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.  

Homily
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.  

Angelus

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

Foxnews.com
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!
Protectress
            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, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=17309

 [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.  http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2010/07/may-holy-family-join-us-in-this-war-of.html
[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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cardinal Sodano Invokes Mary Before Conclave

On February 11th, Cardinal Sodano responding to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's resignation said:  
And you did not hesitate, although moved with emotion, to answer that you accepted, trusting in the Lord's grace and the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Like Mary on that day she gave her 'yes', and your luminous pontificate began, following in the wake of continuity, in that continuity with your 265 predecessors in the Chair of Peter, over two thousand years of history from the Apostle Peter, the humble Galilean fisherman, to the great popes of the last century from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II.  –Cardinal Sodano, February 11
Today in his homily during the "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass, Sodano in his homily invoked the intercession of Mary: 
My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a Pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart. We ask this of the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, Queen of the Apostles and of all the Martyrs and Saints, who through the course of history, made this Church of Rome glorious through the ages. Amen.
It is clear that the Mother of God is praying for this conclave.  Her intercession has been invoked numerous times over the past weeks and month.  Today, as black smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel, let us continue to invoke the maternal solicitude of Mary, who is the Queen of Apostles, Martyrs and the Saints.  Let us pray that the next Holy Father, like Pope Emeritus Benedict, say "fiat" to the will of God for their ministry in the Church.  

Anticipating the Habemus Papam with the Virgin Mary



Tuesday, March 12 has arrived.  The Cardinals will commence the conclave in which the new Holy Father will be elected.  Over the ensuing day(s), the Cardinal electors will cast their ballot.  Once a 2/3 majority has been reached, the Cardinal Deacon will proclaim a great joy, Habemus Papam.  In their remarks before teh Urbi et Orbi blessing, our most recent Holy Fathers, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both referenced Mary in their remarks.  As we await the announcement of  the next Habemus Papam, let us look briefly at their references.  

John Paul II

Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your – in our – Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.

There are a few important points that indicate the initial Marian fervor of John Paul II's papacy.  First, he acknowledged the maternal role of Mary, not only of Christ, but also of the Church.  Secondly, he regarded the holiness of Mary by saluting her as the "Most Holy Madonna."  Thirdly, it was evident that John Paul II had a great deal of trust in the intercession of Mary as he referred to trust twice.  In his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, John Paul II described his election:  "It was to Christ the Redeemer that my feelings and my thoughts were directed on 16 October of last year, when, after the canonical election, I was asked: "Do you accept?" I then replied: "With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, in spite of the great difficulties, I accept”(Redemptor Hominis, 2).  In his remarks to those gathered at St. Peter’s Square, John Paul reiterated the acceptance he gave in the conclave.  The best summation of John Paul II’s trust in the Virgin Mother perhaps was best seen in his motto, Totus Tuus, Totally Yours. 

Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters, After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act, even with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, will be at our side. Thank you.

Similar to John Paul II, Benedict referred to Mary both as Mother and Most Holy.  He indicated a certain degree of trust in Mary, but not as explicit as John Paul II’s.  Benedict saw Mary as a guide, as someone who would journey with the Church and be at her side. 

The Next Holy Father

And so now we wait for the signal of white smoke and tolling bells for the initial words of our next Holy Father.  John Paul II and Benedict XVI had a beautiful way of writing and speaking about the Virgin Mary throughout their papacy, but it all started from their papal announcement.  Now we will wait to see if the new Holy Father will follow his two immediate predecessors.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mary and the Rite Regulating the Conclave

Today Vatican Information Service published the details of the liturgical rite that precedes the conclave.  Below is an excerpt of the rite:

The regulations also state that, for this ceremony, the senior cardinal in the hierarchy—who currently is Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re—will preside over the celebration, which begins with the sign of the cross and the proclamation of the following words:
“May the Lord, who guides our hearts in the love and patience of Christ, be with you all.”After this brief prayer, Cardinal Re will invite all those gathered to begin the procession towards the Sistine Chapel, where the Conclave will take place, with these words:
"Venerable Brothers, after having celebrated the divine mystery, we now enter into Conclave to elect the Roman Pontiff.
The entire Church, joined with us in prayer, constantly calls upon the grace of the Holy Spirit to elect from among us a worthy Pastor of all of Christ's flock.
May the Lord direct our steps along the path of truth, so that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, we may always do that which is pleasing to him.”
After this prayer, the cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel following the minister bearing the cross, the choir, the masters of ceremony, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, and the prelate who will give the meditation to the Cardinal electors. The procession is ended with a deacon, dressed in alb and stole, bearing the book of the Gospels, along with Cardinal Re and the Master of Ceremonies.
As the Cardinal electors prepare to enter the conclave, the intercession of Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, Queen of Apostles, and Queen of Saints is invoked.  The rite acknowledges the intercession and guidance of Mary and the saints throughout the process.  As the Church is joined with the Cardinals in prayer, may we continue to implore the intercession of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, and the saints for their prayers for the Church during this important time. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cardinal Dolan and the Upper Room

