EG 287: Mary, Star of the New Evangelization


When Pope Francis speaks of the “star of the new evangelization,” I would imagine we are not talking celebrity, but guiding light. We are not talking just a religious figure of history, but one who makes intercession for us with her Son. This reminds me of the Ignatian practice of the triple colloquy, in which we come to Mary, and then together we move to Christ.

287. We ask the Mother of the living Gospel to intercede that this invitation to a new phase of evangelization will be accepted by the entire ecclesial community. Mary is the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith,[Lumen Gentium 52-69] and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church”. [Redemptoris Mater 6]  Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn.[Cf. Propositio 58]

Mary as evangelizer: do we accept this? Certainly our imitation of her example would include her own embrace of her Son and his mission.

Like Mary, we are human. Human weakness and imperfection will dog us, but we have an encouraging reminder from St John Paul:

Along this journey of evangelization we will have our moments of aridity, darkness and even fatigue. Mary herself experienced these things during the years of Jesus’ childhood in Nazareth: “This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful good news. However, it is not difficult to see in that beginning a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of night of faith – to use the words of Saint John of the Cross – a kind of ‘veil’ through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. And this is the way that Mary, for many years, lived in intimacy with the mystery of her Son, and went forward in her pilgrimage of faith”.[Redemptoris Mater 17]

The apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, is available online.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Evangelii Gaudium, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to EG 287: Mary, Star of the New Evangelization

  1. crystal says:

    “Do we accept this?”
    I don’t mean to harp on this idea and I’ll shut up on the subject after this :) but it seems to me that Mary is not really the best choice …. according to the NT she questioned Jesus’ mission (mark 3:21), and according to Marian doctrines she is not imperfectly human like us (immaculate conception). In some ways, the church’s Mary seems pretty constructed.

    • Todd says:

      Good points, Crystal. Mary is not for everybody. I suspect Pope Francis’ Jesuit training is in play here. I confess my difficulty in relating to Mary as I did the Spiritual Exercises this past year.

    • Atheist Max says:

      If the objective is to evangelize successfully, and assuming that targeting non-believers is part of that strategy, promoting Mary may not be a bad idea.
      Many non-believers today see a Catholic church which is simply irrelevant – an institution which holds to unbendable doctrines unsympathetic to the problems of modern women.

      Furthermore, women are much stronger in Western societies than they have ever been before. Their pay is climbing along with their influence across the culture.

      Though some will call worship of Mary idolatrous, she is a reminder to women that they have a defender in the male-dominated church. Mary is under-employed in that effort.

      I don’t hope for success, of course. But the Church – and Faith more generally – is confronted with a barrage of problems which I find very interesting. As a former Catholic it is interesting what Pope Francis will pull out of his hat next.

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    I think the Church’s picture of Mary was constructed as a reaction to the severe image of God the Father that was levied for so many years/decades. People needed to relate to something that was more human, so Mary the mother of Jesus became (almost) the 4th person of the Trinity.

  3. crystal says:

    About the Jesuit angle on Mary, Ignatius was a big fan of her. In the Spiritual Exercises, he has the resurrected Jesus visit her first before anyone else, though this is not in the NT. Philip Endean SJ wrote an interesting article once for The Way … “How to think about Mary’s privileges” … … in which he mentions Rahner and GM Hopkins.

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