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Papal Rosary Prayers

Papal Rosary Prayers

“I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May.”

– Pope Francis 

Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the faithful for the month of May 2020  

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

Pope Francis


First Prayer

 

O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
Amen.

We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.


Second Prayer

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

 

Day Of The Mother

Day Of The Mother

“Today it will do us good to stop a little and think about the pain and sorrows of Our Lady. She is our Mother.”

– Pope Francis

I learned yesterday that Italians are in the habit of referring to the time after the Crucifixion on Good Friday as “l’ora della Madre”‘the time of the Mother’. By extension, then, I think it is permissible to think of today, Holy Saturday, as ‘the Day of the Mother’.

This day is always a strange one.

It has no formal liturgy of it’s own and it is betwixt and between – sitting somewhere between the darkness of Good Friday and the blinding light of Easter Sunday. It is a day of stillness, of silence and of waiting. The whole earth seems to be still and silent, as it always is on this day. There is a feeling that something is going to happen. And in the evening, that something does indeed happen – a tiny glimmer of light pierces the darkness, the glow spreading out and becoming more powerful, until at last the entire Church upon the earth is filled with that Divine Light.

But before we reach that point, let’s go back to today. And think of Mary.

The time from the evening of Maundy Thursday onwards, moving all too swiftly into Good Friday, was a moment of horror. For Christians, we re-enacted the brutal Passion of Christ, walking with Him from the Praetorium, to the Via Dolorosa and then up to the very summit of Golgotha. And there, we watched Him die, venerating His holy Cross at 3pm, the Hour of Mercy.

For Mary, this was not simply a commemoration – although I expect She did indeed commemorate those bloody events every year. On that original Good Friday, She was there; She stood faithfully – ever faithfully – at the foot of the Cross, upon which Her Son hung, and watched Him give up His spirit to the Eternal Father. And all the while, She repeated in Her Heart that ‘fiat’ which She first uttered thirty-three years beforehand, at the moment of the Annunciation. Not long afterwards, the wise man Simeon warned Her that a sword would one day pierce Her Heart and there can be litle doubt that his words echoed repeatedly in Her Heart all the days after that. In the words of the ‘Stabat Mater’, we find the fulfilment of that prophecy –

At the cross Her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through Her Heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Sitting here writing about those events, I find it impossible to come to any real conception of how sorrowful that moment truly was for the Blessed Virgin. But I know this – Her sorrow was total and complete.

I know one thing more. Despite that intense sorrow and grief, still She kept faith with the Lord, Who had sought from Her that ‘fiat’ so long before. Giving it, She had said – “let it be done to Me according to Thy word”. This submission to the Divine Will was not to the Annunciation alone – it was to everything the Divine Will would ever ask of Her. Even this. Perhaps, especially this.

Before the events of Good Friday, did Jesus speak to His Mother of what would shortly take place? Did He tell Her something of the horror that would unfold before Her eyes? I don’t know. But I do know that Her faith in Him was like Her ‘fiat’ – total and complete.

And because of that, I have no doubt that on that first Holy Saturday, the ‘Day of the Mother’, while darkness reigned across all the world, and while the Apostles and the other disciples had scattered in fear and despair and confusion, the light of faith and of hope shone brightly in just one single place upon the earth. That place was the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It was perhaps with some prophetic sense of what was to come much later that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, cried out –

“Blessed is She who believed that the promise made to Her by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45)

 

Star of the Stormy Sea

Star of the Stormy Sea

“I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the Stormy Sea.”

– Pope Francis

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, never fails to recommend us to the Blessed Virgin Mary, nor to recommend that we approach Her with simplicity and with confidence, like little children. After all, that is precisely what we are – the children of Mary. And no child should ever hesitate to approach his or her mother, particularly at moments of great need.

Pope Francis leads by example. Before every one of his foreign trips, he goes to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and prays silently before the ancient Icon of Our Lady which is called ‘Salus Populi Romani’ (Salvation of the Roman People). And as members of the Catholic Church, every one of us is part of the ‘Roman people’ and so this Icon is for every one of us. And at his extraordinary ‘Urbi Et Orbi’ given from the Vatican on Friday evening, the Holy Father had this Icon brought to the Basilica, where it was prominently displayed. Before adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, the Pope venerated this Icon – a picture of that moment is at the top of this page.

