During the Angelus on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, Pope Francis invites Christians to entrust themselves to Our Lady, reminding us that Mary, the only human creature without sin in history, is with us in the battle, and she is our sister and Mother.
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis led the faithful in the Angelus Prayer from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on 8 September, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary, full of grace
In his address, he said that Thursday’s Gospel reading introduces us into the home of Our Lady to recount the Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel greeted Mary, calling her by a new name “full of grace” – therefore – “free of sin.”
By calling Mary that name, the Pope explained, God reveals her greatest secret to her, which she previously ignored. He added that something similar can also happen to us in the sense that “we sinners too have received an initial gift that has filled our life, a good greater than anything, an original grace, of which often, however, we are unaware.”
Original grace received at Baptism
This original grace is what we received on the day of our Baptism, which is why it is good for us to remember and celebrate it, Pope Francis said.
At Baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on us too, thus “God descended into our life, and we became his beloved children forever.” From here, is our original beauty to rejoice in, and Mary, today, surprised by the grace that made her beautiful from the first instant of her life, leads us to marvel at our beauty.
This beauty, the Pope noted, can be apprehended through the image of the white robe of Baptism that “reminds us that, beneath the evil we have sullied ourselves with over the years, there is a greater good in us.”
“Let us listen to the echo, let us hear God who says to us: “Son, daughter, I love you and I am with you always, you are important for me, your life is precious”. When things do not go well and we are discouraged, when we are downcast and risk feeling useless or wrong, let us think about this, about this original grace.”
Our beauty demands a cost
Pope Francis goes on to note that the Word of God teaches us that “to conserve our beauty demands a cost, a struggle.”
In this regard, the Gospels tell us that Mary, in saying “yes” to God, shows her courage and chose the “risk of God”, and the Genesis passage on original sin, speaks to us of a battle against the tempter and his temptations. More so, through experience, we too, know that “it takes effort to choose good, to conserve the good that is in us.”
The Holy Father invited everyone to consider the times we have squandered this good by giving in to the “lure of evil”, being crafty for our own interests, wasting time on useless and harmful things, putting off prayer, and saying “I can’t” to those who need us, when instead we could.
Mary is with us
Pope Francis reminds us of the good news that “Mary, the only human creature without sin in history, is with us in the battle, she is our sister and above all Mother.” Thus, “we, who struggle to choose good, can entrust ourselves to her.”
“By entrusting ourselves, consecrating ourselves to Mary, we say to her: “Take me by the hand, lead me: with you I will have more strength in the battle against evil, with you I will rediscover my original beauty”. Entrusting ourselves to Mary today, every day, repeating to her: “Mary, I entrust to you my life, my family, my work, my heart and my struggles. I consecrate myself to you”.”
Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary Immaculate may “help us to preserve our beauty from evil.”