It was characteristic for Pope John Paul II to include in his trips to the nations an act of entrustment of the people to Mary. His Marian devotion and references are also found in specifically intended pro forma conclusions to other documents
which thereby included the Marian dimension. Examples are found in the document, Christfideles Laici, On the Vocation
and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (1989), which was
formulated as a prayer built on the Magnificat and the scene of the Cenacle, and Redemptoris Missio (1991),
which includes a note on inculturation and Marian devotions particular to a people or an area. Both of the documents base their Marian reflections on Acts 1:14, Mary in the midst of the apostolic Church.
Veritatis Splendor reflects a somewhat different approach. The Marian section of the encyclical picks up and develops a theme
previously published by Pope John Paul II in Dives in Misericordia, that is, Mary's share in Christ's mercy. Mary's
mercy is discussed within the context of morality and new evangelization.
The document begins with the theme of light. Jesus Christ is the true light that enlightens everyone. (Jn 1:9)
There are three main chapters. Chapter one establishes relationship to Christ as the basis for morality. Chapter two focuses on questions fundamental to morality: Law, Freedom and Law, Conscience and Truth,
Fundamental Choice, and The Moral Act. Chapter three returns to the
theme of Christ-centeredness and evangelization as the point of decision-making. We do what we do for the sake of Christ and
relationship to him.
Then, almost as a surprise, the final chapter, articles 118 - 120, turns to Mary, Mother of Mercy. The conclusion of
Veritatis Splendor is an act of entrustment of the moral life of the People of God to Mary, Mother of Mercy. The final paragraph consists of a prayer to Mary under this title. Although Mary does not know sin, she
nevertheless knows and shares our human condition. In spite of all darkness, she remains completely open to God.
Veritatis Splendor links Mary's spiritual motherhood to the
moral life: She understands sinful human beings and loves then with a
mother's love. Precisely for this reason she is on the side of truth
and shares the Church's burden in recalling always and to everyone
the demands of morality. Nor does she permit sinful man to be
deceived by those who claim to love him by justifying his sin, for
she knows that the sacrifice of Christ her son would thus be emptied of its power. (VS 120)
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Michael P. Duricy
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