During the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, we have a unique opportunity to celebrate God’s forgiveness and compassion for the entire human family. As members of the Association of the Miraculous Medal, the familiar image of the Blessed Virgin Mary imprinted on the Miraculous Medal holds special significance for us as a symbol of the abundant nature of God’s love. Let’s take a few moments to reflect more deeply upon this powerful image that we often take for granted.
One thing that immediately comes to mind is the fact that Mary is pictured in an open stance, welcoming all who come to her. Her arms are extended toward the viewer, almost inviting one to be embraced. Secondly, the facial expression of Mary includes a gentle smile and eyes that are warm and tender, as a loving mother’s would be. Then, there are those extraordinary rays of light emanating from Mary’s hands! They are the power of God’s love coming through Mary to each of us, and all we need to do is to open ourselves to these abundant graces. God’s mercy is available beyond measure!
You may recall that the image of the Miraculous Medal was first designed following the 1830 appearance of our Blessed Virgin Mary to a very young and unassuming Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in France. Saint Catherine Labouré had an intense desire to experience Mary as a merciful and forgiving parent, after having lost her own mother at the tender age of nine. It is interesting to note that the first time Mary reveals herself to Catherine she is seated on a chair, and invites Catherine to come near and place her hands on her lap. This is a touching scene of total acceptance. It serves as a keen reminder that the mission of the Association of the Miraculous Medal is to express this same unconditional love of God in the ordinary events of daily life. Mary is the perfect example of how to do this.
The abundant love of God is clearly visible in Mary’s love for her earthly children. “From the Church [the Christian] learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary…[and] discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it…” (Catholic Catechism, Art. 2030). We are challenged in this sacred Year of Mercy to actually become the loving face of God to all those we encounter. We have the capacity to surround the globe with God’s mercy as viewed through the lens of Mary’s image. The medal that is so dear to us bears a message of faith, hope and love to all who allow God’s loving kindness to permeate their lives. Will you do your part during this Year of Mercy to live in such a way that others experience the compassion of God by your words, actions and works of charity? Let us pray together for the grace to respond wholeheartedly to this mission of charity in the world.
Content written by Sister Joanne Vasa, D.C. and originally published in the Association of the Miraculous Medal Summer Bulletin.