Marian Devotion: Various Forms of Marian Piety ©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Various Forms of Marian Piety. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: 

List of Magisterial Documents

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Documents VII. Marian Devotion / 2. Various Forms of Marian Piety
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • From earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. [Sub tuum praesidium] 66
  • The entire body of the faithful pours forth urgent supplications. 69
  • various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within limits of sound and orthodox doctrine... 66
  • practices and exercises of devotion...recommended by the teaching authority of the Church...be highly esteemed 67
  • those decrees...regarding the cult images...be religiously observed 67
Mense Maio, 1965
  • May...a month which the piety of the Faithful has specially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady 5
  • tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world...(pay) to the Queen of Heaven 5
  • in church 5 (and)
  • in the privacy of the home...fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration 5
  • Let our prayers ascend to Mary in this month of hers, to implore her graces and favors with increased fervor and confidence. 10
  • the saying of the Rosary 11
Christi Matri Rosarii, 1968
  • It is a solemn custom of the during the month of October to weave with the prayers of the Rosary a spiritual garland to the Mother of Christ. This we heartily approve...and this year we call upon all the children of the Church to perform these special exercises of devotion to the same Most Blessed Virgin. 1
  • whom we also call Queen of Peace 13
  • We must pray earnestly and unceasingly to her ... 14
  • We are anxious for you, venerable brothers, to give a lead and urge by exhortation a more persevering prayer to the gracious Virgin Mary by the devout recitation of the Rosary during the month of October as we have already indicated. This prayer is well suited to God's people, acceptable to the Mother of God and [she is] powerful in obtaining gifts from heaven. 15
  • The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council clearly referred to the Rosary, though not in express terms, when it reminded all the that "practices and exercises of devotion towards her (Mary), recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of the centuries, are to be held in high esteem." (LG 67) 16
  • This duty of prayer [Rosary], so abundant in its fruits, is efficacious in averting evils and calamities and greatly fosters Christian living. 17
  • "Above all, it [Rosary] nourishes the Catholic faith which, by timely meditation on the sacred mysteries, gains new strength, and it lifts the mind to the contemplation of divinely revealed truths." (Pius XI, ency letter Ingravescentibus Malis September 29, 1937; AAS ser. II, 4, 1937, p. 378) 17
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • ceremonies and religious services... Fatima 4
  • countless faithful are venerating her for her "maternal and compassionate heart." (ftn 6: Pius XII, Radio address to people of Portugal during Fatima celebration, May 13, 1946: AAS 38 (1946):264. A gold crown was placed on Mary's statue in the name of the Holy Father.) 4
  • the prayer Sub tuum 12
  • Reverently contemplating Mary, they [Christians] are spurred on to confident prayer, to doing penance, and to cultivating fear of the Lord [connection to the Fatima message without stating so]. 29
  • Pius XII...solemnly consecrated the Church and the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 37
  • (Paul VI) repeated this consecration on Nov 21, 1964 37
  • We urge all members of the Church to consecrate themselves once again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.... 37
Recurrens Mensis October, 1969
  • (the Rosary) a form of prayer which is rightly dear to Catholic piety, and which has lost none of its importance amid the difficulties of the present day 1
  • St. Pius V gave the Rosary a form suitable for all time. 3
  • Faithful to this sacred heritage [praying the Rosary], from which the Christian people have never ceased to draw strength and courage, We exhort the clergy and faithful to beg earnestly from God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, peace and reconciliation among all men and  people. 3
  • If every man, "as much as he can, as best he can," (Populorum Progressio 75: AAS 59 (1967):294) must work for justice and peace in the world, then each Christian will have it at heart to ask Mary to pray with us and for us, so that peace which the Lord alone can give, may be granted us. [Collect of the Mass for Peace] 9
