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Mary is a model of persevering silence

Pope John Paul II's Catechesis
General Audience, Wednesday, 22 November 1995 - in Italian & Spanish

"1. After reflecting on the Marian dimension of ecclesial life, we are now going to cast light on the immense spiritual wealth Mary communicates to the Church by her example and her intercession.

We would first like to pause and briefly reflect on some significant aspects of Mary's personality, which offer all believers valuable guidance in accepting and fulfilling their own vocation.

Mary has gone before us on the way of faith: believing the angel's message, she was the first to welcome the mystery of the Incarnation and did so perfectly (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 13). Her journey as a believer began even earlier than her divine motherhood and developed more deeply throughout her earthly experience. Hers was a daring faith. At the Annunciation she believed in what was humanly impossible, and at Cana she urged Jesus to work his first miracle, pressing him to manifest his messianic powers (cf. Jn 2:1-5).

Mary teaches Christians to live their faith as a demanding and engaging journey, which, in every age and situation of life, requires courage and constant perseverance.

2. Mary's docility to the divine will was linked to her faith. Believing in God's word, she could accept it fully in her life and, showing herself receptive to God's sovereign plan, she accepted all that was asked of her from on high.

Our Lady's presence in the Church thus encourages Christians to listen to the word of the Lord every day, to understand his loving plan in various daily events, and to co-operate faithfully in bringing it about.

3. This is how Mary teaches the community of believers to look to the future with total abandonment to God. In the Virgin's personal experience, hope is enriched with ever new reasons. Since the Annunciation, Mary concentrates the expectations of ancient Israel on the Son of God, incarnate in her virginal womb. Her hope was strengthened during the successive stages of Jesus' hidden life in Nazareth and his public ministry. Her great faith in the word of Christ, who had announced his Resurrection on the third day, prevented her from wavering, even when faced with the drama of the Cross. She retained her hope in the fulfilment of the messianic work and steadfastly, after the darkness of Good Friday, awaited the morning of the Resurrection.

On their difficult path through history, between the "already" of salvation received and the "not yet" of its fulfilment, the community of believers know they can count on the help of the "Mother of Hope". After experiencing Christ's victory over the powers of death, she communicates to them an ever new capacity to await God's future and to abandon themselves to the Lord's promises.

4. Mary's example enables the Church better to appreciate the value of silence. Mary's silence is not only moderation in speech, but it is especially a wise capacity for remembering and embracing in a single gaze of faith the mystery of the Word made man and the events of his earthly life.

It is this silence as acceptance of the Word, this ability to meditate on the mystery of Christ, that Mary passes on to believers. In a noisey world filled with messages of all kinds, her witness enables us to appreciate a spiritually rich silence and fosters a contemplative spirit.

Mary witnesses to the value of a humble and hidden life. Everyone usually demands, and sometimes almost claims, to be able to realize fully his own person and qualities. Everyone is sensitive to esteem and honour. The Gospels frequently mention that the Apostles were ambitious for the most important places in the kingdom and they argued among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. In this matter Jesus had to teach them the need for humility and service (cf. Mt 18:1-5; 20:20-28; Mk 9:33-37; 10:35-45; Lk 9:46-48; 22:24-27). Mary, on the contrary, never sought honour or the advantages of a privileged position; she always tried to fulfil God's will, leading a life according to the Father's plan of salvation.

To all those who often feel the burden of a seemingly insignificant life, Mary reveals how valuable life can be if it is lived for love of Christ and one's brothers and sisters.

5. Mary, moreover, witnesses to the value of a life that is pure and full of tenderness for all men. The beauty of her soul, totally offered to the Lord, is an object of admiration for the Christian people. In Mary, the Christian community has always seen the ideal woman, full of love and tenderness because she lived in purity of mind and body.

Faced with the cynicism of a certain contemporary culture, which too often seems not to recognize the value of chastity and degrades sexuality by separating it from personal dignity and God's plan, the Virgin Mary holds up the witness of a purity that illumines the conscience and leads to a greater love for creatures and for the Lord.

6. Furthermore, Mary appears to Christians of all times as the one who feels deep compassion for the sufferings of humanity. This compassion does not consist only in an emotional sympathy, but is expressed in effective and concrete help when confronted with humanity's material and moral misery.

