Photo: Maciek Talar
Pope Leads Us to Jesus Through Mary
By Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC (Oct 15, 2013)
Pope Francis, on the occasion of the Year of Faith, led a special "Marian Day of Prayer" this weekend, highlighted by his widely anticipated Act of Entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Beginning late in the afternoon on Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray and reflect on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The day began cloudy and rainy, but the weather had cleared up beautifully by the afternoon, and there was a magnificent sunset that day. The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal was brought to the Vatican for two days of veneration. The crown on the statue contains the bullet that was removed from Blessed Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. The prayers were centered on the 7 Sorrows of Our Lady, and Pope Francis spoke of the faith of Our Lady. He said there are three aspects to her faith. First, her faith unties the knots of sin, disobedience, and unbelief, which take away our peace and serenity. Mary's "yes" opened the door for God to undo the knots. The second aspect of her faith is that it gave human flesh to Jesus. The Fathers of the Church taught that Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said "yes" to God's plan. The third aspect of Mary's faith is that it is a journey. The purpose of her whole life was to follow her Son Jesus. She precedes us on our pilgrimage of faith. Fr. Boguslaw Gil, MIC, a Marian missionary and doctoral student in Mariology, attended the vigil. He said that he was very impressed with Pope Francis' simple style of teaching and explaining things to the faithful.
On Sunday, there was a Mass at 10:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square that was attended by more than 100,000 people. Many people attended from all over the world, coming to Rome specifically for this special day because they belong to Marian prayer groups and movements. More than 1,000 priests concelebrated with the Holy Father who made an Act of Entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart at the end of the Mass.
In his homily, Pope Francis again emphasized 3 points. He said firstly that God surprises us in our lives, just as He surprised Mary in the Annunciation. His second point was that we must always be mindful of Jesus Christ and thus persevere in our faith. God surprises us with His love and expects us to be faithful to that love, just as Mary was in her "yes" to God's plan. The last point was that God is our strength. In Mary's Magnificat, she began with the words, "My soul magnifies the Lord". She offered her praise and thanks to God, as we should.
A Marian brother, the Sisters of St. Joseph (who cook for us here in Rome), and several guests staying at our house attended the Sunday Mass. Among the guests was Karen Canavan, the wife of John Canavan who promotes Divine Mercy in Australia on behalf of the Marians. Karen said that it was an unforgettable day. They had great seats right near the altar, and it was very moving to be so close to the Pope. She said that the weather was beautiful. At the beginning of the Mass, the Holy Father seemed to be very tired. She thought at first that he might be sick, but as the Mass went on, he found his energy and really came to life.
After Communion, the Holy Father offered the Act of Entrustment to Mary. In the weeks leading up to the entrustment, I had heard from friends and relatives that they had received emails stating that the Consecration previously made by Blessed John Paul II in 1984 was not valid. Through these emails, they were urged to contact the Vatican regarding this Entrustment. Be advised: these letters and emails come from a priest who is not in good standing with the Church, and, thus, they can be safely ignored.
During the beautiful Prayer of Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart, Pope Francis spoke of how God never grows weary of extending His mercy to mankind. The Holy Father asked Our Lady to gather us under her protection and to deliver us to her Son. Once again, Pope Francis demonstrated his great devotion to Our Lady and his love for the message of God's great mercy.