  • Moreover, by meditating upon the mysteries of the most holy Rosary, we learn, through Mary's example, to become peaceful souls, through loving and unceasing association with Jesus and with the mysteries of His redemptive life. 9
  • May the Rosary, in the form handed down by St. Pius V--as well as in other recent forms adapting it, with the consent of the lawful authority, to the needs of today--be indeed, as Our beloved predecessor Pope John XXIII desired, a great public and universal prayer for the ordinary and extraordinary needs of the holy Church, of the nations, and of the entire world," (Il religiose convegno Sept. 29, 1961: AAS 53 (1961:646) for this Rosary is, as it were, "the Gospel in miniature," (Cardinal J. G. Saliège, Voilà ta Mère [Marian pages assembled and presented by Mgr. Garrone], Toulouse: Apostolat de la prière, 1958, p. 40) and "henceforth, a devotion of the Church." (Paul VI, allocution to participants in Third International Dominican Rosary Congress, July 13, 1963: Insegaementi di Paolo VI, I [1963]:464) 15
  • By this prayer to Mary, the most holy Mother of God and our Mother, we help to realize the wish of the Council: "Let all faithful Christians offer urgent prayers to the Mother of God and Mother of men in order that she may intercede with her son in the communion of all the Saints, until the whole family of nations -- whether they bear the honored name of Christian or still do not know their Savior -- may be joyfully assembled into a single People of God, in peace and harmony, to the glory of the most holy and undivided Trinity." (LG 69) 16
  • ... inviting you to recite the holy Rosary with fervor during this month of October 17
General Catechetical Directory, 1971
  • (In part five under the title, "Infancy and Its Importance," (the) child may also direct confident prayers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our mother) 78
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • (In the introduction: Among the prayers to be taught are the Hail Mary and the Rosary. The Creed is specially mentioned.) 24
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973 Prayer
  • Prayer, "We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God." (perhaps 3 c) 62
  • The term "Mother of God" was used in Christian prayers before the doctrinal controversy that made it a test phrase of Christian faith. 63
  • The People of God through the ages have shown her veneration and love. They have called upon her in prayer and they imitate her. (LG 66) 82
  • To pray to our Lady means not to substitute her for Christ, but to glorify her Son who desires us to have loving confidence in His Saints, especially in His Mother. To imitate the "faithful Virgin" means to keep her Son's commandments. 82 (more on prayer and imitation 83)
  • Family prayer, in whatever form it takes--meal prayers, night prayers, the family rosary, attending Mass together--provides opportunities for prayer to the Blessed Virgin. 139
  • (USCC) the Joint Pastoral Letter of 1968, Human Life in Our Day: "Because of the primacy of the spiritual in all that makes for renewal, we give top priority to whatever may produce a sound 'family spirituality': family prayer, above all that which derives its content and spirit from the liturgy and other devotions, particularly the rosary." 139
Forms
  • Many forms of Marian devotion have fallen into disuse (or) uncertain course... scapular, Miraculous Medal, rosary, statues. 92
  • extra-liturgical devotional forms : (fifteen-decade Dominican rosary with scriptural content and ancient prayers, "Besides the precise rosary pattern long known to Catholics, we can freely experiment. New sets of mysteries are possible," rosary vigils, OT and NT readings and hymns interspersed with "a decade or two, if not all five," ...) 96-97
  • Under the guidance of the Holy Father and the bishops we must revitalize old forms and devise new devotions corresponding to current needs and desires. 98
American Custom
  • It is a cherished American Catholic custom to call the Mother of Jesus "our Blessed Mother."... its own special value. "Mother" belongs to the language of the transmission of life. The reference here is to our life in Christ. 70
  • The offering of the bride's bouquet at our Lady's statue is an American Catholic custom that invites the Blessed Virgin into the life of the newlyweds. 134
Apparitions
  • authenticated appearance of our Lady ... influence on Catholic devotion : Lourdes 1858, "Miraculous Medal" 1830, La Salette 1846, Our Lady of Guadalupe, "Queen of the Americas," 1531, Fatima 1917. ... reminders ...of basic Christian themes: prayer, penance, and the necessity of the sacraments. ... Catholics are encouraged to practice such devotions when they are in conformity with authentic devotion to Mary. ... the Church does not make mandatory the acceptance either of the original story or of particular forms of piety springing from it. 99-100
Art Form