Our present Holy Father, at the beginning of his papacy, consecrated his own Petrine ministry to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Fatima. He follows in the footsteps of all the Popes who have preceded him, and who were similarly devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Benedict was deeply devoted to the Mother of God; and few will have forgotten that St John Paul II was a shining light of deep and authentic Marian devotion, his own example lighting a fire in the hearts of a great many of the faithful across the world.

Indeed, the Church herself similarly recommends all of us to be devoted to the Mother of God. The Catechism tells us –

“The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs..” (Catechism, para.917)

The great Church council of our times, the Second Vatican Council, spoke at length about Marian devotion; the eighth chapter of ‘Lumen Gentium’, the ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’, speaks very eloquently about Her. Beginning this chapter, the Council Fathers wrote –

“Wherefore this Holy Synod, in expounding the doctrine on the Church, in which the divine Redeemer works salvation, intends to describe with diligence both the role of the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body, and the duties of redeemed mankind toward the Mother of God, who is mother of Christ and mother of men, particularly of the faithful.”

It is notable that the Catechism tells us that Marian devotion is ‘intrinsic to Christian worship’, and the Council Fathers speak of our ‘duty’ toward the Blessed Virgin – put another way, it is something we should all be doing, for this is the will of the Eternal Father; He very deliberately chose that the Saviour would come to us through Her and by doing so, He made the entire plan of salvation for mankind dependent upon Her acceptance of that plan through Her consent to become the Mother of God .

In other words, Marian devotion is not something we should consider ourselves free to choose or to decline; rather, it is expected of the redeemed people of God, for God wills that it be so.

You can read the entire text of Lumen Gentium here.

Writing on the fiftieth anniversary of the first appearance of the Mother of God at Fatima, Pope St Paul VI wrote a beuatiful and prophetic Apostlic Exhortation called ‘Signum Magnum’ (The Great Sign). Addressed to the Catholic Bishops of the entire world, this Exhortation deals with Marian devotion, looking particularly at what constitutes authentic Marian devotion. It is an exceptionally beautiful document and I heartily recommend you to read it. At it’s conclusion, the Holy Father noted his hope for the Church –

“..We express the trust that, thanks to your encouragement, the clergy and the Christian people entrusted to your pastoral ministry will respond in a generous spirit to this exhortation of ours so as to demonstrate toward the Virgin Mother of God a more ardent piety and a firmer confidence. Meanwhile while we are comforted by the certainty that the glorious Queen of Heaven and our most sweet Mother will never cease to assist all and each one of Her sons and will never withdraw from the entire Church of Christ Her heavenly patronage.”

Likewise, so very many of the great Saints of the Church have heartily encouraged us to be devoted to the Blessed Virgin, both by their example and by their words. Indeed, it is difficult to find a Saint who was not so devoted. And that is as it should be.

In these days when such heavy gloom has descended upon the entire world, still the Blessed Virgin is placed before us by the Church as that luminous and radiant figure who so clearly reflects the Light of Christ, in the same way that the moon reflects the light of the sun; and whose task it is to do all in Her not inconsiderable power to lead us safely, like ships tossed about on the stormy seas, to the safe port of Heaven. She is the compass that will get us there.

Throughout these days – and far beyond – let all of us to go our Heavenly Mother without fear or hesitation, knowing with the confidence of little children that She will take us by the hand and lead us to the Lord.

 

The Old In The New

The Old In The New

“Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Batholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus..”

– Acts 1:13b-14

It feels like an unusual day. Never before have I “live-streamed” a Catholic Mass in the place of being physically present at it.

Whilst sitting at home in Scotland, I am watching a Mass being offered at the very same moment in the Vatican, and I am fully a part of that Mass. I am deeply grateful this opportunity is open to me and that technology allows me to do this – but it feels odd, unusual.

It feels odd only because it is not what I am used to. It feels odd because I am at home and not in a Church. It feels odd because I am physically alone instead of having everyone else around me.

The reality is a little different, of course.

I am not alone. In participating in this way, I am truly united to the entire Church. Across the world, some people I do know and many more I have never met, are all doing precisely the same thing at the same moment. And in this way, we are all connected – not one of us is truly alone, not in a spiritual sense. And that connection encompasses the entire Communion of Saints – for all of them are paticipating in this Mass along with us, and praying for us.

