FRANCIS IN ROME, AICA and editorial •
At the Mass he celebrated in the house chapel of Santa Marta on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pope Francis highlighted that the Virgin Mary cares for us because she is the mother of all Christians and “the devil cannot enter” under her mantle.
The Holy Father recalled that the early Russian mystics counselled seeking refuge under Mary’s mantle because “she is mother and protects like a mother.”
“The West later took this counsel and the first Marian antiphon “Sub tuum praesidium” (Under your protection) says: “under your mantle, placed under your care, O Mother, we are safe there.”
Francis added that “We Christians have a Mother, the same Mother that Jesus had…we are not orphans!”
The Holy Father said that Mary, at the foot of Jesus cross, “gives birth to us in this moment of great pain. This is true martyrdom.”
“With her pierced heart,” he said, “she agrees in that moment to give birth to all of us. And from that moment on she became our Mother, since that moment she is our Mother, the one who takes care of us and is not ashamed of us: she defends us”.
Francis recalls that when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he used to visit the prisoners and would find a queue of women waiting to go into the prison. “They were mothers. They were not ashamed, their own flesh was there inside,” he said.
The Holy Father said that these “women not only suffered the shame of being there, hearing people say: “Look at her, what did her son do?”. Those mothers also suffered the worst humiliation, that of going through the inspection that is required before entering.”
“But they were mothers, and they were going there to see their own flesh. And so it was for Mary, who “was there, with her Son, with that great suffering”.
The Pope pointed out that as Mary stood at the foot of the cross, she heard things like: “She is the mother of this criminal! She is the mother of this traitor”.
“And Mary “heard these things, she suffered terrible humiliations and even heard some of the great priests, whom she respected because they were priests”, say to Jesus: “But you who are so great, come down, come down! Her son who was naked”.
“Mary experienced such an intense suffering, but did not leave, she never denied her Son, He was her flesh,” he pointed out.
Francis said that in a world “which we might call an ‘orphan’, this world that suffers the crisis of a great orphanhood, perhaps we can offer help by saying: ‘Look to your mother!’”.
“Because we have a mother “who defends us, teaches us, accompanies us, and is not ashamed of our sins”, she “is not ashamed, because she is Mother,” he said.
“May the Holy Spirit — this friend, this companion on the journey, this Paraclete and advocate that the Lord sent to us — will help us to understand this mystery of Mary’s motherhood that is so great,” he concluded.
What a beautiful message not only for those who know the Pope’s love for the Marian prayer: “Under your protection” as we read in the book “She is My Mother” by Fr. Alexandre Awi [forthcoming in English] but also for all those who, in one way or another, work in prison ministry and the reintegration of those who have broken the law, especially Mother of Tuparenda House – a name that was so well chosen!
Susana Stanley, who works in the “Mary’s Visitation” prison ministry commented: “It is beautiful to see how they change with help, attention, and love.” We often talk about being “little Marys,” not only women, but all Schoenstatt members. It is not an abstract idea or a merely pious thought. When we visit a prisoner, under that gaze that makes us feel ashamed and humiliated, as the Pope described so well…and so we follow, we become Mary. It’s that simple.
(English translation of Pope Francis’ homily taken from Osservatore Romano)
Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa