“Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.963
The deep devotion of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Mother of God has been very clear for a long time now. Of note, before and after every trip, he recommends himself to Her protection at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, before the holy image of Our Lady as ‘Salus Populi Romanii’. Consequently, it was of no real surprise that, at the beginning of this month, he asked all the faithful to join him in recommending the entire Church to Her motherly intercession and protection.
The Marian devotion of many Popes through the years has been evident – perhaps we might think especially here of Saint John Paul II, who was greatly devoted to the Blessed Virgin.
The place of Mary in the Church is also clearly detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which tells us –
“After Her Son’s Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by Her prayers’ .. By Her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to His Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus She is a ‘preeminent and .. wholly unique member of the Church’; indeed, She is the ‘exemplary realisation’ (typus) of the Church.. Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. ‘In a wholly singular way She cooperated by Her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason She is a mother to us in the order of grace’.” (Catechism, parae.965-968)
And so for all these reasons, Mary is deeply concerned with the mission of the Church and the salvation of souls. It was precisely for this that Her Son came into the world and gave His life for us.
What is interesting is that the Pope made a point of asking the faithful to place the Church under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, and so uniting with an intention which is dear to his heart and which he obviously feels is deeply important in these days. And it does seem that the faithful have, for the most part, done as the Holy Father requested. Such a treasury of prayerful petition arising to Heaven like incense will certainly bring about what it requests, for the Blessed Virgin will surely obtain grace and protection for the Mystical Body of Her Son.
What would be really lovely now, of course, would be for the faithful to continue this salutary practice long after this month is over; it is always a good thing to ask the help and protection of the Mother of God. Perhaps in these days, we will all have benefitted from the Pope’s gentle but insistent reminder to ask Her help.