From the Cardinal: Mary: Queen of Peace | January 5, 2024
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Vol. 5. No. 8
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In his encyclical Fratelli Tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship) #278, Pope Francis tells us that war is fratricide—brothers and sisters killing one another. War can never be an acceptable solution to our differences as individuals, communities or nations. Once we have accepted the fact that we are all members of God’s family—regardless of our racial, cultural, economic, social or political differences—we can never turn to violence as an appropriate way of resolving our differences, no matter how serious they may be. Dialogue, forgiveness, and mutual understanding must be the solution, never warfare.
The Church, when she is faithful to her Lord, the Prince of Peace, cries out for an end to the horrors of war. As Pope Francis says:
Called to take root in every place, the Church has been present for centuries throughout the world, for that is what it means to be “catholic.” She can thus understand, from her own experience of grace and sin, the beauty of the invitation to universal love. Indeed, “all things human are our concern… wherever the councils of nations come together to establish the rights and duties of man, we are honored to be permitted to take our place among them.”
For many Christians, this journey of fraternity also has a Mother, whose name is Mary. Having received this universal motherhood at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19:26), she cares not only for Jesus but also for “the rest of her children” (cf. Rev 12:17). In the power of the risen Lord, she wants to give birth to a new world, where all of us are brothers and sisters, where there is room for all those whom our societies discard, where justice and peace are resplendent.
Mary speaks of peace. She urges us, her children, to recognize that we are all members of one family and to build communities “where there is room for all” and “where justice and peace are resplendent.”
Building communities that promote harmony and the common good of all requires us to listen to one another and to engage in respectful dialogue. Mary’s practice of contemplative prayer combined with faithful action on behalf of all her children should encourage us to speak the truth with love while, at the same time, refusing to dismiss out of hand the beliefs and practices of those who think and act differently than us.
As Pope Francis writes:
Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns. Based on their identity and experience, others have a contribution to make, and it is desirable that they should articulate their positions for the sake of a more fruitful public debate. When individuals or groups are consistent in their thinking, defend their values and convictions, and develop their arguments, this surely benefits society. Yet, this can only occur to the extent that there is genuine dialogue and openness to others. Indeed, “in a true spirit of dialogue, we grow in our ability to grasp the significance of what others say and do, even if we cannot accept it as our own conviction. In this way, it becomes possible to be frank and open about our beliefs, while continuing to discuss, to seek points of contact, and above all, to work and struggle together” (Fratelli Tutti, #203). Today, as war rages in the Holy Land, Ukraine and other regions of the world, and as communities everywhere are divided into factions based on conflicting religious beliefs and contradictory views on social, economic, and political issues, we need Mary’s intercession more than ever. May the Queen of Peace draw us together and inspire us to listen respectfully to each other, especially when we disagree passionately with one another.
Sincerely yours in Christ the Redeemer,
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Newark
Special Intercessions for the New Year
Our loving Savior has given us the Blessed Virgin Mary to be our Mother. With confidence in the Father’s care, we now pray:
That Mary, Mother of the Church, will guide and protect the Church with her motherly love.
That Mary, Queen of Peace, will intercede to bring lasting peace to the world.
That the intercession of Mary will draw our parish communities closer to Jesus.
For all families: that this New Year will be a time of peace and abiding love.
For the sick, the orphaned, the lonely, and the forgotten: that the Mother of Mercy will be their consolation and their joy.
For all mothers, especially those expecting a newborn child: that they find strength and inspiration from the prayers and example of the Mother of God.
For the grace to deepen our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Loving Father, you bless us with a gift that exceeds all other gifts. You give us a Mother who is the Mother of your Son. Keep us close in your love through Mary’s maternal mediation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.(From Magnificat, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Volume 25, Number 11, January 2024.)
A Message from Pope Francis: Words of Challenge and Hope
(A selection from the Holy Father’s General Audience, January 4, 2023.)
The Virgin Mary is a great teacher of discernment: she speaks little, listens a lot, and cherishes in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19). The three attitudes of Our Lady: she speaks little, listens a lot, and cherishes in her heart. And the few times she speaks, she leaves a mark. For example, in the Gospel of John, there is a very short phrase uttered by Mary which is a mandate for Christians of all times: “Do whatever he tells you” (cf. 2:5). It is curious: once I heard a very good, very pious elderly woman, who had not studied theology, she was very simple. And she said to me, “Do you know what Our Lady always does?” I don’t know, she embraces you, she calls you… “No, the gesture Our Lady does is this” [points with his finger]. I didn’t understand, and I asked, “What does it mean?” And the old lady replied, “She always points to Jesus.”
This is beautiful: Our Lady takes nothing for herself; she points to Jesus. Do whatever Jesus tells you: that is what Our Lady is like. Mary knows that the Lord speaks to the heart of each person and asks for these words to be translated into actions and choices. She knew how to do this more than any other person, and indeed, she is present in the fundamental moments of Jesus’ life, especially in the supreme moment of death on the Cross.
Dear brothers and sisters, discernment is an art, an art that can be learned and which has its own rules. If learned well, it enables spiritual experience to be lived in an ever more beautiful and orderly manner. Above all, discernment is a gift from God, which must always be asked for without ever presuming to be expert and self-sufficient.
The voice of the Lord can always be recognized; it has a unique style it is a voice that pacifies, encourages and reassures in difficulties. The Gospel reminds us of this continually: “Do not be afraid” (Lk 1:30), how beautiful is the Angel’s word to Mary! “Do not be afraid,” “Do not be afraid,” it is the style of the Lord, “Do not be afraid.” “Do not be afraid!” the Lord repeats to us today, too. “Do not be afraid:” if we trust in his word, we will play the game of life well, and we will be able to help others. As the Psalm says, his Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (cf. 119, 105).
My Prayer for You
Please join me in praying this New Year’s Prayer:
Lord, you make all things new.
You make hope come alive in our hearts,
And you cause our Spirits to be born again.
Thank you for this new year and
For all the potential it holds.
Come and kindle in us
A mighty flame
So that in our time, many will see the wonders of God
And live forever to praise your glorious name. Amen.