Ss Anne & Joachim and Mary in honor of her Immaculate Conception, pray for us, especially the USA.
Catechesis of the Holy Father
“The Faith of Mary”
(Saturday, 12 October 2013)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are all gathered for this event of the Year of Faith devoted to Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, our Mother. The statue of Our Lady, which has come from Fatima, helps us to feel her presence in our midst. Mary always brings us to Jesus. She is a woman of faith, a true believer. What was Mary’s faith like?
1. The first aspect of her faith is this: Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56). What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith” (Adversus Haereses, III, 22, 4).
The “knot” of disobedience, the “knot” of unbelief. When children disobey their parents, we can say that a little “knot” is created. This happens if the child acts with an awareness of what he or she is doing, especially if there is a lie involved. At that moment, they break trust with their parents. How often does this happen! Then the relationship with their parents needs to be purified of this fault; the child has to ask forgiveness so that harmony and trust can be restored. Something of the same sort happens in our relationship with God. When we do not listen to him, when we do not follow his will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo.
But nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose “yes” opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. We might ask ourselves: What knots do I have in my life? Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, in order to change?
2. A second aspect is that Mary’s faith gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: “Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 63). This was a point on which the Fathers of the Church greatly insisted: Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said “yes” to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by ignoring our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, her “yes”.
But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his word.
Let us ask ourselves: Do we think about this? Or do we think that Jesus’ incarnation is simply a past event which has nothing to do with us personally? Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially our hearts, to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will. All this happens thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. Let us be led by him!
3. The third aspect is Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (Lumen Gentium, 58). In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us.
How was Mary’s faith a journey? In the sense that her entire life was to follow her Son: he is the way, he is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to him and be guided by his words; to see how he acts and to follow in his footsteps; to have his same sentiments of humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also his firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross. The journey of faith thus passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning, when Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus. But then this experience of the cross became deeper when Jesus was rejected and Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt, and when Jesus’ “hour” came, the hour of his passion, when Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was the culmination of Mary’s journey of faith, and that of the whole Church. What is our faith like? Like Mary, do we keep it burning even at times of difficulty and darkness? Do I have the joy of faith?
This evening, O Mary, we thank you for our faith, and we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith.
Saint Quotes on Mary
After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness.
~ St. Alphonsus Liguori
The invocation of the sacred names of Jesus and Mary is a short prayer which is as sweet to the mind, and as powerful to protect those who use it against the enemies of their salvation, as it is easy to remember.
~ St. Thomas a Kempis
Illustration of Mary W. and Joseph Gomer adapted from a 19th century book.
Amistad: The Story
In 1839, the captives below decks wanted only to return to their homes in what is now Sierra Leone. After successfully overpowering the crew, they set sail for Africa. Inadvertently, however, they drifted north to Long Island Sound, where they were arrested by the US Coast Guard. There the foreign slaveholders caught up with them and demanded that the United States return the slaves to a plantation in Cuba.
Almost immediately, American abolitionists intervened on behalf of the captives. These activists in the name of Christ provided housing and education and helped the captives gain widespread publicity while awaiting trial. They also arranged a defense when the government appealed the case before the United States Supreme Court. There, none other than former President John Quincy Adams argued the captives’ case, pleading for their acquittal and freedom. Subsequently, the Supreme Court freed the Amistad captives in 1841.
This stunning victory defined the initial spirit of Amistad–setting captives free in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Read more: The Spirit of Amistad
Personally, I didn’t know about a movie called “Amistad.” Today, was the first day of hearing about this history. I think it is inspiring, others about the need all have for “freedom.” I don’t go to the movies, because I’ve been poor for quite a while. I hope that movie was historical and not political. Steven Spielberg is a bit controversial, and he likes Obama, and I do not; not because of his skin color, but because he has caused so many wars, and upheavals, throughout the world. I think he is very evil, as evidenced by his Anti-Catholic views, on marriage, and religious freedom. I think he hates America. It sure seems that way.