Rejoice we all in the Lord, as we keep festival in honor of
the Blessed Virgin Mary: whose solemnity makes angels joyful and sets them
praising the Son of God. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart, I
shall speak of the works of the King
Mother of Perpetual Help,
with the greatest confidence
we come before your holy picture
to be inspired by the example of your life.
We think of you at that moment when,
full of faith and trust,
you accepted God’s call
to be the mother of his Son.
Help us, your children,
to accept with joy our own calling in life.
When you learned that your cousin Elizabeth was in need
you immediately went to serve her
and offer your help.
Help us, like you,
to be concerned for others.
We think of you, Mother,
at the foot of the cross.
Your heart must have bled
to see your Son in agony.
But your joy was great
when he rose from the dead,
victorious over the powers of evil.
Mother of Sorrows,
help us through the trials and
disappointments of life.
Help us not to lose heart.
May we share with you and your Son
the joy of having courageously faced up
to all the challenges of life.
Pope John Paul II, in his Angelus Address of July 2, 1989
“The Spirit molded the Heart of Jesus in the womb of Mary, who
collaborated actively with him as mother and educator. As mother, she adhered
knowingly and freely to the salvific plan of God the Father…. As educator, she
had molded the Heart of her son; with Saint Joseph she introduced him to the
traditions of the Chosen People, inspired in him a love for the Law of the
Lord, communicated to him the spirituality of the ‘poor of the Lord.’ She had
helped him to develop his intellect and exercised a sure influence in the
formation of his character. …Therefore we can truly say: in the Heart of Christ
there shines forth the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit; in it there is also
reflected the heart of his Mother. May every Christian heart be like the Heart
of Christ: obedient to the Spirit’s action and to the Mother’s voice.”
Have you thought much about the terrific connection between the Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit? There is an ever stronger interest in my heart that is building in me to experience more fully this intimacy, this desire of the Lord that is known in the heart of Mary. I mentioned it the other day by suggesting using some of the mysteries of the rosary to allow us to consider that intimacy between the Divine and the human. The Pope gave the follow meditation yesterday evening, the Vigil of Pentecost:
I greet all of you with affection at the end of the
traditional Marian vigil that concludes the month of May in the Vatican. This
year it has acquired a very special value since it falls on the eve of
Pentecost. Gathering together, spiritually recollected before the Virgin Mary,
contemplating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, you have relived the experience
of the first disciples, gathered together in the room of the Last Supper with
“the Mother of Jesus,” “persevering and united in prayer”
awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). We too, in this
penultimate evening of May, from the Vatican hill, ask for the pouring out of
the Spirit Paraclete upon us, upon the Church that is in Rome and upon the
whole Christian people.
The great Feast of Pentecost invites us to meditate upon the
relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary, a very close, privileged,
indissoluble relationship. The Virgin of Nazareth was chosen beforehand to
become the Mother of the Redeemer by the working of the Holy Spirit: in her
humility, she found grace in God’s eyes (cf. Luke 1:30). In effect, in the New
Testament we see that Mary’s faith “draws,” so to speak, the Holy
Spirit. First of all in the conception of the Son of God, which the archangel
Gabriel explains in this way: “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). Immediately
afterward Mary went to help Elizabeth, and when her greeting reached
Elizabeth’s ears, the Holy Spirit made the child jump in the womb of her
elderly cousin (cf. Luke 1:44); and the whole dialogue between the two mothers
is inspired by the Spirit of God, above all the “Magnificat,” the
canticle of praise with which Mary expresses her sentiments. The whole event of
Jesus’ birth and his early childhood is guided in an almost palpable manner by
the Holy Spirit, even if he is not always mentioned. Mary’s heart, in perfect
consonance with the divine Son, is the temple of the Spirit of truth, where
every word and every event are kept in faith, hope and charity (cf. Luke 2:19,
We can thus be certain that the most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
in his whole hidden life in Nazareth, always found a “hearth” that
was always burning with prayer and constant attention to the Holy Spirit in
Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The wedding feast at Cana is a witness to this
singular harmony between Mother and Son in seeking God’s will. In a situation
like the wedding feast, charged with symbols of the covenant, the Virgin Mary
intercedes and, in a certain sense, provokes, a sign of superabundant divine
grace: the “good wine” that points to mystery of the Blood of Christ.
This leads us directly to Calvary, where Mary stands under the cross with the
other women and the Apostle John. Together the Mother and the disciple
spiritually taken in Jesus’ testament: his last words and his last breath, in
which he begins to send out the Spirit; and they take in the silent crying out
of his Blood, poured out completely for us (cf. John 19:25-34). Mary knew where
the blood came from: it was formed in her by the work of the Holy Spirit, and
she knew that this same creative “power” would raise Jesus up, as he
In this way Mary’s faith sustains the faith of the disciples
until the meeting with the risen Lord, and will continue to accompany them even
after his ascension into heaven, as they await the “baptism of the Holy
Spirit” (cf. Acts 1:5). At Pentecost, the Virgin Mary appears again as
Bride of the Spirit, having a universal maternity with respect to those who are
born from God through faith in Christ. This is why Mary is for all generations
the image and model of the Church, who together with the Holy Spirit journeys
through time invoking Christ’s glorious return: “Come, Lord Jesus”
(cf. Revelation 22:17, 20).
Dear friends, in Mary’s school we too learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life, to listen to his inspirations and to follow them with docility. He makes us grown in the fullness of Christ, in those good fruits that the apostle Paul lists in the Letter to the Galatians: “Love, joy, peace, magnanimity, benevolence, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control (5:22). I hope that you will be filled with these gifts and will always walk with Mary according to the Spirit and, as I express my praise for your participation in this evening celebration, I impart my Apostolic Benediction to all of you from my heart.
Every time we celebrate Holy Mass, we hear echo in our heart
the words that Jesus left with his disciples at the Last Supper as a precious
gift: “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you” (John 14:27). How much
the Christian community and the whole of humanity need to taste completely the
riches and the power of Christ’s peace! St. Benedict was a great witness,
because he welcomed it in his existence and fructified it in works of authentic
cultural and spiritual renewal. “Pax” (“Peace”) is posted
as a motto at the entrance to the Abbey of Monte Cassino and every other
Benedictine monastery: the monastic community in fact is called to live
according to this peace, which is the paschal gift par excellence. As you know,
in my recent trip to the Holy Land, I went as a pilgrim of peace, and today —
in this land marked by the Benedictine charism — I have the opportunity to
emphasize, once again, that peace is in the first place a gift of God, and
therefore its power is in prayer.
It is a gift given, however, to human care. Even the energy
that is needed to actualize it is drawn from prayer. So, it is essential to
cultivate an authentic prayer life to assure the social progress of peace. Once
again the history of monasticism teaches us that a great growth in civilization
is prepared by daily listening to the Word of God, which moves believers to a
personal and communal effort in the struggle against egoism and injustice. Only
in learning, with the grace of Christ, to combat and defeat the evil within
ourselves and in relationships with others, can we become authentic builders of
peace and civil progress. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, help all
Christians, in their different vocations and situations in life, to be
witnesses of that peace that Christ gave us and left us as a demanding mission
to realize everywhere.
Today, March 24, liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, Help of Christians — who is venerated with great devotion at the shrine
of Sheshan in Shanghai — we celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in
China. My thoughts turn to all the people of China. In particular I greet the
Catholics of China with great affection and I exhort them to renew on this day
their communion of faith in Christ and of fidelity to the Successor of Peter.
May our common prayer obtain an effusion of gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that
unity of all Christians, the catholicity and the universality of the Church
always will be deeper and more visible.
Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli Address, Miranda Square, May 24, 2009