As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio encouraged the people of Argentina to devote themselves to Mary. He had a special devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. So when the smiling, Argentinian Jesuit was elected to the papacy in 2013, it was no surprise that his love for the Blessed Mother blossomed during his time in the Vatican. On the first day after his election as Pope of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and brought flowers to put at the altar.
Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has talked about the important role that Our Lady plays in the faith life of Catholics. He has talked about her role as the Mother of God in prayers, public audiences, homilies, and yes . . . even tweets.
So when Franciscan Media asked me to review Alicia von Stamwitz's collection of inspiring words from Pope Francis in her new book, Mother Mary, I was excited to see what Pope Francis had to say about the Blessed Mother.
Alicia arranged an amazing amount of quotes from Pope Francis into six categories:
- Handmaid of the Lord
- Model of Faith
- Mother of Mercy
- Our Refuge and Our Hope
- Star of the New Evangelization
- Queen of Peace
The book also contains an appendix which compiles the prayers of Pope Francis to Mary, including prayers to the "Woman of Listening," "Mother of Silence," and "Act of Veneration to the Immaculate Conception."
Pope Francis's writings on Mary are an excellent tool for contemplative prayer.
In the introduction to her collection of the works of Pope Francis, Alicia writes, "Although the chapters and quotations in this collection have been arranged in a certain way, they may be read in any order. Let your curiosity be your guide. Trust it, trust yourself and trust that the message you most need to hear will find you."
My favorite section of Alicia's book is the chapter on Mary, Star of the New Evangelization. She included a selection from Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium:
"There is a Marian style to the Church's work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak, but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves."
In the chapter, Pope Francis also reflects on Mary's feminine genius (a subject I love to talk about any time), discussing her amazing level of receptivity to God's will.
"For Pope Francis," Alicia writes, "Mary is an icon of wisdom, strength, courage and joyful hope. Her unconditional 'yes' to God encourages all of us to say 'yes' to God's call today."
If you're looking to get to know Our Blessed Mother and Pope Francis at a deeper level, I highly recommend Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis!