Celebration of Our Lady of the Way
In memory of those who have left us and those who committed themselves to making the world a better place
Monday, May 18, 2020
Impeded by the “war virus” and hence, unable to fulfill their promise to travel from Venice to the Holy Land, Ignatius - the pilgrim - and the companions decide to go to Rome, in three groups, to place themselves at the disposal of the Pope. Ignatius tells us, in his Autobiography, that it was a journey on which he was "very especially visited by the Lord". Shortly before arriving in Rome, they entered the chapel of La Storta to pray. While at prayer, "he felt such a change in his soul and saw so clearly that God the Father placed him with Christ, his Son, that he would not dare to doubt it - the fact that God the Father had placed him with his Son". (Aut. 96)
Once in Rome, the companions had a special devotion to pray before the image of Our Lady of the Way, located in a small chapel at the foot of the Capitol. A devotion so great that it brought it about that this chapel was the first church entrusted by Pope Paul III to the Jesuits in Rome (1541). As we know, we venerate this image in the Church of the Gesù and this devotion continues to animate the body of the Society all over the world.
Devotion to Our Lady of the Way nourishes our sense of being "pilgrims", a body on a journey, towards a destination that reveals itself to us gradually. It reminds us that we are not alone but that we are accompanied on our journey. It is she, Mary, who takes us by the hand to Jesus who goes before us, his companions, opening the way with his word, his signs, with his passion, the surrender of his life on the cross and his resurrection. It is she, Mary of the Way, who leads us to the experience that God the Father undoubtedly places us with his Son and gives us the Holy Spirit as a guide on the way. That is why we gather around her today - ahead of her feast day - as we begin a new phase of our life and work in the General Curia.
The pandemic of COVID-19 has undermined our sense of security and put us in doubt again. We feel that we have suddenly been interrupted on a path we have been treading confidently. We have felt fear, anguish in the face of an unknown and unexpected situation. We have felt pain and desolation in the face of the death and illness of relatives, friends, neighbours or acquaintances. We have watched helplessly as the disease spread throughout the world. We gather around Mary of the Way today to pray that she will lead us to Jesus; and to remember with gratitude those who have gone to the House of the Father during this time; to implore the healing of those who are infected and the cessation of the spread of the virus.
We do this, like the shepherds of the Gospel, without doubting the signs that lead us to discover the presence of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in our midst at this time of uncertainty, to convert them into a source of hope. The pandemic is a kind of mirror of human life, which reflects both the shortcomings and injustices as well as the generosity, creativity and capacity to generate life, even in the most difficult situations. Mary, the Gospel tells us, "treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." The newness she was experiencing, from the moment of the Annunciation until now when she holds the child - the son of God - in her arms, is too great to comprehend all at once. She -Maria della Strada - is leading us by the hand, perplexed as we are by the experience we are living, to do the same: to go in depth to find meaning in the signs of the Spirit at this moment of human history.
Along with the testimony of his goodness and unreserved dedication, this is the same message that we remember from our beloved Adolfo Nicolás: don't be distracted, don't stay on the surface, preserve these things in your heart, go to the depths to meet the same Lord that our Lady holds in her arms, in the midst of the sick and of those who care for them, together with those who have to make decisions and the people who are facing difficulties in ensuring their daily necessities and in seeing the future with hope.
Let us follow the advice of the first reading: "Let us consider how we may spur one another towards love and good works." This meeting seeks precisely that, to feel our union, giving each other a hand, attentive to his word and gathered around the table of the Lord which we approach "with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings (...) Let us be firm and unswerving in the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Walking with Mary, we go to meet the Risen Life in which we meet those who have gone before us and we give meaning to the struggles of the present that prepare the future. Let us feel ourselves as pilgrims entrusted to the one who opens the way before us.
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