Photo credit: CUA Press Release
The Papabile Timothy Cardinal Dolan has blogged from Rome (available here).  Dolan provides an update on what has been happening in Rome and the purpose of the General Congregations.  He makes two references to Mary.  Dolan described the General Congregations as being 

"back in that Upper Room with Our Lady and the apostles, and the challenges we – and the new Saint Peter – will face are, surprisingly, similar to those the first Pope, Saint Peter, confronted that first Pentecost: how most effectively to present the Person, message, and invitation of Jesus to a world that, while searching for salvation and eternal truth, are also at times doubting, skeptical, too busy, or frustrated."

I alluded to a similarity of the preparations of the conclave to that of the Upper Room, when I commented on the Wednesday Eucharistic adoration, rosary, and vespers scheduled for the Cardinals. 

Furthermore, Dolan expressed his 
"Heartfelt thanks for your prayers! We need them! We feel them! Keep them up! An old-timer told me that the days between the passing of one Pontiff and the election of a new one are like the days in Jerusalem after Our Lord’s Ascension to heaven. The whole Church prayed, prayed hard, prayed long, united with the apostles and the Mother of Jesus, who were locked-up in the Cenacle, awaiting the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit! That’s happening now, if your abundant and gracious notes and messages are any indication."
The Church is indeed in a time awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the successors of the Apostles, to choose the next Peter.  They have been persevering in prayer with Mary.  Dolan also acknowledged that when breaking for lunch, they close with an Angelus, recalling the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation and also beseeching the Lord to pour forth His grace in their hearts.

Right now as a Church, we must continue to pray, and as Dolan stated, pray hard and long united with the Apostles and Mary.  Let us continue to invoke the intercession of the Queen of the Apostles and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Maternal Solicitude


Photo Credit: Reuters
Maternal Solicitude and the Abdication

In my post on Mary and Benedict XVI’s abdication, I made a few remarks about Benedict’s entrustment of the Cardinal Fathers to the maternal solicitude of Mary.   I was listening to Relevant Radio the other day while traveling in my car, and I was struck that they used Benedict’s phrase, “maternal solicitude” when encouraging listeners to pray for the Holy Father.  During the course of a long drive, I was afforded the opportunity to reflect further on Benedict’s description of Mary. 

                Mary is the Mother of God and Mother of the Church.  She is the mother of those who are members of the Church.  Think about your own mother.   For most, their mothers are loving, kind, and concerned about their child.  They do not want to lose their child while shopping or have their child burn their hand on the stove.  Mother’s care about their children; they want what is best for them.  Mother’s want their children to do well in school so they make sure their children are doing their homework, are reading, and studying for school.  They want their children to succeed; to go to college and to have a good life.  It breaks a mother’s heart to see their child walk away from their Catholic faith; to stop practicing religion all together.  With even greater maternal solicitude, the mother prays fervently for her children.  She desires her son or daughter to gain eternal life.  To summarize, they love their children so much, that they look out for their children.  This is maternal solicitude.

 If our earthly mother’s love their children so much, think about how much more, Mary, the Mother of God, of the Church, and of us, cares about her children.  She knows the important role the Church has in society.  With great love for the Church then, Mary prays for the Church, and desires the Church to obey its supreme Shepherd, Christ the Lord.  She desires for the Church to listen to the Holy Spirit and to act accordingly.  This is why Benedict XVI entrusted the Cardinal Fathers to the maternal solicitude of Mary—because she is our mother and wants only what is best for the Church.  Like a mother, she is praying for her children, and walking with the Church during this time. 

Other uses of the phrase "maternal solicitude"

Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI's use of the phrase was not the first time when he entrusted the Cardinals to Mary's maternal solicitude.  He did so at least one other time, three years earlier on February 11, 2010.

On the Memorial of the apparitions in Lourdes, where Mary chose to manifest her maternal solicitude for the sick, the Liturgy appropriately echoes the Magnificat, the canticle of the Virgin who exalts the wonders of God throughout salvation history: the humble and the poor, like all who fear God, experience his mercy which overturns earthly destinies, thus showing the holiness of the Creator and Redeemer.   --18th World Day of the Sick  February 11, 2010

John Paul II

John Paul II used the phrase often.  