  • The Middle Ages pondered Mary's compassion on Calvary, leading to the familiar representations of the Pieta. 106
Recommendation to Priests
  • The sorrowful mysteries of the rosary have special meaning to the priest as he walks with the Mother of Jesus along the way of the Cross. 121
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • Changes that have occurred in social behavior, people's sensibilities, manners of expression in art and letters and in the forms of social communication have also influenced the manifestations of religious sentiment. Certain practices of piety that not long ago seemed suitable for expressing the religious sentiment of individuals and of Christian communities seem today inadequate or unsuitable because they are linked with social and cultural patterns of the past. On the other hand, in many places people are seeking new ways of expressing the unchangeable relationship of creatures with their Creator, of children with their Father. In some people this may cause temporary confusion. But anyone who with trust in God reflects upon these phenomena discovers that many tendencies of modern piety (for example, the interiorization of religious sentiment) are meant to play their part in the development of Christian piety in general and devotion to the Blessed Virgin in particular. (Introduction)
  • (forms found in The Liturgy of the Hours: hymns, antiphons, prayer Sub tuum praesidium, prayers of intercession at Lauds and Vespers, prayers which frequently express trusting recourse to the Mother of mercy, selections from the vast treasury of writings on our Lady composed by authors of the first Christian centuries, of the Middle Ages and of modern times.) 13
  • exhorts us to promote other forms of piety side by side with liturgical worship, especially those recommended by the magisterium. (LG 67) ... the piety of the faithful and their veneration of the Mother of God have taken on many forms according to circumstances of time and place, the different sensibilities of peoples and their different cultural traditions. Hence, it is that the forms in which this devotion is expressed, being subject to the ravages of time, show the need for a renewal that will permit them to substitute for elements that are transient, to emphasize the elements that are ever new and to incorporate the doctrinal data obtained from theological reflection and the proposals of the Church's magisterium. 24
  • it is supremely fitting that exercises of piety directed towards the Virgin Mary should clearly express the Trinitarian and Christological note that is intrinsic and essential to them ... worship is rightly extended, though in a substantially different way, first and foremost and in a special manner, to the Mother of the Lord and then to the saints.... 25
  • It is also necessary that exercises of piety with which the faithful honor the Mother of the Lord should clearly show the place she occupies in the Church: "the highest place and the closest to us after Christ." (LG 54) ... devotion to the Blessed Virgin must explicitly show its intrinsic and ecclesiological content: thus it will be enabled to revise its forms and texts in a fitting way. 28
  • certain attitudes of piety which are incorrect 38
    - (Vat II) authoritatively denounced both the exaggeration of content and form which even falsifies doctrine and likewise the small-mindedness which obscures the figure and mission of Mary.
    - also denounced certain devotional deviations, such as vain credulity, which substitutes reliance on merely external practices for serious commitment. 38
    - Another deviation is sterile and ephemeral sentimentality, so alien to the spirit of the Gospel that demands persevering and practical action. (LG 67) 38
  • [these deviations] are not in harmony with the Catholic Faith and therefore they must have no place in Catholic worship. Careful defense against these errors and deviations will render devotion to the Blessed Virgin more vigorous and more authentic. It will make this devotion solidly based, 38
  • with the consequence that
    - study of the sources of Revelation and
    - attention to the documents of the magisterium will prevail over the exaggerated search for novelties or extraordinary phenomena. 38
  • It (defense against ...) will ensure that this devotion is objective in its historical setting, and for this reason everything that is obviously legendary or false must be eliminated. 38
  • It (defense against ...) will ensure that this devotion matches its doctrinal content--hence the necessity of avoiding a one-sided presentation of the figure of Mary, which by overstressing one element compromises the overall picture given by the Gospel. 38
  • It (defense against ...) will make this devotion clear in its motivation; hence every unworthy self-interest is to be carefully banned from the area of what is sacred. 38

Two Exercises of Piety: The Angelus and the Rosary Articles 40-55 (ftn 116: LG 52/57 domestic church)

Angelus 41

  • a simple but earnest exhortation to continue its traditional recitation wherever and whenever possible (explanation of what it is and why it does not have to be changed) 41
  • it reminds us of the Paschal Mystery, in which recalling the Incarnation of the Son of God we pray that we may be led "through his passion and cross to the glory of his resurrection." (Collect of March 25, which may be used in place of the recitation of the Angelus) 41
  • for the majority of people there remain unaltered the characteristic periods of the day - morning, noon and evening (to pray it) 41
  • Rosary 42-55 (These articles only sketched below; otherwise not graphed)
  • Rosary 42-55
    (Pius XII) "the compendium of the entire Gospel": 42
    [Paul VI: publications endorsing Rosary] 42
    - his first general audience, July 13, 1963
    - Christi Matri, Sept. 15, 1966
    - Recurrens mensis Oct 7, 1969 (Fourth centenary of Pius V's Consueverunt Romani pontifices, ... established the traditional form of the Rosary)
  • (support of) 43
    - pastoral role of the Rosary
    - meetings (of) associations and individuals profoundly attached to the Rosary and attended by bishops, priests, religious and lay people of proven experience and recognized ecclesial awareness.
    - special mention ... (Dominicans)
    - research work of historians (to uncover) the original inspiration and driving force behind it and its essential structure.
    (result of research) 44f
    - the Rosary draws from the Gospel the presentation of the mysteries and its main formulas.
    - ... the Rosary takes its inspiration from the Gospel to suggest the attitudes (joy, pious consent) with which the faithful should recite it.
    - puts before us ... Incarnation of the Word...
    - The Rosary is thus a Gospel prayer, as pastors and scholars like to define it, more today perhaps than in the past.
  • (article 45: the harmonious ordering of the salvific events)
  • (article 46: the Christological orientation of the Rosary)
  • (article 47: Rosary's value as prayer forms of praise, petition, and especially of contemplation)
  • [article 48: the relation between the liturgy and the Rosary]
  • - the Rosary is, as it were, a branch sprung from the ancient trunk of the Christian liturgy, the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin, whereby the humble were associated in the Church's hymn of praise and universal intercession. (includes argument to value both, but not to mix the forms, i.e., not to pray the rosary during the liturgy) 48
  • - In fact, meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiarizing the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of those same mysteries in the liturgical action and can also become a continuing echo thereof. However, it is a mistake to recite the Rosary during the celebration of the liturgy ... 48
  • (article 49: elements of the Rosary)
    - Contemplation in communion with Mary, of a series of mysteries of salvation,... three cycles. ... joy of the messianic times, the salvific suffering of Christ and the glory of the Risen Lord which fill the Church. ... encourage practical reflection and provide stimulating norms for living.
    - The Lord's Prayer, or Our Father
    - The litany-like succession of the Hail Mary... (150) a certain analogy with the Psalter
  • (article 50: recommendation for method of prayer)
  • (article 51: prayer forms takes inspiration from Rosary and incorporate readings,hymns, meditations)
  • (article 52: strong recommendation for family Rosary - domestic Church)
  • (article 53: recommendation to pray Liturgy of the Hours in the family)
  • (article 54: after Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary) considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite (acknowledges difficulties, but encourages family to overcome them)
  • This very worthy devotion should not be propagated in a way that is too one-sided or exclusive. The Rosary is an excellent prayer, but the faithful should feel serenely free in its regard. They should be drawn to its calm recitation by its intrinsic appeal. 55
Sharing the Light of Faith (USA), 1979
  • devotions...the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the months of May and October 143
  • multiplicity of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, devotions to...the virgin...provide a rich tapestry 143
  • devotions celebrated in Eastern Catholic communities are the Akathistos (praises to our Lord or the Mother of God) and Paraklesis (office of consolation), and Molebens (prayer services)...and rosary (privately) in the Byzantine Church, and the Christmas novena...in the Maronite Church. 143
  • the great traditional prayers of the Church--such as the Apostles' Creed, the Sign of the Cross, the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory to the Father--should be known by all 143
  • Sacramentals are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church's intercession. They remind us of the symbolic nature of all creation, and encourage prayer and attitudes of reverence. Examples...medals. 147
  • formulations...Hail Mary, Apostles' Creed,... the mysteries of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary... 176
Redemptor Hominis, 1979
