Pope's Address Upon Visiting Marian Statue in Piazza di Spagna
"Her 'Message' Is None Other Than Jesus, Who Is Her Whole Life"
ROME, DEC. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, during his visit to the image of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza di Spagna.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Also this year we have made an appointment here, in Piazza di Spagna, to render homage to the Immaculate Virgin, on the occasion of her solemn feast. To all of you, who have come in great numbers, as well as all those taking part through radio and television, I address my cordial greeting. We are gathered around this historic monument, which today is all surrounded by flowers, sign of the love and devotion of the Roman people for the Mother of Jesus. And the most beautiful gift, and most pleasing to her, that we offer is our prayer, the one we bear in our hearts and which we entrust to her intercession. They are invocations of gratitude and supplication: of gratitude for the gift of faith and for all the good that we receive daily from God; and supplication for our different needs, for the family, health, work, for every difficulty that life has us encounter.
But when we come here, especially on this feast of Dec. 8, much more important is what we receive from Mary, in comparison to what we offer her. In fact, she gives a message destined to each one of us, to the city of Rome and to the entire world. Also I, who am bishop of this city, come to listen, not only for myself but for all. And what does Mary say to us? She speaks to us with the Word of God, which became flesh in her womb. Her "message" is none other than Jesus, who is her whole life. It is thanks to Him and because of Him that she is Immaculate. And as the Son of God became man for us, so she too, the Mother, was preserved from sin for us, for all, in anticipation of God's salvation for every man. Thus Mary says to us that we are all called to open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit to be able to reach, our final destination, to be immaculate, fully and definitively free of evil. She says so with her sanctity itself, with a look full of hope and compassion, which evokes words such as these: "Fear not, son, God loves you! He loves you personally; he thought of you before you came into the world and called you into existence to fill you with love and life; and because of this, he has come to meet you, he made himself like you, he became Jesus, God-Man, in everything similar to you, but without sin; he gave himself for you, to the point of dying on the cross, and thus has given you a new life, free, holy and immaculate" (cf. Ephesians 1:3-5).
Mary gives us this message and when I come here, on this feast, it strikes me, because I feel it is addressed to the whole city, to all men and women who live in Rome: also those who are not thinking, who today do not even remember that it is the feast of the Immaculate, and who feel alone and abandoned. Mary's look is God's look on each one of us. She looks at us with the very love of the Father and blesses us. She behaves as our "advocate" -- and we invoke her thus in the Salve, Regina: "our advocate." Even if everyone spoke evil of us, she, the Mother, would say the good, because her immaculate heart is attuned to God's mercy. Thus she sees the city: not as an anonymous agglomeration, but as a constellation where God knows everyone personally by name, one by one, and calls us to shine with his light. And those that in the eyes of the world are the first, for God they are the last; those who are little, are great for God. He recognizes in each one the likeness with his Son Jesus, even if we are so different! But who more than she knows the power of Divine Grace? Who better than she knows that nothing is impossible for God, capable in fact of drawing good from evil?
Dear brothers and sisters, the message we receive here, at the feet of Mary Immaculate, is a message of trust for every person of this city and of the whole world. A message of hope not made of words, but of her own history: she is one of us, who gave birth to the Son of God and has shared all her own existence with him! And today she says to us: this is also your destiny, yours, the destiny of all: to be saints as our Father, to be immaculate as our Brother Jesus Christ, to be loved children, all adopted to form a great family, without limits of nationality, colour, language, because God is one, Father of every man.
Thank you, O Mary Immaculate, for always being with us! Always watch over our city: comfort the sick, encourage young people, sustain families. Infuse the strength to reject evil, in every form, and to choose the good, even when it costs and entails going against the current. Give us the joy of feeling loved by God, blessed by Him, predestined to be his children.
Immaculate Virgin, our sweetest Mother, pray for us!
Pope's Address at Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love
"A Need to Convert to God"
ROME, MAY 15, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave during his May 1 visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, on the outskirts of Rome. The Pope gave it at the conclusion of the recitation of the rosary.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is a comfort to be with you today to recite the holy rosary at this Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, where the faithful express the devout affection for the Virgin Mary that is rooted in the soul and history of the Roman people.
Special joy springs from the thought of thus renewing the experience of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, who, on the first day of the month of May in 1979, exactly 27 years ago, made his first visit to this shrine as Pontiff.
