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The heavenly intercession of the Mother of Divine Grace

Blessed John Paul II's Catechesis
24 September 1997 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Mary is mother of humanity in the order of grace. The Second Vatican Council highlights this role of Mary, linking it to her co-operation in Christ’s Redemption. "In the designs of divine Providence, she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord" (Lumen gentium, n. 61).

With these statements, the Constituion Lumen gentium wishes to give proper emphasis to the fact that the Blessed Virgin was intimately associated with Christ’s redemptive work, becoming the Saviour’s "generous associate", "in a singular way".

With the actions of any mother, from the most ordinary to the most demanding, Mary freely co-operated in the work of humanity’s salvation in profound and constant harmony with her divine Son.

2. The Council also points out that Mary’s co-operation was inspired by the Gospel virtues of obedience, faith, hope and charity, and was accomplished under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It also recalls that the gift of her universal spiritual motherhood stems precisely from this co-operation: associated with Christ in the work of Redemption, which includes the spiritual regeneration of humanity, she becomes mother of those reborn to new life.

In saying that Mary is "a mother to us in the order of grace" (cf. ibid.), the Council stresses that her spiritual motherhood is not limited to the disciples alone, as though the words spoken by Jesus on Calvary: "Woman, behold your son" (Jn 19:26), required a restrictive interpretation. Indeed, with these words the Crucified One established an intimate relationship between Mary and his beloved disciple, a typological figure of universal scope, intending to offer his Mother as Mother to all mankind.

On the other hand, the universal efficacy of the redeeming sacrifice and Mary's conscious co-operation with Christ’s sacrificial offering does not allow any limitation of her motherly love.

Mary’s universal mission is exercised in the context of her unique relationship with the Church. With her concern for every Christian, and indeed for every human creature, she guides the faith of the Church towards an ever deeper acceptance of God’s Word, sustains her hope, enlivens her charity and fraternal communion and encourages her apostolic dynamism.

3. During her earthly life, Mary showed her spiritual motherhood to the Church for a very short time. Nonetheless, the full value of her role appeared after the Assumption and is destined to extend down the centuries to the end of the world. The Council expressly states: "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the Cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect" (Lumen gentium, n. 62).

Having entered the Father’s eternal kingdom, closer to her divine Son and thus closer to us all, she can more effectively exercise in the Spirit the role of maternal intercession entrusted to her by divine Providence.

4. The heavenly Father wanted to place Mary close to Christ and in communion with him who can "save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25): he wanted to unite to the Redeemer’s intercession as a priest that of the Blessed Virgin as a mother. It is a role she carries out for the sake of those who are in danger and who need temporal favours and, especially, eternal salvation: "By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix" (Lumen gentium, n. 62).

These titles, suggested by the faith of the Christian people, help us better to understand the nature of the Mother of the Lord’s intervention in the life of the Church and of the individual believer.

5. The title "Advocate" goes back to St Irenaeus. With regard to Eve’s disobedience and Mary’s obedience, he says that at the moment of the Annunciation "the Virgin Mary became the Advocate" of Eve (Haer. 5, 19, 1; PG 7, 1175-1176). In fact, with her "yes" she defended our first mother and freed her from the consequences of her disobedience, becoming the cause of salvation for her and the whole human race.

Mary exercises her role as "Advocate" by co-operating both with the Spirit the Paraclete and with the One who interceded on the Cross for his persecutors (cf. Lk 23:34), whom John calls our "advocate with the Father" (1 Jn 2:1). As a mother, she defends her children and protects them from the harm caused by their own sins.

Christians call upon Mary as "Helper", recognizing her motherly love which sees her children’s needs and is ready to come to their aid, especially when their eternal salvation is at stake.

The conviction that Mary is close to those who are suffering or in situations of serious danger has prompted the faithful to invoke her as "Benefactress". The same trusting certainty is expressed in the most ancient Marian prayer with the words: "We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin" (from the Roman Breviary).

