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Entrusting the Year of Mercy to Mary Print
Editorial
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Dec. 03, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
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Devotion to Mary

Pope Francis has a special devotion to Mary. Just 40 days after his election as pope, he spoke of Our Lady’s concern for the health of her children.

“Mary is the mother, and a mother worries above all about the health of her children,” Pope Francis said. “Like a buona mamma [good mom],” he added, “she helps us grow, to confront life, to be free.”
Over the past five decades as a Jesuit priest, bishop, and now pope, the Holy Father has expressed a tender devotion to the Blessed Mother under various titles, from Our Lady of Luján to Mary, Undoer of Knots.

As a priest, he once told the Jesuits in his care, “The magisterium will tell you who Mary is, but it is our believing people who will teach you how to love Mary.”

Our Lady of Mercy

One of Mary’s titles is “Our Lady of Mercy.” This title, I discovered, goes back well into the Middle Ages, when the Mercedarian Order used this title.

Why is she called Our Lady of Mercy? Of course, she is the first and greatest recipient of the mercy of God in the mystery of her immaculate conception. At the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, God preserved Mary from original sin.

Mary is also Our Lady of Mercy because she is the mother of Jesus Christ. By her freely given consent, God came into the world and took upon himself our human flesh and blood in order to save us from sin and death.

Mary always seeks to bring us closer to her son. At the foot of the cross, Mary stood there, as you and I are called to do. Without the cross, there is no salvation. We need to follow Mary’s example in following and loving her son.

Works of Mercy

Mary helps us as we seek to live out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. If we check these works, we find that she embodied all of them.

One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to forgive offenses willingly. Mary no doubt heard Jesus forgive those who crucified him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” As a follower of her son, I assume that she forgave those who crucified him.

We should ask Mary’s help in forgiving those who have hurt or offended us. Yet, how often do we hold onto old grudges? The Year of Mercy is a good time to forgive others and reconcile with those who have hurt us.

Mary also comforted the afflicted. She was with the apostles and other followers of Jesus after his death and no doubt comforted them. We, too, can comfort those who suffer from sorrow and grief today.

The logo for the Year of Mercy with the motto, “Merciful Like the Father” (taken from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36), serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure, just as Mary did.

Follow the Catholic Herald throughout the Year of Mercy for suggestions on how to follow Mary’s example and put mercy into practice in your life.

The Year of Mercy has an official website in seven languages at www.im.va; a Twitter handle: @Jubilee_va; a Facebook page; and accounts on Instagram, Flickr, and Google+. In the Diocese of Madison, visit www.YearOfMercyMadison.org

 
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