  • call to prayer. I wish the Church to devote herself to this prayer, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Apostles and disciples of the Lord did in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after his Ascension.
  • Above all, I implore Mary, the heavenly Mother of the Church, to be so good as to devote herself to this prayer of humanity's new Advent, together with us who make up the church, that is to say, the Mystical Body of her only Son. Final paragraph
Ephesus, 1550th Anniversary, 1981
  • Accordingly, the afternoon liturgy of the solemnity of Pentecost will gather us in the chief Marian Basilica of Rome, in order thus to recall in a special way that in the Upper Room at Jerusalem the Apostles "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with...Mary the mother of Jesus...," (Acts 1:14) in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We, too, likewise wish on that important day to devote ourselves with one accord to prayer, together with her who, as Mother of God, is, in the words of the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution, "a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ." (LG 63) 11
  • Thus, devoting ourselves to prayer, together with her, and full of trust in her, we shall entrust to the power of the Holy Spirit the Church and her mission among all the nations of the world of today and tomorrow. 11
  • On the day of Pentecost, gathered in prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, they became convinced that they could carry out this command [to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation (cf. Mark 16:15) with the power of the Holy Spirit that had come upon them, as the Lord had foretold. (cf. Acts 1:8) On the same day we, their heirs, shall join together in the same act of faith and prayer. 11
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (cf. Lk. 1:40-42). Elizabeth's exclamation or acclamation was subsequently to become part of the Hail Mary, as a continuation of the angel's greeting, thus becoming one of the Church's most frequently used prayers. 12
  • (See 30-34 for a discussion of the rich legacy of liturgical expressions, poetry, prayers, hymns, sacred images, etc. in the Churches of the East.)
    - In the course of the centuries they have permeated their whole spiritual outlook, fostering in them a profound devotion to the "All Holy Mother of God." 32
    - Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) ... according to the teaching of the holy Fathers and the universal tradition of the Church, there could be exposed for the veneration of the faithful, together with the Cross, images of the Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, in churches and houses and at the roadside. (Nicaea II)
    - as the throne of God carrying the Lord and giving him to humanity (Theotokos)
    - as the way that leads to Christ and manifests him (Hodegetria)
    - as a praying figure in an attitude of intercession and as a sign of the divine presence on the journey of the faithful until the day of the Lord (Deesis)
    - as the protectress who stretches out her mantle over the peoples (Pokrov)
    - or as the merciful Virgin of tenderness (Eleousa). She is usually represented with her Son, the child Jesus, in her arms: it is the relationship with the Son which glorifies the Mother.
    - Sometimes she embraces him with tenderness (Glykophilousa)
    - at other times she is a hieratic figure, apparently rapt in contemplation of him who is the Lord of history (cf. Rev. 5:9-14). (LG 59) 33
  • (Special note made of) Our Lady of Vladimir ... In these Icons the Virgin shines as the image of divine beauty, the abode of Eternal Wisdom, the figure of the one who prays, the prototype of contemplation, the image of glory: she who even in her earthly life possessed the spiritual knowledge inaccessible to human reasoning and who attained through faith the most sublime knowledge. 33
  • I also recall the Icon of the Virgin of the Cenacle, praying with the Apostles as they awaited the Holy Spirit: could she not become the sign of hope for all those who, in fraternal dialogue, wish to deepen their obedience of faith? 33
  • (Magnificat) daily recitation in the liturgy of Vespers and at many other moments of both personal and communal devotion. 35
  • Mary is honored in the Church "with special reverence. Indeed, from most ancient times the Blessed Virgin Mary has been venerated under the title of 'God-bearer.' In all perils and needs, the faithful have fled prayerfully to her protection." (LG 66) 42
  • [Articles 42f indicate special devotion to Mary as God-bearer, as Virgin and Mother.]
  • At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. 45
  • entrusting is the response to a person's love, and in particular to the love of a mother. 45
  • The Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, "welcomes" the Mother of Christ "into his own home" (Footnote 130, communion of life) and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian "I": he "took her to his own home." Thus the Christian seeks to be taken into that "maternal charity" with which the Redeemer's Mother "cares for the brethren of her Son," (LG 62) "in whose birth and development she cooperates" (GS 22) in the measure of the gift proper to each one through the power of Christ's Spirit. 45

