12/08/2011, 00.00
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In Mary “full of grace”, God re-gave us life and freedom, pope says

In today’s Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI explained to pilgrims the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. Established as a dogma in 1854, the traditional belief goes back to the 2nd century in both East and West. At 4 pm, the pontiff will pay homage to the statue of the Virgin in Spanish Square.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The “immaculate conception” of Mary means that through her, who is “full of grace”, God “re-gave us life and freedom, [which had been] lost with sin, in her Only-Begotten Son, incarnate, dead and risen”. In saying this before the Angelus, Benedict XVI explained the meaning of today’s Solemnity, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is celebrated today by the Catholic Church and tomorrow by Eastern Churches. The pontiff also told the faithful that this afternoon he would pay homage to the statue of Our Lady in Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square).

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the pope said, was first established in 1854 by the Blessed Pope Pius IX in the letter ‘Ineffabilis Deus’, but this truth of the faith was already present “since the 2nd century in the East and the West.”

“The Church invokes and celebrates the Virgin, who by saying "Yes" brought Heaven closer to the Earth, becoming the mother of God and the wet-nurse of our life.” As confirmation of this, Benedict XVI cited Saint Romanos the Melodist, Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem, the Venerable Bede, and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Citing a reading in today’s Mass (Ephesians, 1:3-6, 11-12), the pope noted, “that we too are given ‘the fullness of grace’, which we must shine in our life”, though the baptism. “In this regard,” he added, “Saint Hildegard of Bingen wrote, ‘The Church thus is the virgin mother of all Christians. In the secret strength of the Holy Spirit, it conceives them and gives them life, offering them to God so that they may be called children of God’,” (Scivias, visio III, 12: CCL Continuatio Mediævalis XLIII, 1978, 142).

In concluding his reflection, Benedict XVI reminded the faithful that this afternoon he would be in Spanish Square. “Dear Friends,” he said, “as I wait to pay homage to Mary Immaculate this afternoon, as tradition dictates, let us turn our fervent prayer to the One who can intercede with God and help us celebrate with faith the coming Christmas of the Lord.”
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