09/07/2018, 13.24
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Thousands of pilgrims come to Bandra for the feast of the Nativity of Mary

by Nirmala Carvalho

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount has organised a novena of prayer. This year's reflections focus on passages from the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. For rector, many non-Christians ask how they can pray to Mary. His answer: “we can speak to Mary spontaneously just as we address our own mother”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Thousands of pilgrims have been coming every day to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra, a district of Mumbai, for the novena on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated tomorrow, although here the main feast will be on Sunday 9th September.

The local parish has organised the novena focusing on Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. "We honour Mary, our Mother. In her we see the perfect example of holiness," said Mgr John Rodrigues, the rector.

Every day, a passage of the exhortation in which the figure of Mary appears is read in the basilica. For pilgrims, it is a way to learn more about the life of the Mother of Christ, "model of holiness".

The devotees of Mary, both Christians and members of other religions, participate in the Masses (five a day), lay floral tributes and light candles.

Citing a passage from the apostolic exhortation, Mgr Rodrigues said: "[The Virgin Mary] lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side" (No. 176).

“Mary pondered in her heart all the events of her life. In silence and in prayer she allowed the mystery of God’s plan to permeate her whole being. Mary discerned what God was asking of her in each situation. This is another characteristic of holiness – a ‘habitual openness to the transcendent’.”

“The saints discerned what the Spirit was telling them in small and seemingly insignificant choices. They realised that ‘greatness of spirit is manifested in simple everyday realities’.”

“Mary accompanied her Son the whole way,” Archbishop Rodrigues noted, “sharing even in his suffering at the foot of the cross. Mary trusted in God’s power to transform the most absurd situation into something meaningful. A shameful event became the deed of salvation by the power of God. Mary reminds her children to be persons of hope knowing that God will not abandon them.”

Noting that the Marian cult is widespread among many believers of other religions, the rector went on to say: “Sometimes they ask, ‘Is there a special prayer that we must recite to Mother Mary?’ I tell them that while there are specific invocations, we can speak to Mary spontaneously just as we address our own mother, pouring out our feelings, expressing what is in the depths of our hearts.”

“Surely, Mary knows what lies in the heart of every child of hers. Pope Francis says, ‘Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: Hail Mary’ (n. 176).”

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