Saturday, January 29, 2011


Why so few postings these days? Did you fall off the earth?

You're right. Sorry. Other things just kind of overwhelm at times.

But, if there are few updated postings here, that does not mean that there is not something new over at Cinema Catechism, where, for example, there is talk of Bernadette Soubirous.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Better Preparation for Marriage is Crucial

Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II before him, has long been concerned about the state of marriage, both in society at large and in the Church. Included within this concern is the large number of annulments that have been granted, mostly in the United States, in recent decades. As stated in the post below, every annulment is at best a tragedy for those involved and, at worst, a scandal that has had the corrosive effect of confusing the faithful and other people as to the truth of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Pope Benedict confirms the concerns posted below and likewise sees the remedy as being better preparation for marriage. Moreover, he says, marriage is not an absolute "right," such that, if the couple to be married is not adequately prepared, if they do not have the capacity or will to form the requisite consent, then the Church should decline to marry them.

Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota

January 23, 2011

. . . The relationship between law and pastoral care was at the center of the postconciliar debate over canon law. The well known statement of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, according to which "it is not true that to be more pastoral the law must make itself less juridical" (Allocution of the Roman Rota, Jan. 18, 1990) expresses the radical overcoming of apparent opposition. "The juridical dimension and the pastoral dimension," he said, "are inseparably united in the pilgrim Church on this earth. First of all, there is their harmony that derives from their common finality: the salvation of souls" (ibid.).

In my first meeting with you in 2006, I tried to show the authentic pastoral meaning of the processes of the annulment of marriage, based on love of the truth (cf. Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 28, 2006). Today I would like to pause to consider the juridical dimension that is inherent in the pastoral activity of preparation and admission to marriage, to try to shed light on the connection between such activity and the judicial matrimonial processes.

The canonical dimension of the preparation for marriage is not perhaps an immediately obvious element. In effect, on the one hand, we observe how in the courses of preparation for marriage, the canonical questions occupy a very modest place, if not insignificant, insofar as we tend to think that the future spouses have a very minimal interest in questions that are reserved for specialists. On the other hand, while not neglecting any of the necessities of the juridical activities that precede marriage, ready to accept that "nothing be opposed to its valid and licit celebration" (CIC, Canon 1066), there is a widespread belief according to which the examination of the spouses, the marriage banns and the other appropriate measures taken in the necessary pre-matrimonial investigations (cf. Canon 1067), among which are the marriage preparation courses, are merely formal obligations. In fact, it is often thought that in admitting couples to marriage, pastors must proceed with generosity since the natural right of the persons to marry is in play.

It is a good thing, then, to reflect on the juridical dimension of marriage itself. It is an issue that I have touched on in the context of reflection on the truth about marriage, in which I stated, among other things, that:

"[w]ith regard to the subjective and libertarian relativizing of the sexual experience, the Church's tradition clearly affirms the natural juridical character of marriage, that is, the fact that it belongs by nature to the context of justice in interpersonal relations. In this perspective, the law is truly interwoven with life and love as one of the intrinsic obligations of its existence"

(Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 27, 2007). Thus, there are not [two different kinds of marriage:] an existential marriage ("matrimonio della vita") and a legal marriage: there is only one marriage, which is constitutively a real juridical bond between the man and the woman, a bond upon which the authentic conjugal dynamic of life and love rests. The marriage celebrated by the spouses, the one that pastoral care concerns itself with and that which canonical doctrine focuses on, are a single natural and salvific reality, whose richness certainly permits a variety of approaches, without however losing its essential identity. The juridical aspect is essentially linked to the essence of marriage. This is understood in the light of a non-positivistic notion of law, but considered in the perspective of the relational character of justice.

The right to marriage, or "ius connubii," must be seen from this perspective. It is not, therefore, a subjective pretense that must be satisfied by pastors through a mere formal recognition, independently of the actual content of the union. The right to contract marriage presupposes that one can marry, and one intends to authentically celebrate marriage, that is, to do so in the truth of its essence as it is taught by the Church. No one can boast of a right to a wedding ceremony.

The "ius connubii," in fact, refers to the right to celebrate a real marriage. The "ius connubii," therefore, is not being denied where it is evident that the premises for its exercise are not present, that is, if the requisite capacity to wed is manifestly lacking, or an objective is sought that is contrary to the natural reality of marriage
. (ed. note -- stated another way, if the necessary consent is lacking or either of the parties to the intended marriage lack the ability to give consent, that is, if grounds for a later annulment exist, then it is not a violation of an asserted "right to marriage" to refuse to marry them.)

In this regard I would like to reaffirm what I wrote after the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist:

"Given the complex cultural context which the Church today encounters in many countries, the synod also recommended devoting maximum pastoral attention to training couples preparing for marriage and to ascertaining beforehand their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the sacrament of Matrimony. Serious discernment in this matter will help to avoid situations where impulsive decisions or superficial reasons lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they are then incapable of honoring (cf. Proposition 40). The good that the Church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself"

(Post-Synodal Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 29).

Preparation for marriage, in its various phases described by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," certainly has its purposes that transcend the juridic dimension, since its horizon is constituted by the whole good, human and Christian, of the couple and their future children (cf. no. 66), definitively directed to the holiness of their life (can. 1063, No. 2). Nevertheless, we must never forget that the immediate objective of such preparation is that of promoting the free celebration of an authentic marriage, that is, the constituting of a bond of justice and love between the couple, with the characteristics of unity and indissolubility, ordained to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children, and which between baptized persons constitutes one of the sacraments of the New Covenant.

With this, an extrinsic ideological message is not addressed to the couple, much less is a cultural model imposed; rather the betrothed are made able to discover the truth of a natural inclination and a capacity for commitment, which is inscribed in the being of their man-woman relationship. Law as an essential component of the matrimonial relation flows from here; it is rooted in a natural power of the couple that is actualized in consensual self-giving. Reason and faith concur to illuminate this truth of life but it must be clear in any case that, as the Venerable John Paul II taught,

"the Church does not refuse the matrimonial celebration to those who are well-disposed, even if imperfectly prepared from the supernatural point of view, so long as the person has the right intention to wed according to the natural reality of marriage"

(Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 30, 2003). On this view, a special care must accompany the marriage preparation whether it be remote, proximate or immediate (cf. John Paul II, apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," No. 66)

Among the means for judging that the plan of the engaged couple is really conjugal, there is the pre-marriage examination. This examination has a principally juridical purpose: to judge that nothing is opposed to the valid and licit celebration of the marriage. To say that it is juridical is not to say that it is formalistic, as if it were a bureaucratic task consisting in filling out a form based on the answers to set questions. It is rather a unique pastoral event -- to be valued for all the seriousness and attention that it demands -- in which, through a dialogue full of respect and cordiality, the pastor tries to help the person seriously place himself before the truth about himself and his human and Christian vocation to marriage. In this case the dialogue, always conducted with man and woman separately -- without diminishing the importance of other conversations with the couple -- requires a climate full of sincerity in which there must be an emphasis on the fact that those entering into the contract are the ones primarily concerned and primarily obligated in conscience to celebrate a valid matrimony.

In this way, with the various means at our disposal for a sound preparation and verification, we can develop effective pastoral care aimed at preventing matrimonial annulments. We must do our best to break -- to the extent that it is possible -- the vicious circle that often exists between a careless admission to marriage, without adequate preparation and a serious examination of the necessary requirements for its celebration, and judicial declaration sometimes just as careless, but opposite in significance, in which the same marriage is considered null solely on the basis of the claim of its failure. It is true that not all the causes of a future declaration of nullity can be identified or manifested in the preparation for the marriage, but, at the same time, it would not be right to block access to marriage on the basis of unfounded presumptions, such as that as holding that in today's world people are generally incapable of marriage or only have an apparent desire for it. In light of this, it is evidently important that there be a more acute awareness of the responsibility that those charged with the care of souls have in these matters. Canon law in general, and that dealing with marriage and trials in particular, certainly demands a special preparation, but a knowledge of the basic and the immediately practical aspects of Canon Law, relative to our proper functions, constitutes a formative exigency of fundamental relevance for all pastoral workers, in particular for those who are engaged in the pastoral care of families.

All of this requires, further, that the conduct of ecclesiastical tribunals send a univocal message about what is essential to marriage in harmony with the magisterium and Canon Law, speaking with one voice. Seeing the necessity of the unity of jurisprudence entrusted to this Tribunal, the other ecclesiastical tribunals must conform to the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota (cf. John Paul II, Allocution to Roman Rota, Jan. 17, 1998).

Recently, I insisted on the necessity of ruling rightly about the causes related to consensual incapacity (cf. Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 29, 2009). The question continues to be quite relevant and unfortunately incorrect positions persist, such as that of identifying the discretion of judgment required for marriage (cf. Canon 1095, No. 2) with the prudence expected in the decision to marry, thus confusing a question of capacity with another that does not touch validity, since it concerns the degree of practical wisdom with which a decision is made that is, in any case, matrimonial. Graver still would be the misunderstanding if one were to attribute invalidating efficaciousness to imprudent choices made in the marriage.

In the sphere of nullity created by the exclusion of the essential goods of marriage (cf. can. 1101, No. 2) a serious commitment is necessary, moreover, so that the judicial rulings reflect the truth about marriage, the same truth that must illuminate admission to marriage. I am thinking, in a special way, of the exclusion of the "bonum coniugum." In relation to this exclusion, the same danger that threatens the correct application of the norms dealing with incapacity seems to repeat itself, and, that is, looking for the causes of nullity in the behaviors that do not regard the constitution of the bond but rather its realization in life.

We must resist the temptation to transform the simple failures of the spouses in the conjugal life into defects of consent. True exclusion can only manifest itself when the ordination to the good of the spouses is harmed (cf. Canon 1055, No. 1), excluded with a positive act of the will. Without a doubt, the cases in which there is a failure to recognize the other as a spouse are an exception. This occurs when the essential ordering of the community of conjugal life is excluded from the good of the other. The clarification of these hypotheses about the exclusion of the "bonum coniugum" must be carefully assessed by the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota.

In concluding these reflections of mine, I turn to consider the relationship between law and pastoral care. It is often the object of misunderstandings, to the detriment of law, but also to the detriment of pastoral work. On the contrary, it is necessary to promote in all sectors, and in a special way in that of marriage and the family, profound harmony between the pastoral and the juridical, which will certainly show itself to be fruitful for those who approach marriage.

Dear members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I entrust all of you to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that you never lack divine assistance in carrying out your daily labors with fidelity, the spirit of service and with fruitfulness, and I gladly impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

Love, Truth, and Marriage

This was originally posted on March 11, 2009

Over at Historical Christian, a dispute arose in the comment box over whether priests, parishes, and dioceses should require cohabiting couples to stop living together before receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. One reader thought that such a rule was "illogical and un-Catholic" in that it was unrealistic to expect couples to comply and that it was too judgmental, rather, "the fact that they want to be married, rather than continue living together says a lot."

We should remember that, while Christ established the sacraments, He gave them to the Church to administer or not administer. The Church does have the authority to say "no" sometimes if the person seeking the sacrament is not properly disposed or prepared. The Church does not do "altar calls" where anyone can simply come in off the street and be received into the Church.

The Church can, and rightfully does, demand a fairly extensive amount of preparation (except in cases of impending death). And more than once, the Church has said "no, you cannot be baptized at this time." Or, "no, you cannot receive absolution at this time." Or, "no, you cannot receive communion at this time." Or, "no, you cannot be confirmed at this time." Or, "no, you cannot be ordained at this time." If the disposition and preparation are not there, the Church should say "no, not at this time, you must first be properly prepared and disposed."

Unfortunately, the Church does not say "no, not at this time" with respect to marriage as often as She should. That is why we have a scandalous amount of annulments in the U.S. Every (legitimate) annulment is an example of a failed marriage preparation process.

If the priest can see before the wedding that the couple is not properly disposed, such that they would be able to claim that prior lack of proper disposition after the wedding as a ground for annulment (e.g. defective consent), then the priest should decline to perform the wedding. And cohabitation is pretty persuasive proof of a lack of full and proper preparation for and understanding of marriage, both as a state of life and as a sacrament, which thereby impairs the ability to give a full, knowing, intelligent, and voluntary consent.

