Sunday, December 8, 2019

Angelus for the Immaculate Conception

At noon today in Rome (6:00am EST), the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study within the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Immaculate Mary, which is taking place in the context of Advent, a time of waiting: God will do what He promised. But in today's celebration we are told that something has already been accomplished, in the person and in the life of the Virgin Mary. Today we consider the beginning of this fulfillment, which took place before the birth of the Mother of the Lord. In fact, her immaculate conception leads us to the precise moment when Mary's life began to palpitate in her mother's womb: already the sanctifying love of God was present, preserving her from the contagion of evil that is a common heritage of the human family .

In today's Gospel, the greeting of the Angel to Mary resounds: Rejoice, full of grace: the Lord is with you (Lk 1:28). God has always thought and wanted this, in his inscrutable design, a creature that is full of grace, that is filled with his love. But in order to be filled, it is necessary to make space, to empty oneself, to step aside, just as Mary did, who knew how to listen to the Word of God and totally trust his will, accepting it unreservedly in her life. So much so that in her, the Word became flesh. This was possible thanks to her yes. To the Angel who asks for her willingness to become the mother of Jesus, Mary replies: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: let it be for me according to your word (Lk 1:38).

Mary does not lose herself in many arguments, she does not put obstacles in the way of the Lord, but
with readiness and trust, she leaves room for the Holy Spirit to act.  She immediately makes her entire being and her personal history available to God, so that the Word and the will of God can shape them and bring them to completion.  Thus, corresponding perfectly to God's plan for her, Mary becomes the all beautiful, the all holy, but without the slightest hint of complacency. She is humble. She is a masterpiece, but she remains humble, small, poor. In her, the beauty of God is reflected, God who is all love, grace and self-giving.

I also like to emphasize the word with which Mary defines herself in her surrender to God: she calls herself the handmaid of the Lord. Mary's yes to God assumes from the very beginning, an attitude of service and attention to the needs of others. Her visit to Elizabeth, which immediately follows the Annunciation, bears witness to this. Availability to God is found in willingness to take on the needs of others. All this without clamour and ostentation, without seeking places of honour, without advertising, because charity and works of mercy do not need to be exhibited as trophies. The works of mercy are carried out in silence, in secret, without boasting about doing them. Even in our communities, we are called to follow Mary's example, practicing the style of discretion and concealment.

May the feast of our Mother help us to make our entire lives a yes to God, a yes that is born out of adoration of Him and of his daily gestures of love and service.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, in Huehuetenango (Guatemala), Giacomo Miller, a Religious belonging to the Brothers of the Christian Schools, killed for hatred of faith in 1982, in the context of the civil war, was Beatified.  The martyrdom of this exemplary educator, who paid with his life, his service to people and to the Church in Guatemala, strengthens paths of justice, peace and solidarity within that beloved nation.  Let us applaud this new Blessed.

Tomorrow, there will be a meeting in Paris involving the Presidents of Ukraine, Russia and France as well as the Federal Chancellor of Germany - known as the Normandy Format - to find solutions to the painful conflict that has been going on for years in eastern Ukraine. I accompany this meeting with prayer, intense prayer, because peace is needed there, and I invite you to do the same, so that this initiative of political dialogue will contribute to bringing peace and justice to that territory and its people.

With affection, I greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from various other countries, in particular the Polish faithful from Warsaw and Lublin, the Irish policemen and the youth from Sorbara (Modena).  A special greeting goes out to the Daughters of the Cross who have recently been recognized as a Public Association by the Cardinal Vicar.

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, in the parishes of Italy, we renew our belonging to Catholic Action.  I wish all members and groups a good journey of formation, service and witness.

I bless the faithful from Rocca di Papa and the torch with which they will light the great star on the fortress of that town, in honour of Immaculate Mary. And my thoughts also go to the Shrine of Loreto, where today the Holy Door for the Lauretan Jubilee will be opened: may it be rich in grace for the pilgrims who will visit that Holy House.

This afternoon, I will go to Santa Maria Maggiore to pray before Our Lady, and then, I will go to Piazza di Spagna for the traditional act of homage at the foot of the monument to Immaculate Mary.  I ask you to spiritually unite yourselves with me in this gesture, which expresses our filial devotion to our heavenly Mother.

I wish you all a good feast and a good Advent journey toward Christmas, with the guidance of the Virgin Mary.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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