Pope holds up Mary as example to the faithful of Barcelona
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis has sent a message conveying his closeness to the faithful on pilgrimage in the Spanish Archdiocese of Barcelona, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Tower of the Virgin Mary of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. A giant 12-point star weighing some 5.5 tons hoisted on the top of the tower will be illuminated.
In a video message in Spanish, the Holy Father extended his greetings in a special way to the poor, the sick and those affected by the Covid-19, as well as the elderly, the young people whose futures are threatened by various situations, and to those experiencing moments of trial.
Dear friends, the Pope said, “today the star of the Tower of Mary shines for all of you!”
Together on the synodal journey
The Holy Father noted that the faithful of Barcelona – the children, adolescents, young people, adults, members of consecrated life, seminarians, deacons and priests – are “walking together” synodically, together with the Cardinal Archbishop Juan José Omella and his three auxiliary bishops.
On this synodal journey, the Pope continued, “the star that the great architect Antoni Gaudí dreamed would crown the tower of the Virgin Mary illuminates you.”
Pope Francis added that Mary is “the Star of the New Evangelization,” and therefore, as we raise our eyes to the star that crowns the tower, we are invited to contemplate our Mother, because “every time we look at Mary we believe anew in the revolutionary nature of tenderness and affection.”
The Madonna: humble, docile and transparent before God
As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, Pope Francis noted that Our Lady is “a work of art” which is “in perfect harmony with God’s plan for her” and became “the most holy, humble, docile and transparent before God.”
It was this that inspired Gaudí, the Pope noted, to crown the portal of faith – the first one he built – so that “in reciting the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, which he rewrites throughout the basilica, we might learn to be, like Mary, a temple of this mystery, and to worship God in spirit and in truth.”
More so, St. Luke, in his Gospel, refers to Mary as “full of grace.” Pope Francis added that we too, in every “Hail Mary” we recite, feel her maternal love and presence because she is full of the presence of God who became flesh in her womb. This is why Gaudí places her at the center of the portal of charity, offering us the Child Jesus under the attentive gaze of Saint Joseph, so that we may enter His Church burning with love for God and mankind.
Following the example of Mary
The Pope encouraged the faithful to follow the example of Mary with “daily gestures of love and service” because “the immaculate beauty of our Mother is inimitable” and it “attracts us.”
He expressed hope that the star that shines on from today will enlighten all, so that in praying the beads of the rosary, we may “say ‘yes’ once and for all to the grace of the Lord and give a resounding ‘no’ to sin” because by praying with Mary, we meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life, but also “discern the path that he shows us and receive the strength to reject the temptations of violence or immediate profit.”
Prayers for families, the poor and the excluded
Assuring the faithful of Barcelona of joining in their prayers, “presented at the feet of Mary like countless roses in the beautiful basilica,” the Pope prayed that each one would make “Barcelona more liveable and welcoming for all, and commended those who play roles of greater responsibility to Our Lady that she may grant them “wisdom, readiness to serve and broadmindedness.”
“May Mary watch over families with her bright star,” the Pope prayed, adding that she, who formed the Holy Family with St. Joseph and the child Jesus, experienced situations similar to many families. He notes that Gaudi represented this in the portal of hope, expressing in the face of the workers the sufferings the Holy Family underwent during the exile in Egypt which puts them in communion with people seeking a better future and escaping from evil.
“May the Virgin Mary watch over your homes, schools, universities, offices, stores, hospitals, prisons,” the Pope further prayed, urging the faithful not to stop praying for the poor and the excluded. He then invited everyone to examine themselves to see how much responsibility we have in the poverty and exclusion that some people suffer.
The elderly: our roots and living memory
Concluding, Pope Francis expressed hope that “this lighted star of the tower of the Virgin Mary also enlighten us to continue to bring the Diocesan Pastoral Plan to life, radiating everywhere the joy of the Gospel.” He prayed that from the encounter with Christ, the faithful may grow in fraternity, in the proclamation of the Gospel to young people, and in welcoming the poor and the marginalized.
In this regard, the Holy Father also urged the faithful not to forget the “tree”, i.e. the elderly, because “a tree without roots does not grow, and does not flourish.”
“Let us not discard the elderly, they are not materials to be discarded, the Pope urged. “They are living memory. From them comes the sap that makes everything grow. Let us help the dialogue between the young and the old, so that the wisdom that will make them grow and flourish may be passed on to them.”