During the Marian Year, 1987/88, many initiatives were undertaken to sponsor Marian thought.
This encyclical, addressed specifically to one segment of the People of God, could be hoped to
have far-reaching consequences in the light of the many teaching communities within the
Church. The letter is pastoral in focus and a personal invitation to members of the consecrated
life to take Mary as a model, especially as she is presented in Redemptoris Mater.
The letter places Mary within the Church, totally dedicated to the faithful, as are members
of the Consecrated Life. Pope John Paul II states that his purpose with the encyclical is to renew
the awareness of the link: "between the Mother of God and your own specific vocation in the
Church ... At the same time ... express the love which the Church has for consecrated
persons." (LE In)
There are three main parts to the text:
a meditation on the mystery of vocation,
a meditation on the mystery of consecration, and
a meditation on the specific apostolate of the consecrated life.
Each of the meditations is to take place "together with Mary."
The meditations focus on Mary and Jesus Christ, particularly with respect to the Paschal
Mystery. The consecrated person stands together with Mary under the Cross, and
becomes a sharer in the death of Christ which brought forth new life. Mary was part of
the divine plan (LG 58) from the Annunciation onward. However, it was at the foot of the Cross
where she rediscovers her soul which she in turn loses painfully in the Golgatha experience.
Hers was "an incomparable 'kenosis of faith'; (RM 18) where Mary perceived completely the
truth about her motherhood." (LE 17)
Lumen Gentium 52-69, especially regarding Mary in the mystery of Christ and of
the Church, is the basis for the letter's discussion on love for and service of the Church.
Lumen Gentium speaks of "the Mother of God as the one who 'precedes' the People of God
in the pilgrimage of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ." (LG 58, 63; LE 1) The
to the consecrated life finds a model in Mary's gift of self to Christ. Mary's vocation brought
with it a new motherhood. The document states: "Mary brings to the Upper Room at
Pentecost the 'new motherhood' which became her 'part' at the foot of the Cross." This
motherhood remains hers, but on Pentecost is also "transferred from her as a 'model' to the
whole Church." (LE 21)
We are called to be blessed because we believe, as she was blessed because she believed.
We are asked to: "constantly return, with our vocation, with our consecration, to the
depths of the Paschal Mystery... [to] present ourselves at Christ's Cross next to his
Mother ... [to] learn our vocation from her." (LE 19)
As stated above, the document is pastoral in focus. The theological content above was
immediately linked to pastoral application. There is also rich content regarding forms of Marian
piety. For example, each vocation can discover its own Marian aspects.
The document also points out Marian shrines national, continental, the individual
Christian's "interior" shrine as places of faith, hope and loving union with Christ. (LG 63, 68)
(LE 37) So, too, the shrines of orders, congregations and institutes many of which have their
own specific spiritualities and missions for the Church. The document states: "These places
recall the particular mysteries of the Virgin Mother, the qualities, the events of her life, the
testimonies of the spiritual experiences of the founders or the manifestations of their charism
which has then passed to the whole community." (LE 38) The pope asks: "try to be particularly
present in the 'places', in the 'shrines'. Look to them for new strength, for the paths to an
authentic renewal of your consecrated life, to the right direction and form for your apostolate.
Seek in them your identity, like that householder, that wise man, who
"brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." (cf. Mt 13:52) (LE 39)
Pope John Paul II asks those belonging to consecrated life to do as Mary asks and in this
context to make: "a community act of dedication, which is precisely 'the response to the love of
a Mother." (RM 45) The Holy Father, for his part, entrusts each one and each community to her
during the Marian Year. (LE 39)
| I. ||Introduction1-2
| II. || Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon the
Mystery of Our Vocation 3- 9|
| III. || Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon the
Mystery of Our Consecration
| IV. ||Together with Mary Let Us Meditate upon Your
Specific Apostolate 20-35|
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AAS 80 (1988): 1638-1652|
Origins 24 (13 June 1988): 1-3