I greet with affection the rector, Monsignor Pasquale Silla, and thank him for his cordial address. With him, I greet the other priests, Oblate Sons of Our Lady of Divine Love, and the sisters, Daughters of Our Lady of Divine Love, who are joyfully and generously devoted to serving in the shrine and the whole range of its different good works. I greet the vicar, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the auxiliary bishop of the Southern Sector of Rome, Bishop Paolo Schiavon, and all of you, dear brothers and sisters, who are here in large numbers.
We have recited the holy rosary going through the five joyful mysteries, which portray to the eyes of the heart the beginnings of our salvation, from Jesus' conception in the Virgin Mary's womb, brought about by the Holy Spirit, until he was found in the temple of Jerusalem when he was 12 years old, listening to the teachers and asking them questions.
We have repeated and made our own the Angel's words: "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" and also the words with which St. Elizabeth welcomed the Virgin who went with haste to help and serve her: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"
We have contemplated the docile faith of Mary, who trusted in God without reserve and put herself entirely in his hands. Like the shepherds, we too have felt close to the Child Jesus lying in the manger and recognized and adored him as the eternal Son of God who, through love, became our brother, hence, our one Savior.
We too entered the temple with Mary and Joseph, to offer the Child to God and to carry out the rite of purification: And here, together with salvation, we felt ourselves anticipating, in the words of the elderly Simeon, the contradictory sign of the cross, and of the sword that beneath the cross of the Son was to pierce the Mother's soul, thereby making her not only the Mother of God but also Mother of us all.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this shrine we venerate Mary Most Holy with the title "Our Lady of Divine Love."
Thus, full light is shed on the bond that united Mary with the Holy Spirit from the very beginning of her existence when, as she was being conceived, the Spirit, the eternal Love of the Father and of the Son, made their dwelling within her and preserved her from any shadow of sin; then again, when the same Spirit brought the Son of God into being in her womb; and yet again when, with the grace of the Spirit, Mary's own words were fulfilled through the whole span of her life: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord"; and lastly, when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary was taken up physically to be beside the Son in the glory of God the Father.
"Mary," I wrote in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," "is a woman who loves.... As a believer who in faith thinks with God's thoughts and wills with God's will, she cannot fail to be a woman who loves" (No. 41). Yes, dear brothers and sisters, Mary is the fruit and sign of the love God has for us, of his tenderness and mercy. Therefore, together with our brothers in the faith of all times and all places, we turn to her in our needs and hopes, in the joyful and sorrowful events of life. My thoughts go at this moment, with deep sympathy, to the family in the Island of Ischia, hit by yesterday's disaster.
In the month of May an increasing number of people come here as pilgrims from the parishes of Rome and also from many other districts, to pray and to enjoy the beauty and restful tranquility of these places. From here, from this Shrine of Divine Love, we therefore expect powerful help and spiritual support for the Diocese of Rome, for myself, its Bishop, and for the other bishops my collaborators, for the priests, for families, for vocations, for the poor, the suffering and the sick, for the children and for the elderly, for the entire beloved Italian nation.
We are expecting in particular the inner energy to fulfill the vow made by the Roman people on June 4, 1944, when they solemnly asked Our Lady of Divine Love that this city be preserved from the horrors of war, and they were heard: the vow and the promise, that is, to correct and improve one's own moral conduct to bring it more into line with that of the Lord Jesus.
Today too, there is a need to convert to God, to God who is Love, so that the world may be freed from war and terrorism. We are unfortunately reminded of this by the victims, such as the servicemen who fell last Thursday in Nasiriyah in Iraq, whom we entrust to the motherly intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, from this Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, I therefore renew the invitation I expressed in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est": "To practice love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world" (No. 39). Amen!
Pope's Homage on Solemnity of Immaculate Conception
"We Want to Thank You, Virgin Mother of God"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homage Benedict XVI paid last Thursday, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when he visited the statue of the Blessed Virgin in Rome's Piazza di Spagna.
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Prayer of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Thursday, Dec. 8
On this day dedicated to Mary I have come, for the first time as Successor of Peter, to the feet of the statue of the Immaculate here in Piazza di Spagna, ideally continuing the Pilgrimage made many times by my Predecessors. I feel that I am accompanied by the devotion and affection of the Church living in this city of Rome and in the entire world. I bring with me the concerns and hopes of present-day humanity and come to lay them at the feet of the heavenly Mother of the Redeemer.
