Marian Devotion: Pastoral and Catechetical Aspects©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Marian Devotion: Pastoral and Catechetical Aspects. 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 VIII. Pastoral and Catechetical Aspects
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • following...Ephesus...remarkable growth in the cult of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation... "All generations shall call me blessed, because he that is mighty has done great things to me." (Lk 1:48) 66
  • [LG] not intend to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not fully clarified 54
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • We are certain, honored brothers, under your encouragement the clergy and faithful entrusted to your care will eagerly comply with the words of our exhortation, that henceforth they will evince greater trust and devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. 38
Recurrens Mensis October, 1969
  • intention ... more serious and urgent than ever, is that of peace among men and between people 2
General Catechetical Directory, 1971
  • The Virgin Mary is mentioned for the first time in the directory under n. 43, "Hierarchy of Truths to be Observed in Catechesis:"
  • the mystery of Christ the Incarnate Word, who was born of the Virgin Mary...the mystery of the Church, which is Christ's Mystical Body, in which the Virgin Mary holds the preeminent place." 43
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
    • Religious instruction should lead students to see Mary as singularly blessed and relevant to their own lives and needs.
    • Following venerable Christian tradition as continued in the Second Vatican Council, the teacher should explain the special place of the Virgin Mary in the history of salvation and in the Church.
      [ The paragraph is footnoted : 105 cf. Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, 52-69. ]
    • In religious instruction there should be explanations of her special gifts from God ----
      The special veneration due to Mary--Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, our spiritual Mother ----
      Should be taught by word and example
    Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
      Pastoral Concerns

      • restricted use of the word "mediatrix" ... Pastorally, the bishops were anxious that Catholics understand even better Mary's true place under Christ. 66
      • We view with great sympathy the distress our people feel over the loss of devotion to our Lady and we share their concern that the young be taught a deep and true love for the Mother of God. 93
      • Mary and the Priesthood, 119-122
      • Mary and Religious Men and Women, 123-128
      • Mary and Family Life, 129-142
      • Mary and Dignity of Women, 141-142
      • Mary and Youth, 143-144
      • Mary and Single Life, 145-14
      [Note: Many of the Marian examples were incorporated in the sections, Person of Mary, Life of Mary, Mary as model, and under Mother of the Church, the spiritual mother who intercedes.]


