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Mary models for us the path to follow

Archbishop Wenski's homily at Mass with archdiocesan priests at convocation

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily while celebrating morning Mass Sept. 15, 2021, with archdiocesan priests gathered for their annual convocation in Miami, Sept. 14-16.

Today, following the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate Mary, the mother of Sorrows. When her son was lifted high on the Cross, she stood close by and shared his suffering. She is the mother of sorrows, and she is the mother of the sorrowing as well.

I like to say that Mariology is essentially Ecclesiology: in other words, what is said and affirmed of Mary can be said and affirmed of the Church.

We can talk of the Petrine dimension of the Church — which encompasses the hierarchy (and that includes all of you, by the way). We can speak of a Pauline dimension — the fact that the Church is missionary. But as Van Balthasar writes: “Before men were placed into office, the whole Church was present in Mary; or better yet, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it: ‘Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as ‘the bride without spot or wrinkle’ (Eph 5: 27.) This is why the ‘Marian’ dimension precedes the ‘Petrine’.”

This Marian dimension is the most fundamental reality of the Church: her fiat made her the first disciple, and she models for us the path to follow. And, if Mary stood close by and shared in her Son’s suffering, so then there should be the Church.

We are going through an extended annus horribilis — a pandemic that continues to inflict pain both far and wide. We have political turmoil and increasing poverty and sickness in Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, etc. We’ve seen earthquakes, hurricanes and fires. We live in a country more divided than ever —politically and culturally. And some in the Church, whether on the left or the right, seem to be consumed by a “bitter zeal,” an unholy zeal, that undermines the truth rather than witnesses to it. You turn on the TV or open your computer and every headline literally screams the sorrows of the world.

So, Our Lady of Sorrows is certainly relevant today. A favorite devotion of Pope Francis, it is said, is to Our Lady, Un-doer of Knots. This past year and a half have revealed to us a knotted-up world, hasn’t it? When grief and fear, anxiety and depression seem too great to bear, we turn to her to undo those knots that tie us down. She waits, she prays, she weeps with us, she consoles us and teaches us to persevere in hope.

When Simeon predicted that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart, she did not have to wait long — for soon came the flight into Egypt.

Frente a los graves retos actuales, en medio de una pandemia que aún se prolonga y de sus graves consecuencias económicas, siendo testigos de una creciente polarización ideológica, de ataques continuos a nuestros valores, del temor en que viven muchos de nuestros hermanos a ser deportados, pidamos con fe al mismo Jesucristo, Señor de la historia, que nos anime para ser portadores de su esperanza y nos fortalezca en la misión a la que hemos sido llamados. Y que María de los dolores, modelo de discípula y misionera, interceda por nosotros. Amen.

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