On this remarkable day, the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, my thought goes to 8 December 1965 when, exactly at the end of the Homily during the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Square, the Servant of God Paul VI addressed his thought to Mary, "the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother ..., the creature in whom the image of God is reflected with absolute clarity, without any disturbance as happens in every other human creature."
The Pope then asked: "Is it not perhaps in directing our gaze on this woman who is our humble sister and at the same time our heavenly Mother and Queen, the spotless and sacred mirror of infinite beauty, that we can ... [begin] our post-conciliar work? Does not the beauty of Mary Immaculate become for us an inspiring model, a comforting hope?"
He then concluded: "... we think it is so for us and for you. And this is our most exalted and, God willing, our most valuable parting wish" (cf. "The Teachings of Pope Paul VI," III, 1965).
Recalling the many events that have marked the last 40 years, how can we not relive today the various moments that have highlighted the Church's journey in this period?
Mary sustained the Pastors, and in the first place the Successors of Peter, in their demanding ministry at the service of the Gospel during these 40 years; she guided the Church toward the faithful understanding and application of the conciliar documents.
For this reason, serving as spokesperson for the entire Ecclesial Community, I wish to thank the Most Holy Virgin and I turn to her with the same sentiments that animated the Council Fathers, who dedicated to Mary the last chapter of the dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," underlining the inseparable relationship that unites the Virgin to the Church.
Yes, we want to thank you, Virgin Mother of God and our most beloved Mother, for your intercession for the good of the Church. You, who in embracing the divine will without reserve were consecrated with all of your energies to the person and work of your Son, teach us to keep in our heart and to meditate in silence, as you did, upon the mysteries of Christ's life.
May you who reached Calvary, ever-deeply united to your Son who from the Cross gave you as mother to the disciple John, also make us feel you are always close in each moment of our lives, especially in times of darkness and trial.
You, who at Pentecost, together with the Apostles in prayer, called upon the gift of the Holy Spirit for the newborn Church, help us to persevere in the faithful following of Christ. To you, a "sign of certain hope and comfort," we trustfully turn our gaze "until the day of the Lord shall come" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 68).
You, Mary, are invoked with the insistent prayer of the faithful throughout the world so that you, exalted above all the angels and saints, will intercede before your Son for us, "until all families of peoples, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Savior, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity" (ibid., n. 69). Amen.
Benedict XVI's Homily on Feast of the Assumption
"We Have a Mother in Heaven"
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Aug. 15 when celebrating Mass in the parish church of Castel Gandolfo on the solemnity of the Assumption.
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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all, I offer a cordial greeting to you all. It gives me great joy to celebrate Mass in this beautiful parish church on the day of the Assumption.
I greet Cardinal Sodano, the bishop of Albano, all the priests, the mayor and all of you. Thank you for your presence.
The feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.
Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven: There is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.
We have a Mother in heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: "Behold, your Mother!" We have a Mother in heaven. Heaven is open, heaven has a heart.
In the Gospel we heard the Magnificat, that great poem inspired by the Holy Spirit that came from Mary's lips, indeed, from Mary's heart. This marvelous canticle mirrors the entire soul, the entire personality of Mary. We can say that this hymn of hers is a portrait of Mary, a true icon in which we can see her exactly as she is. I would like to highlight only two points in this great canticle.
It begins with the word "Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great in her life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great.
Our life is not oppressed but raised and expanded: It is precisely then that it becomes great in the splendor of God.
The fact that our first parents thought the contrary was the core of original sin. They feared that if God were too great, he would take something away from their life. They thought that they could set God aside to make room for themselves.
This was also the great temptation of the modern age, of the past three or four centuries. More and more people have thought and said: "But this God does not give us our freedom; with all his commandments, he restricts the space in our lives. So God has to disappear; we want to be autonomous and independent. Without this God we ourselves would be gods and do as we pleased."
This was also the view of the Prodigal Son, who did not realize that he was "free" precisely because he was in his father's house. He left for distant lands and squandered his estate. In the end, he realized that precisely because he had gone so far away from his father, instead of being free he had become a slave; he understood that only by returning home to his father's house would he be truly free, in the full beauty of life.
