Turning to Mary in Times of Crisis

It’s easy to long for those childhood moments when we could turn to our mothers for comfort and strength, no matter what challenge we might be facing.

The good news is that we still can. Our Lady is with us even as we move through this particularly difficult time here in the United States, where next week’s election will determine the course the country will take, while at the same time we experience so much death and devastation as the coronavirus continues to spread through our communities.

Throughout Church history, popes have formally consecrated the world and nations to the Blessed Mother during other times of great distress.

This spring, Pope Francis went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome to pray before the icon of Mary, Salvation/Health of the Roman People housed in the Pauline Chapel of the Basilica. Following the pope’s example, numerous leaders around the world have entrusted their nations to Our Lady, including the United States, whose bishops reconsecrated the country to her on May 1.

The witness of the pope and Church leaders is clear: Mary is both the Mother of the Church and the Mother of all people. Even people with whom we disagree.

Fr. Greg Cleveland’s new book, Beholding Beauty: Mary in the Song of Songs, arrives just in time to assure us of the great love God shows us through the Mother he’s given to us all—Our Lady. She is clearly the Mother we can turn to with our fears and pain. At the same time, as divisions strike at the heart of our nation, she offers us a gracious example of how to live with others, even in times of crisis. Fr. Cleveland writes,

The favor of God often takes the form of mercy in our relations with others. We are called to imitate our Father, who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Mt 5:45). We have many opportunities to offer forgiveness “seventy times seven” to those we love, as well as to those we might consider enemies. We experience something of God’s unconditional love toward us when we love others despite their faults and the ways they have hurt us. As we consider our own sinfulness and how the Lord has forgiven us so much, we find ourselves in solidarity with our neighbors who are sinners. Since Mary was without sin, she must have been extra sensitive to sin in others and to the hurt it caused. Yet she must have also been more compassionate in her response to sinners. As full of grace, she no doubt allowed God’s forgiveness to flow upon others, even the many who must have judged her for being pregnant before she lived with Joseph. Mary refused to go down the path of judging others in return, most likely returning a blessing instead (see 1 Pet 3:9).

In a 15th-century prayer called the Lament of Mary, Mary’s invitation to  “come weep with me” gives us permission to collectively grieve and turn to her in our time of need. Her enduring love and presence are an invitation to pray for those suffering from the virus, for those who are most vulnerable, especially our elderly community, for all essential workers risking everything for others, for those who have lost livelihoods and homes and food security. The history of most shrines throughout the world gives testimony to Mary’s special love for the insignificant ones, and even as we reconsecrate ourselves to her, we must share in her concerns.

Everyone knows the deep love St. John Paul II had for Mary. “In this grave hour, which gives rise to trepidation,” he writes, “we cannot do other than turn our mind with filial devotion to the Virgin Mary, who always lives and acts as a Mother in the mystery of Christ, and repeat the words Totus tuus (all thine).”

by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Photo Credit: Sinopsis Films

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