      • Defenders of unborn life do well to appeal to the first part of the Hail Mary. Elizabeth's words, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb," are true in a real sense of every unborn child. 132
      • The Blessed Mother protects human life today from the moment of conception through birth (the beginning of our pilgrimage of faith), until all mankind realizes its goal in the Beatific Vision. 136
      • As a woman of faith, she inspires all mothers to transmit the Christian faith to their children. 137
      • As we conclude these pastoral reflections on the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, we commend our efforts to her loving protection. ... We have contemplated our Lady with joy, pondering her holiness, her generosity, her hope, her burning love, her whole-hearted dedication in faith to the saving work of her Son. May her pilgrimage of faith strengthen us in our individual Christian vocations. May her loving desire that her Son's words be heeded hasten Christian unity. May her motherly intercession make us worthy of the promises of Christ. 146
      Mary's Place in American Catholic History (Appendix, eight paragraphs)
      [Note: This section was not graphed in detail.]
    Marialis Cultus, 1974
    • Mary is not only an example for the whole Church in the exercise of divine worship but also, clearly, a teacher of the spiritual life for individual Christians. The faithful at a very early date began to look to Mary and to imitate her in making their lives an act of worship of God and making their worship a commitment of their lives. [quotes Ambrose] 21
    • [Pastoral Concerns]
      What is needed on the part of the leaders of the local communities is effort, pastoral sensitivity and perseverance, while the faithful on their part must show a willingness to accept guidelines and ideas drawn from the true nature of Christian worship; this sometimes makes it necessary to change long-standing customs wherein the real nature of this Christian worship has become somewhat obscured. 31
    • two attitudes which in pastoral practice could nullify the norm of the Second Vatican Council.
      - In the first place there are certain persons concerned with the care of souls who scorn, a priori, devotions of piety which, in their correct forms, have been recommended by the magisterium, who leave them aside and in this way create a vacuum which they do not fill. They forget that the Council has said that devotions of piety should harmonize with the liturgy, not be suppressed. 31
      - Secondly there are those who, without wholesome liturgical and pastoral criteria, mix practices of piety and liturgical acts in hybrid celebrations. It sometimes happens that novenas or similar practices of piety are inserted into the very celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. This creates the danger that the Lord's Memorial Rite, instead of being the culmination of the meeting of the Christian community, becomes the occasion, as it were, for devotional practices. For those who act in this way we wish to recall the rule laid down by the Council prescribing that exercises of piety should be harmonized with the liturgy, not merged into it. 31
      - difficulties...related to certain aspects of the image of Mary found in popular writings. They are not connected with the Gospel image of Mary nor with the doctrinal data which have been made explicit through a slow and conscientious process of drawing from Revelation. It should be considered quite normal for succeeding generations of Christians in differing socio cultural contexts to have expressed their sentiments about the Mother of Jesus in a way and manner which reflected their own age. 36
    • The Church, taught by the Holy Spirit and benefiting from centuries of experience, recognizes that devotion to the Blessed Virgin, subordinated to worship of the divine Savior and in connection with it, also has a great pastoral effectiveness and constitutes a force for renewing Christian living. 57
      - Mary's many-sided mission to the People of God is a supernatural reality which operates and bears fruit within the body of the Church. ... producing in the children the spiritual characteristics of the first-born Son.
      - Virgin's maternal intercession, her exemplary holiness and the divine grace which is in her become for the human race a reason for divine hope.
      - [BV's] role as Mother leads the People of God to turn with filial confidence to her who is ever ready to listen with a mother's affection and efficacious assistance. ... Consoler of the afflicted, the Health of the sick, and the Refuge of sinners (LG 60-63)
      - [BV's] exemplary holiness encourages the faithful to "raise their eyes to Mary who shines forth before the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues." (LG 65)
      - [faith, docile acceptance of God's will, generous obedience, genuine humility, profound wisdom, worship of God, gratitude, in her offering, her prayer, her fortitude, in suffering, through her poverty, her attentive care for her Son, her delicate forethought, virginal purity, strong and chaste married love ... (statements supported by Scripture quotes) ] 57
    • Devotion to the Mother of the Lord becomes for the faithful an opportunity for growing in divine grace, and this is the ultimate aim of all pastoral activity. [Mary is what we are to be.] 57
    Sharing the Light of Faith (USA), 1979
    • The special love and veneration due her as mother of Christ, mother of the Church, and our spiritual mother should be taught by word and example. [ftn 48: The bishops' pastoral letter, Behold Your Mother, Woman of Faith, published in 1973, can be very helpful in catechizing on this subject. Cf. also Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Marialis Cultus), an Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, February 2, 1974. USCC, 1974. In 1859, at the request of the bishops of the United States, Pope Pius IX placed the nation under the protection of Mary's Immaculate Conception.] 106
    • formulations...certain elements of Catholic faith, tradition, and practice are learned for a lifetime and can contribute to the individual's continued growth in understanding and living the faith... Among these are the following: 1. Prayers such as the Sign of the Cross, Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, Apostles' Creed,... 2. Factual information...the major personalities of the Old and New Testaments... 3. Formulas providing factual information regarding worship...including...the mysteries of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary... 176
    • [birth to age 5] The child is also encouraged to pray to Mary, Jesus' mother and ours, and to the saints. [ftn 9: GCD 78] 177
    Redemptor Hominis, 1979
    • The aim of any service in the church, whether the service is apostolic, pastoral, priestly or episcopal, is to keep up this dynamic link between the mystery of the Redemption and every man. Final paragraph
    Catechesi Tradendae, 1979
    • catechesis ... give ... full place to the incarnation of the Son of God; to Mary, the Immaculate One, the Mother of God, ever Virgin, raised body and soul to the glory of heaven, and to her role in the mystery of salvation 30
    • Various occasions of special value which are exactly suitable for catechesis: for example, diocesan, regional or national pilgrimages, which gain from being centered on some judiciously chosen theme based on the life of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin or of the saints. 47
    • There are good grounds for the statement made in the synod hall that Mary is "a living catechism" and "the mother and model of catechists." 73
    Redemptoris Mater, 1987
    • [The section, Mary in the life of the Church and of every Christian, articles 42f, give the pastoral perspective to be linked with Mary's believing and obeying. This is also pointed out under the concepts of Mary and the Church being both Mother and Virgin.]
    • from Mary the Church also learns her own motherhood: she recognizes the maternal dimension of her vocation, which is essentially bound to her sacramental nature, in "contemplating Mary's mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will." (LG 64) 43
    The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
    • The history of dogma and theology bears witness to the Church's faith about, and constant attention to, the Virgin Mary and to her mission in the history of salvation. 2
    • [Aspects of doctrinal importance, drawing on current period]
    • We recall the doctrinal importance of the
      - dogmatic Bull Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854) of Pius IX,
      - the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (November 1, 1950) of Pius XII,
      - and the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (November 21, 1964), chapter VIII of which is the fullest and most authoritative synthesis of Catholic doctrine about the Mother of the Lord ever to have been compiled by an ecumenical council.
      Also ... for their theological and pastoral significance are other documents such as Professio Fidei (June 30, 1968),
      - the Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum (May 13, 1967) and - - Marialis Cultus (February 2, 1974) of Paul VI, ...
      - Encyclical Redemptoris Mater (March 25, 1987) of John Paul II. 3
    • The importance of chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium ...
      - its doctrinal synthesis ...
      - its formulation of doctrine about the Blessed Virgin in the context of the mystery of Christ and of the Church. 5
    • the Council:
      - allied itself to the patristic tradition which gives a privileged place to the history of salvation in every theological tract; 5
      - Stressed that the Mother of the Lord is not a peripheral figure in our faith and in the panorama of theology; rather, she, through her intimate participation in the history of salvation, "in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith." (LG 65) 5
      - formulated a common vision for the different positions about the way in which Marian matters are to be treated. 5
    • the discovery of the significance of Mary in relation to some urgent pastoral needs in our time (pro-life, the option for the poor, the proclamation of the Word...); the revaluation of the " Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ." (Redemptoris Mater, 45) 16
    • The will of the Lord has been to assign a "Marian note" to the physiognomy of the Church, its pilgrimage, its pastoral activity; and in the spiritual life of each disciple, says the Holy Father, a "Marian dimension" is inherent, (cf. Redemptoris Mater, 45-46) 16
    • [See The teaching of Mariology, especially] "systematic treatment [that is] organic ... complete ... suited to the various types of institution ... and to the level of the students: future ... catechists ... ] 28
    Mariology and Pastoral Service

    • Like every other theological discipline, Mariology has a precious contribution to make to pastoral life. Marialis Cultus affirms that "devotion to the Blessed Virgin, subordinated to worship of the divine Saviour and in connection with it, also has great pastoral effectiveness and constitutes a force for renewing Christian living" (MC 57). Also, Mariology is called to make its contribution to the work of evangelization (cf. Sapientia Christiana, 3). 32
    • [regarding seminarians]
      - necessity of promoting an authentic Marian piety among seminarians
      - recommended that seminarians "should love and honour the most Blessed Virgin Mary, who was given as a mother to his disciple by Christ Jesus as he hung dying on the cross." (Optatam Totius, 8) 33
      - in the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis the Congregation requests the seminarian "to have a fervent love for the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, who was in a special way associated with the work of Redemption" (Congregatio Pro Institutione Catholica, Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (Roma 1985) 54 e)
      - in the circular letter concerning some of the more urgent aspects of spiritual formation on seminaries the Congregation noted that "there is nothing better than true devotion to Mary, conceived as an ever more completed following of her example, to introduce one to the joy of believing" (Id.,Circular letter concerning some of the more urgent aspects of spiritual formation in seminaries, II, 4), which is so important for anyone who will spend the rest of his life in the continual exercise of faith. 33

    • The Code of Canon Law, treating of the formation of candidates for the priesthood, recommends devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that, nourished by the exercises of piety, the students may acquire the spirit of prayer and be strengthened in their vocation. (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 246, par. 3) 33
    To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988