This is how it is in our modern epoch. Previously, it was thought and believed that by setting God aside and being autonomous, following only our own ideas and inclinations, we would truly be free to do whatever we liked without anyone being able to give us orders.
But when God disappears, men and women do not become greater; indeed, they lose the divine dignity, their faces lose God's splendor. In the end, they turn out to be merely products of a blind evolution and, as such, can be used and abused. This is precisely what the experience of our epoch has confirmed for us.
Only if God is great is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God but make God present; we must ensure that he is great in our lives. Thus, we too will become divine; all the splendor of the divine dignity will then be ours. Let us apply this to our own lives.
It is important that God be great among us, in public and in private life.
In public life, it is important that God be present, for example, through the cross on public buildings, and that he be present in our community life, for only if God is present do we have an orientation, a common direction; otherwise, disputes become impossible to settle, for our common dignity is no longer recognized.
Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning with prayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into our time, all time becomes greater, roomier, richer.
A second observation: Mary's poem -- the Magnificat -- is quite original; yet at the same time, it is a "fabric" woven throughout of "threads" from the Old Testament, of words of God.
Thus, we see that Mary was, so to speak, "at home" with God's word, she lived on God's word, she was penetrated by God's word. To the extent that she spoke with God's words, she thought with God's words, her thoughts were God's thoughts, her words, God's words. She was penetrated by divine light and this is why she was so resplendent, so good, so radiant with love and goodness.
Mary lived on the Word of God, she was imbued with the Word of God. And the fact that she was immersed in the Word of God and was totally familiar with the Word also endowed her later with the inner enlightenment of wisdom.
Whoever thinks with God thinks well, and whoever speaks to God speaks well. They have valid criteria to judge all the things of the world. They become prudent, wise, and at the same time good; they also become strong and courageous with the strength of God, who resists evil and fosters good in the world.
Thus, Mary speaks with us, speaks to us, invites us to know the Word of God, to love the Word of God, to live with the Word of God, to think with the Word of God. And we can do so in many different ways: by reading sacred Scripture, by participating especially in the liturgy, in which Holy Church throughout the year opens the entire book of sacred Scripture to us. She opens it to our lives and makes it present in our lives.
But I am also thinking of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that we recently published, in which the Word of God is applied to our lives and the reality of our lives interpreted; it helps us enter into the great "temple" of God's Word, to learn to love it and, like Mary, to be penetrated by this Word.
Thus, life becomes luminous and we have the basic criterion with which to judge; at the same time, we receive goodness and strength.
Mary is taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us?
The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us.
While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, "within" all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a "mother" to whom we can turn at every moment.
She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.
On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day. Amen.
[Translation of Italian original issued by the Holy See]
WELCOME JESUS AND TAKE HIM TO OTHERS
VATICAN CITY, JUN 1, 2005 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. yesterday, the traditional procession marking the end of the month of May took place from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians - located near the apse of the Vatican Basilica - to the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens. The ceremony was presided by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City State.
Benedict XVI arrived at the Grotto at 9 p.m., and before imparting his apostolic blessing delivered a brief address.
"In the special Year of the Eucharist through which we are currently living," the Pope said, "Mary helps us especially to discover" this great Sacrament. In today's feast we recall the visit by the Virgin to her cousin St. Elizabeth, an elderly woman "whom everyone considered sterile but who had, in fact, reached the sixth month of a pregnancy donated by God." Mary is carrying the recently-conceived Jesus in her womb, she "is a young girl, but she is not afraid because God is with her, He is within her."
The Holy Father affirmed how, "in a certain way, we can say that her journey was - and we are pleased to highlight this in the Year of the Eucharist - the first 'Eucharistic procession' of history. Living tabernacle of God-made-flesh, Mary is the Ark of the Covenant in whom the Lord has visited and redeemed His people. Jesus' presence fills her with the Holy Spirit."
After emphasizing how the Virgin's
with Elizabeth "finds _expression in the canticle of the Magnificat,"
XVI asked: "is not this too the joy of the Church, that incessantly
Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and carries Him to the world with the
of assiduous charity permeated by faith and hope? Yes, to welcome
and to take Him to others is the true joy of Christians! Dear brothers
and sisters, let us carry on and imitate Mary, a deeply Eucharistic
and all our lives will become a Magnificat. Let this be the grace that,
together this evening, we ask of the Most Holy Virgin at the close of
month of May."