhort our people and to exhort ourselves to make our joy perfect ‘by remaining very united’.”[5]  In the first few days of his papacy, Pope Francis has painted the picture that he wants to unify the Church and calls the Church to servant leadership.  Also notice another theme that is emerging in Pope Francis’s papacy, that of fraternity, that is praying for one another as a community of believers, viewing each other as a brother and sister in Christ.  In his papacy, I expect Pope Francis to call upon this image of Mary again and again.
Concluding Remarks
From the research available through online searches, it seems that the themes already being embraced by Pope Francis in the first days of his papacy were themes that were present in his ministry as an archbishop.  This first part only looked at one facet of his Marian devotion.  In the second part, I will be looking at specific addresses given by Cardinal Bergoglio throughout his years as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, beginning with 1999-2013.  The second part of this series will take some time to research and write, but I would anticipate its publication next weekend (hopefully).  These same initial themes will be found in his other Mariological reflections; these reflections will however allow us to look at a consistent development and more specific topics.  So until then, let us continue to look at the current Marian thoughts of Pope Francis in the beginning days of his papacy.  

[1] C.f. The future Pope Francis on the Eucharist and Mary, Catholic Culture, March 14, 2013,

 [3] Rorate Coeli is a Catholic Traditionalist blog.  There blog should be read with great care.  I link to their site only because they have an English translation of the letter in question.
[4] C.f. Marialis Cultus, 29-37.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis Prays at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto

Pope Francis prayed at the Our Lady of Lorudes grotto on Friday at the Vatican.  Here is a video from Rome Reports.

Pope Francis Speaks of Mary to Journalists

Today Pope Francis met with over 6,000 journalists and those working in the media.  In his address he focused on the importance of the media and their efforts.  He also reflected on the ministry of the pope, as Peter, and how Christ is at the center of his ministry.  He also elaborated on why he chose the name Francis, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.  He shared the cardinal closest to him, upon his election, reminded him to never forget the poor.  Immediately the Holy Father thought of St. Francis of Assisi, a man of poverty, peace, and love of creation.  

Pope Francis even found the occasion to bring Mary into his address by entrusting the journalists to her intercession.  

I wish the best for you, I thank you for everything that you have done. And I think of your work: I wish you to work fruitfully and with serenity and to always know better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Church. I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization. I wish the best for you and your families, for each of your families, and I wholeheartedly impart to all of you the blessing.

It was Paul VI who first hailed Mary as the Star of Evangelizaiton in his apostolic exhortaiton Evangelii Nuntiandi. John Paul II and Benedict XVI continued to use this phrase and it seems that Pope Francis will continue to do so.  In the Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America, John Paul II referred to Our Lady of Guadalupe as the “Patroness of all America and Star of the first and new evangelization”. A search of the Vatican website yields many results (138) for the search phrase "star of evangelization."  The inclusion of Mary's title, "Star of Evangelizaiton" is significant because the media is one form in which we evangelize in the era of the new evangelization.  Mary can be for the journalists an intercessor and friend, but also a star, who will ultimately lead others to Jesus Christ. 

Pope Francis's inclusion of Mary is interesting, because when invoking his apostolic blessing he acknowledged that some may not share the Catholic or Christian tradition or others may not believe in God.  He stated, "From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you.”  Mary has the potential to aid ecumenical and inter religious dialogue, and as the Star of Evangelization, she can do just that.  

View the full text here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Address to the Cardinals

Today Pope Francis met with the Cardinals and delivered an address.  In it, he equated old age with being a seat of wisdom, a title commonly associated with Mary.  This reference to the seat of wisdom was not related to the Virgin Mary. 

He closed his address with a beautiful tribute to the Virgin Mary hailing her as our Mother and of the Church. 

To the powerful intercession of Mary, our Mother, Mother of the Church, I entrust my ministry and your ministry. Under her motherly gaze, may each of us walk joyfully, obedient to the voice of her divine Son, strengthening unity, persevering together in prayer and witnessing to genuine faith in the continuous presence of the Lord. With these sentiments – they are real! – with these sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to your collaborators and to the persons entrusted to your pastoral care. 

Inferred by Pope Francis's visit to St. Mary Major yesterday, today he clearly states that he entrusts not only his papal ministry, but the ministry of the bishops to Mary's intercession.  It seems that Mary will have a central and prominent role in his papacy.  He uses the beautiful phrase, "motherly gaze".  We all know the gaze of a mother as she looks at her child, amazed with wonder.  Furthermore, Pope Francis states that it is under this motherly gaze that we will walk and listen obediently to the voice of Christ, who will strengthen our unity, persevere in our prayer, and witness the faith; all qualities that the Mother of God exhibited during her life.  Notice that these traits he lists: walking, unity, prayer, and witnessing, all are reminiscent of his homily to the cardinals on movement: walking, building, and witnessing.  We walk joyfully obeying Christ; we build up the Church in unity and prayer, and we witness to genuine faith. 

Read the Pope's full address here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pro Ecclesia Homily of Pope Francis

Vatican Radio News
Today Pope Francis offered his first homily during the Pro Ecclesia Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the Cardinals.  The Vatican Information Service indicates that the homily of Pope Francis was given without a script.   

