March 11March 11 Editorial: Turn to Mary to help you in the new year (January 20, 2023)

January 20, 2023


Turn to Mary to help you in the new year

Every new year, the Church encourages us to look to Mary, the mother of God and our mother, and with her, to ponder the wisdom of God and take it to heart. Whatever hardships, challenges and disappointments lie ahead in the coming year, Mary stands before us as a guiding star. With her help, we can overcome every obstacle. Through her intercession, we can find the wisdom that always comes from her Divine Son.

We venerate Mary above all the saints because we know that God’s favor rests on her. As the angel said when he presented her with the overwhelming news that she was chosen by God to be the mother of our Savior, Mary is “full of grace” (Lk 1:28).

She is the courageous woman chosen by God to be the instrument of his definitive communication with us as a fellow human being. God became one of us through Mary. He “pitched his tent among us” (as St. John the Evangelist tells us), growing from infancy to adulthood under the watchful care of Mary and her beloved spouse, Joseph, in the obscurity of the little town of Nazareth.

As Mary guided her young son and taught him to accept God’s will even when he didn’t understand it, so she can guide us in the new year ahead if we turn to her and seek her good counsel. After all, Mary is both the mother of the Church and its model.

In a very real way, Mary is the Church. She is the archetype of what the Church is called to be: the assembly (ecclesia) of believers who have been called to follow Jesus and who have responded generously, saying “Yes!” to God’s invitation to proclaim the good news to all nations and peoples.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not just a pious expression of religiosity. It is a profound recognition that we are called to be what Mary is—an ardent, faithful and spiritually grounded follower of Jesus Christ. In truth, we venerate Mary because she has taught us to say “Yes!” to the mysterious Word of God even—especially—when we have no idea what God’s will means for us.

Marian devotion is nothing more, or less, than our heartfelt cry, as we pray in the Memorare:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known 
that anyone who fled to thy protection, 
implored thy help, 
or sought thy intercession, 
was left unaided. 
Inspired by this confidence 
I fly unto thee, 
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. 
To thee do I come, 
before thee I stand, 
sinful and sorrowful. 
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions, 
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

In this new year, as always, we have an advocate, a mother, who cares for us, who understands our burdens, and who wants nothing more than to come to our aid regardless of our circumstances or our sins. Mary is a realist. She wants to show us how to live in the world as we find it. And her consistent advice to us is: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (Jn 2:5). Mary tells us to do what she did—say “Yes!” to God’s Word Incarnate and follow him in good times and in hard times.

The new year that we have just begun continues the synodal journey that Pope Francis initiated in October 2021. It’s a journey designed to remind us that none of us walk alone. We are meant to travel together as sisters and brothers in Christ. Mary accompanies us on this journey. She guides us when we are lost, and she comforts us when we are weary or afraid.

Peace is our most urgent need as we begin this year. Not just in faraway lands (as important as it is to end all violence among nations), but peace in our hearts, our homes, our communities and our nation. As long as we are constantly torn apart by the “isms” that threaten to destroy us, we can never know lasting peace. We must come together through respectful dialogue and mutual understanding if we ever hope to find peace in our hearts and in our world.

If we turn to her, Mary, Queen of Peace, will help us. She will show us the way to her Son, the Divine Peacemaker. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer us. Amen.

—Daniel Conway

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