Praying with Mary: It’s never in vain, assures Pope Francis. “The Woman who said ‘yes,’ who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered, but which God knows better than we ourselves do. She listens as Mother.”
Pope Francis with this reflection continued his catechesis series on prayer on this vigil of the Annunciation, considering “prayer in communion with Mary.”
The pope first clarified that the “main pathway” of Christian prayer is “the humanity of Jesus.”
In fact, the confidence typical of Christian prayer would be meaningless if the Word had not become incarnate, giving us in the Spirit His filial relationship with the Father. […] Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator.Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).
It is through Christ’s one mediation, he continued, that “other references Christians find for their prayer and devotion take on meaning, first among them being the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”
She who shows the way
Mary has a privileged place in both the lives and the prayer of Christians, the pope said. He described her with the image of the Eastern Churches, the Odigitria, the one who ‘shows the way’; and the way is her Son, Jesus Christ.
Her presence is everywhere in Christian iconography, sometimes very prominently, but always in relation to her Son and in connection with Him. Her hands, her eyes, her behavior are a living “catechism,” always indicating the hinge, she always points out the center: Jesus. Mary is completely directed toward Him (see CCC, 2674) to such an extent that we can say she is more disciple than Mother. The directions she gave at the wedding at Cana: “Him; do whatever he will tell you.” She always refers to Christ. She is the first disciple.
Jesus’ gift to the Church
Pope Francis explained how Jesus “extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross.”
From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers,’ like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother.
We pray to her using expressions from the Gospel, the pope said:
“full of grace”, “blessed are you among women” (see CCC, 2676f.). Sanctioned by the Council of Ephesus, the title “Theotokos”, “Mother of God”, was soon added to the Hail Mary. And, analogously as with the Our Father, after the praise we add the supplication: we ask that Mary pray for us sinners, that she might intercede with her tenderness, “now and at the hour of our death.”
The Holy Father assured that Mary is always present at the death of her children, “always present at the bedside of her children when they depart this world. If someone is alone and abandoned, she is Mother, she is there, near, as she was next to her Son when everyone else abandoned him.”
She has been present in this pandemic, he said, “near to the people who, unfortunately, have concluded their earthly journey all alone, without the comfort of or the closeness of their loved ones. Mary is always there next to us, with her maternal tenderness.”
She also defends us from danger, “just like, and more than, every good mother.”
She is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.
Turn to Mary when Satan appears to have the upper hand