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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XXVII, No. 4
Advent-Christmas 2012

Blessed Woman!

Blessed, We Are as Women!

by Kathryn Lopez

Everywhere I go lately, I seem to walk into Mary and the splendors of the Rosary. I suppose it started with a May crowning or the Lourdes chapel at Guardian Angel Church in Manhattan, which, mornings before school, seemed as beautiful and elaborate as churches get, decades before I’d find myself lost in St. Peter’s in Rome. It could be the ladies after seemingly near every Mass in the world, dedicated to the decades.

But it got particularly dramatic and all the more real one relatively latter day in particular: May 12, 2010. By no planning of my own, I found myself in Fátima on the feast day there, along with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father had had a hellish Holy Week, from a media perspective. The darkest sins of men seemed to envelop us, and even within the Church. MSNBC had regular panels throughout these days asking when the pope would resign.

And on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima that year, this powerful man, by the world’s standards, looked very publicly to Mary, resting in her arms, at the feet of Christ on the Cross, just like she can always be found. I saw it live and in person. He looked to Mary to bring him deeper into the source of everlasting strength. And she took him — and all of us with him, open to the Way — right to the Eucharist.

“All of you, standing together with lighted candles in your hands, seem like a sea of light around this simple chapel, lovingly built to the honor of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light,” Pope Benedict XVI observed. “However, neither Mary nor we have a light of our own,” he emphasized. “[W]e receive it from Jesus. His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us.” Like Mary herself, by pointing to her, the pope points to God Himself, the Trinity we are called to live in.

“The recitation of the rosary allows us to fix our gaze and our hearts upon Jesus, just like His Mother, the supreme model of contemplation of the Son,” he said in Portugal. “[L]et us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope,” he continued.

As the Year of Faith began this October in Rome, Pope Benedict again returned to this “supplication,” that unites “countless people around the world.” In his Angelus message October 7, on the feast of Mary as Queen of the Holy Rosary, he commended the prayer to all of us — this prayer that walks us through the life of Christ in prayerful reflection — for the year of faith.

“Through the Rosary we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ. Day after day she helps us to assimilate the Gospel, so that it gives a form to our life as a whole,” Pope Benedict said.

“B16” — as he is easier to Tweet — then looked to Blessed John Paul II, in part to emphasize the continuity that marks the inauguration of a year of faith on the 50th anniversary of Vatican Council II and the opening of a synod on the New Evangelization.

“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,” Blessed John Paul II wrote in the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. “I invite you to pray the Rosary on your own, in your family and in your community, placing yourselves in the school of Mary, who leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith,” his successor, Pope Benedict continued.

On the same occasion of the healing of perceived rupture and a call to a renewed, dedicated, studied faith, I had the honor to meet the Holy Father and receive from him the same message to women Pope Paul VI delivered at the end of the council. At the end of the Second Vatican Council, on December 8, 1965, the Holy Father addressed letters to the Council Fathers, rulers, scientists, artists, women, the poor and sick, workers, and the young.

At the opening of the year this year of faith, Pope Benedict XVI re-presented these letters to representatives of each of these groups. I had the honor, on the fiftieth anniversary of the council, to receive again the letter to women. (Pope Paul’s address to women, which has been a foundational document of Women for Faith & Family, appears in this issue of Voices, and on our website. – Ed.)

“You are present in the mystery of a life beginning. You offer consolation in the departure of death,” said the pope’s message to women throughout the world — Catholic and non-Catholic alike. “Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization.

“Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible, make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”

No one woman, not even every woman, can do that on her own, but only working with sacramental grace, led by the model of Mary, the Mother of God, leading us always closer to and deeper into the eternal life of the Trinity, the promise of mercy and redemption that is our truest freedom, happiness, and peace.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online ( and a nationally syndicated columnist. She has a blog on faith matters, K-Lo@Large at kathrynlopez/ and co-hosts a radio show on the Catholic Channel on Sirius, Silent Radio.

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