Proclamation of a Marian Year
Pentecost, June 7, 1987 - Assumption, August 15, 1988

  • Purpose: ... to promote a new and more careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church ... not only of the doctrine of faith but also of the life of faith, and thus of authentic "Marian spirituality," seen in the light of Tradition, and especially the spirituality to which the Council exhorts us. (LG 66-67)... Marian spirituality, like its corresponding devotion, finds a very rich source in the historical experience of individuals and of the various Christian communities present among the different peoples and nations of the world. In this regard, I would like to recall, among the many witnesses and teachers of this spirituality, the figure of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who proposes consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians to live faithfully their baptismal commitments. I am pleased to note that in our own time too new manifestations of this spirituality and devotion are not lacking. 49
  • (also linked with Millennium of the Baptism of Saint Vladimir, Grand Duke of Kiev (988) --beginning of Christianity in Rus-- hence an ecumenical perspective)
  • Conclusion: (builds on antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater)
  • "Loving Mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator!" 51
  • (emphasizes the wonderment of the Incarnation and its significance) At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith stands Mary. (Articles 51-52 are not graphed)
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • By reason of this model--yes, of the prototype which the Church finds in Mary--it is necessary that our priestly choice of celibacy for the whole of our lives should also be placed within her heart. We must have recourse to this Virgin Mother when we meet difficulties along our chosen path. With her help we must seek always a more profound understanding of this path, an ever more complete affirmation of it in our hearts. Finally, in fact, there must be developed in our life this fatherhood "according to the Spirit," which is one of the results of "making ourselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God." 5
  • Speaking from the cross on Golgotha, Christ said to the disciple: "Behold, your mother." And the disciple "took her to his own home" as Mother. Let us also take Mary as Mother into the interior "home" of our priesthood. 6
  • Through this sacrifice we too, as its sacramental dispensers, together with all those whom we serve through its celebration, continually touch the decisive moment of that spiritual combat which, according to the Books of Genesis and Revelation, is linked with the "woman." In this battle she is entirely united with the Redeemer. And therefore our priestly ministry too unites us with her, with her who is the Mother of the Redeemer and the "model" of the Church. In this way all remain united with her in this spiritual battle which takes place throughout the course of human history. 7
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • (post-conciliar interest in) evaluation of its liturgical expression and its multiple manifestations of popular piety, and a deepening appreciation of their mutual relationship. 13
  • (post-conciliar: new themes, new treatments)
    - the problem of inculturation of Marian doctrine and forms of Marian piety;
    - the value of the via pulcritudinis for advancing in knowledge of Mary and the capacity of the Virgin to stimulate the highest expressions of literature and art 16
  • The study of Mariology holds as its ultimate aim the acquisition of a sound Marian spirituality, an essential aspect of Christian spirituality. On his pilgrim way to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13), knowing the mission which God has entrusted to the Virgin in the history of salvation and in the life of the Church, the Christian takes her as "mother and teacher of the spiritual life" (cf. Marialis Cultus, 21; Collectio missarum de b. Maria Virgine, form. 32); with her and like her, in the light of the Incarnation and of Easter, he impresses on his very existence a decisive orientation towards God through Christ in the Spirit, in order to express by his life in the Church the radical message of the Good News, especially the commandment of love. (cf. Jn 15:12). 35
To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988
  • Participation in the whole Church's growth in devotion to Mary, as a primary result of the Marian Year, will take different forms and expressions, according to the particular vocation of each institute, and its fruitfulness will depend on the fidelity of each institute to its specific gift. 29
  • The Church, looking to Mary in this special year of grace, feels particularly attentive to and respectful of the rich tradition of contemplative life ... The Blessed Virgin had a spiritual fruitfulness so intense that it made her the Mother of the Church and of the human race. In silence and in constant attention to the Word of God, and through her intimate union with the Lord, Mary became an instrument of salvation at the side of her divine son, Christ Jesus. 31
  • - All men and women Religious who are devoted to the apostolic life, to evangelization and to the works of charity and mercy, will find in Mary a model of charity towards God and man. Following this model with generous fidelity, they will respond successfully to the needs of humanity suffering from a lack of certainty, of truth and of a sense of God. It is a humanity that knows the anguish of injustice, discrimination, oppression, wars and hunger. With Mary, religious will share the plight of their brothers and sisters, and help the Church in her readiness to be of service for the salvation of the humanity she meets on her journey today. 32
  • - the members of Secular Institutes, as they live their daily lives within the different strata of society, have in Mary an example and a help in offering the people with whom they share life in the world a sense of the harmony and beauty of a human existence which is all the greater and more joyful the more it is open to God ... This will be the canticle which humanity, like Mary, will be able to raise to God, acknowledging him as almighty and merciful. 34
  • Whole nations and even continents are gathering at the Marian shrines, not to mention the fact that individual Christians have their own "interior" shrines, in which Mary is their guide along the path of faith, hope and loving union with Christ. (LG 63, 68) 37
  • The Orders, Congregations and Institutes, with their experiences, sometimes centuries old, often have their own shrines, places of Mary's presence, which are linked to their spirituality and even the history of their life and mission in the Church. 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. 38
  • During this year, 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) 39
  • Yes! Through Mary seek spiritual vitality, be rejuvenated with her. Pray for vocations. Finally, "do whatever he tells you," as the Virgin said at Cana in Galilee (cf. Jn 2:5). Mary, the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit and our Mother, desires this from you and for you. Indeed, I exhort you to respond to this desire of Mary's with a community act of dedication, which is precisely "the response to the love of a Mother." (RM 45) 39
  • During this Marian Year, I too with all my heart entrust each one of you and your communities to her, and I bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 40
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the "mystery of woman" and for every woman, for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the "great works of God," which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history--the incarnation of God himself-- was accomplished? 31
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Church venerates the memory of Mary, the ever Virgin Mother of God, and the memory of St. Joseph, because "he fed him whom the faithful must eat as the bread of eternal life." 16
  • In the Liturgy, Mary is celebrated as "united to Joseph, the just man, by a bond of marital and virginal love." There are really two kinds of love here, both of which together represent the mystery of the Church, virgin and spouse, as symbolized in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. 20
Veritatis Splendor, 1993
O Mary,
Mother of Mercy,
watch over all people,
that the cross of Christ
may not be emptied
of its power,
that man may not stray from
the path of the good
or become blind to sin,
but may put his hope
ever more fully in God,
who is "rich in mercy." (Eph 2:4)
May he carry out
the good works prepared
by God beforehand (cf. Eph 2:10)
and so live completely
"for the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:12)
120
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
(First illustration in the CCC) It is the most ancient image of the Blessed Virgin. This image, among the most ancient in Christian art, expresses a theme that lies at the heart of the Christian faith: the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary.
At the left, the figure of a man pointing to a star, located above the Virgin with the child: a prophet, probably Balaam, who announced that "a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel." (Num 24:17) (after p 12)

