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O Pia!

O Pia!


Popes have also taken the name Pius; there have been twelve so far, although the word 'pious', like 'clement' has sadly fallen out of fashion. Sadly, piety has also become somewhat unfashionable. It seems like an old-fashioned virtue. Our Lady is called 'o pia', the feminine form of the Latin 'pius', which means affectionate, tender, and devoted. In common English translations, we hear this rendered as "o loving", but it means much more than that. As usual, the English word 'love' doesn't cover all the nuances that we find in classical languages like Latin and Greek. For what is indicated, in calling Mary 'pious' isn't so much the virtue of charity but, rather, the virtue of pietas, piety. 'Pia' thus translates as godly, or God-fearing, or even loyal to one's family. 

For piety is the virtue directed to giving to God our Father the worship and honour that is due to Him, as well as giving to our own parents the respect and honour due to them, as the Fourth Commandment says. Indeed, filial piety, that is to say, love and respect for one's parents is closely linked to the common good of society as a whole, for the family is the fundamental building block of a civilization. As Pope Francis observes in Amoris Lætitia 189:

“The fourth commandment asks children… to honour their father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12). This commandment comes immediately after those dealing with God himself. Indeed, it has to do with something sacred, something divine, something at the basis of every other kind of human respect. The biblical formulation of the fourth commandment goes on to say: ‘that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you'. The virtuous bond between generations is the guarantee of the future, and is the guarantee of a truly humane society. A society with children who do not honour parents is a society without honour… It is a society destined to be filled with surly and greedy young people”.

Let us be mindful of this, and of the divine wisdom which roots the good of our society in the love and respect, the piety that we give to our parents, and by extension to the elderly in our country. In rededicating ourselves and our nation to the pious Virgin Mary, we pray that all children of whatever age will grow to honour and reverence their parents just as Our Lady surely loved and cherished St Anne and St Joachim. If we do, then the Lord promises us a particular joy: "you will live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Ex 20:12). So, too, as we give our land to Mary, our mother, and we dedicate ourselves to her with filial piety, may she teach us to be pious towards our earthly parents. God will, in return, give us the deepest joy of all, which is to live for ever with them in the eternal Promised Land that we call heaven. 

The other aspect of piety (and arguably the more important) refers to the honour and reverence and worship that is due to God. As a young girl Mary was presented by her parents to the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem in order to be educated by them in the Law of God, and in wisdom and virtue. Mary was thus wholly dedicated to God from her earliest years; filled with grace, she was also full of piety, giving to God the worship and love that is his due. For we can never love God enough in return for all that he has given us, beginning with the gift of our very existence. To imitate the piety of Mary is thus to be grateful for the gift of life, and to do all we can to uphold and cherish and reverence the sanctity of human life. We pray that our country, dedicated to Mary, will become a truly pro-life nation. 

Moreover, to imitate the piety of Mary is to seek God's wisdom in all things; to worship him with reverence and love; and to keep his commandments. As we offer our hearts and our lives to Our Lady, we pray that Mary will make her Dowry into a land where God is once more honoured. The great church buildings and many noble Christian institutions that are found throughout England are a monument to the piety of our forefathers. Out of respect for them, at least, we should learn to love what they loved, indeed, to love who they loved, namely the Triune God and Our Lady. Only then shall joy fill the land once more, and shall old England be truly merry again!

Let us, therefore, pray with joy to Mary, our Pious Mother, resolving to be her true children! 

Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)

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