Marian Thoughts – 5 May – the Month of Mary
Apostolic Exhortation of St Pope Paul VI
Marialis Cultus – 2 February 1974
To Honour Mary
Devotion to the Mother of the Lord becomes for the faithful an opportunity for growing in divine grace and this is the ultimate aim of all pastoral activity. For it is impossible to honour her who is “full of grace” (Lk. 1:28) without thereby honouring, in oneself, the state of grace, which is friendship with God, communion with Him and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is this divine grace which takes possession of the whole man and conforms him to the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18).
The Catholic Church, endowed with centuries of experience, recognises in devotion to the Blessed Virgin a powerful aid for man as he strives for fulfilment. Mary, the New Woman, stands at the side of Christ, the New Man, within whose mystery the mystery of man(124) alone finds true ligh,; she is given to it as a pledge and guarantee that God’s plan in Christ for the salvation of the whole man has already achieved realisation in a creature – in her. Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man, torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish, of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life over death.
Let the very words that she spoke to the servants at the marriage feast of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5), be a seal on our Exhortation and a further reason in favour of the pastoral value of devotion to the Blessed Virgin as a means of leading men to Christ. Those words, which at first sight were limited to the desire to remedy an embarrassment at the feast, are seen in the context of Saint John’s Gospel to re-echo the words used by the people of Israel to give approval to the Covenant at Sinai (cf. Ex. 19:8, 24:3, 7; Dt. 5:27) and to renew their commitments (cf. Jos. 24:24; Ezr. 10:12; Neh. 5:12). And they are words which harmonise wonderfully with those spoken by the Father at the theophany on Mount Tabor – “Listen to him” (Mt. 17:5
The Little Office of Mary