Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis dedicated the Angelus today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to explaining the "beauty of Mary Immaculate in the Gospel".
In his address, the pontiff noted that people do not become old from aging but from sin, which makes the heart sclerotic. For this reason, Mary, “created in grace” and “full of God’s presence”, thus without sin, is always young.
Speaking to about 30,000 people present in St Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer, Francis said that "the Gospel, which narrates the episode of the Annunciation, helps us to understand what we are celebrating, above all through the greeting of the angel. He addressed Mary with a word that is not easy to translate, which means 'filled with grace', 'created by grace', 'full of grace' (Lk 1:28). Before calling her Mary, he calls her full of grace, and thus reveals the new name that God has given her and that suits her more than the name given to her by her parents. We also call it that, at every Hail Mary."
"What does full of grace mean? That Mary is full of God’s presence. And if she is entirely inhabited by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is an extraordinary thing, because everything in the world, unfortunately, is contaminated by evil. Each of us, looking inward, can see dark corners. Even the greatest saints were sinners and all reality, even the most beautiful, is affected by evil: everything except Mary. She is humanity’s only 'green oasis', the only one uncontaminated, created immaculate to welcome fully, with her 'yes', God who came into the world to begin thus a new story. Every time we acknowledge her full of grace, we make her the biggest compliment, as God did.
“A nice compliment to do to a lady is to say to her, politely, that she looks young. When we say to Mary full of grace, in a certain sense we also tell her this, at the highest level. In fact, we always acknowledge her as young, because she has never aged from sin. There is only one thing that really ages people inside: it is not age but sin. Sin makes one old, because it makes the heart sclerotic. It closes it, makes it inert, it makes it fade. But the One full of grace is devoid of sin. She is always young, she is ‘younger than sin’, she is ‘the youngest of human kind’. (G. Bernanos, Diary of a country priest)."
"The Church today congratulates Mary by calling her all beautiful, tota pulchra. As her youth is not in age, so her beauty does not consist in exteriority. Mary, as today’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance: from a simple family, she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown village. She was not famous: even when the angel visited her, no one knew it, there was no reporter that day. Our Lady did not lead an affluent life, but had worries and fears: she was ‘greatly troubled’ (verse 29), says the Gospel, and when the angel ‘departed from her’ (v.38), problems increased.
“Yet, the One full of grace led a beautiful life. What was her secret? We can grasp this by looking again at the scene of the Annunciation. In many paintings, Mary is depicted sitting in front of the angel with a small book. That book is the Scripture. Thus, Mary used to listen to God and spend time with him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, it then became flesh in her womb. Staying with God, in dialogue with him in every circumstance, Mary made her life beautiful. It is not the appearance, not what passes, but the heart focused on God that makes life beautiful. Today we look with joy at the One full of grace. Let us ask her to help us stay young, by saying 'no' to sin, and to live a beautiful life, by saying 'yes' to God.”
After the Angelus, the pope announced that this afternoon, at 4 pm, he was going to the Piazza di Spagna "to renew the traditional act of homage and prayer at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate. I ask you to join me spiritually in this gesture, which expresses filial devotion to our heavenly Mother.”