Saints and Mary

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1. Where can I find information about Saints for Confirmation?

Information about many saints is available here.

2. What is the Communion of the Saints?

communion saintsBy the hidden and kindly mystery of God's will a supernatural solidarity reigns among men. A consequence of this is that the sin of one person harms other people just as one person's holiness helps others. In this way Christian believers help each other to reach their supernatural destiny.

We can see evidence of this solidarity in the fact that Adam's sin is passed on through propagation to all men. But the greatest and most perfect source, foundation and example of this supernatural solidarity is Christ Himself. God has called us to communion with Him.

Indeed, Christ "committed no sin", "suffered for us", "was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities ... and with His stripes we are healed".
Following in Christ's steps, those who believe in Him have always tried to help one another along the path which leads to the heavenly Father, through prayer, the exchange of spiritual goods and penitential expiation.

The more they have been immersed in the fervour of love, the more they have imitated Christ in His sufferings. They have carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others. They were convinced that they could help their brothers to obtain salvation from God who is the Father of mercies.

This is the very ancient dogma called the Communion of Saints. It means that the life of each individual son of God is joined in Christ and through Christ by a wonderful link to the life of all His other Christian brethren.

Together they form the supernatural unity of Christ's Mystical Body so that, as it were, a single mystical person is formed. Consequence of the doctrine of the Mystical Body "All who belong to Christ and are in possession of His Spirit, combine to make one Church with a cohesion that depends on Him (cf. Eph. 4:16).

The union of the living with their brethren who have fallen asleep in Christ, is not broken; the Church has rather believed through the ages that it gains strength from the sharing of spiritual benefits. The great intimacy of the union of those in heaven with Christ, gives extra steadiness in holiness to the whole Church ... and makes a manifold contribution to the extension of her building (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-27). Now that they are welcomed in their own country and at home with the Lord (cf 2 Cor. 5:8), through Him, with Him and in Him they intercede unremittingly with the Father on our behalf, offering the merit they acquired on earth through Christ Jesus, the one and only mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5), when they were at God's service in all things, and in their flesh were completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His Body, the Church (cf. Col. 1:24).

Their brotherly care is the greatest help to our weakness. For these reasons a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth.

Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all the goods by which divine justice is placated as expiation is made for all the sins of the whole of the Mystical Body.

This is how God's mercy is led to forgiveness and it becomes possible for sinners who have repented sincerely, to share, as soon as they are capable of it, in the full enjoyment of the benefits of God's family.

3. Why do Catholics pray to Mary? What is special about Mary?

mary_faq_madonnaCatholics do not pray to Mary but rather ask for her intercession.  Common Marian prayers such as the Hail Mary and Hail Holy Queen ask for Mary to pray for us sinners and to turn to us most gracious advocate as she intercedes for us in heaven.

Catholics believe that when we honour Mary we are honouring God who gave her all she has and is. All her greatness flows from her closeness to Christ. As she herself says: "The Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is His name", (Luke 1:49). That attitude is ours too.  Mary is rightly honoured as Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer. She received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and she gave Life to the world.  Redeemed by her Son in a special manner, she is intimately related to him with an unbreakable bond. To her belongs the dignity of being the Mother of God's Son, the chosen daughter of the Father, the dwelling place of the Spirit. On account of this tremendous office Mary soars far above all other creatures.

1. Mary, Mother of God

One of the characteristics of Catholic (and Orthodox) piety is the importance given to devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. Christ is true man because He was born of a woman; He is the true Son of God because no earthly father begot Him. The Eternal God is His Father; divinity and humanity are united in the one person of the Word-made-flesh, so that Mary is truly the Mother of God. In Mary, Christ came into our history "a man like us in all things but sin".

In view of her exalted role Mary is venerated in the Church by special devotion. From the earliest times she has been honoured as "Mother of God" and has been invoked by the faithful. But this special honour shown to Mary, for all its uniqueness, is absolutely different from the adoration which is due to God, though it helps towards this.

The various forms of Marian devotion which the Church has approved as orthodox ensure that while these honour the Mother they also make her Son known, loved and glorified and His commands obeyed.

Meanwhile, in heaven Mary is glorified body and soul. She is the figure and the beginning of the Church as it will be recreated in the world to come. She shines out as a sign of hope and comfort for the pilgrim people of God until the Lord returns.

2. Mary, our Mother

Mary is the Mother of the Catholic Church. Even more she is truly the mother of the faithful because by her love she has helped to bring about the birth of all who are members of the Church. Therefore her role is unique and she is recognised as a figure and model of the Church in her faith and in her love.

There is only one mediator between God and ourselves and that is Jesus Christ. (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-6). Mary's role as Mother of men does not obscure his mediation but actually shows its power more clearly. For whatever she does for our salvation springs solely from God's grace and the fullness of Christ's merits.

So Mary's role, being based on Christ's mediation from which it draws its strength, on which it is entirely dependent, only serves to bring the faithful more closely to Christ.

Reference: Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church) Pope John Paul II, 1987. This document is available from Vatican website, www.vatican.va and directly here.

4. Information about Mary MacKillop

Information about Mary MacKillop can be found by visiting the following sites:

Mary MacKillop Place

marymackillop.org.au

5. Who are the patron saints of Australia?

Until 15 January 2013 Australia had only one patron (which is normally the case for most countries) and that is Our Lady Help of Christians. The Feast day is celebrated on 24 May.

Australians have invoked the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary since 1844 under the title of our Lady Help of Christians. The title first came about in the sixteenth century when Pope Pius V included it in the litany of Loreto. Later in 1815 Pope Pius VII established Mary Help of Christians as a feast day after he returned to Rome from his years of captivity imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte.

For some time, though, Australia also had the patronage of both St. Francis Xavier (3 December) and St. Therese of Lisieux (1 October) who were co-patrons of universal missions.

This declaration was made in 1927 by Pope Pius XI. When Australia ceased to be a mission country under Propaganda in 1976 both St Francis Xavier and St Therese of Liseaux ceased to be patrons of Australia.

A formal decree approving St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as second patron of Australia has been received by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart.

On 15 January  2013, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, issued a formal decree approving St Mary of the Cross MacKillop as second patron of Australia. This was  in response to a request from Archbishop Hart and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

For more information about St Mary of the Cross Mackillop visit marymackillop.org.au

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