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Missionary Meditation with Blessed Paolo Manna


WITH 2022 marking the 150th anniversary of the birth and 70th anniversary of the death of Blessed Fr Paolo Manna (above)—the founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union—his writings have been included in the Missionary Meditation for the month of May along with Church documents. The meditation focuses on priests, consecrated persons and the laity and can be read in full below.


“One cannot live without a mother. A child without a mother is lost and cries. Have a Mother in Mary.”

(Blessed Paolo Manna)


Mary and the Mission

From the Gospel According to John

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were His Mother and his Mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw His Mother and the disciple there whom he loved, He said to His Mother: ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then He said to the disciple: ‘Behold, your Mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took Her into his home.

(John 19:25-27)


From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church

“Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, His Mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she ‘shows the way.’”

(CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, n. 2674)


“But above all, in the Church of that time and of every time Mary was and is the one who is ‘blessed because She believed’; She was the first to believe. (...) She had still remained the one who, like Abraham, ‘in hope believed against hope’ (Romans 4:18). But it is only after the Resurrection that hope had shown its true face and the promise had begun to be transformed into reality.”

(JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church, Redemptoris Mater, n. 26)


“Thus the ‘fullness of time’ manifests the extraordinary dignity of the ‘woman.’ On the one hand, this dignity consists in the supernatural elevation to union with God in Jesus Christ, which determines the ultimate finality of the existence of every person both on earth and in eternity.”

(JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Mulieris Dignitatem, n. 4)


“Finally, I exhort all consecrated persons, according to their own traditions, to renew daily their spiritual union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, reliving with Her the mysteries of Her Son, especially by saying the Rosary.”

(JOHN PAUL II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Consecrated Life and Its Mission

in the Church and in the World, Vita Consecrata, n. 95)


“With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church which evangelises and without Her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelisation.”

(POPE FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 284)

“Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. (…) She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by Her maternal love. As a true mother, She walks at our side, She shares our struggles and She constantly surrounds us with God’s love.”

(POPE FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 286)


“There is a Marian ‘style’ to the Church’s work of evangelisation. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. (...) Mary is able to recognise the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth. (...) This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelisation.”

(POPE FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 288)

From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna

“After his pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1908, Father Manna asked Mary for five graces that he had written in his breviary and for which he prayed until his death: 1) Make me love infinitely 2) Give me a great love for your Divine Son 3) Through many humiliations keep me pure 4) Intercede for me the grace of holy perseverance and be with me at the moment of death 5) Intercede for the salvation of all my relatives.”

(P. MANNA, Esci dalla tua terra…, Naples 1977, p. 21)


“Immediately following the worship of God, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, no one should be as dear to us as Mary Most Holy.”

(P. MANNA, Meditazioni alle religiose 1902-1934 e 1943-1949, part 1, in: Scritti, vol. 66, p. 519)


“Although only in Heaven we will truly see the glory of Mary, admire Her forever, and glorify Her greatness, already here on earth, immediately after Jesus, our feelings, mercy, and confidence should be directed to Mary.”

(P. MANNA, Meditazioni alle religiose 1902-1934 e 1943-1949, part 1, in: Scritti, vol. 66, p. 519)

“We should live like children in the arms of the Blessed Virgin.”

(P. MANNA, “Venga il tuo Regno”, XXVIII (1969)


“Do not doubt the most effective, most powerful assistance of this divine Mother for you. She is obliged to you: go forth for the interests of Her divine Son, go forth also for Her, to make Her known, loved and venerated by new children.”

(P. MANNA, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, pp. 199-200)


“Your vocation is the Mary’s vocation: to give Jesus to the world and with Jesus all that is good, with Jesus eternal life. You are even more fortunate, you also give Mary to the world.”

(P. MANNA, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 200)


“If you have in your favour the protection of the God’s Mother, who will be against you? And in whose favour will Mary be but those who continue the great work of Her Son and who propagate His worship?” (P. MANNA, Chiamati alla santità, Naples 1977, p. 200)


“How beautiful is the prayer the missionary can make during his long and frequent travels. (...) He can always say his Rosary, dropping little seeds of prayer along the way, seeds which will surely not fall in vain.”

(P. MANNA, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, p. 42)


Questions for reflection

• Do I pray the Rosary every day?

• How does Mary inspire me in my journey of faith and service?

• What attitudes of Mary would I like to develop within myself?


Prayer

Mary Immaculate, faithful Virgin, through faith and love you have become Christ’s closest collaborator for the salvation of the world. Give your maternal protection to all the missionaries who proclaim the Good News of Jesus in mission territories and among people who have abandoned the Church. Please help that none of them lack faith and love, even when they have difficulty to accept the Gospel we preach or reject it. Amen.


Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 24, 2013)

Mary, Virgin and Mother,

you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,

welcomed the word of life

in the depths of your humble faith:

as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,

help us to say our own “yes”

to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,

to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Filled with Christ’s presence,

you brought joy to John the Baptist,

making him exult in the womb of his mother.

Brimming over with joy,

you sang of the great things done by God.

Standing at the foot of the cross

with unyielding faith,

you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,

and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit

so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,

that we may bring to all the Gospel of life

which triumphs over death.

Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,

that the gift of unfading beauty

may reach every man and woman.

Virgin of listening and contemplation,

Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,

pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,

that she may never be closed in on herself

or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelization,

help us to bear radiant witness to communion,

service, ardent and generous faith,

justice and love of the poor,

that the joy of the Gospel

may reach to the ends of the earth,

illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel,

wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,

pray for us.

Amen. Alleluia!

Pope Francis