11 Mary, a sign and a sacrament of God's mercy

posted May 18, 2017, 8:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 18, 2017, 8:04 AM ]
"My each of us become, with Mary, a sign and a sacrament of the mercy of God who always forgives, forgives everything", said Pope Francis at the end of the greeting he addressed to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Fatima, to mark the centenary of the apparitions.

After a moment of silent prayer and meditation, the pontiff blessed the candles, and turned to light his own from the Paschal Candle. And while the candles were lit up among all those present, he expressed some thoughts marked by the urgency of the mission through a "revolutionary force of tenderness and affection."

He said that he (the Pope) carries "everyone in my heart. I feel that Jesus entrusted you to me, and I embrace you all, and entrusted you to Jesus, "especially those most in need" - as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July 1917).

He continued, "May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord's blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ."

He then recalled a phrase of Pope Paul VI: "If we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to Him."

The Pope suggested how to make Marian devotion true. "Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the "narrow way" of the Cross by giving us an example, or a Lady "unapproachable" and impossible to imitate? A woman "blessed because she believed" always and everywhere in God's words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a "plaster statue" from whom we beg favours at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus, the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us? Great injustice is done to God's grace whenever we say that sins are punished by His judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by His mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment, and in any case, God's judgment will always be rendered in the light of His mercy."