August 20, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the “Salve Regina” (Hail, Holy Queen), one of the most popular and powerful prayers, we call upon the Blessed Virgin Mary as “our Life, our Sweetness, and Our Hope”. At the Annunciation, Mary was given a promise, an invitation to trust and believe. She said “Fiat” to enter into God’s saving plan and at the same time she also said “yes” on behalf of humanity to welcome the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity to come among us as man. Throughout the rest of her life, Mary walked according to that hope. And her hope was profoundly tested on Calvary. At the foot of the Cross, when the disciples had fled in fear and when all hope seemed lost, Mary remained standing steadfast as the ancient hymn attested “Stabat Mater”. Standing at the foot of the cross, Mary was a sign of hope for us in difficult times, in times of darkness when so many have trouble seeing what the will of God entails and its purpose in our life.
We hope for what is totally beyond our reach and can be given only by God. We hope for salvation, for God, for divine grace; we hope for the forgiveness of sin. If what we hope for is difficult, that is, impossible for us as human beings to achieve, then the ground for hope is God’s power and love, his mercy and fidelity. The basis of our hope should not only be in the fact that can God save us, but He wants to and has shown Himself faithful to His promises. The other side of this confidence in God is the awareness of our own weakness. In the Magnificat, Mary says that God “has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” (Lk 1:48). Mary knows that before God she is nothing and she can do nothing except by His power. The reason why Mary stood firm and courageous at the foot of the Cross is because she is full of God, full of the one who is stronger than any evil or suffering. She was constantly overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, who filled her with the gifts of courage and hope.
How blest are you that every year you convene together to reflect on the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and apply the lessons of her life to your own. May these days of prayer and reflection on the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Hope bring us to imitate her in inviting the Lord to take complete possession of our hearts and lives.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix