COLUMN: The Blessed Mother and the abundant life--5/3/2020

Bishop Columns

      May is the month in which we honor the Blessed Mother. She is both a model for us to follow and a saint who intercedes for us.  As we read in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus came so that we might “have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10).  Certainly, Mary lived the abundant life as one who was hailed by the angel Gabriel as “full of grace.” (Lk 1:28)

      Mary’s life was not without suffering and challenge, but it was abundant beyond any imagination.  She was the chosen vessel of God to bring Jesus into the world.  Jesus didn’t just dwell in her heart, but in her womb.  Her model of fidelity should inspire us to remain faithful to Jesus and to point others to him.

      At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary points to her son Jesus and says, “do whatever he tells you.”  (Jn 2:5) On the Cross, Jesus points to Mary and says to the beloved disciple John and to all of us, “behold, your mother.” (Jn 19:27) Christians from these earliest days have looked to Mary as our spiritual mother, given to us by her son.

      During this time of pandemic, I have invoked Mary under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Her appearance at Lourdes brought forth healing waters and many miracles have been verified at Lourdes.  The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, is also recognized as the World Day of the Sick.  As you know, it was on this date that I was ordained and installed as your bishop.  I have consecrated myself and our diocese to her.  I think it is no coincidence that we now come to her for healing intercession in response to COVID19.

      This May, we are all asked to call upon the Blessed Mother with even greater intensity.  There are a couple of unique expressions this year.

      First, on May 1 the United States and Canada were re-consecrated to the Blessed Mother under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.  I joined with all the bishops of the United States and Canada to re-consecrate our diocese to her.  This is also something that individual parishes and families can undertake this May.  A simple prayer service is available on our website (dcgary.org). 

      Second, Pope Francis has called for a renewal in praying the rosary this May.  He stated: “It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view. I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations.”

      The Holy Father also gave a few optional prayers that may be prayed at the end of the rosary.  They were written with our current pandemic in mind.  I offer this prayer below, given by Pope Francis, as something you may incorporate into your own recitation of the rosary.  As Mary points us to Jesus and presents our needs to him, may we be transformed into agents of hope, confident in the abundant life offered to us in Jesus and more ready to share that love with others.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us…

Jesus, I Trust in You!

Your servant,

The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory

Bishop

Diocese of Gary


Prayer of Pope Francis for May 2020

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

      In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

      Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

      Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

      Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

      Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

      Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

      Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

      Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

      Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

      To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.