DAY 28: “COMFORT OF MIGRANTS” (SOLACIUM MIGRANTIUM)
Dear friends in Christ, today being the twenty-eighth day of our October Devotion brings us to the “terminus ad quem” of our reflections on the Marian titles in the Litany of Loreto. In other words, today, we shall be contemplating on the last of the recently added Marian title in the Litany of Loreto, introduced by Pope Francis, which is: “Comfort of Migrants” (Latin, Solacium Migrantium) to be invoked after “Refuge of Sinners” (Refugium Peccatorum). Now, how could we understand the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Comfort of Migrant?” Did she have a migration experience? Does Scripture give us a clue to this?
To begin with, we understand that migration corresponds to the spatial mobility of people from place to place; that is, the act of changing countries, states, regions, or even homes. International migration consists of moving to another country. The international migration process can be triggered by several factors: as a result of environmental disasters, wars, political, ethnic or cultural persecutions, causes related to studies in search of work and better living conditions, among others. The main reason for these international migratory flows is the economic one, in which people leave their country of origin in order to obtain employment and better life prospects in other nations.
The invocation of Mary, “Comfort of Migrants” takes our minds to her experience (together with Joseph her Spouse and the Child Jesus), when they had to flee as migrants to a foreign country – Egypt, in order to save the Child Jesus (cf. Mat. 2:13-15). Needless to say, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was a forced and a “political” migrant. In Egypt, at first, they experienced homelessness; without food, without work, without understanding the language and the foreign way of life. They felt the hardship of looking for a future, they experienced poverty, insecurity, etc. Thus, we could say that the Blessed Virgin Mary went through the experiences which many refugees, today, bitterly go through. This Scriptural truth is reflected in the introductory part of the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII (1952): “Exsul Familia Nazarethana.” Here the Holy Father declares that: “The émigré Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil.” Therefore, nothing is more spontaneous than invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Comfort of Migrants.”
Unfortunately, today, there are millions of refugees and displaced persons who are constantly migrating for different reasons – especially for economic motives, political motives, motives of war, etc. Migration generates widespread poverty, unemployment, homeless people with no certainty and future, in addition to despair and hunger; such that we can only imagine the great difficulties in the life of a refugee and migrant. Amidst these difficulties, the Blessed Virgin Mary (together with St. Joseph) could serve as models of lively faith, hope, perseverance and total trust and dependence in the “Divine Providence.” Put differently, Mary remains a great icon and close to our migrants, the homeless, political refugees and unemployed.
Above all, through the difficult experiences of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to see Christ in every migrant and refugee and show them love. Pope St. John Paul II (in his address to the Participants in the Assembly of the Council of the ICMC, 12 November 2001), invites us to an ever deeper awareness of the mission of the Catholic Church: “to see Christ in every brother and sister in need, to proclaim and defend the dignity of every migrant, every displaced person and every refugee. In this way, assistance given will not be considered alms from the goodness of our heart, but an act of justice due to them.”
Let Us Pray
Lord our God, You willed that Your Son Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph migrate from place to place in search of refuge, safety and security. Grant us the grace to always see our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of our suffering brothers and sisters exiled from their homeland in seeking refuge in another land, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may refugees and migrants find support, solace and trust in divine providence. Amen.
Oh “Comfort of Migrants” (Solacium Migrantium), pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?