I am in Church; it’s just that the location of the Church has changed for now. I have moved to the ‘domestic Church’. It is the same Church in which, so many years ago, I originally learned the very Faith I now practise; the real work took place in this domestic Church even if the Sacramental and liturgical part took place in the ‘actual’ Church.

And although it is not what I am used to, I am reminded that this is how it was once, so many centuries ago when the Church was just beginning. 

In the Aposotolic Era, as the words above from Acts remind us, the ‘Church’ consisted of small groups of the faithful, gathered together in each other’s homes; there, they would pray together and break bread and remember the Lord. And this is essentially what so many of us are doing across the world today, even if we each do so alone – yet still we are Church and still we are united together in what we are doing.

This evening, the Diocese of Motherwell has asked the faithful to light a candle and place it in the window, as a sign of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. I have an image of so many little flickering lights across the entire Diocese, each representing faith and hope in these days.

I also have an image that in some little – but still very powerful – way, we are reflecting something of the light emanating from the Upper Room where the Apostles gathered with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and where the Church was first born.

In this day, as on that, may the Holy Spirit descend upon us all. And may He give us the grace to see the old in the new..

 

As part of the National Day of Prayer, the Diocese of Motherwell has asked the faithful to burn a candle in the windows of our homes as a sign of our faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

Pandemic and Prayer

Pandemic and Prayer

O Mary, You shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to You, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross, You participated in Jesus’ pain,
with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that You will provide,
so that, as You did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.

– Prayer of Pope Francis

In these days, as the coronavirus spreads, the effects of it’s presence are being ever more keenly felt.

One such effect is that our perception of the world around us is changing to some degree – and we are looking differently at those things we perhaps take for granted. As time passes, we are told to consider self-isolation where that is appropriate; in some places, schools and colleges, shops and workplaces have already been closed; travel is affected; and even entire nations are in a state of ‘lockdown’.

It is entirely possible that in days to come, we may feel a very real effect upon our ability to publicly practice our Catholic faith.

There are already calls in some places for public acts of worship – and especially the Catholic Mass – to be suspended for a time, for fear that large gatherings of the public may prove to be an effective means of spreading the virus. Already in my own Diocese, the Holy Water fonts have been emptied, we can no longer receive from the Chalice, nor can we offer the Sign of Peace; and today, some previously-planned large scale Masses have been cancelled. All these things are, no doubt, only temporary measures – but they are disconcerting regardless of that.

So what does all this suggest to us?

 First of all, we should not panic. Rather, we should listen to, and follow, the advice given to us by the civic authorities.

 Secondly, remember that the illness will – for most people – be relatively simple and short-lived.

 Thirdly, remember that a time such as this offers us the opportunity to practice a number of the Works of Mercy – and we should most certainly do so.

 And fourthly, perhaps it will remind all of us to give thanks for what we already have – particularly the Church to which we belong, and the ability to practice our Faith.

But what of the practice of our Catholic Faith? It may be that for a while, our practice will change in terms of location and form.

The location may move from the parish Church to the ‘domestic Church’ – that is, our home.

And the form may change from liturgical gatherings and worship, to prayer practiced at home. Of course, we should already be practising prayer at home – our Faith does not exist and show itself only at Mass; and if it does, perhaps it is more habit than faith.

How, then, do we practice our faith at home? A small home altar may be the solution.

A simple home altar

In days past, it was almost expected that every Catholic home would have some form of devotional area, where the family would pray together. This area is where the prayers of the Rosary would be recited, or the Bible read together. The presence of such an altar said something about the people living there – their faith, their beliefs, their value system, their unity. It is certain that God, Who “looks with favour on the humble” smiles upon such small places where people gather together in His Name to offer their prayers to Him.

Today, the idea of such a place within our home may have fallen out of favour, such that it is no longer as common as it once was. And yet, the idea of a visual representation of our beliefs is not so different to keeping photographs of loved ones – looking at them, we are reminded of those we love, and from our hearts issue sentiments of love and tenderness, or longing, when those depicted are far from us or have already gone to their eternal reward.

It does not matter if the altar is small or large, ornate or simple. Indeed, simplicity is generally better here as it is in so many areas of life. Whether it is comprised of a shelf, a table, a corner of the dresser or the desk – it makes little difference.

