Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - The Pope prays for all of those, "and they are many", who write to him about their difficulties: Benedict XVI reminds them, and all Christians, that "those who pray never lose hope, not even in difficult situations, even situations that are desperate in human terms. This is what the Church's history teaches us", and this is what is displayed by the witness of the martyrs, like Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe, whose feasts are celebrated in this period. "In human terms, their lives could be viewed as a failure, but in their martyrdom shines the splendor of love".
The commemoration of the two martyrs killed at Auschwitz by the Nazis was at the center of the remarks that Benedict XVI addressed to about 8,000 people gathered in the courtyard of the apostolic residence in Castel Gandolfo for the resumption of the general audiences, after the hiatus due to the pope's visit to Australia and his vacation in Brixen. The audiences have not been held at Castel Gandolfo since the pontificate of Paul VI, 30 years ago.
Benedict XVI looked relaxed after his days spent in the mountains, and he talked about the "serenity" there, and thanked those who "took care of" his vacation.
"There are very many", he then said, "who write to me asking me to pray for them, and they do not conceal their concerns, their problems, aspirations, and hopes which they carry in their hearts together with the uncertainties through which humanity is living in this period. I can assure all", he added, "that I remember you in my prayers, especially in the celebration of the Holy Mass and the recitation of the Rosary".
"How very often", he commented, "it has been prayer that has sustained the Christian people in their trials". In this regard, he cited Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe, whose feasts are celebrated in this period: "both concluded their earthly existence with martyrdom in Auschwitz. In human terms, their lives could seem like a defeat, but they are instead proof of the victory of love. As Saint Maximilian Kolbe said, 'hatred is not a creative force, only love is', and the proof of love was his generous offering of himself to take the place of [a fellow prisoner sentenced to death]". On August 6, Edith Stein, three days from her dramatic end, approached some of her fellow sisters and told them she was "ready for anything. Jesus is also here. So far I have been able to pray, and I have said Ave Crux". Survivors of the concentration camp, the pope said, have recounted that, dressed in the habit of her order, she distinguished herself by her behavior: "prayer was the secret of this saint, a co-patroness of Europe".
And "Ave Maria was the final invocation of Saint Maximilian Kolbe as he held out his arm to the man who killed him by injection".
"As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption", he concluded, "let us again entrust ourselves to her who looks upon us at every moment from heaven, with maternal love".