Surely, we would expect a candidate for ordination to break-up with his girlfriend and/or to not cohabitate a fairly long period of time prior to being ordained! Well, cohabitation is as incompatible with matrimony as it is with ordination. True, in both cases, the wrong can be sacramentally confessed, but there must be an authentic conversion of the heart and mind, sufficiently demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Church, before receiving and entering into either sacrament of matrimony or ordination.

The same could be said of the couple that is not cohabiting or even sexually active, but merely wants a "church wedding" for stylistic purposes with absolutely no intention of living their marriage within the Faith. And, sadly, there are quite a few folks who want to use the Church as merely some kind of prop. If the marriage is not going to be in the Church, there is no reason that the wedding should be. There is always the courthouse down the road for such farces. And if and when the couple does wish to bring their marriage and married life into the Church, and not merely the wedding day, they can always have it regularized, but not until then.

The Church and priests presiding at weddings do not do anyone any favors by marrying couples that are not properly disposed. They are setting the couples up for failure. Besides, I am no mindreader, but I would venture to guess that most cohabiting couples (and otherwise sexually active couples) know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong, and they would appreciate someone (anyone!) calling them on it.

No one who is not properly prepared or disposed has any standing or right to demand that the Church administer a sacrament to him or her, any more that we have a right to demand that God let us into heaven. The sacraments and grace are gifts -- wholly gratitious. They can be given; they can be withheld. And Jesus specifically gave the Church the authority, not only to give, but to withhold the sacraments, including matrimony. If the couple is not properly prepared and/or disposed, the priest should say, "no, come back later when you are."

As the Holy Father has said, reception of the sacraments is not automatic; the Church demands that the recipient(s) establish and maintain a friendship with Jesus, who is Love and Truth. Cohabitation, by its very nature, is inconsistent with that Love and Truth; it is inconsistent with a full and complete friendship with Jesus.


And the following was first posted on January 5, 2010.

Every annulment is a failure — at times, scandalously so.

If the annulment is valid, that is, the putative “marriage” really was null and void ab initio, such that there never really was a sacramental marriage, then that is evidence of a monumental failure on the part of the marrying priest. The couple should have been better prepared and, if they were not, then the priest should have said, “No. No, the Church will not marry you at this point, if ever.”

On the other hand, if it is the annulment that is factually invalid, that an annulment is decreed for what is actually a valid sacramental marriage, if the annulment is merely a Catholic divorce by another name, with a wink and a nudge, if the bride and the groom each did have the necessary capacity, etc., then that too is a monumental and scandalous failure on the part of the human inhabitants of the Church. Here too, the Church should have said, “No. No, an annulment will not be granted.”

Either way, the present situation — hopefully it is getting better — is untenable. Going back to prior discussions, there needs to be in the Church more speaking of truth, even if it is a hard truth, more saying of “no” — either at the beginning of the matrimonial process or at the end — rather than merely going in order to “keep the peace” and make people feel good.

* * *

I would say that if there are indications in the beginning that there might be grounds for someone to seek an annulment later on, then the priest should definitely say “no,” for example, if there indications, due to immaturity, state of mind, or otherwise, that one of the persons might lack the knowledge, understanding, ability, or capacity to give matrimonial consent to irrevocably, exclusively, and mutually give themselves and accept the other (canon 1057). Unless and until it is clear that each is sufficiently mature and has the requisite ability and capacity and good faith to give that matrimonial consent, then I should think that the Sacrament should be withheld, as in the case of the other sacraments, as Jan points out.

If there is proper marriage preparation and formation, no one should be able to come back later and legitimately claim that he or she did not know what he or she was doing or getting themselves into.

Msgr. Charles Pope responds: As I said above immaturity is hard to measure and prove. I agree we should do better but most priest are taught that people have a natural right to marry and we are not well trianed in gauging maturity.

