Pope Francis meets with the "Sentinels of the Holy Family" Pope Francis meets with the "Sentinels of the Holy Family"  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope Francis: 'Praying with Our Lady is beautiful'

Pope Francis emphasizes the experience of praying with the Blessed Virgin Mary as helping God make even small gestures bear fruit, as he meets with a delegation of the "Sentinels of the Holy Family" Marian prayer network.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

"Praying with Our Lady is beautiful," said Pope Francis during an audience on Thursday with the Marian prayer Network called the "Sentinels of the Holy Family."

The network was founded ten years ago in Belgium but has since spread internationally, with the aim of prayerfully presenting the intentions of the Church and the world to Mary.

The Holy Father began his address by welcoming the delegation and thanking them for working to cultivate an ever more fervent prayer in communion with the Blessed Mother.

Humility and simplicity

The Pope said he appreciated the simplicity and humility of their movement, which arose spontaneously as a result of prayer together.

"The commitment required of one who wants to become a 'sentinel' is simple," he said. "It might even seem laughable: recite a decade of the Rosary every day. Very simple."

"It is little in the eyes of men, but," he reassured, "great in the eyes of God, if it is done faithfully over time, with faith and in a spirit of communion among you."

"God," Pope Francis reassured, "loves what is small and makes it bear fruit."

“God loves what is small and makes it bear fruit.”

The Holy Father observed that the network is composed only of women, and said this highlights their vocation in the Church to follow in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Conforming to Mary as model

The Pope praised their prayer to Our Lady for her intercession, but especially their wish to conform themselves "to her and her motherhood," and to unite themselves "to her prayer of intercession as a mother for all the children of the Church and for the world."

"Whatever your state in life may be, with Mary, you are all mothers," the Pope said. "Your prayer and your commitment as 'sentinels' are oriented according to Mary's model, with certain characteristics."

The Pope recognized the gaze and care they cast on others and on the realities of the world, with all its tragedies and challenges. He expressed his hopes that their gaze may always be "like that of the Virgin Mary, a mother's gaze, patient, understanding, and compassionate."

Pope Francis meets with delegation of the Sentinels of the Holy Family
Pope Francis meets with delegation of the Sentinels of the Holy Family

"Mary, seeing the Child Jesus suffer poverty, does not become discouraged, does not complain," he said, but rather "remains silent; she keeps her heart and meditates."

"This," Pope Francis observed, "is what mothers do: they know how to overcome obstacles and conflicts; they know how to instill peace. This is how they manage to transform adversity into opportunities for rebirth and growth."

The Holy Father encouraged the delegation to continue helping people discover the meaning of their lives and to always keep hope and faith in the future.

Importance of tenderness

The Pope went on to emphasize the need for tenderness, lamenting how "harsh" the world is today, calling it "implacable, deaf, and indifferent" to the suffering and needs of our neighbours.

"Mary," on the other hand, he recalled, "was tenderness for Jesus; and she is tenderness for the Church and the world."

Living this example of tenderness, he said, "is certainly also the vocation of a 'sentinel': to incarnate in some way Mary's tenderness for the Church and the world."

The Holy Father concluded by thanking the delegation for their visit and dedication and urging them to persevere with courage, simplicity and heart.

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11 January 2024, 10:55