435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words "through our Lord Jesus Christ." The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." ...

1014 The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: "From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord"; (Roman Missal, Litany of the Saints) to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us "at the hour of our death" in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death. ... [more on prayer and prayer forms in separate section below]

2502 Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God, the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature," in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." (Heb 1:3; Col 2:9) This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

Vita Consecrata, 1996
  • "All beautiful" is the title with which the church invokes her. "The relationship with Mary most holy, which for every believer stems from his or her union with Christ, is even more pronounced in the life of consecrated persons....Mary's presence is of fundamental importance both for the spiritual life of each consecrated person and for the solidity, unity and progress of the whole community." (John Paul II, March 29, 1995) 28
  • Although the whole of sacred Scripture is "profitable of teaching," (2 Tm 3:16) and is "the pure and perennial source of spiritual life," (DV 21, PC 6) the writings of the New Testament deserve special veneration, especially the Gospels, which are "the heart of all the Scriptures." (CCC 125; DV 18) It is therefore of great benefit for consecrated persons to meditate regularly on the Gospel texts and the New Testament writings which describe the words and example of Christ and Mary and the apostolica vivendi forma 94
  • Finally, I exhort all consecrated persons, according to their own traditions, to renew daily their spiritual union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, reliving with her the mysteries of her son, especially by saying the rosary. 95
  • Conclusion of the Document: Invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 112
    Mary, image of the church, the bride without spot or wrinkle which by imitating you "preserves with virginal purity an integral faith, a firm hope and a sincere charity," (LG 64) sustains consecrated persons on their journey toward the sole and eternal Blessedness.

    To you, virgin of the visitation, do we entrust them, that they may go forth to meet human needs, to bring help, but above all to bring Jesus. Teach them to proclaim the mighty things which the Lord accomplishes in the world, that all peoples may extol the greatness of his name. Support them in their work for the poor, the hungry, those without hope, the little ones and all who seek your son with a sincere heart.

    To you, our Mother, who desire the spiritual and apostolic renewal of your sons and daughters in a response of love and complete dedication to Christ, we address our confident prayer. You who did the will of the Father, ever ready in obedience, courageous in poverty and receptive in fruitful virginity, obtain from your divine son that all who have received the gift of following him in the consecrated life may be enabled to bear witness to that gift by their transfigured lives as they joyfully make their way with all their brothers and sisters toward our heavenly homeland and the light which will never grow dim.