In following Mary, the Church is called to take on the same attitude towards all the earth's poor and suffering. The maternal attention of the Lord's Mother to the tears, sorrows and hardships of the men and women of all ages must spur Christians, particularly at the dawn of the new millennium, to increase the concrete and visible signs of a love that will enable today's humble and suffering people to share in the promises and hopes of the new world which is born from Easter.

7. Human affection for and devotion to the Mother of Jesus surpasses the Church's visible boundaries and fosters sentiments of reconciliation. As a mother, Mary desires the union of all her children. Her presence in the Church is an invitation to preserve the unanimity of heart which reigned in the first community (cf. Acts 1:14) and, consequently, to seek ways of unity and peace among all men and women of goodwill.

In interceding with her Son, Mary asks the grace of unity for all humanity, in view of building a civilization of love, overcoming tendencies to division, temptations to revenge and hatred, and the perverse fascination of violence.

8. Our Lady's motherly smile, reproduced in so much Marian iconography, expresses a fullness of grace and peace that seeks to be shared. This expression of her serenity of spirit effectively contributes to giving the Church a joyful face.

Welcoming, in the Annunciation, the angel's invitation to "rejoice" (khaire = rejoice: Lk 1:28), Mary was the first to share in the messianic joy foretold by the Prophets for the "daughter of Sion" (cf. Is 12:6; Zep 3:14-15; Zec 9:9), and she passes it on to humanity in every age.

Invoking her as "causa nostrae laetitiae", the Christian people find in her the capacity to communicate the joy that is born of hope, even in the midst of life's trials, and to guide those who commend themselves to her to the joy that knows no end."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers frères et sœurs,

Je souhaite la bienvenue aux pèlerins de langue française. Chers amis, je vous confie à la Vierge Marie. Je demande au Seigneur de vous bénir et de vous garder chaque jour de votre vie.

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet the international group of participants in the course offered by the NATO Defense College. My greeting also goes to the Seton Home Study School group from the Diocese of Arlington.

Upon all the English–speaking visitors, especially the pilgrims from England and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Christ our Saviour.

Ai pellegrini irlandesi

I extend a special welcome to the pilgrims from Ireland, and I invite you to pray all the more intensely in these days for the welfare of marriage and the family in your country. Our Saviour has shown how the nature of the love that unites a man and a woman in marriage, and the good of children, call for total fidelity on the part of the spouses and an unbreakable unity between them.  I urge everyone to reflect on the importance for society of the indissoluble character of the marriage bond.

God bless you all.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit diesen Betrachtungen richte ich einen herzlichen Willkommensgru an alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher. Euch alle empfehle ich dem besonderen Schutz der Gottesmutter an und erteile Euch, Euren lieben Angehörigen zu Hause sowie all jenen, die uns über Radio und Fernsehen verbunden sind, von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Deseo saludar cordialmente a los visitantes de lengua española; en particular a los peregrinos de Girona, a los grupos mexicanos, a la delegación de la Escuela de Penitenciaría argentina y a los peregrinos de Campana. Al agradecer a todos vuestra presencia aquí, os imparto con afecto mi Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Caríssimos Irmãos e Irmãs,

Saúdo aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa. Saúdo em particular o grupo de pessoas provenientes de Portugal: apreciando vossa visita, desejo–vos felicidade, em Cristo; e faço–vos portadores deste voto para quantos vos são queridos, com a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Polski. Witam ks. kard. Metropolitę Krakowskiego, ks. bpa Stefanka ze Szczecina i wszystkie grupy: pielgrzymów z Nowego Targu – przedstawicieli Rady Miejskiej i parafii z proboszczem; pielgrzymkę dyrekcji, pracowników i mieszkańców Domu Opieki w Warszawie; członków Polskiego Związku Katolicko–Społecznego z całej Polski; parafię św. Mikołaja z Wierzbna z archidiecezji wrocławskiej; pielgrzymkę Polskiej Misji Katolickiej z Freiburga w Niemczech; chór “Confido Domino” z Mińska na Białorusi; kolejarzy z Częstochowy; grupy turystyczne z Opola i Sosnowca; grupę ze Specjalnego Ośrodka Szkolno–Wychowawczego z Buska; Polaków z Neapolu oraz wszystkich innych uczestników audiencji, pochodzących z kraju lub z emigracji, nie objętych tymi grupami.

