Benedict XVI: Mary Invites Us to Pray for More Than Ourselves

Pope Begins Catecheses on Prayer in Acts, St. Paul

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By Kathleen Naab

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI shifted the focus of his catechesis series on prayer today, turning to teachings on prayer as found in Acts of the Apostles and the writings of St. Paul. He began his reflections with a look at Mary's prayer.

"If the Church does not exist without Pentecost, neither does Pentecost exist without the Mother of Jesus, since she lived in a wholly unique way what the Church experiences each day under the action of the Holy Spirit," the Pope said in the general audience.

He considered Mary's prayer at the beginning of Jesus' life up through the beginning of the Church and beyond.

"Because of her inner attitude of listening, Mary is able to interpret her own history, and to humbly acknowledge that it is the Lord who is acting," the Holy Father said in reference to the Annunciation. 

"In visiting her relative Elizabeth, she breaks forth into a prayer of praise and joy, and of celebration of the divine grace that filled her heart and her life, making her the Mother of the Lord (Luke 1:46-55)," he continued. "Praise, thanksgiving, joy: in the canticle of the Magnificat, Mary looks not only to what God has wrought in her, but also to what he has accomplished and continually accomplishes throughout history. In a famous commentary on the Magnificat, St. Ambrose summons us to have the same spirit of prayer. He writes: 'May the soul of Mary be in us to magnify the Lord; may the spirit of Mary be in us to exult in God.'"

The Pontiff reflected that the mention of Mary's presence with the Eleven following Christ's ascension into heaven is not a "simple historical annotation regarding a thing of the past; rather, it assumes a meaning of great value, for she shares with them what is most precious: the living memory of Jesus, in prayer; and she shares this mission of Jesus: to preserve the memory of Jesus and thereby to preserve His presence."

Praying community

Benedict XVI said that veneration of the Mother of Jesus means "learning from her to become a community that prays: this is one of the essential marks in the first description of the Christian community as delineated in the Acts of the Apostles."

"Often," he noted, "prayer is dictated by difficult situations, by personal problems that lead us to turn to the Lord for light, comfort and help. Mary invites us to expand the dimensions of prayer, to turn to God not only in times of need and not only for ourselves, but also in an undivided, persevering, faithful way, with 'one heart and soul.'" 

"Dear friends, human life passes through various phases of transition, which are often difficult and demanding and which require binding choices, renunciation and sacrifice," the Pope concluded. "The Mother of Jesus was placed by the Lord in the decisive moments of salvation history, and she always knew how to respond with complete availability -- the fruit of a profound bond with God that had matured through assiduous and intense prayer. [...] As Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mary exercises her maternity until the end of history. 

"Let us entrust every phase of our personal and ecclesial lives to her, not the least of which is our final passing. Mary teaches us the necessity of prayer, and she shows us that it is only through a constant, intimate, loving bond with her Son that we may courageously leave 'our home,' ourselves, in order to reach the ends of the earth and everywhere announce the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-34458?l=english