    We ask you this that in everyone and in everything glory, adoration and love may be given to the Most High Lord of all things, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2001
  • Mary was present in the jubilee celebration not only as a theme of high-level academic gatherings, but above all in the great Act of Entrustment with which, in the presence of a large part of the world episcopate, I entrusted to her maternal care the lives of the men and women of the new millennium. 11
  • On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom, a few months ago, in the presence of a great number of bishops assembled in Rome from all parts of the world, I entrusted the Third Millennium. 58
  • During this year I have often invoked her as the "Star of the New Evangelization." 58
  • Now I point to Mary once again as the radiant dawn and sure guide for our steps. Once more, echoing the words of Jesus himself and giving voice to the filial affection of the whole Church, I say to her: "Woman, behold your children." (cf. Jn 19:26) 58
Ecclesia in Oceania, 2001
  • I invite you to join me in turning to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, who is so revered throughout Oceania. Missionaries and immigrants alike brought with them a deep devotion to her as an integral part of their Catholic faith; and since that time, the faithful of Oceania have not ceased to show their great love for Mary. 53
  • In churches, chapels and homes, the image of Mary reminds people of her loving presence and her maternal protection. In parts of the Pacific region, she is especially venerated under the title of Help of Christians; and the Bishops have proclaimed her as Patroness of Oceania under the title of Our Lady of Peace. 53
  • O Help of Christians, protect us!
  • Bright Star of the Sea, guide us!
  • Our Lady of Peace, pray for us! [titles of veneration in Oceania] 53
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002 ...prompted by the forthcoming 120th anniversary of the aforementioned Encyclical of Leo XIII, I desire that during the course of this year the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities. I therefore proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary. 3
  • The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to "set out into the deep" (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, "the way, and the truth and the life," (Jn 14:6) "the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn." (GS 45) 1
  • The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the "prayer of the heart" or "Jesus prayer" which took root in the soil of the Christian East. 5
  • The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: "Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words'. (Mt 6:7) By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed." (MC 47) 12
  • The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. 22
  • To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. 25
  • We should not be surprised that our relationship with Christ makes use of a method. God communicates himself to us respecting our human nature and its vital rhythms. Hence, while Christian spirituality is familiar with the most sublime forms of mystical silence in which images, words and gestures are all, so to speak, superseded by an intense and ineffable union with God, it normally engages the whole person in all his complex psychological, physical and relational reality. This becomes apparent in the Liturgy. Sacraments and sacramental's are structured as a series of rites which bring into play all the dimensions of the person. The same applies to non-liturgical prayer. This is confirmed by the fact that, in the East, the most characteristic prayer of Christological meditation, centered on the words "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," (CCC 2616) is traditionally linked to the rhythm of breathing; while this practice favors perseverance in the prayer, it also in some way embodies the desire for Christ to become the breath, the soul and the "all" of one's life. 27
  • Much in vogue among these approaches are methods aimed at attaining a high level of spiritual concentration by using techniques of a psychophysical, repetitive and symbolic nature. The Rosary is situated within this broad gamut of religious phenomena, but it is distinguished by characteristics of its own which correspond to specifically Christian requirements. 28
  • In effect, the Rosary is simply a method of contemplation. As a method, it serves as a means to an end and cannot become an end in itself. All the same, as the fruit of centuries of experience, this method should not be undervalued. In its favor one could cite the experience of countless Saints. This is not to say, however, that the method cannot be improved. ... Otherwise there is a risk that the Rosary would not only fail to produce the intended spiritual effects, but even that the beads, with which it is usually said, could come to be regarded as some kind of amulet or magic object, thereby radically distorting their meaning and function. 28
  • Announcing each mystery, and perhaps even using a suitable icon to portray it, is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus our attention. The words direct the imagination and the mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ. In the Church's traditional spirituality, the veneration of icons and the many devotions appealing to the senses, as well as the method of prayer proposed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, make use of visual and imaginative elements (the compositio loci), judged to be of great help in concentrating the mind on the particular mystery. 29
  • Acting as a kind of foundation for the Christological and Marian meditation which unfolds in the repetition of the Hail Mary, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience. 32
  • To the extent that meditation on the mystery is attentive and profound, and to the extent that it is enlivened--from one Hail Mary to another-- by love for Christ and for Mary, the glorification of the Trinity at the end of each decade, far from being a perfunctory conclusion, takes on its proper contemplative tone, raising the mind as it were to the heights of heaven and enabling us in some way to relive the experience of Tabor, a foretaste of the contemplation yet to come: "It is good for us to be here!" (Lk 9:33) 34
  • (See meaning of beads and chain at) 36
  • (See suggested days for various mysteries at) 38
  • What has been said so far makes abundantly clear the richness of this traditional prayer, which has the simplicity of a popular devotion but also the theological depth of a prayer suited to those who feel the need for deeper contemplation. The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. 39
  • To pray the Rosary for children, and even more, with children, training them from their earliest years to experience this daily "pause for prayer" with the family, is admittedly not the solution to every problem, but it is a spiritual aid which should not be underestimated. It could be objected that the Rosary seems hardly suited to the taste of children and young people of today. But perhaps the objection is directed to an impoverished method of praying it. Furthermore, without prejudice to the Rosary's basic structure, there is nothing to stop children and young people from praying it --either within the family or in groups-- with appropriate symbolic and practical aids to understanding and appreciation. Why not try it? With God's help, a pastoral approach to youth which is positive, impassioned and creative --as shown by the World Youth Days!-- is capable of achieving quite remarkable results. If the Rosary is well presented, I am sure that young people will once more surprise adults by the way they make this prayer their own and recite it with the enthusiasm typical of their age group. 42
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
  • By proclaiming the Year of the Rosary, I wish to put this, my twenty-fifth anniversary, under the aegis of the contemplation of Christ at the school of Mary. 7


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