May 13, 2013

ROME – Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, face the difficulties of life and use their freedom to make lasting commitments, Pope Francis said.

Marking Catholics’ traditional celebration of May as the month of Mary, Pope Francis led the recitation of the rosary May 4 at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

In a reflection after the recitation of the glorious mysteries of the rosary, Pope Francis said there are three primary ways in which Mary, as a mother with “great and tender love,” promotes the healthy growth of Christians.

Like a good mother, he said, Mary “wants her children to grow and to grow well; for that reason she teaches them not to give in to laziness.”

Mary wants her children to take responsibility for their actions, to commit themselves to projects and tasks, and to hold on to their ideals, the pope said.

“She helps us to grow humanly and in the faith, to be strong and not give in to the temptation of being men and Christians in a superficial way, but to live with responsibility, always reaching upward,” the pope said.

Also like a good mother, he said, Mary does not try to shield believers from every difficulty, but gradually teaches them how to face and overcome problems.

“A life without challenges does not exist; and a young man or woman who does not know how to face challenges,” he said, simply will be “spineless.”

“Like a good mother, she is close to us so that we never lose the courage to face the adversities of life, to face our own weaknesses, our own sins,” Pope Francis said.