      • The encyclical Redemptoris Mater explains the meaning of the Marian Year which the whole Church has been celebrating since last Pentecost and which will continue until the coming Solemnity of the Assumption. In this period, we are seeking to follow the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which, in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, designated 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) 1
      • The Marian Year may mark a reawakening of vocations through a more trusting recourse to Mary, as to a Mother who provides for her family's needs, and also through a deepened sense of responsibility among all members of the Church for the promotion of the consecrated life in the Church. 35
    Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
    • The Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, issued on that occasion [Marian Year], drew attention to the Council's teaching on the presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church: two thousand years ago the Son of God was made man by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. 26
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
    Fidei Depositum, 1992
      At the conclusion of this document presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and Mother of the Church, to support with her powerful intercession the catechetical work of the entire Church on every level, at this time when she is called to a new effort of evangelization. [Fidei Depositum]
    Orientale Lumen, 1995
    Ut Unum Sint, 1995
    • In my recent letter to the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Catholic Church indicating the path to be followed toward the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Holy Year 200, I wrote that "the best preparation for the new millennium can only be expressed in a renewed commitment to apply, as faithfully as possible, the teachings of Vatican II to the life of every individual and of the whole church." (TMA 20) The Second Vatican Council is the great beginning - the advent as it were - of the journey leading us to the threshold of the third millennium UUS 100
    Vita Consecrata, 1996
    • With respectful sensitivity and missionary boldness, consecrated men and women should show that faith in Jesus Christ enlightens the whole enterprise of education, never disparaging human values but rather confirming and elevating them. Thus do consecrated persons become witnesses and instruments of the power of the incarnation and the vitality of the Spirit. This task of theirs is one of the most significant manifestations of that motherhood which the church, in the image of Mary, exercises on behalf of all her children. (John Paul II, apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, April 15, 1979, II) 97
    Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
    • As a way of highlighting this invitation, 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.

      I leave this pastoral proposal to the initiative of each ecclesial community. It is not my intention to encumber but rather to complete and consolidate pastoral programmes of the Particular Churches. I am confident that the proposal will find a ready and generous reception. The Rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization. I am pleased to reaffirm this also in the joyful remembrance of another anniversary: the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on October 11, 1962, the "great grace" disposed by the Spirit of God for the Church in our time. (John XIII asked for prayer of the Rosary, Sept. 28, 60) 3

    • A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. 6
    • The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age. 6
    • The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ. When the recitation of the Rosary combines all the elements needed for an effective meditation, especially in its communal celebration in parishes and shrines, it can present a significant catechetical opportunity which pastors should use to advantage. In this way too Our Lady of the Rosary continues her work of proclaiming Christ. The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable pastoral resource for every good evangelizer. 17
    • In this way the Rosary can be better adapted to different spiritual traditions and different Christian communities. It is to be hoped, then, that appropriate formulas will be widely circulated, after due pastoral discernment and possibly after experimental use in centers and shrines particularly devoted to the Rosary, so that the People of God may benefit from an abundance of authentic spiritual riches and find nourishment for their personal contemplation. 35
    • [Assigning specific days for specific mysteries] This indication is not intended to limit a rightful freedom in personal and community prayer, where account needs to be taken of spiritual and pastoral needs and of the occurrence of particular liturgical celebrations which might call for suitable adaptations. What is really important is that the Rosary should always be seen and experienced as a path of contemplation. 38
    • I would therefore ask those who devote themselves to the pastoral care of families to recommend heartily the recitation of the Rosary. The family that prays together stays together. The Holy Rosary, by age-old tradition, has shown itself particularly effective as a prayer which brings the family together. Individual family members, in turning their eyes towards Jesus, also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God. Many of the problems facing contemporary families, especially in economically developed societies, result from their increasing difficulty in communicating. Families seldom manage to come together, and the rare occasions when they do are often taken up with watching television. To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the center, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on. 41
    • A prayer so easy and yet so rich truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian community. Let us do so, especially this year, as a means of confirming the direction outlined in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, from which the pastoral plans of so many particular Churches have drawn inspiration as they look to the immediate future.

      I turn particularly to you, my dear Brother Bishops, priests and deacons, and to you, pastoral agents in your different ministries: through your own personal experience of the beauty of the Rosary, may you come to promote it with conviction.

      I also place my trust in you, theologians: by your sage and rigorous reflection, rooted in the word of God and sensitive to the lived experience of the Christian people, may you help them to discover the Biblical foundations, the spiritual riches and the pastoral value of this traditional prayer. 43

    © This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
    Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

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