Respect for Women. That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed. In the words of Pope Francis, Mary is “the true and sublime example of woman.”
It’s inconceivable to think of the apostles awaiting the Holy Spirit at Pentecost without Mary praying with them. For it was she who conceived by the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus, the one who called and sent the apostles to continue his work.
Women have, in Pope Francis’ words, an “irreplaceable role.” Speaking to the Pontifical Council for Culture, he said: “I encourage the contribution of so many women who work within the family, in the areas of teaching the faith, pastoral work, schooling, but also in social, cultural, and economic structures. You women know how to embody the tender face of God, his mercy, which is translated into a willingness to give time rather than to occupy space, to welcome rather than to exclude.”
Throughout the world, unfortunately, women are not only excluded but under attack. The pope went on: “The many forms of slavery, of prostitution, of mutilation of the female body, require us to set to work to defeat these forms of degradation which reduce it to purely an object to be sold on the various markets. I would like to call attention, in this context, to the plight of so many poor women, forced to live in dangerous conditions, exploited, relegated to the margins of society, and rendered victims of a throwaway culture.”
Perhaps the most common degradation of women is pornography, which the U.S. bishops have said “is so pervasive in sectors of our society that it is difficult to avoid, challenging to remove, and has negative effects that go beyond any one person’s actions.”
And so we pray with Pope Francis that women may not only be respected, but that their contribution to the good of the family and society may be recognized and esteemed.
What qualities and actions of Mary made her “the true and sublime example of woman”?
1 Timothy 5: 1-2 Treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters with complete purity.
Holy Rosary. That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.
The rosary is a powerful prayer which is very important to Pope Francis. He said he was inspired by Pope St. John Paul II to pray it faithfully.
He said: “If I remember well, it was 1985. One evening I went to recite the Holy Rosary that was being led by the Holy Father. He was in front of everybody, on his knees. The group was numerous; I saw the Holy Father from the back and, little by little, I got lost in prayer. I was not alone: I was praying in the middle of the people of God to which I and all those there belonged, led by our Pastor.
“In the middle of the prayer I became distracted, looking at the figure of the Pope: his piety, his devotion was a witness. I felt that this man, chosen to lead the Church, was following a path up to his Mother, a path set out on from his childhood. And I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego: ‘Don’t be afraid, am I not perhaps your mother?’ I understood the presence of Mary in the life of the Pope. From that time on
I recite the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary every day.”
Throughout history popes have asked the faithful to pray the rosary when Christianity and civilization were threatened. Pope Francis asks us to do the same. He said: “Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil. Prayer with Mary, especially the Rosary, has this ‘suffering’ dimension, that is of struggle, a sustaining prayer in the battle against the evil one and his accomplices. The Rosary also sustains us in the battle.”
In this month dedicated to Mary, we honor her by following in the great tradition of using the non-violent weapon of the rosary, praying for peace and the spread of the Gospel of Mercy.
What role has the rosary played in my own spiritual life?
Luke 2: 15-20 Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.