Angelus: Mary has accompanied Church in 40 years since Council
Benedict XVI recalled the solemn celebration in St Peter's Basilica and called on all to look to Our Lady to overcome "the temptation of a mediocre life, made up of compromises with evil". He also blessed the Olympic torches headed for Turin.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) Before the Angelus, the pope once again drew attention to the centrality of Mary in the experience of the Second Vatican Council, the 40th anniversary of which is marked today. He had just done so shortly before in a solemn celebration in St Peter's Basilica. The pope wanted to "give thanks to God for the gift of the Vatican Council II" and he said that Mary, defined as "Mother of the Church" in the conciliar sitting 40 years ago, had "accompanied church life enriched by so many events for these 40 years". In a special way, he added, "Mary has watched with motherly care over the pontificates of my venerated predecessors, each of who, with great pastoral wisdom, guided Peter's ship along the route of authentic conciliar renewal".
Some torch-bearers were present for the Angelus prayer; these athletes will carry the Olympic torch to Torino for the 2006 winter Olympics. The pope blessed the torches, saying: "May this flame remind all of the values of peace and brotherhood which are at the foundation of the Olympics". Before, he invited the crowd packed into the square to join him in paying reverence to Mary before the statue of the Immaculate Conception this afternoon in Piazza di Spagna.
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day of intense spiritual joy, in which we contemplate the Virgin Mary, "High beyond all other, Lowlier is none/fixed end of eternal council" as the great poet Dante sang (Par., XXXIII, 3). In her blazes forth the eternal goodness of the Creator who, in his plan of salvation, pre-ordained her to be mother of his only-begotten Son, and in view of his death, preserved her from any stain of sin (cfr Orazione colletta).
Thus, in the Mother of Christ and our Mother was perfectly realized the vocation of each and every human being. All men, the Apostle Paul recalls, are called to be holy and immaculate in the presence of God in love (cfr Ef 1,4). Looking at Our Lady, how can the aspiration to beauty, goodness and purity of heart not be awakened in us, her children? Her heavenly candour leads us to God, helping us to overcome the temptation posed by a mediocre life, made up of compromises with evil, to orient ourselves decisively towards authentic good, which is the source of joy.
Today, my thoughts go back to 8 December 1965 when the Servant of God Paul VI solemnly closed the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the greatest church event in the 20th century, which the Blessed John XXIII had started three years earlier. Amid the exultation of many believers in St Peter's square, Paul VI entrusted the implementation of the Conciliar documents to the Virgin Mary, invoking her with the sweet title of Mother of the Church. Presiding this morning over a solemn Eucharistic celebration at the Vatican Basilica, I wanted to give thanks to God for the gift of the Second Vatican Council. I also wanted to praise the Most Holy Mary for having accompanied the life of the church enriched by so many events in these 40 years. In a special way, Mary has watched with motherly care over the pontificates of my venerated predecessors, each of who, with great pastoral wisdom, guided Peter's ship along the route of authentic conciliar renewal, working incessantly for the faithful interpretation and implementation of the Second Vatican Council.Dear brothers and sisters, for the crowning moment of this day fully dedicated to the Holy Virgin, following an ancient tradition, I will go this afternoon to Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception. I ask you to join me in spirit on this pilgrimage which is an act of filial devotion to Mary, to entrust to her the beloved city of Rome, the Church and all of humanity.