Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) The month of October is traditionally dedicated to the Rosary, that ancient Marian prayer, and to the support of Catholic missions around the world. The pope concentrated his reflection before the Angelus the last this year at Castel Gandolfo on these two themes. As from Wednesday 4 October, after more than two months, he will return to the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. Taking his queue from the feast of the Blessed Virgin of the Most Holy Rosary on 7 October, Benedict XVI said "Our Lady" invites us to "rediscover the beauty of this prayer". Even the "beloved John Paul II was a great apostle of the Rosary: we remember him on his knees with the rosary beads in his hands, immersed in contemplation of Christ." The pope added: "The rosary is a contemplative and Christ-centred prayer, inseparable from meditation of the Sacred Scripture. It is the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, following Jesus, preceded by Mary." This is why Benedict XVI urged one and all to "say the Rosary this month in families, in communities and in parishes for the pope's intentions, for the mission of the Church and for peace in the world."
The pontiff then recalled the missionary month and World Missions Day that will be marked on 22 October. "The Church is missionary by nature," he said. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20:21), said the resurrected Jesus to the Apostles in the Cenacle. The mission of the Church is the continuation of that of Christ: taking the love of God to all, announcing it with words and the concrete witness of charity. In the Message for the upcoming World Missions Day, I wanted to present charity precisely as the 'soul of mission'. St Paul, the apostle of the nations, writes: "For the love of Christ urges us on" (2 Cor 5:14). May each Christian make these words his own, in the joyous experience of being a missionary of Love wherever Providence places him, with humility and courage, serving his neighbour without ulterior motives and drawing from prayer the strength of joyful and industrious charity (cfr Deus caritas est, 32-39)".
The pope also cited the patroness of missions, the Carmelite St Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who John Paul II proclaimed as Doctor of the Church. "She, who indicated confident abandonment to the love of God as a 'simple' way to holiness, helps us to be credible witnesses of the Gospel of charity. Most Holy Mary, Virgin of the Rosary and Queen of missions, lead us all to Christ the Saviour."
After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI added a special request for prayers for Iraq: "Yesterday I had the joy of meeting His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, who told me about the tragic reality faced daily by the dear people of Iraq, where Christians and Muslims have lived together for 14 centuries as children of the same land. I hope these bonds of fraternity among them will not be loosened, while, with sentiments of my spiritual closeness, I invite all to unite with me in asking Almighty God for the gift of peace and harmony for that martyred land." The pope's proposal was greeted by long applause from the pilgrims gathered in the palace courtyard of Castel Gandolfo.
Finally, before delivering greetings, Benedict XVI recalled World Habitat Day, called by the UN, dedicated this year to "Cities, magnets of hope", to urbanization and the situation on suburbs, described by the pope as "one of the most serious problems that mankind of the XXI century is called to face". And he added: "I express my encouragement to those at local and international levels who work so that people living in degraded suburbs, may be assured of worthy conditions of life and the fulfillment of their basic needs, as well as the possibility of realizing their aspirations, especially within the family and in pacific social coexistence."