In the homily Pope Francis reflected on the major theme of the three readings: movement, which he went on to specify three specific movements, walking, building, and witnessing.  The way in which he addressed these topics, it seems that these could become the hallmarks of his papacy.  In reflecting on Peter's words to Jesus, the Pope remarked:
In the Gospel, even Peter who confessed Jesus as Christ, says to Him: 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I will follow you but let's not talk about the Cross. That doesn't have anything to do with it. … I'll follow you, without the Cross.” But, “when we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess a Christ without the Cross … we aren't disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord. And I wish that all of us, after these grace-filled days, might have the courage, yes, the courage to walk in the Lord's presence with the Cross of the Lord, to build the Church on the blood of the Lord that is poured out on the Cross and to witness to the sole glory: to the crucified Christ. And thus the Church will move forward.
The media has already spotlighted the humility and simplicity of our Holy Father.  His own reflection proves that this is innate, it is who he is.  The Vatican Information Service also clarified today that the Pope has chosen Francis after the great Francis of Assisi.  Initially some believed it to be Francis Xavier in order to pay homage the pope's Jesuit roots, but even more so because Francis Xavier was a great evangelist.  Alas, this is not the case.  As some have already commented, Francis of Assisi was told by the Lord to rebuild the Church.  The Church has indeed faced its share of scandal; and now we have another Francis, who who will help to rebuild the Church.  Just as Francis of Assisi's vision was connected to the cross of Christ, Pope Francis desires to build the Church on the blood of Christ and witness to the crucified Christ.  

In closing the homily, Pope Francis invoked the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary, “I wish for us all that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, grant us this grace: to walk, to build, and to witness to Jesus Christ.”

He invoked the Holy Spirit through the powerful intercession of Mary, our Mother.  Mary can be considered the spouse of the Holy Spirit because it was by the overshadowing of the Spirit that Jesus was conceived in her womb.  The Marian Movement of Priests has a prayer that specifically invokes the Holy Spirit through Mary's intercession:  "Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved Spouse."  (The locutions received by Fr. Gobbi have not, to my knowledge, been approved by the Church.)  While Pope Francis did not remark on how Mary fit into this movement, nonetheless, it is true that she walked, built, and witnessed to Christ throughout her life.  The beginning of her witness was to St. Elizabeth at the Visitation but continued throughout her entire life.  Mary, also helps to build the Church through her role as Mother of the Church.  And she witnessed to Christ throughout her life because of her initial yes to the Lord.  

Read his full homily here.

Protectress of the Roman People

As promised in his initial remarks, Pope Francis made his visit to the Madonna to ask her to protect Rome.  As I inferred yesterday from Pope Francis's statement of wanting to pray for the Roman people, I predicted he would visit Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which is home to the Shrine of Our Lady Protectress of Rome.  

Pope Francis' visit to the Marian shrine underscores the importance of Marian pilgrimage and the prayers offered at these holy sites.  Spending time in prayer to the Madonna, one could reasonably think that Pope Francis consecrated his papacy to the Blessed Virgin Mary in addition to invoking her protectress role for Rome and the Church at large.  

Vatican News reports that the Holy Father remained at the Shrine for half an hour.  

More to come later today as news becomes available.  

On another note...

I have found some wonderful comments our Holy Father made in regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I look forward to compiling them in the coming days.  Be sure to check back often. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis, Mary and the Urbi et Orbi

Pope Francis I in his initial remarks following his papal election led those gathered at the Vatican and those watching on television or online, and listening via radio in a prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, asking the Lord to bless him and Our Lady to protect him.  The prayers he led were traditional prayers, the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

In the Urbi et Orbi blessing the intercession of Mary, ever-virgin was invoked along with the intercession of St. Michael and St. Paul.

After the blessing, Pope Francis shared that tomorrow he wanted to go and pray to the Madonna, that she would protect Rome.

Pope Francis has followed his successors by calling upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary.  It is interesting to note that in the English translations thus far, he specifically addressed Mary's protective role.  He wanted us to ask Our Lady to protect Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and he wants to go and pray to the Madonna that she would protect Rome.

Mary has often been hailed as a protectress.  For example, she is often invoked as the protectress of the unborn and the protectress of the faith.  Of a more interesting note, in Rome the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is home to the Shrine of Our Lady Protectress of Rome.  Furthermore, by wanting to go and pray to the Madonna, Pope Francis acknowledges the importance of pilgrimages, in this case, Marian pilgrimages.  Given that he wants to ask Mary to protect Rome, it may be fitting for him to pray at Santa Maria Maggiore.

This blog, Mary and the Pope, over the next several years of Pope Francis's papacy will chronicle and analyze the Marian references and devotion of Pope Francis.  Be assured that if and when Pope Francis makes a pilgrimage tomorrow to invoke Mary's intercession, this blog will be covering it.

Now that we know who our new Holy Father is, I will begin researching the Mariology of Pope Francis as Cardinal Bergoglio.

Updated 3/13/2013, 4:20 pm cdt

Nota Bene:  The English translation of the Pope Francis's message says "Virgin keep him" and 
"Tomorrow I'm going to pray to the Virgin, that she will safeguard all of Rome"  When the English translation is compared to that of the Spanish, a different translation can be rendered: "Virgen lo proteja." and "MaƱana quisiera ir a rezar a la Virgen, para que proteja a toda Roma."  The Spanish uses the word "proteja" which is best translated protect and is used in both cases, rather than the word keep or safeguard.  Furthermore, the Spanish translates: Tomorrow I want to go pray to the Virgin, that she protect all of Rome."  The English in the Vatican Information Service differs than the first English translation, but the first matches well with other languages.  

Last updated 3/13/2013, 6:43 cdt

Habemus Papam! Pope Francis! Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