In an address given on December 8, 2009, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Benedict XVI told those present, "Dear brothers and sisters! In the heart of Christian cities, Mary constitutes a sweet and reassuring presence. In her self-effacing style, she gives everyone peace and hope during the happy and sad moments of life. In churches, chapels or the walls of buildings, a painting, mosaic or a statue stand as a remainder of the Mother’s presence, constantly watching over her children. Here too in Piazza di Spagna, Mary stands high, on guard over Rome.
What does Mary tell the city? What does her presence remind us? It reminds us that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more (Rom., 5:20), as the Apostle Paul wrote. She is the Immaculate Mother who tells people of our time: Do not be afraid, Jesus defeated evil, uprooted it, freeing us from his rule.
When do we need such good deeds? Every day, in the newspapers, television and radio, evil is told to us, said again, amplified, so that we get used to the most horrible things, and become desensitised. In a certain way, it poisons us, because the negative is never fully cleansed out of our system but accumulates day after day. The heart hardens and thoughts become gloomy. For this reason, the city needs Mary, whose presence speaks of God, reminds us of Grace’s victory over sin and makes us hope even in the humanly most difficult situations..."
The Holy Father is not exhorting us to be pollyannas here, to stick our collective heads in the sand and to pretend all is well as everything collapses around us. But that we cannot lose hope. Because evil will be defeated. The Holy Father, in a letter to Marcello Pera several years ago before he was made Pope, wrote, "Today it is a matter of the greatest urgency to show a Christian model of life that offers a livable alternative to the increasingly vacuous entertainments of leisure-time society, a society forced to make increasing recourse to drugs because it is sated by the usual shabby pleasures...The Christian model of life must be manifested as a life in all its fullness and freedom, a life that does not experience the bonds of love as dependence and limitation but rather as an opening to the greatness of life." (Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, pp. 125-126).
But how do we effectively achieve this Christian model of life by which a pleasure-satiated society will be converted? Only by consecrating ourselves to Our Lady will we find the grace and zeal to live a life which is appealing to a materialistic and hedonistic world. It was St. Louis de Montfort who prophesied, in his True Devotion to Mary, No. 48, that, "..great souls filled with grace and zeal will be chosen to oppose the enemies of God who are raging on all sides. They will be exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Illumined by her light, strengthened by her food, guided by her spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies, schismatics and their schisms, idolaters and their idolatries, sinners and their wickedness. With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Fathers of the Church the Temple of Solomon and the City of God. By word and example they will draw all men to a true devotion to her and through this will make many enemies, it will also bring about many victories and much glory to God alone...This seems to have been foretold by the Holy Spirit in Psalm 58: ‘The Lord will reign in Jacob and all the ends of the earth. They will be converted towards evening and they will be as hungry as dogs and they will go around the city to find something to eat.’ This city around which men will roam at the end of the world seeking conversion and the appeasement of the hunger they have for justice is the most Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Holy Spirit the City of God."
The Lord loves this City conceived Immaculately: "The Lord loves the city founded on holy mountains, Loves the gates of Zion more than any dwelling in Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God! From Babylon and Egypt I count those who acknowledge the Lord. Philistia, Ethiopia, Tyre, of them it can be said: ‘This one was born there.’ But of Zion it must be said: ‘They all were born here.’ The Most High confirms this; the Lord notes in the register of the peoples: This one was born here.’" (Psalm 87: 1-6).
And what is this "register of the peoples"? We find an answer in Chapter 20 verse 12 of the Book of Revelation: "I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls."
Of Zion is must be said "They all were born here."* This holy city of Zion is the City of God, the Blessed Virgin. We must all therefore seek our conversion from this holy City. We must approach this City of God if our hunger for justice is to be appeased. We must strive to become more and more like this holy City so that our devotion will be true. Only then will we be able to offer our sin-sick world that Christian model of life Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is calling for with such urgency.