As maternal Mediatrix, Mary presents our desires and petitions to Christ, and transmits the divine gifts to us, interceding continually on our behalf."

After his Catechesis, Pope John Paul II spoke to the pilgrims at the General Audience in numerous languages:

"Chers frères et soeurs,
Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de langue française présents à cette audience. Je salue très cordialement les membres du Mouvement international des Intellectuels catholiques, Pax Romana. A l’occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de leur mouvement, je les invite à renouveler leurs engagements d’intellectuels et de professionnels chrétiens pour l’édification d’une société de paix basée sur la justice et la liberté. A tous j’accorde de grand coeur la Bénédiction apostolique.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet the new students of the Venerable English College and pray that the Lord will bless them abundantly as they begin their studies.

I extend a cordial welcome to the various ecumenical groups present, especially to the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council. Thankful to God for the progress made so far in our official dialogue, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Joint Commission in its current work. I send a special greeting to the General Secretary, Doctor Hale, who could not be here due to his wife’s recent accident, and I pray for her prompt recovery.

I am also pleased to welcome the Delegation of the Disciples of Christ, on the 20th anniversary of the dialogue between us. May the International Commission’s continuing work on the theme of the Church’s mission lead us steadily along the path towards ever greater unity.

I warmly greet the representatives of the Center of Christian-Jewish Understanding. I hope that your visit will further strengthen our mutual understanding and co-operation in the face of so many shared concerns.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Wales, Ireland, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and the United States I invoke an abundance of divine grace and peace.

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!
Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung begrüße ich Euch, liebe Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den Sportfunktionären, den Sportlern und den Sportjournalisten aus Oberösterreich, die in Begleitung des Herrn Bischofs Kurt Krenn nach Rom gekommen sind. Des weiteren begrüße ich besonders herzlich die zahlreichen Schülerinnen, Schüler und Lehrkräften. Euch allen und Euren Lieben daheim sowie den mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbundenen Gläubigen erteile ich gerne den Apostolischen Segen.

Saluto in lingua neerlandese (traduzione italiana)

Ora saluto i pellegrini, provenienti dal Belgio e dai Paesi Bassi, e vi ringrazio per la vostra presenza.

Dio ha mandato il Figlio nel mondo "perché il mondo si salvi per mezzo di lui" (Gv 3, 17).

Auguro che il vostro pellegrinaggio ai luoghi sacri vi riveli la piena ricchezza della fede del vostro battesimo, e dia un nuovo slancio alla vita ecclesiale nel vostro paese.

Di cuore imparto la Benedizione Apostolica.

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas:
Saludo con afecto a todos los peregrinos de lengua española. En especial a los fieles de las diócesis aragonesas y de Osma-Soria, que acompañan a sus Obispos con motivo de su visita «ad Limina», al grupo de la Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España, así como a los peregrinos de Costa Rica y al grupo de la Academia de Guerra del Ejército de Chile. A vosotros y a vuestras familias imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Queridos Irmãos e Irmãs

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, com menção particular para os grupos referidos do Brasil e de Portugal: a minha saudação e Bênção, invocando sobre a vossa vida e família uma maior certeza do amor grande que o Pai do Céu nos tem, pois fez de nós filhos no Seu Filho, Jesus Cristo. Tende confiança! Somos filhos!

Saluto ai pellegrini lituani (traduzione italiana)

Con affetto saluto i pellegrini provenienti dalla Lituania, fra i quali i componenti del coro maschile "Aidas". Sia lodato Gesù Cristo. Auspicando la prosperità ed ogni bene per la vostra Patria, mi rivolgo a voi, carissimi, con le parole del Santo Apostolo Paolo: "Tendete, fratelli, alla perfezione, fatevi coraggio a vicenda, abbiate gli stessi sentimenti, vivete in pace e il Dio dell'amore e della pace sarà con voi" (2 Cor 13, 11).

