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‘Mary’s Maternal Love’: St. John Paul II and Fatima

In 1982, Mother’s Day fell on Sunday, May 9, just as it did this year. That same week in 1982, four days later, St. John Paul II celebrated Mother’s Day in an exceptional way. He went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on Mary’s feast day, May 13, to give thanks to God and his Mother Mary for sparing his life during an assassination attempt the previous year.

He encapsulated what this Mother’s day was all about in the title he gave his homily — “Mary’s Maternal Love.”

“Mary’s motherhood in our regard is manifested in a particular way in the places where she meets us: her dwelling places; places in which a special presence of the Mother is felt,” John Paul II said. He listed many such places, from a special corner in one’s home to Marian shrines, where we can bring her our own problems and those of “the family, of societies, of nations and of the whole of humanity.”

Barb Ernster is communications manager for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, and a wife and mother of three, ages 19 to 25. She always found this heartfelt wisdom of the saintly pontiff to be true. “Mary has been a refuge for me in all of my battles — spiritual and earthly — and she always leads me to a place of peace and trust in Jesus,” she said. “As a mother, I can relate to her standing at the foot of the cross, when all she could do was watch her Son suffer and keep trusting in God’s plan. It is seemingly the most hopeless place on earth in all of human history — the foot of the cross. Yet, there she was, firm in her resolve to stay with Christ and trust. That’s where I go when I need her as a mother.” Ernster has personally experienced our Blessed Mother’s presence and help at a very difficult time in her family life. “It was because of her that I was able to trust firmly in Jesus. That is what all of us as mothers want for our children. Surely, the Mother of God wants this even more.”

John Preiss, president-director of the Fatima Family Apostolate (, concurs. 

“The Blessed Mother is a Mother for all of us,” he noted. 

“She doesn’t discriminate. She is not only our lifeline to Jesus, but she is always with us in our moments of joy and failings in life. We can always go to our Mother in heaven for comfort and help.”

Read more at National Catholic Register

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