State of mind is always difficult to prove (speaking here as a lawyer). You cannot easily peer into someone’s head and see what they are thinking. When at issue at trial, you prove it by what the person said and what he did, and make your inferences from that. At the plea stage, you make sure that a guilty plea is made knowingly, intelligently, willingly and voluntarily, with a full understanding of the nature and consequences of the action, by the judge asking the defendant a series of questions before the plea is accepted. Courts do not want people coming back later, after having had a change of heart, and claiming that their guilty plea was invalid.

Immaturity and other states of mind are hard to measure and prove. But that is just as true at the tribunal as it is at the altar. My understanding (and it is just from what I have heard) is that most of the annulments that are decreed are granted on that basis, that one or both of the parties was insufficiently mature or otherwise lacked the capacity to give matrimonial consent. From the number granted, there seems to be little problem measuring and proving immaturity at the end, and that is often years after the fact.

Presuming maturity and capacity in the beginning, while presuming invalid maturity and capacity at the end, would seem to be inconsistent, to say the least. I would bet that many of those who end up divorcing would have been happy and grateful had the priest or family members or anyone else said “no, you are not ready!” rather than merely acquiescing.

I’m not saying that we should be eager to withhold the sacraments, just the opposite. We should be so eager to dispense the sacraments that we certify that people are properly prepared and cannot come back later and claim that it was all defective and invalid. The time for a determination of invalidity should be before the marriage is entered into, not years later.

* * *

One of the great things about the human person is that he or she is made in the image of God. Thus, we are made in love and truth in order to love and be loved in truth. We share the Creator’s ability to reason, to act freely, to foster relationships, to grow and even create new life.

On the other hand, one might say that one of the “drawbacks,” so to speak, about the human person is that he or she is made in the image of God. That is, in the image of the Crucified One.

God is Love, but just look at how mankind returns that love — rejection, infidelity, disrespect, contempt — we even go so far as to torture and kill God. He has sought a spousal relationship with us and we have been the worst of the worst. And yet, He is ever faithful. He loves us, not because we deserve it — we don’t — and not because we have earned it — we haven’t — and not because we are so pretty or funny or smart, but because He chooses to love us no matter what. God doesn’t file for divorce, even though He has multiple grounds to do so.

But still, we are made in the image of Him whom we crucified, thus we should not be surprised when those we want to love, those whose love we seek in return spurn us, reject us, abuse us, are unfaithful to us. Indeed, knowing that our “significant other” is merely human, we should expect failures, we should expect disappointment from them. We should disabuse ourselves of the fairy tales.

Pope Benedict has spoken and written about how love necessarily involves suffering. That if we love, we will suffer. I’m still trying to grasp exactly what he means. But if we love as God loves, enthusiastically giving of ourselves completely, purified eros and agape combined, I suppose it will necessarily mean being hurt, being disappointed, but choosing to love nonetheless. In short, being a real man (or woman) as God intended us to be.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Blessing of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and grant you peace.
The readings for today, the Solemnity of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the Octave of Christmas, begin with a passage from Numbers 6:22-27, from which we get the above blessing, known as the Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) in Jewish worship.

In Mary, Mother of God, the Lord has indeed blessed us and made His face to shine upon us and been gracious to us and lifted up His countenance upon us and granted us peace.

In her title of Theotókos (God bearer), we recognize that Mary is not merely mother of Jesus in His humanity or merely mother of the Christ (as some people had insisted in the early centuries of the Church), but she is rightly called the Mother of God because Jesus is one, both fully human and fully God. He is not half-God, half-man, and He is not divisible in His being. Rather, Jesus is fully God and fully man, two in one, and He always has been. His divinity did not enter into His Body at some later point, but upon the Incarnation of that Body at the Annunciation, when Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. As such, Mary carries within her womb God Himself. The Lord Himself dwells within her, she is a living temple and Ark of the Covenant.

Dwelling with her, Mary takes Jesus to us, as she did when she visited Elizabeth and John the Baptist leapt for joy within his mother’s womb.

Born to her and receiving the shepherds and Magi, Mary invites us to come to Jesus. In the smiles of Baby Jesus, the Lord’s face shines upon us. And to show that an intimate relationship with Jesus was not meant to be her’s alone, to show that all the faithful are called to intimately receive Him into our own bodies, as she did, Mary placed the newborn Jesus in a manger. As with the straw that was food for the animals, so too Jesus is shown to be food for us in the Eucharist.

