ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PAUL VI
ON PRAYERS DURING MAY
FOR PRESERVATION OF PEACE
APRIL 29, 1965
To His Venerable
Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries who are at Peace
and in Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The month of May is almost here, a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary,
the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which
will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is the month during
which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving
acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God's merciful
gifts comes down to us from our Mother's throne.
2. We are delighted and consoled by this pious custom associated with the month of May, which pays honor to the Blessed Virgin and brings such rich benefits to the Christian people. Since Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise.
For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the
Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her? To Him men are to turn
amid the anxieties and perils of this world, urged on by duty and driven by the compelling needs of
their heart, to find a haven of salvation, a transcendent fountain of life.
A Time For Special Prayers
3. Because the month of May is a powerful incentive to more frequent and fervent prayers, and because our petitions more readily find access to her compassionate heart during it, it has been a favorite custom of Our predecessors to choose this month, dedicated to Mary, for urging the Christian people to offer up public prayers whenever the needs of the Church demanded it or some grave crisis threatened the human race.
This year, Venerable Brothers, We in turn
feel compelled to call for such prayers from the whole Catholic world. Looking at the present needs
of the Church and the status of world peace, We have sound reasons to believe that the present hour
is especially grave and that a plea for concerted prayer on the part of all Christians is a matter
of top priority.
The Needs of the Council
4. The first reason is linked to the present historic moment in
the life of the Church, the celebration of the Second Vatican Council. This momentous event
confronts the Church with a weighty proposition: to adapt herself, in a suitable way, to the needs
of our day. On the success of this endeavor will depend, for a long time to come, the future of
Christ's spouse and the fate of many souls. It is indeed a great moment which God has injected into
the life of the Church and the history of the world.
The Work Ahead
Although a great deal of its work has been completed, there is still much for you to do, Venerable
Brothers, in the next session, which will also be the last. The period which follows that session
will be equally important. At that time the Council's decisions will have to be implemented. Priests
and people will be called upon to combine their efforts so that the seeds sown during the Council
may bear tangible, salutary fruit. And so, to obtain the necessary enlightenment and divine
blessings for completing this great volume of work, We place Our hope in her whom We gladly
proclaimed Mother of the Church at the close of the last session. From the very start of the Council
she has given us her loving help, and she will surely stay with us until the task is finished.
The second reason for our appeal stems from the present state of international affairs, which, as
you well know, Venerable Brothers, is extremely troubled and uncertain. The supreme benefit of peace
is again being placed in jeopardy. Today we see tensions worsening gravely between nations in
certain parts of the world, as if no lesson had been learned from the bitter experiences of the two
world wars which caused so much bloodletting in the first half of this century. Once again we see
men risking recourse to arms instead of negotiating to settle disputes between opposing viewpoints.
Thus the inhabitants of entire nations are subjected to unspeakable sufferings occasioned by
uprisings, secret and treacherous warfare, and outright battles. These activities grow more frequent
and more bitter each day, and could at any time spark a new and terrible war.
Plea to World Leaders
7. Cognizant of these grave dangers threatening mankind, and conscious of Our duty as Supreme Pastor, We deem it necessary to voice.
Our anxious concern
and Our fears that these tensions may degenerate into a bloody war. We implore all those who bear
the responsibility of public authority not to disregard mankind's unanimous desires to achieve
peace. Let them try everything in their power to preserve the peace which is now threatened. Let
them not cease to promote discussions and negotiations on every possible occasion and between men of
every rank, so that they may forestall the dangerous recourse to weapons and the terrible
misfortunes which result for temporal, spiritual, and moral values. Following the paths marked out
by law, let them try to single out every sincere quest for justice and peace; let them encourage
such quests and make them successful; let them place confidence in every sincere token of good will,
so that the praiseworthy cause of right order may prevail over the cause of disorder and ruin.
