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‘Mary, Explained’ series addresses Marian devotion in Arlington Diocese and beyond

June 11, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
When Pope Pius IX declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary on December 8, 1854, he had a golden crown added to the mosaic of Mary, Virgin Immaculate, in the Chapel of the Choir in St. Peter’s Basilica. / Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).

St. John Paul II said of Mary: “This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, has been given to us as a model in our pilgrimage of faith.” And yet, many of us may not have a personal relationship with her. Perhaps we may not even understand why the Church reveres her so deeply.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is sparing no effort in addressing that through its new, seven-part video series “Mary, Explained.”

In preparation for its upcoming golden jubilee in 2024, the diocese has launched a three-year effort to prepare for the celebration. 

Year One, which began in November 2021, focused on the theme of the Eucharist. Out of that theme the diocese produced a series called “The Mass, Explained,” which received much positive feedback. 

This year, the second year of preparation, the theme for the diocese is “rejoice,” and the focus is Mary’s perfect example of joy.

Kerry Nevins, multimedia producer for the Arlington Diocese, told CNA: “‘Rejoice’ is centered around Mary’s response to the Annunciation when she is told that she’s going to be the mother of God.” He explained that this was their call from Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who leads the diocese.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the "Mary, Explained" series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge shares his thoughts in the “Mary, Explained” series on the importance of Marian theology and why the diocesan faithful ought to see Mary as our model disciple. Photo courtesy of Diocese of Arlington

As Burbidge, Nevins, and their Arlington Diocese team continued to explore the theme, they decided to create a video series about Mary.

The seven-part series will unpack the Marian dogmas month by month by way of addressing the following topics: Who is Mary? (May); Was she the mother of God? (June); Was she immaculately conceived? (July); Was she assumed into heaven? (August); Was she ever-virgin? (September); Why do Catholics pray and have devotions to Mary? (October); and How can we embrace Mary as our model disciple? (November).

Nevins explained that the mission of the series is to “dive into who she is, what Catholics believe about her, what Catholics don’t believe about her, and why we should even be looking to her in the first place.”

“We don’t just want to know our faith for the sake of knowing our faith so we can get a couple of answers right on Catholic ‘Jeopardy,’” Nevins told CNA. “We want people to know their faith so that they can know Christ and come to be in a relationship with him, and I think the best way that you can get to know somebody is by meeting their mom.” 

Dr. Matthew Tsakanikas, associate professor of theology at Christendom College who is featured in the series, expressed how this project gracefully addresses a wide audience, hearing perspectives from priests, religious, and laypeople alike. Tsakanikas told CNA: “I think it’s written so that anyone accessing it has a chance to get insights at every level.”

Tsakanikas noted how “Mary, Explained” takes what might seem like lofty ideas and brings them down to us. “These dogmas aren’t supposed to be … just looking at Mary on a pedestal but also looking at Mary in terms of how these graces were assigning her a task and mission,” he said.

Through a deeper understanding of the Marian dogmas, viewers can understand how she, too, was commissioned to bring about the kingdom of God here on earth and hopefully encourage them to do the same. 

At a glance, it’s evident that the production quality was carefully considered.  

“A lot of planning went into it,” Nevins said. “We really believe that … quality is credibility.”  

With endless options to click through, Nevins acknowledged that the content had to be aesthetically appealing if they wanted people to consume it. “We really want to make Catholic media beautiful because we’ve got the greatest story to tell, but if the story doesn’t look good, people aren’t going to watch it,” he said. 

Beyond the production quality, the mission of the series is to stoke a fire of love for the Church and deepen devotion to Our Lady.

Father Daniel Hanley, formator at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, told CNA: “Letting people know and enter into relationship with Mary as spiritual mother is hugely important. She’s a real person, she’s involved in our life, and we should recognize it and let her be.”

The bishop’s leadership and inspiration is credited with the initial vision for the series, but the diocese was well suited for the project, according to Hanley. “There’s a lot of Marian devotion in our diocese,” he added.

Those involved in the production of “Mary, Explained” are hopeful that the series will bear the fruit of Marian devotion in their diocese and beyond. 

“It’s part of God’s plan for salvation that people know her and let her be part of their life,” Hanley said. “I noticed that they’ll lean in when you preach about Mary. There’s a desire to know more about her.”

A link to the series can be found at


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Pope Francis compares the life of a priest to the mysteries of the rosary

December 10, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Gyumri, Armenia, June 25, 2016. / L’Osservatore Romano/CNA

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told seminarians on Saturday that praying the rosary can “unveil the mysteries of the priesthood” in its moments of joy, sorrow, and the glory to come.

In a meeting with seminarians from Barcelona, the pope urged the young men to remember that “when you are a priest your first obligation will be a life of prayer.”

“Dear seminarians, take up your rosary and ask Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy, to help unveil the mysteries of the priesthood to which God calls you, contemplating the mysteries of his Son, realizing that the joy of discipleship and perfect identification with the cross are the only way to glory,” Pope Francis said on Dec. 10.

Pope Francis spoke to seminarians from Barcelona at the Vatican on Dec. 10, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis spoke to seminarians from Barcelona at the Vatican on Dec. 10, 2022. Vatican Media

The pope explained that the joyful mysteries of the priesthood are “born of gratitude for that preferential love that God showed you by calling you to his service.”

He recommended that seminarians contemplate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s attitude at the Annunciation and ask: “How was she when God called her? And how was I? With what zeal do I consider my future priestly life? Will I rise up … with love, to bring God to the world? Will I take him up the most arduous and painful of mountains?”

Pope Francis added that the fifth joyful mystery of the rosary, the finding of Jesus in the temple, contains a particular lesson that should never be forgotten.

Throughout life, we must always return to look for Jesus in the tabernacle, he said, encouraging the future priests to “lose yourselves there with Him.”

In the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, a priest is reminded that he “must aspire to a crown of thorns,” to be identified with the Lord in his suffering, the pope said.

“There is the sacrifice of assuming one’s own cross and beginning a path, often of abandonment. It is the sacrifice of life. Looking at the cross we raise our eyes to heaven and see our destiny,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis spoke to seminarians from Barcelona at the Vatican on Dec. 10, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis spoke to seminarians from Barcelona at the Vatican on Dec. 10, 2022. Vatican Media

For a priest, the glorious mysteries are found in the Mass in thanksgiving for the Passion of Jesus, he explained.

“After the triumph of the resurrection, Jesus entered the sanctuary of heaven and from there he perpetuates this continuous thanksgiving. Seeing him seated at the right hand of the Father calls us to hope and fills us with joy because he assures us of heaven,” he said.

“For this God sends the Holy Spirit, the only one who can teach us these mysteries, and one day he will give you the gift of being priests of Christ. Never cease to savor and remember this love of predilection that is poured and will be poured abundantly into your heart, at your ordination, and for the rest of your days.”

“Never extinguish this fire that will make you fearless preachers of the Gospel, dispensers of divine gifts. Unite your flesh to that of Jesus, like Mary, to immolate yourselves with him in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and also in the glory of his triumph,” Pope Francis said.