Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors
Pope Francis has entrusted the entire world to the care and protection of our Blessed Mother to guard against the current pandemic and bring an end to this terrible scourge. In an address in early March, right when so many people in Italy were falling ill, Francis prayed before an image of Mary, saying, “We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial.” Janice T. Connell opens her book Queen of Angels: Mary’s Answers to Universal Questions by reminding us that Christ’s gift to humanity in the last moments of His earthly life was to present Mary as a mother to us all. In John 19:26-27, we see this dramatic moment play out when Jesus looks down from the cross at His mother and the disciple John. Jesus then says, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He looks to John and says, “Behold your mother!” It’s interesting to note that the very next line of the Gospel states that “all things were now accomplished.” What tremendous importance this places on Christ’s symbolic act of giving His mother to all of humanity, and what a tremendous gift this truly was. Only Christ could have fully known the enormity of this precious gift He bestowed on us. We are left to grasp small realizations of the magnificence of the Blessed Mother. One way to try to wrap our minds around this gift is to recall the most special things we can about our own mothers. So many of us have tremendous emotion when it comes to those qualities, and these might be considered some of the most precious things Christ has chosen to share in giving Mary to us. This image might also help us to understand the enormous sacrifice Jesus made in giving His life up for us on the cross. In that moment, He gave up everything and even gave his own mother over to us. It was a sacrificial gift, and sacrificial gifts have tremendous spiritual power, which is why Mary remains - and always will be - such a powerful intercessor. The apparitions of the Blessed Mother around the world demonstrate Mary’s closeness to humanity and reinforce Christ’s intention for us to turn to her for care and protection in all our concerns. This is why Pope Francis’ call for the world to invoke Mary’s intercession during this trying time is the perfect remedy for our current situation. In one of her 1531 apparitions to Juan Diego in Guadalupe, Mexico, Mary proclaimed, “I am truly your merciful Mother, yours and all the people who live united in this land and of all the other people of different ancestries, my lovers, who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings.” In a time of trial, there is nothing more powerful than spiritual support from a caring mother. Let us implore Mary to guard us from this pandemic so that we can return to the activities that enliven our hearts and people around the world can come to know Christ through a relationship with His most Blessed Mother, finding peace, health, and hope in the future.
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