This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
Taking up again the series of catecheses on Christian hope, in his address in Italian the Pope reflected on the theme: “The Mother of Hope” (Cf. John 19:25-27).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In our itinerary of catecheses on Christian hope, today we look at Mary, Mother of hope. Mary went through more than one night in her path as Mother. From her first appearance in the history of the Gospels, her figure stands out as if she were the personage of a drama. It was not simple to answer the Angel’s invitation with a “yes”: yet she, a woman still in the flower of youth, answered courageously, despite not knowing anything of the destiny that awaited her. In that instant, Mary appears to us as one of the many mothers of our world, courageous to the end when it is about receiving in their womb the story of a new man that is born.
That “yes” is the first step of a long list of obedience — long list of obedience! — that will accompany her itinerary as mother. Thus, Mary appears in the Gospels as a silent woman, who often does not understand all that is happening around her, but who meditates every word and every event in her heart.
In this disposition, there is a very beautiful [demonstration] of Mary’s psychology: she is not a woman who gets depressed in face of the uncertainties of life, especially when nothing seems to go the right way. Nor is she even a woman who protests violently, who inveighs against the destiny of a life that often reveals itself with a hostile face. Instead, she is a woman who listens: do not forget that there is always a great relation between hope and listening, and Mary is a woman who listens. Mary accepts existence just as it is given to us, with its happy days, but also with its tragedies, which we would never have wanted to come across – until Mary’s supreme night, when her Son is nailed to the wood of the cross.
Until that day, Mary almost disappeared from the plot of the Gospels: the sacred writers let this slow eclipsing of her presence be understood, her remaining silent before the mystery of a Son who obeys the Father. However, Mary reappears precisely at the crucial moment, when a good part of the friends vanished out of fear. Mothers do not betray and, at that instant, at the foot of the cross, no one of us can say which was the most cruel passion: that of an innocent man who dies on the gibbet of the cross, or the agony of a mother who accompanies the last instants of the life of her son. The Gospels are laconic and extremely discreet. They record with a simple verb the Mother’s presence: she “was” (John 19:25), she was. They say nothing of her reaction, if she was weeping, if she was not weeping . . . nothing; not even a brush stroke to describe her sorrow: on these details the imagination of poets and painters would then venture, giving us images that have entered in the history of art and of literature. But the Gospels only tell us: she “was.” She was there, in the most awful moment, in the cruellest moment, and she suffered with her Son. “Was,” Mary “was,” she was simply there. Behold her again, the young woman of Nazareth, now with greying hair with the passing of the years, still struggling with a God who must only be embraced, and with a life that has reached the threshold of the densest darkness. Mary “was” in the densest darkness, but she “was.” She did not go away. Mary is there, faithfully present, every time that a lighted candle must be held in a place of mist and fog. She does not even know the destiny of resurrection that her Son at the moment was opening for all of us men: she is there out of fidelity to God’s plan, of whom she proclaimed herself handmaid on the first day of her vocation, but also because of her mother’s instinct, who simply suffers, every time there is a son who goes through a passion. The sufferings of mothers: we have all known strong women, who have faced so many sufferings of their children!
We will find her again on the first day of the Church, she, Mother of hope, in the midst of that community of such frail disciples: one had denied, many fled, all were afraid (Cf. Acts 1:14). But she was simply there, in the most normal of ways, as if it were an altogether natural thing: in the first Church enveloped by the light of the Resurrection, but also by the tremors of the first steps that it must take in the world.
For this, we all love her as Mother. We are not orphans: we have a Mother in Heaven, who is the Holy Mother of God. Because she teaches us the virtue of waiting, even when everything appears nonsensical: she is always confident in the mystery of God, even when He seems to eclipse Himself because of the evil in the world. In moments of difficulty may Mary, the Mother that Jesus gave all of us, always be able to support our steps, always be able to say to our heart: ”Rise! Look ahead, look at the horizon,” because she is Mother of hope. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warm greeting goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the participants in the Ecumenical Week promoted by the Focolare Movement and I exhort them to continue on the common path of unity, of dialogue and of friendship between religions and peoples.
I am happy to receive the faithful of Ischia, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Pietro Lagnese, and those of Andria and Marano of Naples, as well as the participants in the Family Business Network meeting, promoted by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. I greet the Presidents of the of the International and Italian Federation of Taekwondo; the European Association of International Studies; the participants in the Hydrae Course; the Sassari Brigade and the Lazio, Umbria and Abruzzo Group of the Operation Safe Streets, whom I thank for the service of security carried out also in the surroundings of Vatican City and the Papal Basilicas. I encourage each one to live well the Easter Season in their families and work environments taking, with the enthusiasm of missionary disciples, the joy of the Resurrection.
A particular thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Next Saturday will be the centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima to the three little shepherds. Dear young people, learn to cultivate devotion to the Mother of God with the daily recitation of the Rosary; dear sick, feel Mary’s presence in the hour of the cross; and you, dear newlyweds, pray to her so that love and mutual respect will never be lacking in your home.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]