At the conclusion of his encyclical released today, Pope Benedict honored Mary as our model of hope and asked for her intercession in showing us the way to the Father.
Using a title for Mary used for over a thousand years, the Holy Father explained how the “Star of the Sea” is our model for hope on our earthly journey. He described the dark, turbulent waters that we face in life and the need to have a star as a guide to follow the route.
“Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us?”
Following this introduction, the Pope launched into a prayer of praise to the Blessed Virgin giving examples of her model of hopefulness throughout her life.
“Your life was thoroughly imbued with the sacred scriptures of Israel which spoke of hope, of the promise made to Abraham and his descendants (cf. Lk 1:55).”
The Pope continued, “In this way we can appreciate the holy fear that overcame you when the angel of the Lord appeared to you and told you that you would give birth to the One who was the hope of Israel, the One awaited by the world. Through you, through your “yes”, the hope of the ages became reality, entering this world and its history.”
Reflecting on the Visitation, the Holy Father expressed Mary’s joy at carrying the “hope of the world in her womb” as she traveled “across the mountains of history” to see her cousin Elizabeth. “But alongside the joy which, with your Magnificat, you proclaimed in word and song for all the centuries to hear, you also knew the dark sayings of the prophets about the suffering of the servant of God in the world.
“Notwithstanding the great joy that marked the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, in the synagogue of Nazareth you must already have experienced the truth of the saying about the ‘sign of contradiction’ (cf. Lk 4:28ff). In this way you saw the growing power of hostility and rejection which built up around Jesus until the hour of the Cross, when you had to look upon the Saviour of the world, the heir of David, the Son of God dying like a failure, exposed to mockery, between criminals.
“The sword of sorrow pierced your heart. Did hope die? Did the world remain definitively without light, and life without purpose? At that moment, deep down, you probably listened again to the word spoken by the angel in answer to your fear at the time of the Annunciation: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary!’ (Lk 1:30).”
He continued, “…at the foot of the Cross, on the strength of Jesus’s own word, you became the mother of believers. In this faith, which even in the darkness of Holy Saturday bore the certitude of hope, you made your way towards Easter morning. The joy of the Resurrection touched your heart and united you in a new way to the disciples, destined to become the family of Jesus through faith.”
The Holy Father concluded his prayer by asking for Mary’s hand in guiding us to Christ. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way!”
To read the entire encyclical go to: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=165