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Mary as a Model of Peace

Model of Peace

From the awe-inspiring Vatican Basilica, Pope Francis delivered his first homily of 2020 on New Year’s Day.

It was a message of celebration, rebirth, and hope.

Within the context of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God Mass, Pope Francis offered a vision of Mary as co-redeemer of humankind.

It is easy to venerate Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Mother of God. However, Pope Francis added another layer on the image of Mary for us to reflect upon.

“Mary,” he states, “is both woman and mother. This is what is essential. From her, a woman, salvation came forth, and thus, there is no salvation without a woman.”

Without Mary, God and humanity could have never become one. She “wove the humanity of God,” as Pope Francis eloquently states. If we seek to find hope in humanity during times of darkness, we need to start again by venerating woman. It is not just Mary who Pope Francis illustrates as a model of peace but all women.

Pope Francis lamented our world’s casual and all-too-often caustic attitude toward women; the abuse, the neglect, and the cultural degradation they face. He made it clear that any form of violence inflicted upon women is an act of violence against God, who was born of a woman. In reflecting on the nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary and womanhood, Pope Francis explained a path by which all humankind can reach a better understanding of our true purpose in life.

Mary, as the Bible tells us, “took everything to heart.” In her heart, she kept her joys, sorrows, and emotions, and then entrusted all to God. This is Mary’s lesson, which gives us a deeper insight into our path to salvation and meaning.

“Women show us that the meaning of life is not found in making things, but in taking things to heart,” Pope Francis explains. “Only those who see with the heart see things properly…they know how to ‘look into’ each person…they see God in all persons and things.”

It is imperative that we reach a deeper understanding and appreciation for the women in our own lives. Through Our Lady, the tools to reach these goals are available. We often consider Mary as separate from us, beyond our comprehension. However, as Pope Francis points out, she is here amongst us, where we cherish her. She is our mother, our sister, our wife, and every woman who we need, and who needs us in return.

The role that women play in society is paramount. They have distinctive traits, and a unique way of “taking things to heart,” which enables them to provide insight and guidance that we must appreciate and value.

“Women are givers and mediators of peace; and should be fully included in decision-making processes,” Pope Francis says bluntly, “because when women can share their gifts, the world finds itself more united, more peaceful. Hence every step forward for women is a step forward for humanity…”

On June 20, 2020, at a memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pope Francis once again made a public gesture about the incomparable importance of Mary, approving three new titles to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also called the Litany of Loreto). The new invocations: Mater misericordiae or “Mother of Mercy,” Mater spei or “Mother of Hope,” and Solacium migrantium or “Solace of Migrants.” The Litany of the Blessed Virgin is an official collection of the formal and informal invocations of Mary, in the form of a prayer, meant to offer a range of devotion to all who seek out her guidance.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments, conveyed the announcement in a letter to the presidents of bishops’ conferences.

“Even in this present moment,” Cardinal Sarah writes, “which is marked by feelings of uncertainty and trepidation, devout recourse to her, which is full of affection and trust, is deeply felt by the People of God.”

It is in these prayers to the Blessed Mother that we seek redemption, salvation, or simple comfort in dark times, Our Lady is always there to heal and protect us—always in our hearts and on our minds. And, she is always much closer than we think.