“The Blessed Mother Walks with Us Always”
Homily – Memorial of Our Lady of The Rosary
October 7, 2023, Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption
Mass for Annual Rosary Rally
Our annual Rosary Rally which we celebrate on this first Saturday of October happens to fall this year on the actual Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. This is a blessing for us, especially when we consider the last time this happened: in the year 2017 (six years ago), which was also close to the day of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition to the three shepherd children in Fatima. It was also the day that, in response to the request of some of our parishioners in the Archdiocese, I consecrated our Archdiocese to her Immaculate Heart.
Mary Walks with Us
She appeared at Fatima 106 years ago, as she has appeared so many times throughout the history of the Church, to accompany her children and to warn and protect them: as she did to a poor indigenous man in Tepayac 492 years ago in order to bring peace and reconciliation to two warring nations, giving birth to a new Christian civilization; as she did in Lourdes 165 years ago, to bring her healing to the suffering and reveal herself as the Immaculate Conception.
This very feast day, in fact, commemorates another intervention of Our Lady to protect her children forty years after her apparition at Tepeyac, when Christian naval forces miraculously emerged victorious at Lepanto and stopped a movement that threatened to overcome the Christian faith in Europe – this in response to the prayers of Catholics throughout the Christian world who pleaded for her assistance by praying the rosary.
We have other threats in our own time, both hostile governments that are persecuting Christians around the globe, and hostile ideologies that are corrupting the minds and values of our young people. But Mary is always there to accompany us and comfort us, as she has from the very beginning.
This is already clear in Sacred Scripture, as we hear about in the Acts of the Apostles, during that interval of time between her Son’s Resurrection from the dead and the gift of the Holy Spirit descending upon those first disciples so that they might begin to fulfill his commandment to make disciples of all nations. The disciples return to the Upper Room, right there where the twelve were with him the night before he died. And his Mother is with them, giving them comfort, affording them strength in a time of uncertainty and fear.
Her Message Today and Always
This is our Mother: she walks with us, because she walks with God. She walks with God so intimately that she finds favor in His sight: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” – the words with which the Archangel Gabriel greets her when he brings her the news that she is to be the mother of God’s Son. And what does she do immediately afterwards? She hurries to her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who is expecting a son in her old age, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Mary’s Son, the Messiah.
And so she continues to accompany us, her children, today, as she has from the very beginning: to comfort us, protect us, and also to warn us. The message she delivered at Fatima 106 years ago is consistent with what she always asks of her children: to turn to her Son in order to avert calamities, disasters and untold suffering through prayer, fasting and adoration. He, her Son, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the answer.
We hear much talk nowadays about how the Church must be inclusive and welcoming. It will all be pointless, though, if we do not heed the call as to what that really means. Yes, we must be welcoming and inclusive: welcoming and inclusive of Jesus Christ, welcoming him and including him in the center of our lives, in the center of our families, and in the center of our communities. We do so by following what his Mother – our Mother – asks us to do.
This is what I asked our people to do six years ago in consecrating our Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to live the consecration by doing what she asks us to do: praying the rosary daily and as a family at least once a week; fasting from meat on Fridays as well as some other chosen form of penance, along with frequent recourse to the sacrament of Penance; and spending at least one hour a week in adoration of her Son in the Blessed Sacrament.
After Mass, we will process with her Son in the Blessed Sacrament, along with an image of her likeness. This is a sort of mini-pilgrimage, a penitential sign of our desire to walk with her, so that she will lead us to her Son. Let us heed her instruction and welcome him in all ways and at all times, that faith in him may abound in our land and all may include him in the center of their lives: for the glory of her Son and the salvation of the world.