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Mary Serves Cause of Life

by Pope John Paul II

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  • Description:
    'Regina Caeli' message from April 24, 1994, the Year of the Family, following the beatification of Gianna Beretta Molla, Elizabeth Canori Mora and Isidore Bakanja. The Holy Father also urges frequent recitation of the prayer to St. Michael.
  • Larger Work:
    L'Osservatore Romano
  • Publisher & Date:
    L'Osservatore Romano, 24 April, 1994

1. Regina caeli laetare! Queen of Heaven, rejoice!

In inviting the Mother of Christ to rejoice, the Church is mindful of the words spoken by the Lord in the Upper Room on the eve of his passion Jesus said: "When a women is in labour, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived, but when she has given birth to the child she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a man had been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you" (Jn 16:21.23). The Church, which after the Apostles made these words of Christ her own, first addresses them during the Easter period to her who gave birth to the Saviour. "Queen of Heaven rejoice!". Words that express the maternal joy of the Church, who exults together with the Mother of her Lord with the same joy, the joy of life, that is revealed in the Resurrection and that lasts forever in God.

2. There is a deep link between the image of the mother who gives birth to the child and that of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:11). Those who give life in love receive it anew. Indeed, stern as death is love (cf. Song 8.6) This is why the truth about the Resurrection is also expressed through the mystery of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, in order to produce much fruit (cf Jn 12:24) Today we rejoice together with the Church of the African continent, particularly Zaire, because of Isidore Bakanja, a young martyr who, tike the grain of wheat, died to produce abundant fruit in the ecclesial community and among his people. We also rejoice over the wonderful renewal of the mystery of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life, in the extraordinary life of Gianna Beretta Molla and of Elizabeth Canori Mora, two Italian mothers who today are raised to the glory of the altars. One lived between the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, the other is our contemporary. Both, in their own ways, gave their life for their families. Elizabeth sacrificed herself for the fidelity and unity of the family, Gianna, sacrificed herself to give life to the child she bore in her womb. Both of them thus fit into the great prayer which the Church in Italy is raising to God throughout this year. The prayer of maternal sacrifice, the prayer of greatest love was theirs. No one has a love greater then this, to give one's life for another (cf. Jn 15:13). This happens in a singular way when a mother offers her life for her child and when at the price of her own life, she gives life to the being to be born from her.

Rejoice, Queen of Heaven, with the motherhood of all the mothers who are ready, like you, to sacrifice their life in order to give it others.

3. During the Easter period, the Church reads the Book of Revelation, which contains the description of the great sign that appeared in the sky, a Woman clothed with the sun, this woman was about to give birth. The Apostle John saw a red dragon appearing before her determined to devour the newborn child (cf Rv 12:1-4) This apocalyptic image also belongs to the mystery of the Resurrection. The Church proposes it again on the day of the Assumption of the Mother of God. It is an image that finds expression also in our times, particularly in the Year of the Family. In fact when all the threats against life gather before the woman who is about to give birth, we must turn to the Woman clothed with the sun, so that with her motherly care, she may protect every human being threatened in his mother's womb. During the month of May, which in many Christian communities is specially dedicated to the Blessed Mother, the Christian community turns particularly to the Mother of Life, to the Mother of Fairest Love. This month belongs to her in a special way. Through our prayers, we would like to serve the human family's greatest cause, the cause of love and life.

4. May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians "Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power" (Eph 6-10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rv 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil."

Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.

Dear friends from Zaire, I would like to offer my cordial greetings to you and in particular to the important group of mothers from your country, who have come to take part in this magnificent beatification. Let us invoke Isidore Bakanja as well as Elizabeth and Gianna, so that they may intercede on behalf of your families and your nation. May God preserve your families in joy and in hope! May God grant that all Africans experience the peace and human development that they have the right to expect! May God bless the Church which is growing in the land of Africa!

I also address my cordial greetings to the numerous pilgrims from many parts of Italy and in particular from the Dioceses of Milan and Bergamo. As I invite each to live his own vocation with fidelity inspired by the example of the new blesseds, I urge everyone, on this Day of the Good Shepherd, to pray especially for priestly and religious vocations.

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