Our Lady’s attitude to God’s action encourages the faithful to
develop a personal relationship with Christ and to co-operate in his
Mary's role as a model of the Church at worship was the subject of
the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10
September. Quoting the Servant of God Paul VI, the Pope said: "That
the Blessed Virgin is an exemplar in this field derives from the fact
that she is recognized as a most excellent exemplar of the Church in the
order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ (Marialis
cultus, n. 16). Her example encourages Christians to "offer
spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pt
2:5), the Holy Father added. Here is a translation of his catechesis,
which was the 62nd in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in
1. In the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus the Servant of
God Paul VI, of venerable memory, presents the Blessed Virgin as a model
of the Church at worship. This assertion is a corollary as it were to
the truth that points to Mary as a paradigm for the People of God on the
way to holiness: "That the Blessed Virgin is an exemplar in this
field derives from the fact that she is recognized as a most excellent
exemplar of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union
with Christ, that is, of that interior disposition with which the
Church, the beloved spouse, closely associated with her Lord, invokes
Christ and through him worships the eternal Father" (n. 16).
2. She who at the Annunciation showed total availability for the
divine plan represents for all believers a sublime model of
attentiveness and docility to the Word of God.
In replying to the angel: "Let it be to me according to your
word" (Lk 1:38) and in stating her readiness to fulfil perfectly
the Lord's will, Mary rightly shares in the beatitude proclaimed by
Jesus: "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep
it!" (Lk 11:28).
Mary grasped deep meaning of the saving events
With this attitude, which encompasses her entire life, the Blessed
Virgin indicates the high road of listening to the Word of the Lord, an
essential element of worship, which has become typical of the Christian
liturgy. Her example shows us that worship does not primarily consist in
expressing human thoughts and feelings, but in listening to the divine
Word in order to know it, assimilate it and put it into practice in
3. Every liturgical celebration is a memorial of the mystery of
Christ in his salvific action for all humanity and is meant to promote
the personal participation of the faithful in the paschal mystery
re-expressed and made present in the gestures and words of the rite.
Mary was a witness to the historical unfolding of the saving events,
which culminated in the Redeemer's Death and Resurrection, and she kept
"all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19) She
was not merely present at the individual events, but sought to grasp
their deep meaning, adhering with al her soul to what was being
mysteriously accomplished in them.
Mary appears therefore as the supreme model of personal participation
in the divine mysteries. She guides the Church in meditating on the
mystery celebrated and in participating in the saving event, by
encouraging the faithful to desire an intimate, personal relationship
with Christ in order to co-operate with the gift of their own life in
the salvation of all.
4. Mary also represents the model of the Church at prayer. In all
probability Mary was absorbed in prayer when the angel Gabriel came to
her house in Nazareth and greeted her. This prayerful setting certainly
supported the Blessed Virgin in her reply to the angel and in her
generous assent to the mystery of the Incarnation.
In the Annunciation scene, artists have almost always depicted Mary
in a prayerful attitude. Of them all we recall Fra Angelico. This shows
to the Church and every believer the atmosphere that should prevail
We could add that for the People of God Mary represents the model of
every expression of their prayer life. In particular, she teaches
Christians how to turn to God to ask for his help and support in the
various circumstances of life.
Christians are encouraged to offer spiritual sacrifices
Her motherly intercession at the wedding in Cana and her presence in
the Upper Room at the Apostles' side as they prayed in expectation of
Pentecost suggest that the prayer of petition is an essential form of
co-operation in furthering the work of salvation in the world. By
following her model, the Church learns to be bold in her asking, to
persevere in her intercessions and, above all, to implore the gift of
the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 11:13).
5. The Blessed Virgin also represents the Church's model for
generously participating in sacrifice.
In presenting Jesus in the temple and, especially, at the foot of the
Cross, Mary completes the gift of herself which associates her as Mother
with the suffering and trials of her Son. Thus in daily life as in the
Eucharistic celebration, the "Virgin presenting offerings" (Marialis
cultus, n. 20) encourages Christians to "offer spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 2:5).