What is important is that there is an area which is specifically set aside for prayer and devotion, a place dedicated to the Lord and which lifts our hearts and minds to Him, where we can be with Him in a particular way, and where the common distractions of life can be put to the side, even for just a little while. And in the context of the present situation, it will also be a special place where we can explicitly pray for all those affected by the coronavirus pandemic – those who have died, those who are ill, and all caring for them and sharing their suffering; as well as all those yet to be affected.

Perhaps the basics of such a home altar are these – a Crucifix, that central symbol of our faith, accompanied by an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whether a picture or a statue; the New Testament or Bible; a Rosary; and a candle. Together, these items can help to keep us focused on what really matters.

Ultimately, our goal in setting up a small home altar is to try to establish ourselves in the habit of prayer. But how do we make prayer a daily part of who we are and what we do? How do we cultivate the habit of prayer?

The first thing we need is the grace of God. We might think prayer is our move toward God – in reality, it is our response to God’s move toward us. It is a reaction, rather than an action; a response, rather than an initiative. The very desire to pray is a gift of the Lord, Who seeks us out. I think He is particularly generous with this grace – He calls so many souls to enter into a deeper conversation with Him, to listen quietly to His voice speaking in the silence of our hearts.

And this word ‘conversation’ is key here. Prayer is nothing more – and nothing less – than the conversation between two hearts, or ‘an intimate sharing between friends’, as the great St Teresa of Avila describes it. She also says this – ‘Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed.. all that is needed is the will to love’.

And so this is the next thing we need – desire, or the will to pray, and to continue praying. Our will opens the door to God’s grace – and it can close that door just as easily. God will never force us; He will always respect our ‘yes’ or our ‘no’.

Assuming, then, that we are responding to God’s grace in having the desire to pray, how do we actually develop prayer into a habit?

Habits are formed by repetition. By doing the same thing at the same time or in the same place, we might develop a habit. And so when it comes to prayer, the same principles apply; we need to make a time and find a place.

To strengthen and support our prayer life, that small and special home altar which we associate with – and set aside for – the habit of prayer, is very beneficial. In the same way that we associate one place with eating, or another with sleeping, perhaps there is a place somewhere at home which we can use specifically for prayer, where we have the devotional objects to assist us in this task, as suggested above. Writers often have a favourite desk at which to write; Saints often have a favourite little corner where they like to pray. Perhaps we can follow their example.

As far as possible, this time and this place should be free of distractions, particularly if (especially in the early days) our mind is likely to wander.

At least to begin with, perhaps it is sensible to keep our goals attainable. It is better to commit to five minutes of prayer and to do this consistently and well, than to promise we will pray for an hour and quickly give up altogether because we don’t manage it. Perhaps begin simply, with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be; after all, what matters more is the quality of the prayer, not the quantity. You may well find that as the habit of prayer develops, your heart yearns to pray more – this, too, is the grace of God at work.

Cultivating the habit of prayer becomes something of a discipline. Most of us lead busy lives and it can seem difficult to make time for prayer, but make it we must, if we are to succeed – otherwise, we will probably find that we quickly lose the habit and our efforts come to nothing.

For some, first thing in the morning may suit best for praying; while for others, the evening may be better, after the work of the day is done and our minds can begin to quieten a little. Whichever time of day suits you best, try to pray at the same time each and every day – this develops the habit of prayer more easily and more concretely, and it gives us a fighting chance to succeed.

For me, I pray the Rosary late each evening, when the cares of the day are already passing and I can concentrate better on my prayers, particularly as it is much quieter at that time; evening prayer also allows me to go over my intentions of the day, which have increased as the day has gone on.

And this leads on nicely to the next point – what are we praying for?

Our first reason for praying is to give praise to God, Who deserves our praise and our adoration. He also deserves our thanks for all the blessings He grants us each and every day – beginning with the fact that we are alive, and then becoming more specific as we look at our lives and all they contain, including the people with whom we interact each day.

As human beings, we all have needs – and that might be the next focus of our prayers. We may pray for our own personal needs, whatever they are, as well as the needs of others – they have needs, too. After all, if we stop at ourselves, we have missed the point of acquiring and developing the habit of prayer. As much as the Scriptures tell us to pray, they also tell us to pray for each other – remember, the Lord gave us the Our Father, not the My Father. Prayer is communal; we lift up each other in prayer, and prayer gains even greater power when we pray in company. If we feel we are short of ‘intentions’ for which to pray, try to listen carefully to every person we meet in the course of the day; if our heart is attuned, we will very quickly find more than enough intentions to keep us busy in prayer.

Pope Francis tells us that “prayer is all powerful” and he goes on to say that “miracles happen – but prayer is needed; prayer that is courageous, struggling and persevering, not prayer that is a mere formality”. In other words, our prayers – whatever form they may take – should come deeply from the heart, and they should cost us something of ourselves.

St John Paul also spoke often about prayer, as on this occasion – “often the most powerful prayers are the unspoken acts of mercy we choose as intercession for a specific person, intention, or global need .. prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history”.

He went on to say that his favourite prayer is that of the Rosary, which he called “a storehouse of countless blessings”. He said – “the Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centered prayer.  It has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety.  It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, Her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in Her virginal womb”.

Perhaps, then, this is a further crucial element we need in order to acquire, develop and maintain the habit of prayer – a model in prayer.

We have so many holy models to choose from and to imitate – they are called Saints, each with a particular slant on prayer, it’s form and it’s type. The Church has placed these people before us precisely for this reason – that we, like them and following in their footsteps, might seek to become holy; and we cannot achieve this at all if we do not pray.

There are many who will tell us what prayer is, of what it consists, and recommend various ways of doing it – and that is all well and good. In the end, though, the important thing is not really that we know about prayer, but that we actually pray.

The model above all others is surely that of the Mother of God, the Woman of prayer of the Gospels, Who “kept all these things and pondered them in Her Heart”.

And that, surely, helps to describe the habit of prayer.

In this time of present coronavirus pandemic, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has specially written a prayer which beautifully captures the feelings which will be in many hearts; perhaps this prayer is a good and timeous one with which we can begin –

 

With Mary in Lent

With Mary in Lent

“Jesus desires to associate with His redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of His Mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of His redemptive suffering.”

– Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.618

There seems to be something lonely and deeply personal about our experience of Lent.

Even when we take part in Church services with many others, still it can seem that we are there alone; I think in a sense this is a grace, for it signifies that in some intimate way, the holiness of the season is touching us at a personal level – and perhaps we are experiencing just a little of the desolation of the Lord in His sufferings.

On another level, we are not alone at all – after all, the entire Catholic Church is making it’s way through the season and all it offers us. We are part of that one body and as part of it, we are those to whom redemption is offered. It is for each and every one of us that Christ died on the Cross.

But we are called not just to be redeemed, but to take part with Christ in the work of redemption – as His followers, He offers us a share in His own work. This is what Saint Paul means when he writes about ‘making up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of His Body, the Church’ (cf. Colossians 1:24). Of course, the sacrifice of Christ lacks nothing whatsoever; but regardless of this, we are invited to take an active part in His work of salvation.

This is never more so than in the case of the Lord’s own Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In that original holy Passion of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin was there taking part; and Her motherly Heart was indeed transfixed by the sword of sorrows, as Simeon had prophesied more than thirty years beforehand. What the Lord suffered in His Body, His Mother suffered with Him in Her soul. And in this mystical manner, Her sufferings were united to His in the deepest way. This is simply and profoundly expressed on the reverse of the Miraculous Medal, where the Cross is intertwined with the monogram ‘M’, and beneath which, the Sacred Heart of Jesus sits alongside the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This sums it all up quite perfectly.

And so at those times when our Lent seems a hard, a dark or a lonely place to be – remember that we do not walk that Way of the Cross alone. The Mother of the Lord is right there beside us and it is She who leads us gently by the hand, so that at every step along that Way, we might obtain grace from the Lord. As the Catechism notes, this is Her pre-eminent place in the plan of salvation, at the express will of the Father.

Bear in mind, too, that as much as the sufferings of the Blessed Virgin were redemptive, so ours can be redemptive also. Properly disposed, and united to the Crucified One,  our sufferings obtain merit and they obtain grace – for us and for others. That grace transforms hearts, ours included.

Throughout this holy season of Lent, let us try to remember always that the Mother of the Lord accompanies us as we visit, in spirit, all the scenes of the Passion of Her Son, as truly as She visited them on foot during Her earthly life. In Her company and through Her intercession, may the Lord of the Cross grant us every grace and blessing.