Taken by her to be circumcised on the eighth day, the octave of Christmas, Mary signifies His union with His people and His promises. Through that visible sign in the flesh, in the cutting of that physical instrument of human propagation, Jesus unites Himself to all generations and to the Covenant of the Lord. For those that accept Him and love Him, they will be His people and the Lord will be their God, and He will lead them to the land of eternal life and salvation.

Growing up with her, Mary provides for little Jesus, feeding Him, clothing Him, teaching Him, including instruction in the Faith, and comforting Him when He needs comforting. In raising Jesus our Savior, Mary protects and advances the work of salvation; devoting the entirety of her life to guarding and protecting Jesus, she thereby joins in His mission of redemption.

Joining her in the celebration of the wedding feast at Cana, Mary instructs us to do as her Son Jesus says. When the wine runs out in our lives, Mary is sensitive and attentive to our needs, and she intercedes and asks her Son to provide for us.

Raised above her on the Cross, Mary faithfully perseveres in her union with Jesus. There she stands at the foot of the Cross in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of His suffering, joining herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart. And Jesus makes explicit what is already implicit in her motherhood of Him, that she is our mother too. That, if we accept this adoption by Him and her, we too are children of the new Eve, the mother of those who truly live, those who live in Him.

In eternal communion with her, Mary prays with the faithful to Jesus and with Him as at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit, long promised by the Lord, descended upon the faithful. As Pope Benedict has said,
Mary is so interwoven in the great mystery of the Church that she and the Church are inseparable, just as she and Christ are inseparable. Mary mirrors the Church, anticipates the Church in her person, and in all the turbulence that affects the suffering, struggling Church she always remains the Star of salvation.”
In the face of the Virgin, we see the face of Jesus the Lord, so that when she smiles upon us, the face of the Lord shines upon us. On this Solemnity last year, Pope Benedict said,
The face is the expression par excellence of the person, namely, that which makes him recognizable and which shows his sentiments, thoughts and his heart’s intentions. God, by His nature, is invisible, but the Bible uses the image of the face even for Him. . . .

All of Biblical narration can be read as the progressive revelation of the Face of God, until it reaches its full manifestation in Jesus Christ. “When the fullness of time had come,” the Apostle Paul reminds us even today, “God sent his Son,” adding right away, “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal 4:4).

The face of God took on a human face, allowing Himself to be seen and recognized in the son of the Virgin Mary, whom we honor because of this with the most elevated title of “Mother of God.” She, who kept in her heart the secret of her divine motherhood, was the first to see the Face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb.

The mother has a very special relationship that is unique and somewhat exclusive with her newborn son. The first face that the baby sees is that of his mother, and this look is decisive for his relationship to life, with himself and with others, and with God. It is decisive, as well, so that he may become a “child of peace” (Lk 10:6).

Among the many typologies of the icon of the Virgin Mary in the Byzantine tradition, there is that which is called “tenderness” which shows the Baby Jesus with His face held, cheek to cheek, on His Mother’s. The Baby looks at the Mother, and she looks at us, almost reflecting to Him who observes, who prays, the tenderness of God, who had descended to her from heaven and incarnated in this Son of man that she carries in her arms.

In this Marian icon, we can contemplate something of God Himself: a sign of the ineffable love that impelled Him “to give His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). But the same icon also shows us, in Mary, the face of the Church which reflects on us and the entire world the light of Christ – the Church through which the good news comes to every man: “You are no longer slaves but children,” as we read from St. Paul. (Gal 4:7). . . .
The Lord has greatly blessed us and kept us with the gift that is His mother Mary. With her, His countenance is upon us, she is our life, our sweetness, and our hope. In Mary, Mother of God, the Queen of Peace, we can find peace ourselves.


See also The Smile of Mary is a True Reflection of God’s Tenderness and Source of Invincible Hope

(The foregoing was also posted as a guest contributor for the blog Runs With Angels . . . Lives With Saints.)