Criminal Acts Condemned
8. Alas, in this pitiful state of affairs, We sadly
note that there is very often no respect for the sacred and inviolable character of human life; that
actions and methods are employed which openly flaunt the moral sensibilities and customs of
civilized people. In this respect We cannot help but raise Our voice to defend the dignity of man
and Christian civilization; to condemn secret and treacherous warfare, terrorist activities, the
taking of hostages, and savage reprisals against unarmed people. These are crimes which debilitate
man's awareness of what is just and humane, and further embitter the hearts of the combatants. These
crimes can close off the paths still open to mutual good faith; or at least they can place more
difficulties in the way of negotiations which, if conducted with sincerity and honesty, could lead
to a reasonable settlement.
Concern For All People
As you well know, Venerable Brothers, Our deep concern over this state of affairs is not dictated by
any narrow self-interest. Our sole desire is to protect those who are afflicted with misfortune and
to promote the true welfare of all peoples. And We nurture the hope that awareness of the
responsibilities they bear before God and men will be enough to make heads of government continue
their generous efforts to preserve peace; to make every effort to forestall, so far as they can, the
obstacles posed to safe, sincere agreement by the course of events or human attitudes.
Peace, A Gift from God
10. But peace, Venerable Brothers, is not solely the work of man. It is also, and primarily, a gift from God. Peace comes from heaven. It will truly reign among men when we have finally proved ourselves worthy to receive this gift from Almighty God.
Just as the happiness and destiny of nations are in His power, so also are
the hearts of men. And so we shall obtain this lofty benefit by praying to God; by praying with
constancy and watchfulness, as the Church has been wont to do from her very beginning; by praying,
in particular, for the intercession and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Queen of
So, Venerable Brothers, throughout this month of May, let us offer our pleas to the Mother of God
with greater devotion and confidence, so that we may obtain her favor and her blessings. Even if the
grave sins of men provoke God's justice and merit His just punishments, we must not forget the he is
"the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort," (1) that He has appointed Mary most
holy as the generous steward of His merciful gifts.
Plea For Mary's Help
May she who experienced the cares and hardships of earthly life, the weariness of daily toil, the
hardships and trials of poverty, and the sorrows of Calvary, come to aid the needs of the Church and
the human race. May she graciously lend an ear to the devout pleas of those all over the world who
beg her for peace. May she enlighten the minds of those who rule nations. And finally, may she
prevail on God, who rules the winds and storms, to calm the tempests in men's warring hearts and
grant us peace in our day. What we seek is true peace grounded on the sturdy foundations of justice
and love—on a justice which recognizes the legitimate rights of the weak as well as those of the
strong; on a love which keeps men from falling into error through excessive concern for their own
interests. Thus each person's rights may be safeguarded without the rights of others being forgotten
Call For Special Prayers
13. We ask you, Venerable Brothers, to make known Our wishes and Our urgent pleas to
the faithful entrusted to your care, in whatever way you deem most suitable. We also ask that you
make provisions for special prayers in every diocese and parish during the month of May; in
particular, on the feast of the Queenship of Mary, let there be solemn public prayer for the
intentions We have mentioned.
14. You should know that We are relying particularly on the prayers of children and those suffering affliction, for their pleas have special power to penetrate heaven and soften God's justice. Since this is a perfect occasion, do not fail to put repeated emphasis on the recitation of the Rosary, the prayer so pleasing to Our Lady and so often recommended by the Roman Pontiffs. It affords the faithful an excellent means of complying effectively and pleasingly with our divine Master's command: "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. " (2)
15. Entertaining these benevolent
feelings and confidently hoping that all will respond to Our pleas with speed and readiness, We
lovingly impart Our Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brothers, and to all those entrusted to
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, April 29, 1965, in the second year of Our Pontificate.
LATIN TEXT: Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 57 (1965), 353-58.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION: The Pope Speaks, 10 (Spring, 1965), 220-24.
12. (1) Cf. 2 Cor. 1.3.
13. (2) Mt. 7.7.
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