The Pope: Christ is not a ruthless judge and Mary is not a “plaster statue”

The Pope during the blessing of the candles from the Appearance Chapel in Fatima

The Pope: Christ is not a ruthless judge and Mary is not a “plaster statue”

By Andrea Tornielli from Fatima

Francis' greeting at the blessing of the candles from the Chapel of the Apparitions of Fatima: No to subjective images that make Mary appear “sweeter” than Jesus, “Mercy has to be put before judgment”

Night has fallen over more than three hundred thousand people gathered to embrace Pope Francis in the cave of Cova da Iria, in front of the great sanctuary of Fatima, where a hundred years ago three children - two of whom are to be proclaimed saints - saw the Virgin Mary and received a secret that has marked the twentieth century. There are thousands of lit candles, while a cold wind has dissolved the heat of the afternoon. The evening procession with the candles and the prayer of the Rosary are characteristic appointments of the sanctuary.

The Pope greets the pilgrims, he tells them they have a special place "in his heart", “especially those most in need " as the apparition had taught the three shepherds after showing them the vision of hell. "May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy," he added, "obtain for them the Lord’s blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ”.

Francis explained that "No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s face" as did Mary. The Pope then quoted the words used by Paul VI during a pilgrimage to Cagliari in 1970: "if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him”

But Bergoglio also took advantage of the opportunity to clear the field from ways of considering Mary not in harmony with the Gospel. "Pilgrims with Mary ... But which Mary? – he asked - A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the “narrow way” of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady “unapproachable” and impossible to imitate? A woman “blessed because she believed” always and everywhere in God’s words, or a “plaster statue” from whom we beg favors at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?

"It is evident here that we should not surrender to catastrophes and visions that present Our Lady as "sweeter" and "more merciful" than God the Father and Christ. "Great injustice is done to God’s grace" Francis said, "whenever we say that sins are punished by his judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by his mercy!"

"Mercy has to be put before judgment " the Pontiff said, "and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy. Obviously, God’s mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment. He did not deny sin, but redeemed it on the cross." That is why "we are freed from our sins" and "we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved ". Thus, there is no faith based on fear, on chasing secrets and visions, but based on the gospel and love."

"Whenever we look at Mary," Francis continued, "we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves…" Bergoglio wished the present to become "with Mary, a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything.". So to say: " Out of the pride of my heart, I went astray, following my own ambitions and interests, without gaining any crown of glory! My one hope of glory, Lord, is this: that your Mother will take me in her arms, shelter me beneath her mantle, and set me close to your heart”.

After the Rosary recitation, followed a Mass celebrated by Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In the homily, the cardinal recalled Mary "as a Mother concerned for the trials of her children, who has appeared here with a message of consolation and hope for a world at war and for the Church in travail " Parolin also recalled the "millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts" as well as the fact that "even in places once considered safe, a general sense of fear is felt" .

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 08:42
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