CAACUPE, Paraguay – Pope Francis said Mass to a packed congregation in Paraguay’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of Caacupe, during which he gave the example of the Virgin Mary’s “difficult life” as an example of how to deal with life’s hardships.
His praise of Mary led him to speak about “Paraguayan women and mothers, who, with great courage and self-sacrifice, knew how to lift up a country broken down, crushed and sunk by war.”
Women who, like Mary, “have lived through some very, very tough situations,” he said.
“When everything seemed falling to pieces, together with Mary they said: ‘Let us not fear, the Lord is with us, He is with our people, with our families, let us do as He says,” an emotional Jorge Bergoglio said.
In this sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, whom Bergoglio has venerated since the days when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he recalled that “we are all brothers.”
“It is a place of celebration, of coming together, of families,” he told the tens of thousands or Paraguayans and Argentines drawn to the sanctuary.
Francis related the three most difficult moments in the life of Mary, the first of them being the birth of Jesus, since there “was no place for them, they had not a house nor a room in which to receive her Child.”
The second was the flight into Egypt, where “they became migrants due to the greed and avarice of the emperor,” and the third was the time of the crucifixion because “nothing can be so difficult for a mother as witnessing the death of a son.”
“We look at her life and we feel understood. We can kneel to pray and use ordinary language to get through the countless situations we must deal with every day,” he said.
The Argentine pontiff said “we can identify with many situations in her life” and she is “testimony that God does not fail or abandon His people.”
In his first Mass in Paraguay, where he arrived Friday from Bolivia after a previous visit to Ecuador, Pope Francis noted that this sanctuary “is a vital part of the Paraguayan people.”