"The Virgin Mary has been present in the days of pandemic, with her maternal tenderness."

Pope Francis dedicated this Wednesday's catechesis to prayer "in communion with Mary", since "she occupies a privileged place in the life and prayer of the Christian, because she is the Mother of Jesus".

David Fernández Alonso-March 24, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
virgin mary audience

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pope Francis has had his usual catechesis conducted from the Library of the Apostolic Palace, due to restrictions imposed by the Italian government.

On this occasion, the Holy Father wished to dedicate his words "to prayer in communion with Mary, and it takes place precisely on the vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation".

Christ is the bridge

Francis wanted to emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ in prayer: "We know that the principal way of Christian prayer is the humanity of Jesus. In fact, the trust typical of Christian prayer would have no meaning if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit his filial relationship with the Father. Christ is the Mediator, the bridge we cross to the Father (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). Every prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and is realized thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends the mediation of Christ to every time and place: there is no other name by which we can be saved (cf. Acts 4:12).

It is precisely thanks to the mediation of Christ that the other references that Christianity finds for its prayer and devotion, first of all to the Virgin Mary, take on meaning and value. "She occupies a privileged place in the life and therefore also in the prayer of Christians, because she is the Mother of Jesus. The Eastern Churches have often represented her as the Odigitria, the one who 'shows the way', that is, the Son Jesus Christ.

Mary's role

A manifestation of this devotion is Christian iconography, where "her presence is everywhere, and sometimes with great prominence, but always in relation to the Son and in function of Him. Her hands, her eyes, her attitude are a living "catechism" and always point to the foundation, the center: Jesus. Mary is totally directed to Him (cf. CCC, 2674).

Jesus extended Mary's motherhood to the whole Church when he entrusted her to the beloved disciple shortly before he died on the cross.

Pope Francis

To be the Lord's humble servant. This is the role that "Mary has occupied throughout her earthly life and that she preserves forever," Francis affirms. And he continues: "At a certain point, in the Gospels, she seems almost to disappear; but she returns at crucial moments, as at Cana, when the Son, thanks to her attentive intervention, performed the first "sign" (cf. Jn 2:1-12), and then on Golgotha, at the foot of the cross."

Thus, "Jesus extended Mary's motherhood to the whole Church when he entrusted her to the beloved disciple shortly before he died on the cross. From that moment on, all of us are placed under her mantle, as seen in certain medieval frescoes and paintings".

Prayers to Our Mother

The ways in which Christians have addressed her are truly significant: "we began to pray her with some expressions addressed to her, present in the Gospels: 'full of grace', 'blessed among women'" (cf. CCC, 2676f.). The title "Theotokos", "Mother of God", ratified by the Council of Ephesus, was soon added to the Hail Mary prayer. And, similarly and as it happens in the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask the Mother to pray for us sinners, to intercede with her tenderness, "now and at the hour of our death". Now, in the concrete situations of life, and at the final moment, so that she may accompany us in the passage to eternal life".

"Mary is always present at the bedside of her children who leave this world. If anyone finds himself alone and abandoned, she is there nearby, as she was at her Son's side when all had abandoned him".

With maternal tenderness

The Pope also wanted to mention the current situation in the world: "Mary has been present in the days of the pandemic, close to people who have unfortunately ended their earthly journey in a condition of isolation, without the comfort of the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there, with her maternal tenderness. Prayers addressed to her are not in vain".

Mary defends us in dangers, she cares for us, even when we get caught up in our own things and lose our sense of direction.

Pope Francis

Francis assures us that Mary is "the woman of "yes", who promptly accepted the Angel's invitation, responds to our pleas, listens to our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts, which do not have the strength to come out, but which God knows better than we do. How and more than any good mother, Mary defends us in dangers, she cares for us, even when we are caught up in our own things and lose our sense of direction, and endanger not only our health but also our salvation".

The Holy Father concluded with the conviction that "Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. Because she is our Mother".

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