Mary, the Exemplar

Author: Pope Benedict XVI

Mary, the Exemplar

Pope Benedict XVI

We believe that Mary follows our footsteps from on high with gentle concern and is the model for patient living amid all distress and suffering

At the General Audience on Wednesday, 16 August, the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence at Castel Gandolfo for the Pope's Catechesis on the Assumption. The Holy Father ended by recalling Frére Roger, Founder of the Taizé Community, on the anniversary of his death. The following is a translation of the Holy Father's Catechesis, which was given in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, our customary weekly Wednesday appointment is again taking place in the atmosphere of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Assumption. I would therefore like to ask you to turn your gaze once again to our heavenly Mother, whom yesterday's liturgy helped us to contemplate triumphant with Christ in Heaven.

Since the first centuries of Christianity, the Christian people has always found this feast deeply stirring; as is well known, it celebrates the glorification, also in body, of that creature whom God chose as Mother and whom Jesus on the Cross gave as Mother to the whole of humanity.

The Assumption evokes a mystery that concerns each one of us because, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, Mary "shines forth on earth... a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God" (Lumen Gentium, n. 68).

However, taken up by the events of each day, one can sometimes forget this comforting spiritual reality that constitutes an important truth of faith; so how can it be ensured that this luminous sign of hope is ever more clearly perceived by all of us and by contemporary society?

Is there room for God?

Some people today live as if they never had to die or as if, with death, everything were over; others, who hold that man is the one and only author of his own destiny, behave as though God did not exist, and at times they even reach the point of denying that there is room for him in our world.

Yet, the great breakthroughs of technology and science that have considerably improved humanity's condition leave unresolved the deepest searchings of the human soul.

Only openness to the mystery of God, who is Love, can quench the thirst for truth and happiness in our hearts; only the prospect of eternity can give authentic value to historical events and especially to the mystery of human frailty, suffering and death.

Mary guides us from Heaven

By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful.

Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.

We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand.

Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary's guidance. Thank you.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
23 August 2006, page 11

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