Vatican City (AsiaNews) – May, the Marian month, an opportunity to rediscover, with the early Church, the fundamental task of the Christian: courageously announcing and bearing witness to the Gospel. This was the recommendation of Benedict XVI for Catholics on the eve of a journey he will undertake this month to Latin America, from 9 to 15 May. He will be going to Brazil chiefly to preside over the opening of the fifth assembly of that continent’s episcopate, which covers nearly half the global Catholic population.
After the recital of the Regina Caeli, the pope greeted around 40,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square on this beautiful spring morning. Using different languages, he also prayed that the upcoming trip may turn out well. Among the crowd in the square were participants of the “Spring Marathon”, “the peak of the School Feast organized in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome, an occasion for the Catholic school communities of Rome and Lazio to meet.” Benedict XVI addressed the children who filled the square with yellow balloons and festive cries, wishing them a “happy Marathon and especially a good end to the scholastic year.
Before the recital of the Marian prayer, the pope addressed all those present, describing May as the “Marian month par excellence”. “After Vatican Council II, which underlined the role of the Most Holy Mary in the Church and in the history of salvation, the Marian cult underwent a profound renewal. And the month of May, coinciding at least in part with the Easter season, is highly propitious to illustrate the figure of Mary as a Mother who accompanies the Community of disciples gathered in unanimous prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1: 12-14). This month, therefore, could be an opportunity to return to the faith of the early Church, and together with Mary, to understand that today too, our mission is to announce and testify with courage and joy to the crucified and risen Christ, the hope of mankind.”
To Mary, Mother of the Church, the Pope entrusted his journey to Brazil and especially the Assembly of the Latin American Bishops. He explained: “It is my first pastoral visit to Latin America and I am preparing myself spiritually to meet the Latin American subcontinent, home to nearly half the Catholics of the whole world, including many young people. This is why it has been dubbed the ‘Continent of hope’: a hope that regards not only the Church but all of America and the rest of the world.” Finally, speaking in different languages, Benedict XVI called on those present to pray to “the most holy Mary for this apostolic pilgrimage and, in particular, for the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate and the Caribbean, so that all Christians of these regions will feel that they are disciples and missionaries of Christ, Way, Truth and Life.” He added: “The challenges of the present moment are many and multiple. This is why it is very important that Christians are formed to be the ‘leaven’ of good and the ‘light’ of holiness of our world.”