October 16, 2020

Christ the Cornerstone

Follow Mary’s example during this challenging time

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“Joined to Christ the head and in communion with all his saints, the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory of the glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. … Redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son and united to him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium,” #52-53)

The month of October is a time of special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While this is an appropriate time of remembrance every year, it’s especially appropriate during an election year.

Mary can help us form our consciences for faithful citizenship. Her total acceptance of God’s will, her witness to family life, and her critical role as the first disciple of Jesus Christ make Mary a model citizen of the Church and of the world in which she lived.

Faithful Christians look to Mary to find their way to Jesus, her divine Son. Faithful citizens also look to this simple woman from Nazareth to learn how to discern the signs of the times. They respond with courage and integrity whenever human dignity, family life or individual liberty are threatened. And they hold fast to the truth whenever they are confronted by political or ideological positions that are incompatible with the biblical principles and the consistent teaching of the Church during the past 2,000 years.

Mary, the Mother of the Church, was an important figure in the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council. “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of the Nations”), Vatican II’s “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” devotes an entire chapter, with five sections, to Mary “sign of true hope and comfort for the pilgrim people of God” (#68).

Mary’s role in the history of salvation (past), in the life of the Church today (present) and as a sign of the world to come (future) is fundamental to understanding what the Second Vatican Council sought to accomplish more than 50 years ago. It is also vitally important to understanding—and accepting—God’s will in our daily lives during this unprecedented time of pandemic, social unrest and economic uncertainty.

Mary also lived in a tumultuous time of human history. Religious freedom was threatened. The poor, the sick and people who for various reasons found themselves on the margins of society were routinely persecuted, abused or neglected.

A devout Jew, Mary was surrounded by the hypocrisy, intolerance and self-aggrandizement of the political and religious leaders of her time who failed to help their people see the truth. Not unlike today, social unrest, political intrigue and injustice were everywhere.

What was Mary’s response? Faithful acceptance of God’s will, dedication to her family and service to others. Although the world around her was in chaos, Mary remained faithful.

One of the most important issues we face today is the devaluation of marriage and family life. In an attempt to help Catholics, and all people of good will, form their consciences and exercise their responsibilities as faithful citizens, our Church emphasizes the importance of the family.

Based on marriage between a man and a woman, the family is the fundamental unit of society. It is the social unit that safeguards and promotes the creation and nurturing of children. It also provides a safe environment for married love to deepen and grow in spite of all the obstacles couples face today.

Our society is only as strong, or as healthy, as our most basic social unit, the family. We have no right to redefine what marriage is or to treat the family as though it were an arbitrary or changeable social structure. Supporting authentic family life should be a priority for economic and social policy. Every one of us is responsible for protecting and nurturing strong families. We are all called to ensure that family life is not undermined, neglected or abused.

As we work to strengthen families, we would be wise to seek the intercession and assistance of Mary, the heart of the Holy Family. Mary knows the importance of marriage and family life, and she knows the challenges we face today.

Let’s ask her to be our advocate and our inspiration. Let’s encourage married couples to be as courageous and faithful as Mary was when she accepted God’s will and freely chose to become the Mother of our Lord and, by the gift of God’s grace, our mother as well.

Holy Mary, Heart of the Holy Family, pray for us. †

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