October 4, 2012
(Romereports.com)(-ONLY VIDEO-) The Pope celebrated Mass in the Italian town of Loreto, where he prayed to the Virgin Mary, entrusting to her, the Year of Faith and Synod of Bishops. During his homily, the Pope also prayed for all the challenges currently faced by families and youths.
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Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
4 October 1962, Blessed John XXIII came as a pilgrim to this Shrine to
entrust to the Virgin Mary the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, due to
begin a week later. On that occasion, with deep filial devotion to the
Mother of God, he addressed her in these words: “Again today, and in
the name of the entire episcopate, I ask you, sweetest Mother, as Help
of Bishops, to intercede for me as Bishop of Rome and for all the
bishops of the world, to obtain for us the grace to enter the Council
Hall of Saint Peter’s Basilica, as the Apostles and the first disciples
of Jesus entered the Upper Room: with one heart, one heartbeat of love
for Christ and for souls, with one purpose only, to live and to
sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of individuals and peoples. Thus,
by your maternal intercession, in the years and the centuries to come,
may it be said that the grace of God prepared, accompanied and crowned
the twenty-first Ecumenical Council, filling all the children of the
holy Church with a new fervour, a new impulse to generosity, and a
renewed firmness of purpose” (AAS 54 , 727).
years on, having been called by divine Providence to succeed that
unforgettable Pope to the See of Peter, I too have come on pilgrimage to
entrust to the Mother of God two important ecclesial initiatives: the
Year of Faith, which will begin in a week, on 11 October, on the
fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and
the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which I have
convened this October with the theme “The New Evangelization for the
Transmission of the Christian Faith”.
friends, to all of you I offer my most cordial greetings. I thank the
Most Reverend Giovanni Tonucci, Archbishop of Loreto, for his warm words
of welcome. I greet the other bishops present, the priests, the
Capuchin Fathers, to whom the pastoral care of this shrine is entrusted,
and the religious sisters. I also salute Dr Paolo Niccoletti, Mayor of
Loreto, thanking him for his courteous words, and I greet the
representatives of the government and the civil and military authorities
here present. My thanks also go to those who have generously offered
their assistance to make my pilgrimage possible.
As I said in my
Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith, “I wish to invite my
brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter,
during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in
recalling the precious gift of faith” (Porta Fidei, 8). It is precisely
here at Loreto that we have the opportunity to attend the school of
Mary who was called “blessed” because she “believed” (Lk 1:45).
Shrine, built around her earthly home, preserves the memory of the
moment when the angel of Lord came to Mary with the great announcement
of the Incarnation, and she gave her reply.
This humble home is
a physical, tangible witness to the greatest event in our history, the
Incarnation; the Word became flesh and Mary, the handmaid of the Lord,
is the privileged channel through which God came to dwell among us (cf.
Jn 1:14). Mary offered her very body; she placed her entire being at the
disposal of God’s will, becoming the “place” of his presence, a “place”
of dwelling for the Son of God. We are reminded here of the words of
the Psalm with which, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ
began his earthly life, saying to the Father, “Sacrifices and offering
you have not desired, but you have prepared a body for me… Behold, I
have come to do your will, O God” (10:5,7). To the Angel who reveals
God’s plan for her, Mary replies in similar words: “Behold, I am the
handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk
1:38). The will of Mary coincides with the will of the Son in the
Father’s unique project of love and, in her, heaven and earth are
united, God the Creator is united to his creature.
God becomes man, and Mary becomes a “living house” for the Lord, a temple where the Most High dwells.
at Loreto fifty years ago, Blessed John XXIII issued an invitation to
contemplate this mystery, to “reflect on that union of heaven and earth,
which is the purpose of the Incarnation and Redemption”, and he went on
to affirm that the aim of the Council itself was to spread ever wider
the beneficent impact of the Incarnation and Redemption on all spheres
of life (cf. AAS 54 , 724). This invitation resounds today with
particular urgency. In the present crisis affecting not only the
economy but also many sectors of society, the Incarnation of the Son of
God speaks to us of how important man is to God, and God to man.
Without God, man ultimately chooses selfishness over solidarity and
love, material things over values, having over being.
must return to God, so that man may return to being man. With God,
even in difficult times or moments of crisis, there is always a horizon
of hope: the Incarnation tells us that we are never alone, that God has
come to humanity and that he accompanies us. The idea of the Son of God
dwelling in the “living house”, the temple which is Mary, leads us to
another thought: we must recognize that where God dwells, all are “at
home”; wherever Christ dwells, his brothers and sisters are no longer
strangers. Mary, who is the Mother of Christ, is also our mother, and
she open to us the door to her home, she helps us enter into the will of
her Son. So it is faith which gives us a home in this world, which
brings us together in one family and which makes all of us brothers and
As we contemplate Mary, we must ask
if we too wish to be open to the Lord, if we wish to offer him our life
as his dwelling place; or if we are afraid that the presence of God may
somehow place limits on our freedom, if we wish to set aside a part of
our life in such a way that it belongs only to us. Yet it is precisely
God who liberates our liberty, he frees it from being closed in on
itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and domination; he opens
it up to the dimension which completely fulfils it: the gift of self,
of love, which in turn becomes service and sharing.
lets us reside, or dwell, but it also lets us walk on the path of life.
The Holy House of Loreto contains an important teaching in this respect
as well. Its location on a street is well known. At first this might
seem strange: after all, a house and a street appear mutually exclusive.
In reality, it is precisely here that an unusual message about this
House has been preserved.
It is not a
private house, nor does it belong to a single person or a single family,
rather it is an abode open to everyone placed, as it were, on our
street. So here in Loreto we find a house which lets us stay, or dwell,
and which at the same time lets us continue, or journey, and reminds us
that we are pilgrims, that we must always be on the way to another
dwelling, towards our final home, the Eternal City, the dwelling place
of God and the people he has redeemed (cf. Rev 21:3). There is one more
important point in the Gospel account of the Annunciation which I would
like to underline, one which never fails to strike us: God asks for
mankind’s “yes”; he has created a free partner in dialogue, from whom he
requests a reply in complete liberty. In one of his most celebrated
sermons, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux “recreates”, as it were, the scene
where God and humanity wait for Mary to say “yes”.
to her he begs: “The angel awaits your response, as he must now return
to the One who sent him… O Lady, give that reply which the earth, the
underworld and the very heavens await. Just as the King and Lord of all
wished to behold your beauty, in the same way he earnestly desires your
word of consent… Arise, run, open up! Arise with faith, run with your
devotion, open up with your consent!” (In laudibus Virginis Matris, Hom.
IV,8: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4, 1966, p.53f). God asks for Mary’s
free consent that he may become man. To be sure, the “yes” of the
Virgin is the fruit of divine grace. But grace does not eliminate
freedom; on the contrary it creates and sustains it. Faith removes
nothing from the human creature, rather it permits his full and final
Dear brothers and sisters, on
this pilgrimage in the footsteps of Blessed John XXIII – and which
comes, providentially, on the day in which the Church remembers Saint
Francis of Assisi, a veritable “living Gospel” – I wish to entrust to
the Most Holy Mother of God all the difficulties affecting our world as
it seeks serenity and peace, the problems of the many families who look
anxiously to the future, the aspirations of young people at the start of
their lives, the suffering of those awaiting signs or decisions of
solidarity and love.
I also wish to place in the
hands of the Mother of God this special time of grace for the Church,
now opening up before us. Mother of the “yes”, you who heard Jesus,
speak to us of him; tell us of your journey, that we may follow him on
the path of faith; help us to proclaim him, that each person may welcome
him and become the dwelling place of God. Amen!"