Pope: may the Immaculate melt the heart of stone of those who raise walls to ward off the pain of others
“[L]et us look into the eyes of the discarded people we meet, let us be provoked by the faces of children, children of desperate migrants. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by their suffering in order to react to our indifference; let us look at their faces, to awaken us from the slumber of habit!” Holiness is “living humbly and joyfully, like the Madonna, what happens each day, freed from ourselves, with our eyes fixed on God and the neighbour we meet”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – May Our Lady help us realise what holiness really is, which is “living humbly and joyfully, like the Madonna, what happens each day, freed from ourselves, with our eyes fixed on God and the neighbour we meet,” said Pope Francis before the Angelus on the day in which the Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of Mary, while after the Marian prayer, he talked about his visit to Cyprus and Greece, exhorting us to look into the eyes of migrant children “to awaken us from the slumber of habit!”
To mark the Immaculate Conception, Francis went to Piazza di Spagna (pictured) this morning, just before 6.15 am, where stands the column dedicated to the Virgin.
Like last year he went alone, when the sun had not yet risen, to avoid gatherings. He laid a basket of white roses at the base of the column and stopped in prayer, asking her, a note from the Holy See Press Office stated, “for the miracle of healing, for the many sick; of healing, for the peoples who suffer severely from wars and the climate crisis; and of conversion, that she might melt the stony heart of those who build walls to remove from themselves the pain of others."
At 6.20 am, the pontiff left Piazza di Spagna and travelled to Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major) Basilica where he continued his prayer in front of the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani.[*] Shortly after 7:00 am he returned to the Vatican.
At the Angelus, Francis addressed the 10,000 people who, despite the intermittent rain, had gathered in St Peter’s Square, stressing Mary’s “perfection” for she is "full of grace" and therefore “void of evil”.
“Now, at the angel’s greeting, Mary – the text says – is ‘greatly troubled’ (Lk 1:29). She is not only surprised, but troubled. To receive grand greetings, honours and compliments sometimes brings the risk of provoking pride and presumption.”
“Mary, instead, does not exalt herself, but is troubled; rather than feeling pleased, she feels amazement. The angel’s greeting seemed too grand for her. Why? Because she feels her littleness within, and that littleness, that humility attracts God’s eyes.
“Within the walls of the house of Nazareth, we thus see a marvellous characteristic of Mary’s heart. How is Mary’s heart? Having received the highest of compliments, she is troubled she because she hears addressed to her what she has not attributed to herself. In fact, Mary does not credit prerogatives to herself, she does not hold claim to anything, she accounts nothing to her own merit.
“She is not self-satisfied; she does not exalt herself. For in her humility, she knows she receives everything from God. Therefore, free from herself, she is completely directed toward God and others. Mary Immaculate does not look on herself. This is true humility: not looking on oneself, but looking toward God and others.”
Following the Angel’s announcement, “In that little house of Nazareth beat the greatest heart that any creature has ever had. Dear brothers and sisters, this is extraordinary news for us! Because the Lord is telling us that to work marvellous deeds, he has no need of grand means and our lofty abilities, but our humility, eyes open to Him, and also open to others.
“With this annunciation, within the poor walls of a small house, God changed history. Even today, he wants to do great things with us in our daily lives: in our families, at work, in everyday environments. God’s grace loves to operate there more than in great historical events. But I ask myself, do we believe this? Or rather do we think that holiness is a utopia, something for insiders, a pious illusion incompatible with ordinary life?
“Let us ask the Madonna for a grace: that she free us from the misleading idea that the Gospel is one thing and life is another; that she enkindle enthusiasm in us for the ideal of sanctity which has nothing to do with holy cards and pictures, but is about living humbly and joyfully, like the Madonna, what happens each day, freed from ourselves, with our eyes fixed on God and the neighbour we meet.
“Let’s not lose heart: The Lord has given everyone the stuff it takes to weave holiness within our everyday life! And when we are assailed by the doubt that we cannot succeed, the sadness of not being adequate, let us allow the Madonna to look on us with her “eyes of mercy”, for no one who asked for her help has ever been abandoned!”
After the recitation of the Angelus, Francis spoke about his visit to Cyprus and Greece, saying among other things: “I was moved by the dear Orthodox Brother Chrysostomos, when he spoke to me about the Mother Church: as Christians we follow different paths, but we are children of the Church of Jesus, that is a Mother, and accompanies and keeps us, that keeps us going, all as brothers and sisters.
“My hope for Cyprus is that it may always be a laboratory of brotherhood, where encounter prevails over confrontation, where we welcome our brother and sister, especially when he or she is poor, discarded, a migrant. I repeat that, faced with history, before the faces of those who emigrate, we cannot remain silent, we cannot turn away.
“In Cyprus, as in Lesvos, I was able to look into the eyes of this suffering: please, let us look into the eyes of the discarded people we meet, let us be provoked by the faces of children, children of desperate migrants. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by their suffering in order to react to our indifference; let us look at their faces, to awaken us from the slumber of habit!”
[*] Mary, Salvation of the Roman People.