“The motherhood of Mary in the order of grace,” as the Second Vatican Council explains, “lasts without interruption from the consent which she faithfully gave at the annunciation and which she sustained without hesitation under the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. In fact, being assumed into heaven she has not laid aside this office of salvation but by her manifold intercession she continues to obtain for us the graces of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she takes care of the sisters and brothers) of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home.”(Lumen Gentium 62)
Devotion to Mary is more than admiration of an historical figure. I also hope it is more than just stories of appearances and visitations. I think of St Ignatius of Loyola’s encouragement to bring Mary to one’s personal imagination and enter into dialogue. My sense is that magical (as opposed to mystical or miraculous) accounts of appearances do little or nothing to advance the mission of Christ and his mercy. For me, when messages turn into secrets, there is far more danger of abuse than when the message steadies itself on Christ and his mercy.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana