(AsiaNews) - "In this time of Advent, may Mary Immaculate teach us to listen in
silence to the voice of God, and receive his Grace which frees from sin and
every selfishness so that we can taste true joy." In his address at the foot of
the statue of the Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna, Benedict XVI stressed the
importance of silence, grace and joy. As required by tradition, the pope stopped
at the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità (Church of the Most Holy Trinity) in
front of Via Condotti before reaching the piazza. His visit to Piazza di Spagna
has now come to signal the start of the Christmas season, with all of its
decorations and shopping.
for the pope "coming together-Romans, pilgrims and visitors-at the foot of the
statue of our spiritual Mother makes us feel united in the sign of the faith,"
especially "in the Year of Faith that the whole Church is experiencing."
about the Gospel for the Mass of the Immaculate, that of the Annunciation, (Lk, 1:26-38), the pontiff noted the
value of silence. "The encounter between the divine message and the Immaculate
Virgin went unnoticed. No one knew about it; no one talked about it. It was an
event that, if it occurred today, would leave no sign in the newspapers or magazines
because it was a mystery that occurred in silence. What is truly great often
goes unnoticed and quiet silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that
characterises our cities. . . . All this action prevents us from stopping,
being quiet, listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet
on the day of the Angel's announcement, Mary was "very deep in thought and yet ready
to listen to God. There was no obstacle in her, no barrier, nothing that would
separate her from God. This is what we mean when we speak of her being without
original sin. Her relationship with God is free from any rift. There is no
separation, no shadow of selfishness, but a perfect agreement. Her small human
heart is perfectly "centred" on God's big heart."
here, near this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome," the pope added,
"reminds us first of all that the voice of God does not go with noise and
turmoil. His plan for our life as individuals and society cannot be seen by
keeping to the surface; it requires going to a deeper level where the forces at
work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. This is where Mary
invites us to come and be in tune with God's action."
element the pontiff stressed in his address is Grace. In his words, "the salvation
of the world is not the work of man, science, technology or ideology. [. . .] Grace
means love in its purity and beauty. It is God himself as he revealed himself
in the salvific story in the Bible that Jesus Christ fulfilled."
is called the 'favoured one' (Lk,
1:28). With this identity she reminds us of God's pre-eminence in our life and
in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God's love is
stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the
history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become
hell, where human life is pulled towards the bottom and emptiness, losing
meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void, drug use
above all, in fact widen the gap. Only love can save us from such a fall, but
not any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews
to fill the lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us
that, as much as man can fall, he is never too low for God, who has descended
in hell. However led astray our heart may be, God is always "greater than our
heart' (1 Jn, 3:20). Grace's soft
breath can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in
meaning even under the most inhumane situations."
the third element is joy, "the real joy that spreads from a heart unshackled from
sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that leads us to clam up. Grace brings true
joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the
innermost, deepest part of oneself, which nothing and no one can take away."
though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it
as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially an 'evangel', a
'good tiding'. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of
Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails giving up certain things
and imposing a certain discipline on mind, heart and behaviour, it is because
in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that harms oneself and others.
We must therefore learn to say no to the voice of selfishness and yes to that
of real love. Mary's joy is full because in her heart sin casts no shadow. Such
joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life: Jesus conceived and
carried in the womb; living under her maternal care; a teenager, a young man
and a mature man; Jesus who leaves home, followed from a distance with faith
until the cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is the joy of Mary and the Church."