Mary and Vocations: Cardinal Explains Link

Celebrates Mass in Former Atheism Museum

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KIEV, Ukraine, JULY 22, 2009 ( An ongoing relationship with Mary «helps us to discover our personal destiny and the meaning of history in the light of Christ,» says Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who affirmed that this perspective is key for vocations to the priestly or consecrated life.

The cardinal, who is the president of the Governor’s Office for Vatican City State, highlighted the importance of Marian devotion after a procession in Zarvanytsia, Ukraine, last Saturday, on the vigil of the feast of Our Lady as patron of the nation.

The cardinal’s five-day visit to the Ukraine ended Tuesday.

«Mary teaches us to have faith in Jesus, and he teaches us to understand ourselves, to discern our vocation, to open ourselves to God’s projects for the future,» he assured.

«Contemplating the face of Mary, we discover the true face of God, his beauty, his goodness and his mercy,» the cardinal continued. «Contemplating the face of the Virgin, we are enlightened by the divine light that also transforms our face.

«Paying recourse to the intercession of Mary and listening to her voice, we renew fidelity to our vocation and we receive the grace of revealing to the hearts of young generations the beauty of the vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life.»

Cardinal Lajolo also visited Lviv, Ternopil, Berdychiv and Kiev, describing his trip to the Baltic nation as a «journey to experience being part of the Church in Ukraine.»

It was an occasion to «give a testimony of unity in the Church» to a world that is marked by «so much indifference and sometimes so much hostility» that it has a great need for unity, he said.

It was, the Vatican official continued, a chance to reaffirm «the spirit of fraternal communion that reins in the Church, which is one heart and one soul in Christ.»

Worse than atheism

On Sunday, the cardinal celebrated Mass in a sanctuary that under Communism had been transformed into a museum of atheism, as a sign of hatred of the faith. Today, again serving as a sanctuary, it has taken on great symbolic significance.

The image of Our Lady there was not destroyed because the museum administrators considered it of significant historical value. In reality, it is a reproduction of an image of Mary venerated in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

«In this place that was used against God, though in reality, also against man,» the cardinal said, «let me tell you that there is something worse than denying God: It is forgetting about God, living as if he were not here.

«Forgetting God is the great danger of Western culture.»

«Do not forget God! Never,» the cardinal exhorted. «God is Light. He gives the ultimate meaning to our lives. One who believes in him, who hopes in him, will never be deceived.

«No one can say they love God if they don’t love their neighbor, the image of God. That’s why true religion interiorly directs us toward peace.»

Cardinal Lajolo urged the youth present to follow Mary as the path for «transforming into new sanctuaries the many museums of atheism around the world.»

«In Mary,» he added, «we see the love of God for us in all of its strength, but also all of his tenderness, which always has its origin in Jesus himself.»

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