Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a source of inner light, hope and comfort. In the middle of life’s trials, especially the contradictions that man experiences in and around himself, Mary, the Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God’s mercy is stronger than evil and can transform it into goodness,” Benedict XVI said in today’s Angelus.
In his address, the Holy Father stressed the value of the Solemnity celebrated by the Church on 8 December, that of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, according to which Mary was never touched by original sin and evil. This dogma was proclaimed in 1854, a few years before the apparitions in Lourdes, where the “Lady” described her as the “Immaculate Conception”.
“Sadly, every day we experience evil,” the Pontiff said, “which manifests itself in many ways in relationships and events, but is rooted in the heart of man, a wounded and sick heart, incapable of healing itself. The Holy Scriptures tell us that disobedience to the will of God is the origin of each evil and that death has taken over because human freedom has succumbed to the temptation of the Evil One. However, God does not fail in his plan of love and life. Through a slow and patient journey of reconciliation he has prepared a new and everlasting covenant, sealed by the blood of his Son who, to offer himself in atonement, was “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son for she was preserved from the contagion of guilt since conception. Therefore, with her immaculate heart, she tells us: Trust in Jesus, He will save you!”
The Pope went on to explain the meaning of the title “Full of Grace” the Church uses when addressing Mary in the Hail Mary (Ave Maria) prayer. “This expression, so familiar [to us] since infancy because we repeat it every time we recite the Hail Mary, offers us the explanation for the mystery we celebrate today. In fact, Mary, since the moment her parents conceived her, was the object of a singular preference on the part of God, who, in his eternal design, chose her to be the mother of his Son, who was made man, and consequently preserved her from original sin. Therefore, the Angel spoke to her using this name, which literally means to ‘be always filled with God’s love and grace’.”
Before reciting the Angelus prayer and greeting various groups, Benedict XVI reminded those present that at 4 pm (CET) he would be in Piazza di Spagna for the traditional tribute to the statue of the Immaculate that is located at the top of the column that overlooks the square.
“With this act of devotion,” the Pontiff said, “I speak for the love of the faithful of Rome and the world for the Mother who gave us Christ. I entrust to her intercession the most urgent needs of the Church and the world. May she help us especially have faith in God, believe in his Word, always reject evil and choose what is good.”