Dear Father Angelo,
I am … years old man, once a practicing and convinced Catholic and now a little “faltering” in the faith.
I spent a long time in the dark and far from faith, very critical of a certain way of doing (I condemn the way of doing not people).
In the last period, the fire that burned in my heart during adolescence and youth, perhaps never extinguished, is growing within me again. In the light of my continuous search, by chance I approached the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas and Dominican history and I discovered your website.
Having said that, there is inside me a doubt that haunts me every day: the figure of Mary and the continuous reference to her made in general by the Church…
I think the ultimate model and message for us is that of Christ…
I think that the ultimate “Event” is that of the coming and resurrection of Christ, that of his Word which saves and shows us the way to salvation.
My crisis also starts from a question that I ask myself: why does this continuous reference to the figure of Mary exist within my Church?
Recently I was struck by a speech given by Cardinal BIFFI on the theme “The meaning of life”, back in 1992. Well, from the dialogue with young people, the pastor emphasizes Christ as the center of everything: there is the centrality of Christ and nothing else.
I do not discuss Biffi’s Christocentrism because I consider it a sacrosanct discourse, consistent with the Sacra Doctrina.
Thank you in advance.
- Undoubtedly at the center of the Christian life is Our Lord, Way, Truth and Life (Jn 14: 6).
Christian life essentially consists in encountering Christ, in welcoming Him, in grafting oneself into Him and in Him possessing God, who is the eternal Life.
But just as corruption entered the world through the sin of Adam and Eve, so redemption came – precisely because the Lord willed so – through the new Adam who is Christ and the new Eve who is Mary, the image and the highest expression of the Church.
Our Lady, undoubtedly, is not on the same level as the Lord, because She herself was redeemed in an admirable way by Her Son.
But it was Jesus who wanted her at his side.
He wanted to be introduced into the world by Her.
He wanted to be introduced by Her into public life in Cana of Galilee.
On the cross he entrusted Her to us as Mother in the order of grace.
And at Pentecost we see Her among the Apostles and other people in the Upper Room. Her presence, however, is particularly noticed: “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14).
Therefore, as Our Lady has a special role in the life of Christ, so She has it towards the Church.
This is not because we establish it, but because our Lord wanted it.
2. Christocentrism – to which you rightly refer – does not oppose the devotion to Our Lady.
Indeed, the recourse to Mary is the shortest, most beautiful and most fruitful way to reach our Lord, holines.
In fact, Mary is totally Christocentric.
Actually, She is the most successful Christocentrism.
The Lord himself places it in our hands so that we make it ours.
3. At this point I would like to present you a very beautiful page from Card. Biffi, to whom you refer in your email.
I took it from one of his books entitled The ideal woman, Reflections on the Mother of God. I recommend it to you. It was published by the ESD.
It collects his homilies and writings on Our Lady.
I provide you this page in which we are told the reason why we entrust ourselves to Our Lady.
4. “We entrust ourselves to Mary
Entrusting oneself filially to the Blessed Virgin is not an exceptional and unexpected act for the family of Jesus’ disciples. Rather, it is rediscovering a familiarity with the Mother of God and abandoning oneself to her affectionate attention towards us, which for us are sentiments of always; it is even regaining a fundamental aspect of our original identity as living members of Christ.
We were entrusted to Mary at the very moment we were born as a people redeemed by the blood of the Lord. From the top of the cross the Only Begotten of God with salvation and new life gave us a mother: “Here is your mother!”, he told us.
That woman, who – torn but without weakness – was contemplating the agony of the Son and the frustration of every earthly expectation, was constituted the reason and the source of our hope. That daring creature, with a pierced soul (cf. Lk 2:35) and a wounded heart, has become the cause of our joy. Her stainless faithfulness, which led her to Calvary and intimately associated her with the sacrifice that renewed the universe, remains the support of our faith and of our decision to live according to the Gospel.
At the foot of the cross we simultaneously became property of Christ the Savior and children of his beloved mother. The tenacious bond that connects us to her therefore arises with the very origin of our condition as Christians.
The Bolognese people have always perceived this organic connection with extraordinary acuity, recognized it in its statutes and monuments, celebrated it in its feasts, confirmed and revived it in the countless manifestations of its piety.
It even visualized it, so to speak, architecturally: the portico that connects the city to the dwelling of the Madonna di San Luca, who is our Queen, expresses in the language of buildings the anxiety of never breaking away, not even for an instant, from the protection of this Mother. The distinguished work – which is unparalleled in all of Christianity – proclaims to all our will to entrust ourselves totally, as individuals and as a community, to the one we like to greet as our defense and our honor.
Today these people are here – in the temple which for six centuries has been framing the solemn and decisive events of our history – to give themselves once again to Mary with all the enthusiasm of his ancient and ever-young heart. Tonight the Virgin lovingly looks at us from her venerated and dear effigy, as she looked at the generations of Bolognese, who have succeeded in the limelight of human events in the sweet commitment to pay homage to her.
We entrust to Our Lady first of all our families, so that they may find the way back to that true love capable of generosity, which is not afraid of becoming fruitful or opening itself to effective solidarity with everyone.
We entrust our children, so that they may encounter Christ, meaning and center of existence, and so their youth is not lost in pursuit of truthless myths and lying joys.
We entrust the suffering, the sick, the poor, who are still among us and every day expect a little fraternity from everyone.
We entrust the fate of our society, so that no one is lacks work, so that we never unlearn to live together in serenity and mutual respect, so that nobody is challenged the right to express oneself in true freedom, so that violence does not prevail, so that the culture of life is affirmed, so that the yearning of men for peace does not remain disappointed.
We entrust our University, which reaches the prestigious milestone of nine hundred years of activity: may the visit of the Successor of Peter give it back a little of its ancient soul, so that it can truly radiate civilization and dispense wisdom in the world.
We entrust the Petronian Church to Our Lady of San Luca, so that it may be ever more enriched with all the ministries and all the spiritual gifts and become more and more the shining Bride of the King. We all vow to Mary, with our hopes and our fears, with our longing for good and our inner defeats, with our intentions and our pains. Today the Mother – who was given to us by a Crucifix – welcomes us all and reassures us” (Giacomo Biffi, The ideal woman, reflections on the Mother of God, pp. 68-70).
5. I wish you to progress more and more in your Christian life.
At a certain point you will find out (and it is a particular grace) that there is no better way to meet Christ and unite with him than with Mary, actual, motherly and living presence in the wonderful communion of saints in which Christ incorporated us.
I am happy that our website, in which St. Thomas is the master par excellence, has helped you to rekindle the flame that Christ had placed in your heart.
I thank you for the question, I will keep you in my prayers to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by Chiara P.