She who once spoke in song, later spoke in this Image, manifesting through it her maternal presence in the life of the Church and of the motherland. The Virgin of Jasna Gora has revealed her maternal solicitude for every soul; for every family; for every human being living in this land, working here, fighting and falling on the battlefield, condemned to extermination, fighting against himself, winning or losing; for every human being who must leave the soil of his motherland as an emigrant; for every human being.  --Homily of John Paul II  Czestochowa - Jasna Gora, 4 June 1979

Next Sunday, I will go to Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen in the faith the Catholic community there which is committed to an important process of reconciliation and agreement. I ask you to accompany me with your prayer on this apostolic journey, which I entrust to the maternal solicitude of the Blessed Virgin.  --General Audience of John Paul II, 18 June 2003

Commending your deliberations to the intercession of Saint Vincent de Paul and to the maternal solicitude of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, I pray that your Assembly may be enlightened and guided by the Spirit of wisdom, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of your Congregation.  --Letter of John Paul II to the Members of the Congregation of the Mission, 18 July 2004

For all these goals, I invoke from Heaven, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, an abundance of light and strength. In particular, I ask her to watch over each one of you and over your confreres with maternal solicitude, and I wholeheartedly impart an Apostolic Blessing to you all.

Maternal Solicitude as an Attribute of the Church

What can be said of Mary, can also be said of the Church.  This is true for the Church's role as mother of the faithful.  Vatican II and John Paul II described the Church's maternal solicitude, taking Mary as her example. 

Let us have recourse to God through Christ, mindful of the words of Mary's Magnificat, which proclaim mercy "from generation to generation." Let us implore God's mercy for the present generation. May the Church which, following the example of Mary, also seeks to be the spiritual mother of mankind, express in this prayer her maternal solicitude and at the same time her confident love, that love from which is born the most burning need for prayer.
--Dives in Misericordia, #15, 30 November 1980.

In each of these elements, in each field-both of contemplation, so fruitful for the apostolate, and of direct apostolic action-the Church's constant blessing accompanies you, as does at the same time her pastoral and maternal solicitude, with regard to the spiritual identity of your life and the correctness of your activity in the midst of the great universal community of the vocations and charisms of the whole People of God.
--Redemptionis Donum, #15, 25 March 1984

5. While the Church shows motherly concern and solidarity for her sons and daughters, at the same time she stands before them. The Mater is also Magister; she has the authority to bring up and teach her children, and so lead them to salvation. Mother Church gives birth to her sons and daughters; she nurtures and educates them. She gathers her children together and sends them out, all the while assuring them that they are safe in her motherly bosom. At the same time she is saddened by those who have fallen away and holds the door open to reconciliation, which is her constant concern. You Pastors have a particular responsibility in this regard:  as "fathers of your communities", you have the right and duty to exercise the Church's "maternal authority", as the Second Vatican Council put it so clearly:  in their preaching, the Bishops should "proclaim the maternal solicitude of the Church for all people, whether they be Catholics or not, and should be especially solicitous for the poor and weaker brethren.... Since it is the mission of Church to maintain close relations with the society in which she lives, the Bishops should make it their special care to approach people and initiate and promote dialogue with them. These discussions on religious matters should be marked by charity of expression as well as by humility and courtesy, so that the truth may be combined with charity, and understanding with love. The discussions should likewise be characterized by due prudence allied, however, with sincerity, which by promoting friendship is conducive to union of minds" (Christus Dominus, n. 13). 
20 November 1999

When it is animated by lay and consecrated persons that live the same educational mission in sincere unity, the Catholic school shows the face of a community that tends towards an increasingly deeper communion. This communion knows how to be welcoming with regard to people as they mature, making them feel, through the maternal solicitude of the Church, that God carries the life of each son and daughter of His in His heart. It knows how to involve young people in a global formation experience, to direct and accompany, in the light of the Good News, their search for meaning, even in unusual and often tortuous forms, but with an alarming urgency. A communion, finally, that inasmuch as it is based on Christ, acknowledges Him and announces Him to each and everyone as the only true Master (cf. Matt 23:8).

269. The Ordo unctionis infirmorum cumque pastoralis curae provides for the communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, especially on the occasion of a pilgrimage to a shrine(388). Such is perfectly in accord with the nature of the Sacrament: obviously, where the imploration of the Lord's mercy is more intense, there too will the maternal solicitude of the Church be more sought by her children who, through sickness or old age, begin to be in danger of death(389).

There are countless other references.  I direct you to this search of the Vatican website.

Let us entrust the Church to Mary's maternal solicitude, so that the Church can continue its mission with great concern. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Rosary and the Conclave

Catholic author and blogger Marge Fenlon writes:  
The College of Cardinals has called the universal church to pray tomorrow, Wednesday, March 6, at 5pm Rome time, 11am EST, for the upcoming conclave and the process of electing a new Pope.  
While the official start of the Conclave has not yet been announced, the Cardinals will gather tomorrow at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica for recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and then Vespers.
Tomorrow the Cardinals and the Church universal will reflect on the Glorious mysteries of the rosary, which includes reflecting on the third glorious mystery: Pentecost.  Tomorrow, just as Mary persevered in prayer with the early Church, she will again persevere in prayer with the Apostle's successors.  Let us join in prayer with the Cardinals during their time of prayer for the Church and its upcoming papal election.