MANAOAG, Pangasinan, Feb. 22, 2015—Lest it be forgotten, a member of the local Church hierarchy has reminded the faithful of a truth often taken for granted: “Mary prays with us.”
In the homily he delivered before pilgrims, devotees, and fellow clerics gathered to celebrate the solemn proclamation of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag on Feb. 17, Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle stressed, “We are not praying alone,” saying, “Jesus prays with us. He taught us how to pray. And his mother prays with his disciples. We don’t only pray to Mary. We pray with Mary.”
Citing the Book of Acts, the prelate enjoined the faithful to see how after the Ascension the Apostles heeded the Lord’s command to return to Jerusalem, going to the upper room, to the cenacle, to pray with the other disciples, among whom was Mary, the mother of Jesus.
“[And] in that cenacle, in that upper room, they prayed. They spent time praying. The disciples were not praying alone, they were praying with the Blessed Mother. The Blessed Mother was with them in prayer,” he said.
According to Tagle, this passage is an excellent reminder of something deeply significant, given that during their time, the Apostles did not even have a basilica comparable to Manaoag’s, but only a humble cenacle.
Mary in our prayer, us in hers
“Many of us come to Manaoag to pray to God and to the Blessed Virgin. And that is a gesture worthy of commendation … But visiting this place also tells us that we are with Mary in our prayer. That should console us,” he explained .
The cardinal recalled the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, during which he announced the Good News, God’s Word, that the Virgin would be with child.
“When she was visited she welcomed the gift of God, the Word of God … and the Word became flesh in her. When the angel visited her, what was he carrying? It’s no less than Jesus!” he said.
While there is nothing wrong with entrusting one’s needs to God, Tagle warned against the danger of one’s prayers becoming too “self-focused.”
As soon as one’s petitions have been granted, the prelate pointed out it is only proper to take the cue from Mary in echoing, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
More than an enumeration of requests, Tagle stated praying is also an expression of gratitude.
Although pilgrims flock to Manaoag and other shrines to visit Mary, the prelate noted in the Gospels, it is the Blessed Virgin herself who initiates the visiting, underscoring the importance of a pilgrimage not becoming an end in itself.
Go forth, be like Mary
“I’m not saying you should stop flocking this shrine. All the more you should do so. But after visiting Mary, imitate Mary. Go! Go! Visit the ‘Anawim.’ Visit the poor. Visit the needy like Elizabeth. It’s no good visiting the Blessed Mother, and doing as she had done,” he said, recalling that at the end of each Eucharistic celebration, the congregation is told, “Go! The Mass is ended. Go forth.”
“In this place where we encounter God through the Blessed Mother, let us experience our moments of visitation. Whenever we visit here, God will also visit us. Let’s listen to Him talk. He will give each of us a mission,” he said
Tagle invited the faithful to welcome the visit of God in their lives and to bring Jesus to others, making of the Manaoag basilica a truly missionary place and its devotees truly missionaries of God. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)