At the conclusion of his May 24 general audience, Pope Francis recalled the traditional observance of the day as the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
“The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, whom we remember today, makes us aware of the greatness of the gift of protection of the Mother of the Son of God for each one of us,” the Pope told Polish pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “I entrust our lives to her. In doubt, we often invoke her protection.”
Later, he said in Italian:
I address a special greeting to the young, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the memory of Mary Help of Christians. Dear young people, learn to love in the way of the Mother of Jesus; dear people who are sick, in suffering ask for the heavenly intercession of the Holy Virgin with the prayer of the Rosary, and you, dear newlyweds, like Our Lady, always know how to listen to God’s will for your family.
Amid negotiations between the Holy See and China’s Communist government over the appointment of bishops, Pope Francis has asked the nation’s Catholics to remain “open to encounter and dialogue.”
On May 24, which Pope Benedict declared a day of prayer for China’s Catholics, “we will all be united spiritually to the Catholic faithful of China, on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated at the Sheshan Shrine at Shanghai,” Pope Francis said to the faithful following his May 21 Regina Coeli address.
“To Chinese Catholics I say: let us raise our gaze to Mary Our Mother, so that she may help us to discern the will of God regarding the concrete path of the Church in China and support us in accepting her plan of love with generosity,” the Pope continued, adding:
Mary encourages us to offer our personal contribution towards communion among believers and for the harmony of the society as a whole. Let us not forget to bear witness to faith with prayer and with love, always remaining open to encounter and dialogue.
Continuing his series of Wednesday general audiences devoted to Christian hope, Pope Francis spoke on May 17 about St. Mary Magdalene “as an apostle of the hope brought by the Gospel.”
“Saint John tells us on Easter morning Mary had gone to the tomb of Jesus; she saw that it was empty, and returned to tell this news to Peter and the other disciples,” the Pope told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “Returning to the tomb, yet still not understanding what had happened, Mary encounters the Risen Lord, but does not recognize him until he calls her by name.”
“This first appearance of Jesus after rising from the dead is thus something intensely personal,” he continued. “We know that just as he did with Mary Magdalene, so too Jesus calls each of us by name and fills us with joy at his presence.”
The Pope added:
Our encounter with him brings freedom and opens up new vistas of life; it transforms our world and brings undying hope. The risen Lord tells Mary not to cling to him, but to go and tell the good news of his resurrection to the others.
Mary Magdalene thus becomes the apostle of Christian hope. By her prayers, may we encounter anew the risen Lord, who calls us by name, turns our sorrow into joy, and sends us forth to proclaim by our lives that he is truly risen.