Mary is a Model
of Persevering Silence
H.H. Pope John Paul II
November 22, 1995
reflecting on the Marian dimension of ecclesial life, we are
now going to cast light on the immense spiritual wealth Mary
communicates to the Church by her example and her
first like to pause and briefly reflect on some significant
aspects of Mary's personality, which offer all believers
valuable guidance in accepting and fulfilling their own
Mary has gone
before us on the way of faith: believing the angel's
message, she was the first to welcome the mystery of the
Incarnation and did so perfectly (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 13). Her journey as a believer began even earlier
than her divine motherhood and developed more deeply
throughout her earthly experience. Hers was a daring faith.
At the Annunciation she believed in what was humanly
impossible, and at Cana she urged Jesus to work his first
miracle, pressing him to manifest his messianic powers (cf.
Christians to live their faith as a demanding and engaging
journey, which, in every age and situation of life, requires
courage and constant perseverance.
Mary's was a
humble and hidden life
docility to the divine will was linked to her faith.
Believing in God's word, she could accept it fully in her
life and, showing herself receptive to God's sovereign plan,
she accepted all that was asked of her from on high.
presence in the Church thus encourages Christians to listen
to the word of the Lord every day, to understand his loving
plan in various daily events, and to co-operate faithfully
in bringing it about.
3. This is
how Mary teaches the community of believers to look to the
future with total abandonment to God. In the Virgin's
personal experience, hope is enriched with
ever new reasons. Since the Annunciation, Mary concentrates
the expectations of ancient Israel on the Son of God,
incarnate in her virginal womb. Her hope was strengthened
during the successive stages of Jesus' hidden life in
Nazareth and his public ministry. Her great faith in the
word of Christ, who had announced his Resurrection on the
third day, prevented her from wavering, even when faced with
the drama of the Cross. She retained her hope in the
fulfilment of the messianic work and steadfastly, after the
darkness of Good Friday, awaited the morning of the
their difficult path through history, between the "already"
of salvation received and the "not yet" of its fulfilment,
the community of believers know they can count on the help
of the "Mother of Hope". After experiencing Christ's victory
over the powers of death, she communicates to them an ever
new capacity to await God's future and to abandon themselves
to the Lord's promises.
example enables the Church better to appreciate the value of
silence. Mary's silence is not only moderation in
speech, but it is especially a wise capacity for remembering
and embracing in a single gaze of faith the mystery of the
Word made man and the events of his earthly life.
It is this
silence as acceptance of the Word, this ability to meditate
on the mystery of Christ, that Mary passes on to believers.
In a noisey world filled with messages of all kinds, her
witness enables us to appreciate a spiritually rich silence
and fosters a contemplative spirit.
witnesses to the value of a humble and hidden life.
Everyone usually demands, and sometimes almost claims, to be
able to realize fully his own person and qualities. Everyone
is sensitive to esteem and honour. The Gospels frequently
mention that the Apostles were ambitious for the most
important places in the kingdom and they argued among
themselves as to which of them was the greatest. In this
matter Jesus had to teach them the need for humility and
service (cf. Mt 18:1-5; 20:20-28; Mk 9:33-37; 10:35-45; Lk
9:46-48; 22:24-27). Mary, on the contrary, never sought
honour or the advantages of a privileged position; she
always tried to fulfil God's will, leading a life according
to the Father's plan of salvation.
To all those
who often feel the burden of a seemingly insignificant life,
Mary reveals how valuable life can be if it is lived for
love of Christ and one's brothers and sisters.
moreover, witnesses to the value of a life that is pure
and full of tenderness for all men. The beauty of
her soul, totally offered to the Lord, is an object of
admiration for the Christian people. In Mary, the Christian
community has always seen the ideal woman, full of love and
tenderness because she lived in purity of mind and body.
the cynicism of a certain contemporary culture, which too
often seems not to recognize the value of chastity and
degrades sexuality by separating it from personal dignity
and God's plan, the Virgin Mary holds up the witness of a
purity that illumines the conscience and leads to a greater
love for creatures and for the Lord.
Furthermore, Mary appears to Christians of all times as the
one who feels deep compassion for the sufferings of
humanity. This compassion does not consist only in an
emotional sympathy, but is expressed in effective and
concrete help when confronted with humanity's material and
Mary, the Church is called to take on the same attitude
towards all the earth's poor and suffering. The maternal
attention of the Lord's Mother to the tears, sorrows and
hardships of the men and women of all ages must spur
Christians, particularly at the dawn of the new millennium,
to increase the concrete and visible signs of a love that
will enable today's humble and suffering people to share in
the promises and hopes of the new world which is born from
affection for and devotion to the Mother of Jesus surpasses
the Church's visible boundaries and fosters sentiments of
reconciliation. As a mother, Mary desires the union of
all her children. Her presence in the Church is an
invitation to preserve the unanimity of heart which reigned
in the first community (cf. Acts 1:14) and, consequently, to
seek ways of unity and peace among all men and women of
interceding with her Son, Mary asks the grace of unity for
all humanity, in view of building a civilization of love,
overcoming tendencies to division, temptations to revenge
and hatred, and the perverse fascination of violence.
Mary is the
cause of our joy
8. Our Lady's
motherly smile, reproduced in so much Marian
iconography, expresses a fullness of grace and peace that
seeks to be shared. This expression of her serenity of
spirit effectively contributes to giving the Church a joyful
Welcoming, in the Annunciation, the angel's invitation to
"rejoice" (khaire =
rejoice: Lk 1:28), Mary was the first to
share in the messianic joy foretold by the Prophets for the
"daughter of Sion" (cf. Is 12:6; Zep 3:14-15; Zec 9:9), and
she passes it on to humanity in every age.
as "causa nostrae laetitiae", the Christian people find in
her the capacity to communicate the joy that is born of
hope, even in the midst of life's trials, and to guide those
who commend themselves to her to the joy that knows no end.
Weekly Edition in English
29 November 1995
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