A voi tutti e ai vostri cari imparto di cuore la Benedizione Apostolica. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.

Saluto del Santo Padre ai pellegrini croati (traduzione italiana)

Carissimi fratelli e sorelle, tutte le attività della Chiesa, che è santa nonostante comprenda nel suo seno anche dei peccatori, convergono, come loro fine, «verso la santificazione degli uomini e la glorificazione di Dio in Cristo» (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10). Il Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica, riprendendo la dottrina del Vaticano II, afferma: «È nella Chiesa che si trova 'tutta la pienezza dei mezzi di salvezza'. È in essa che, 'per mezzo della grazia di Dio, acquistiamo la santità'» (n. 824).

Saluto cordialmente il gruppo di pellegrini della Parrocchia del Buon Pastore di Djakovo e gli altri pellegrini croati ed imparto loro volentieri la Benedizione Apostolica. Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!

Saluto in pellegrini della Repubblica Ceca (traduzione italiana)

Un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini provenienti dalla Moravia, e in particolare al gruppo accompagnato da Monsignor Josef Hrdlicka, Vescovo Ausiliare di Olomouc.

Carissimi, avete portato con voi le Corone d'oro, con le quali, dopo il vostro ritorno, sarà incoronata la venerata Immagine della Vergine Maria nel Santuario di Uherský Brod.

Volentieri benedico voi e queste Corone, con auspicio che la Vergine Santa vi protegga sempre.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in pellegrini della Repubblica Slovacca (traduzione italiana)

Con affetto saluto i pellegrini slovacchi da Lozorno e Nové Mesto nad Váhom, da Voderady e Pavlice, da Majcichov, Bratislava e Košice, da Prešov Topol'čany e Kolárovo.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, siete venuti in pellegrinaggio a Roma da diverse parti della Slovacchia. Con la vostra presenza in questa Udienza esprimete anche pubblicamente la vostra appartenenza alla grande famiglia della Chiesa. Prendete più profondamente coscienza che è lo stesso Signore Gesù a fare di voi la sua Chiesa. Fate tesoro della luce dell’insegnamento che vi dà nel Vangelo e servitevi della forza che vi offre nei Sacramenti. Vi accompagni in questo impegno la Vergine Maria, Madre della Chiesa, e la Benedizione Apostolica. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.


Saluto con affetto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare il gruppo organizzato dalla Famiglia Monfortana, in occasione del cinquantesimo anniversario della canonizzazione di San Luigi Maria Grignion de Montfort. Auguro ai Superiori delle tre Congregazioni monfortane, riuniti in uno speciale incontro a Roma, che questa ricorrenza rinnovi in tutte le comunità religiose il fervore spirituale e la testimonianza evangelica.

Saluto altresì i Seminaristi di Iglesias, guidati dal loro Vescovo, Mons. Arrigo Miglio, ed i Sacerdoti novelli della Prelatura dell'Opus Dei, come pure i ragazzi e le ragazze venuti in rappresentanza delle migliaia di studenti che hanno preso parte all'annuale concorso del "Movimento per la Vita".

Il mio pensiero, inoltre, va ai Militari del Quindicesimo Stormo dell'Aeronautica ed ai loro familiari; ai dirigenti ed agli atleti della società sportiva "Fidelis Andria". A tutti porgo il mio augurio cordiale di ogni bene nel Signore.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli oggi presenti. Carissimi, vi invito a pregare per il Congresso Eucaristico che si sta svolgendo in questa settimana a Bologna. Invito voi, cari giovani, a ravvivare la vostra fede nell'Eucaristia; esorto voi, cari ammalati, ad offrire ogni vostra sofferenza in spirituale unione con il Sacrificio di Cristo; ed incoraggio voi, cari sposi novelli, ad essere fedeli all'Eucaristia domenicale. A tutti la mia Benedizione."

© Copyright 1997 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana