Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

The Church in the World: Part II

Immaculate Conception – Christmas 2022

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, it is a tradition that the Holy Father visits the Piazza di Spagna and prays at the base of the tall column with the statue of the Virgin.[1] Pope Francis had just offered to mediate the Ukraine-Russia conflict but the official spokespersons for the Russian Federation[2] formally rebuffed his offer in no uncertain terms. He has much information on the cruelty taking place and has condemned events and persons by name. In the context of being rejected, we can imagine his prayer in tears.

Let us join his tears and hope that “the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.” [3]

“Immaculate Virgin, I would have liked to bring you today
The gratitude of the Ukrainian people
For the peace we have been asking the Lord for such a long time.
Instead of that, I still have to bring you the supplication
Of the children, of the elderly, of the fathers and mothers, of the young people
Of that tormented land that suffers so much.”

Pope Francis’ love for Our Lady remembers her joy at the Incarnation and her tears at the foot of the cross.

The mystery of the Incarnation heightens our sense of responsibility for the Church in the World. This Christmas, may we join the joy of the Virgin Mother with prayers and tears as those of Pope Francis. May we judge where and how each of us has an irreplaceable part in the Church in the World.

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv., University of Notre Dame,


[1] When John Henry Newman made his profession of faith as a Roman Catholic, he spent time there at the Propaganda Fidei. This is the center for dealing with doctrinal issues and related matters.
[2] They Include the spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ambassador to the Holy See, and leader of the Chechen Parliament.
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Saved in Hope, Encyclical Letter, 30 November 2022.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Christmas Octave December 17-25 , 2022

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