VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - The traditional procession and Rosary marking the end of the Marian month took place in the Vatican Gardens yesterday at 8:00 in the evening. The procession wound from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Pope arrived at the Grotto of Lourdes at 9:00pm and briefly addressed the present faithful before imparting the apostolic blessing.
"Having begun this month of Mary with the memorable beatification of John Paul II has been and continues to be for all of us", the Pope said, "a reason for great joy and thankfulness. What a great gift of grace for the whole Church was the life of this great Pope! His witness continues to illuminate our lives and urges us to be true disciples of the lord, to courageously follow him in faith, and to love him with the same enthusiasm with which he gave his life to Christ,"
Then, referring to yesterday's feastday, Benedict XVI noted that "the Visitation of Mary leads us to reflect on this courage of faith. The one who Elizabeth welcomes into her home is the Virgin who 'has believed' the Angel's annunciation, who responded with faith, courageously accepting God's plan for her life and thus embracing within herself the eternal Word of the Most High".
"Mary truly believed that 'nothing is impossible to God' and, strong in this confidence she let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit in daily obedience to his plan. How can we not desire that same trusting abandon in our lives? How can we not yearn for that beatitude that is born of a profound and intimate familiarity with Jesus? That is why, addressing the one who is 'full of grace', we can today ask that she intercede with Divine Providence for us too, so that we might each day proclaim our 'yes' to God's plan with the same humble and sincere faith that the Virgin said her yes". May she, who welcomed the Word of God within her and wholeheartedly abandoned herself to him, guide us to an ever more generous and unconditional response to his plan, even when we are called to embrace the Cross".
The Holy Father concluded by "entrusting the Church and the world to Mary's maternal intercession", asking for "the gift of always knowing how to embrace in our lives the lordship of the One who by his Resurrection conquered death".
VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated today's general Wednesday audience catechesis to the figure of Moses who "carried out his function as mediator between God and Israel, making himself the bearer of the divine words and commands for his people, bringing them to the freedom of the Promised Land ... and, above all, praying".
The Pope emphasized that Moses especially acts as intercessor when the people ask Aaron to build the golden calf while they are waiting for the prophet who has ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Tables of the Law. "Tired of following a path with a God who is invisible now that Moses the mediator has also gone, the people demand a tangible, palpable presence of the Lord and find an accessible god, within the reach of human beings, in Aaron's molten metal calf. This is a constant temptation on the path of faith: avoiding the divine mystery by building a comprehensible god that corresponds to our own preconceptions and plans".
In the face of the Israelites' infidelity, God asks Moses to let him destroy that rebel people but Moses understands that those words are directed at him so that the prophet "might intervene and ask him not to do it. ... If God were to let his people perish, it could be interpreted as a sign of divine incapacity to fulfill the plan of salvation and God could not allow that: He is the good Lord who salves, the guarantor of life, the God of mercy and forgiveness, of liberation from sin that kills. ... Moses had a concrete experience of the God of salvation. He was sent as the mediator of divine liberation and now, with his prayer, he becomes the interpreter of a dual concern, worried for the fate of his people but also worried for the honor due the Lord by the truth of his name. ... The love for his brothers and sisters and the love of God are united in his prayer of intercession and are inseparable. Moses, the intercessor, is the man between two loves that, in prayer, are superimpose in one single desire for good".
"The intercessor does not make excuses for the sin of his people and does not list the presumed merits of either himself or his people. He appeals to God's generosity: a free God, completely love, who never ceases to seek those who have drawn away from him. ... Moses asks God to show himself even stronger than sin and death and, with his prayer, brings about this divine revelation".
"In Moses who is at the top of the mountain - face to face with God, the intercessor of his people - the Fathers of the Church have seen a prefiguration of Christ who, atop the Cross, is truly before God, not just as friend but as Son. ... His intercession", the pontiff concluded, "is not just solidarity but identification with us. ... He gives us a forgiveness that transforms and renews. I believe we must meditate on this reality: Christ before God praying for us, identifying with us. From the heights of the Cross he didn't bring us new stone tablets of the law but himself as Covenant".
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PRAY FOR FRUITFULNESS OF APOSTOLIC TRIP TO CROATIA
VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS) - During today's general audience celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope greeted the various groups of faithful in their respective languages.
Addressing a group of Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father particularly greeted the youth who will meet next Saturday in Lednica. "Give thanks to God for the life and the beatification of John Paul II: father, guide, priest, and friend of the youth. He built the house on the rock who is Christ! He followed the voice of the Gospel. He persevered in prayer and in adoration of the Eucharist. He had a heart that was open to all. He suffered with Christ. He was an extraordinary pilgrim in faith. May you be inspired by the theme for the gathering: 'John Paul II: What Matters is Holiness'!".
Benedict XVI also greeted the Croatian pilgrims: "Next Saturday and Sunday", he said, "I will visit Zagreb in Croatia to celebrate with you the National Day of Catholic Croatian Families. I look forward to this meeting with joy and invite you to pray that my visit to that beloved land will produce much spiritual fruit and that Christian families might be the salt of the earth and the light of the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received Quentin Bryce, the governor-general of Australia, with her husband and entourage.
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OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
VATICAN CITY, 1 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father erected the new diocese of Naviari (area 35,138, population 267,356, Catholics 197,000, priests 27, religious 42), Brazil, with territory taken from the Diocese of Douardos, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Campo Grande. He appointed Fr. Ettore Dotti, C.S.F. currently pastor of Bom Pastor parish in the diocese of Serrinha, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Palosco, Bergamo, Italy in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1994.