Superior Genera’s homily at the closing Mass of the General Assembly Association of the Miraculous Medal on Sunday, November 9, 2014
My brothers and sisters in Jesus, St. Vincent and Mary, our Mother:
I began with a scriptural quote I think best captures our time together: “ Lord it is good for us to be here!” (Mt. 17,4) Although these are the words of Peter to Jesus at the Transfiguration, they express what I believe we all feel as we conclude our time together in this first general Assembly of the Miraculous Medal. Yes, it is good for us to be here!
But as devotees of our Blessed Mother, we know that we cannot bask in the beauty of this graced time forever. Like the disciples on Mount Tabor, we must move forward in faith. Our theme at this General Assembly – and what an Assembly it has been- is the New Evangelization. It is the right theme for the right time as believers. Both our world and our Church are in desperate need of the light of Christ and the intercession of Mary, his Mother.
By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus showed us the way to salvation. Yet, how and where did Jesus first learn to love, serve, and sacrifice? Like all of us, his pathway to holiness of life began as a young child. His first and best teachers were Mary and Joseph. Together, they took Jesus into their lives and taught him in the way of faith. In Joseph’s dedication to his family and Mary’s gentle, maternal love, they readied Jesus to bring God’s salvation to a waiting world. Those early years of Jesus, shrouded in mystery, are what Blessed Pope Paul VI called the School of Nazareth. He spoke of it as “ a school of prayer where we learn to listen… and to penetrate the deepest meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus.” (Pope Paul VI, “Nazareth”, January 5, 1964).
Because of this Holy Family, we can rejoice in the Christian community and the Vincentian Family we share in today. In every age, God raises up new disciples as evangelizers to lead people to Christ. Mary has also done the same through her many apparitions, offering messages of prayer, repentance, and faith in her Son. While the New Evangelization may seem a novelty, its’ call is given anew in each age by Jesus. It is best expressed in these words of Our Lady to Saint Catherine: “Come to the foot of the altar, and you will receive many graces.”
That simple message is not only about finding a position at the altar of the Lord, but about embracing a way of life that witnesses to love of God and service of neighbor. Saint Catherine’s apparitions form Our Lady took place during her lifelong ministry of caring for the elderly, a difficult vocation in her time and ours. However, the call to Catherine (and by extension to us) to “come to the foot of the altar” is an invitation to be nourished by the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, by his sacred Word, in seeking his Divine will, and in devotion to his Mother Mary.
Our Lady gave St. Catherine a valuable tool to evangelize, It was not a profound doctrine, but a simple medal. Her instruction was to have the medal struck and to urge people to wear it as a sign of faith in Jesus. Simply put, the Medal depicts the story of our salvation and the victory over death and sin won by Jesus and modeled in the sinless life of Mary. The Medal is striking because Our Lady herself presented the design. As we know, the front of the medal depicts Mary standing on a globe with the head of a serpent beneath her feet. Circling the oval-shaped medal is our prayer “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” On the reverse , twelve stars surround a large “M” from which a cross arises. Below the “M” there are medals that depict the two flaming sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The title “Miraculous Medal: did not originate for Our Lady nor St Catherine, but by public acclamation. After praying for Mary’s intercession and wearing the medal, people began to experience the gifts ad graces of this devotion in their lives. Its effects were more than greatest hopes and dreams. The Medal is a sign of faith that witnesses to God’s love and the endless reservoir of Mary’s intercession. It is a an example of evangelization in action.
If any group in the Church today should welcome and strive to be in the forefront of the “new Evangelization, it is all of us members of the Association of the Miraculous Medal. We know of graces received through Mary’s loving intercession , which lead us to her Son Jesus’ redemptive power. This medal and our Association lead us to into a deeper discipleship, and ultimately to Jesus’ and Mary. Who show us the way to be agents of evangelization.
Our Holy Father in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, has called Our Blessed Mother “the Star of Evangelization.” He tells us why this is so: “With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church, which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization.” EG, 288)
Pope Frances Francis verifies the importance of the Our Lady’s medal ad our Assocation when he notes, “ There is a Marian, “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we cone to believe in the revolutionary nature of over and tenderness. In Her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues if the weak but f the strong…Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history an in our daily lives.” (EG, # 289)
That’s is why we gather at this Eucharist as we conclude our time together: to be reminded of who we are and to be sent forth as a Christian people to be bearers of the Good News, of Jesus. As we hear God’s Word, receive him in the Eucharist. Offer our prayers, and prepare to return home, let us be grateful for our time together. May Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal intercede for us and continue watch over the Association, as she has done for centuries. I will close with a prayer Pope Frances offered to us at the end of conclusion of Evangelii Gaudium:
Mary, Star of Evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world. Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us,
Text and photos courtesy of Fr. Astor Rodriquez
(Apologies for continued delay of publication of Assembly documents which are being reconstructed after a hard disk failure.)
Click on photos to enlarge.