Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – At 5 p.m. this afternoon, in St. Peter's Square, the Marian Day was celebrated as part of the Year of Faith. The event began an hour before, with the procession around the square of the original statue of the Virgin of Fatima, which had been transported by air from Portugal and which Pope Francis had welcomed at the entrance of the Basilica. More than one hundred thousand people attended the event.
Following the address by the president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the statue of the Virgin was enthroned and, after the Marian prayer, in the form of the Via Matris, the Holy Father gave his catechesis in which he explained that Mary is the path that leads us to Jesus. “Mary is a woman of faith, a true believer”; he said. “But we can ask: What was Mary’s faith like?”
“Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin”, he continued. “What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council used a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that 'the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith'”.
When we do not listen to God and do not follow his will, “we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. … But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose 'yes' opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. … All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone”.
Mary’s faith “gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: 'Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit'. ... Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said 'yes' to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her 'yes'.
“But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his Word. … Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially to offer our hearts to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will”.
The third element is “Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary 'advanced in her pilgrimage of faith'. In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us. … Her entire life was to follow her Son: He – Jesus – is the way, He is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to Him and be guided by His words; to see how He acts and to follow in His footsteps; to have His same sentiments. And what are these sentiments of Jesus? Humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also a firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross”.
For Him, the journey of faith “passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning. … Mary was always with Jesus, she followed Jesus in the midst of the crowds and she heard all the gossip and the hatefulness of those who opposed the Lord. And she carried this cross! Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt. When Jesus’ 'hour' came, the hour of his passion, Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night, a little light flickering in the darkness. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith always brings us to joy, and Mary is the Mother of joy! May she teach us to take the path of joy, to experience this joy!”
The Holy Father concluded, “This evening, Mother, we thank you for our faith, the faith of a strong and humble woman; we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith”.