For, like us, she walked in shadows and hoped for things unseen. She knew the contradictions of our earthly life.

She was promised that her son would be given David's throne, but at his birth, there was no room even at the inn.

Mary still believed. The angel said her child would be called the Son of God; but she would see him slandered, betrayed and condemned, and left to die as a thief on the cross.

Even yet, Mary "trusted that "God's words to her would be fulfilled and that "nothing was impossible with God."

This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith.

From Mary we learn to surrender to God's will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone.

From Mary, we learn to love Christ, her son and the Son of God. For Mary is not only the Mother of God, she is mother of the church as well.

In every stage of the march through history, the church as benefited from the prayer and protection of the Virgin Mary.

Holy Scripture and the experience of the faithful see the Mother of God as the one who in a very special way is united with the church at the most difficult moments in her history, when attacks on the church become most threatening.

Precisely in periods when Christ, and therefore his church, provokes premeditated contradiction, Mary appears particularly close to the church, because for her the church is always her beloved Christ.

I therefore exhort you in Christ Jesus, to continue to look to Mary as the model of the church, as the best example of the discipleship of Christ.

Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God's word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.

Turn to Mary frequently in your prayer "for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided."

As a great sign that has appeared in the heavens, Mary guides and sustains us on our pilgrim way, urging us to "the victory that overcomes the world, our faith."

Thank you.