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Where There's Mary, There's Hope

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Oct 6, 2020)
Last month, we talked about Our Lady's title, "Mother of Mercy," which was one of three new titles added to the Litany of Loreto by the Vatican this summer. This month, we will discuss the second title added to the Litany, "Mother of Hope."

Have you ever heard of Pontmain, France? There's no earthly reason you should know about it. It's a tiny village of less than 1,000 people in northwestern France. However, there is a heavenly reason you might have heard of it.

In 1871, Our Lady appeared to four children in Pontmain with a message of hope. At that time, Prussian armies had already taken control of Paris, were sweeping across northern France, and about to descend upon Pontmain. The villagers were afraid and losing hope in the effectiveness of their prayers. Then on the night of Jan. 17, four children could see Our Lady smiling down upon them from the starry sky above. When word got out, dozens of villagers gathered around. As they all prayed together, the children saw gold letters appear in the sky with the message: "But pray my children. God will hear you in a short time. My Son allows Himself to be moved with compassion."

Considering the village was on the brink of invasion, this message filled the villagers with a deep sense of relief. They all started singing the hymn "Mother of Hope" together. They no longer feared invasion. The villagers said, "Even if the Prussians were at our gate, we would not lose hope!"

A few days later, Prussian General Karl von Schmidt received orders to withdraw from the area near Pontmain. The general was quoted as saying, "We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way." Soon thereafter, France and Prussia signed an armistice, and the war was over. This appearance of Our Lady became known as the apparition of Our Lady of Hope.

So even when misfortune seems inevitable, we can always have hope that the Blessed Mother will intervene. She looks after us better than we could ever look after ourselves.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. (1817)

Throughout her life on earth, the Blessed Virgin Mary exemplified the virtue of hope. When she was at the foot of the Cross, looking up at her dying Son, she remembered what the Archangel Gabriel told her, "He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:33). At Calvary, the circumstances appeared hopeless. The Blessed Mother had every earthly reason to give in to despair. After all, it seemed as though Satan had won. But Our Lady knew that God would never abandon her. So instead of giving in to despair, the Blessed Mother placed her trust in God's promises. Of course, we know the rest of the story. Jesus rose from the dead, and Our Lady was thankful that she had placed her hope in Him.

As our spiritual mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary can help us attain the virtue of hope. She wants us to trust in God's promises, even when all else in our lives is going wrong. She never regretted placing her hope and trust in the Lord — and neither should we!

Mother of Hope, pray for us!

Next month, we'll discuss the final new invocation to the Litany of Loreto: "Comfort of Migrants."

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