One of the 19 men who became a cardinal today, the one from North America, is Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec. I stood in a very long line with him a one late November night in Mexico city last year, and have run into him more than a few times in the past year at different events in different countries. He’s got that contagious joy and warmth that opens doors and invites people to consider what it is the Church is proposing.
Cardinal Lacroix explained in an interview that “to share the Gospel of the Lord and to bring people to encounter Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and bringing people to him is my life” and what makes his “heart tick.”
This is the missionary mandate of Christians and it simply always has to be in a merciful invitation, issued best by the witness of your own walk in prayer, and love, and service. It was so much the message of the pope’s one trans-Atlantic trip thus far, to Rio for World Youth Day. It’s Gospel mandate.
I mention Cardinal Lacroix because I associate him with the Blessed Mother.
Like her, we want to be open to the Holy Spirit and available to accomplish God’s plan in today’s world. And following Our Lady’s example, we want to leave with haste as she did, to share the Good News of the Gospel to a world that needs the Hope and the Truth and the Love of Jesus Christ.
I mention this, too, because when we eventually got off the entry line in Mexico, we were all about Mary. The conference was at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and was one of prayer and a reminder that God gives us His mother — the young girl in Nazareth who said yes to God — to help us on this way Pope Francis spoke of to the cardinals and all the rest of us in Rome, in front of his brother Benedict.
I’m so struck by the deep Marian devotion of so many holy priests — bishops, archbishops, and cardinals among them. The media is not always interested in this, but it is real and it is the way of untier knots, as one Jose Mario Bergoglio may have told you if he were your pastor in Argentina.
A week or two ago I was writing a speech in the back of a church, near a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. One of the dedicated Rosary praying women caught my attention and explained: “She’s my mama! And she’s yours, too!” I couldn’t help but smile, and pray for Pope Francis who said nearly this to the crowd gathered in Mexico City in November, by video message. He said: “both Jesus and we have the same mother!”
The crowd went as wild with gratitude.
When we remember that she is our mother, we remember that God is made manifest by small and rather dramatic yeses. It is a reminder that we live in freedom with God and it is in surrender to Him and his most glorious will that we be who we are called to be.
In that famous/infamous plane ride from Rio this summer, Pope Francis said that:
A Church without women is like the college of the Apostles without Mary. The role of women in the Church is not simply that of maternity, being mothers, but much greater: it is precisely to be the icon of the Virgin, of Our Lady; what helps make the Church grow! But think about it, Our Lady is more important than the Apostles! She is more important!
I said to a priest friend after that I felt a little bad for the Apostles. He replied: Men who love Mary don’t mind at all. Which made me think Catholics should pray daughters marry men who love Mary that much.
She’s ours to help with the yes!