Pope Francis' devotion is profound but simple: Mary is a mother to every believer; Jesus would not leave his followers orphans.
Peace is a gift that comes through prayer and through small daily efforts to sow harmony in one's family, parish and community, Pope Francis said.
"At the beginning of this new year, we are all called to reignite in our hearts a spark of hope, which must be translated into concrete works of peace: You don't get along with that person? Make peace. In your home? Make peace. In the community? Make peace. At work? Make peace," he said Sunday during his midday recitation of the Angelus.
In the heart of Rome's high-end shopping district, sparkling with Christmas lights and shiny baubles in the windows of famous designers, Pope Francis prayed that people would spend time in silence and in service as they prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth.
Celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Monday, Pope Francis prayed for Mary's intercession so that, "in us, your children, grace also will prevail over pride, and we can become merciful like our heavenly Father is merciful."
When a mother has a birthday, children send their greetings and love, so make sure to do the same thing on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Pope Francis said.
The liturgical feast day Monday "would be her birthday. And what do you do when your mom has a birthday? You send her greetings and best wishes," the pope said, after praying the Angelus with people gathered Sunday in St. Peter's Square.
The pope asked people to say "a Hail Mary from the heart" and to not forget to tell her "Happy Birthday!"
Just about every Catholic church has at least one and often several images of Mary, and that is certainly the case at Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Darby.
It is an old church, built in 1930, but one shrine to Mary is new. It was installed just last October and is unique among the Philadelphia archdiocese's 235 parishes.
A large icon painted especially for the church, "Our Lady of Light, Help of the Addicted," was executed by celebrated artist Br. Mickey O'Neill McGrath, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who also gave a reflection at the parish.
All Things Catholic: While pop culture remains fascinated by small clues to Pope Francis' personality, we got a reminder on Sunday of something far more fundamental.