Pope Begins 2016 with Visit to St. Mary Major
“The Son of God, made incarnate for our salvation, has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage through this life, so that we may never be left alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.”—Pope Francis, at a 5 p.m. Mass today in Rome (his second Mass of the day), during his homily, in the basilica St. Mary Major. The Pope was in St. Mary Major to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of the Lord (celebrated on January 1), to venerate an ancient icon of Mary and the Child Jesus called the Salus Populi Romani(Protection of the Roman People) which is kept in the basilica, and to open the Holy Door of Mercy in the chief basilica in Christendom dedicated to Mary
“At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves. At that moment she heard Jesus utter words which probably reflected what he had learned from her as a child: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:24). At that moment, Mary became for all of us the Mother of forgiveness.“—Pope Francis, in the same homily today
“For us, Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it. The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits. Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back.” —Pope Francis, the same homily
“The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet. There is no other way.“—Pope Francis, in the same homily
At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis asked even those standing outside of the basilica to repeat out loud the ancient invocation to Mary: “Mary, Holy Mother of God!”
And during this Mass, he delivered an important homily.
Celebrating Mass at 5 p.m. (after celebrating Mass this morning in St. Peter’s Square and giving his Angelus message and New Year’s blessing at noon), Francis gave a homily which may offer insight into how he will decide some of the great questions facing him in coming months, including the much-discussed question of re-admission of divorced and remarried Catholics, after a penitential path, to the Eucharist.
The Argentine Pope, seemingly in fidelity to a powerful mystical experience of divine forgiveness that he himself personally experienced as a youth (as he has publicly stated) on September 21, 1953, the Feast of St. Mathew, when he was 16 years old, told us today that forgiveness (for those who seek it) knows “no limits.”
For this Pope, it is quite clear: “There is no other way.”
Courtesy of Dr. Robert Moynihan, “Inside The Vatican” http://insidethevatican.com/