Cardinal Schönborn on the Church's Survival in Mary's Faith
Austrian Prelate Speaks of Hope and the Rosary
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By Salvatore Cernuzio and Massimiliano Menichetti
ROME, MAY 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Mary’s faith supports the whole Church. This conviction was at the heart of the homily of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference, who spoke Tuesday in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci, to pay homage to the Virgin of Fatima.
In his reflection, pronounced in the presence of the relics of Blesseds Francesco and Jacinta, the cardinal pointed out the centrality of the Mother of God and our Mother in the life of man, especially in this Marian month.
At the end of the evening Mass, ZENIT with Vatican Radio spoke to Cardinal Schönborn.
ZENIT: Eminence, at this moment, in which Europe is living the economic crisis and secularism, what can we still learn from Mary’s example?
Cardinal Schönborn: I am always struck by the faith in the daily life of the Virgin, because we are tempted to forget that the greater part of her life was the hidden life of Nazareth. The life of St. Joseph, of her son Jesus, is the daily life of every one of us, a working life with all the difficulties: let us imagine that he had to buy the wood, do contracts, pay his collaborators, because a carpenter can’t work alone.
Then there were the difficulties of a land occupied by the Romans: a situation of injustice, poverty, persecution, oppression. In the midst of all this is the Son of God, son of Mary. For us also, concretely, in daily life, Mary is with us in our sufferings, in our sorrows. What is great in her is her unhesitating faith. I think this is the central message.
Also in Marian places: what do we learn at Lourdes, at Fatima, in the other known or less-known places? That she always addresses the simple. Bernadette could not read or write; she was illiterate; the children of Fatima, they are the ones who give the Madonna’s message, they are called to be apostles. What a teaching for us, with all our pride because of success, progress, wealth! And now, in the crisis, we see where the real values are.
ZENIT: So the many pilgrims who go to Mary’s places attest that there is hope?
Cardinal Schönborn: There is hope, absolutely, because hope is not a virtue of ease; it is the virtue of being anchored in God when, as St. Paul says, he hoped against all hope! Human hope is a beautiful thing, but the hope of faith is something much greater and there is hope because God is.
ZENIT: Looking at the image of Our Lady of Fatima, you said in the homily: “The whole Church has survived in Mary’s faith.” Can you explain this phrase better?
Cardinal Schönborn: Without faith the Church doesn’t exist and on the night of Holy Saturday all were in darkness because of the apparent failure. Only the Virgin, Tradition tells us, kept the faith and we must think of the terrible suffering of the real death of her son. In this keeping of the faith, the whole Church has survived and will always survive in the faith.
ZENIT: In last Wednesday’s general audience Benedict XVI exhorted young people not to abandon the recitation of the rosary as a simple but effective prayer for a direct dialogue with Mary. How important is the rosary?
Cardinal Schönborn: For me the rosary is the prayer of the poor, because when you are tired, when you are exhausted, with the beads in hand you are always safe. I’m struck every time in the Hail Mary: “Now and at the hour of our death.” “Now”: always, in the now of my life, Mary is.
So many times one hears it said: “Ah, these old ladies that pray the rosary!” This was said already in my youth, but I see it again today: it’s not the old ladies of 50 years ago, but the old ladies of today who continue to pray! And whoever scorns the old ladies who pray has understood nothing of the Gospel.
ZENIT: Your Eminence, to conclude, would you like to entrust to Vatican Radio and to Zenit an appeal in regard to your country?
Cardinal Schönborn: A small message on the Church in Austria. There is a unilateral image in the mass media. It’s true that there are difficulties, protests, but there is much faith, When I think of the very numerous prayer groups of young people – of whom there is no talk – I could give a long list. How many prayer groups exist! This is why I want to transmit another vision. I would like to make it known that our Church is alive.
[Translation by ZENIT]