W dzisiejszej katechezie była mowa o Maryi Matce Chrystusa, Matce Kościoła jako o szczególnym źródle bogactwa duchowego. Wszyscy wiemy, wszyscy czujemy, że Maryja jest dla nas źródłem takiego bogactwa i ubogacenia, przez to, kim była, przez to, że była Matką Bożą, że była Matką naszego Okupiciela, że jest Matką Kościoła i Matką naszą,że była tak bardzo prosta, pokorna, że życie Jej było pełne milczenia i pełne oddania człowiekowi – to życie ziemskie przy Chrystusie i to Jej życie po Wniebowzięciu, które jest tak bardzo wśród nas obecne. Tak Matkę Bożą przeżywamy, tak Ją odczuwamy, takw Nią wierzymy, tak Jej ufamy. To bogactwo jest naszym udziałem. Gdyby nam zabrakło tego bogactwa maryjnego w życiu Kościoła, bylibyśmy bardzo biedni.

Dziękujmy za to bogactwo maryjne, które na tyle sposobów objawiało się w dziejach poszczególnych ludzi i w dziejach naszego narodu, i prośmy, ażeby było nadal naszym udziałem.

Wszystkich pielgrzymów z Polski serdecznie pozdrawiam i dziękuję za obecność Księdzu Kardynałowi i Księdzu Biskupowi, i wszystkim moim braciom i siostrom.

Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

Ai pellegrini italiani

Rivolgo il mio cordiale benvenuto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana che prendono parte a questa Udienza. Saluto in particolare i Sacerdoti Chierici Regolari Teatini e la delegazione della Camera di Commercio Italo-Kazaka, guidata dal senatore Vittorino Colombo, che ringrazio per il cortese omaggio.

* * *

Saluto poi i Cori convenuti da vari Paesi in occasione del Concorso “Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina”. Le vostre belle esecuzioni, carissimi, ricordano che l’uomo è fatto per la lode di Dio e le diverse lingue per la concordia e l’armonia. Grazie per la vostra presenza e il vostro canto.

 * * *

Sono poi lieto di accogliere il gruppo di pellegrini ortodossi provenienti da Vladimir-Alexandrow in Russia, ai quali rivolgo uno speciale augurio di pace per loro e per le loro comunità.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

Desidero ora porgere un vivo augurio ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. In questi giorni la Comunità ecclesiale italiana, riunita a Palermo, si sta confrontando sulla forza rinnovatrice del “Vangelo della carità”. La Chiesa, in Italia e in ogni parte del mondo, ha bisogno del vostro impegno, cari giovani, per imprimere nuovo slancio alla sua opera di evangelizzazione; ha bisogno della vostra preghiera unita alla sofferenza, cari malati, per essere costantemente fedele alla Croce di Cristo; ha bisogno della vostra testimonianza, cari sposi novelli, per risplendere sempre come segno di amore e di solidarietà tra gli uomini.

Prima di concludere l’udienza generale, il Santo Padre vuole esprimere la sua gratitudine a Dio per il raggiungimento di un accordo di pace per la martoriata Bosnia ed Erzegovina, firmato a Dayton, negli Stati Uniti, dai Presidenti serbo Slobodan Milosevic, croato Franjo Tudjmam e bosniaco Alija Izetbegovic.  

È giunta ieri, nel tardo pomeriggio, la tanto sperata notizia del raggiungimento di un accordo di pace per la martoriata Bosnia-Erzegovina.

In questo significativo momento per quelle popolazioni e per la storia dell’Europa, desidero far pervenire a tutti gli artefici del difficile negoziato fervide congratulazioni per la perseveranza mostrata fino alla conclusione dell’Accordo.

Diamo grazie a Dio per quanto è stato raggiunto, ma permane pressante l’invito a pregare perché tutti coloro che sono coinvolti in questo lungo processo – penso specialmente alle stesse numerose vittime del conflitto: rifugiati, sfollati ed altri – abbiano le necessarie volontà e forza per condurlo a termine.

Anche oggi rinnovo un appello alla comunità internazionale affinché dia un generoso sostegno alla ricostruzione materiale, sociale e spirituale delle città e villaggi distrutti dal conflitto.

Voglia Iddio benedire gli artefici di pace, che Gesù stesso chiama “figli di Dio” (cf. Mt 5, 9).


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