ROME, DEC. 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which we celebrated solemnly today, reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: in the first place original sin, and then the victory of Christ’s grace over it, a victory that shines sublimely in Mary Most Holy. The existence of what the Church calls “original sin” is, sadly, a crushing truth, suffice it to look around us and above all in our interior. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent, that it imposes itself and makes us ask the question: from whence does it come? For a believer especially, the question is even more profound: If God, who is absolute goodness, has created everything, where does evil come from?
The first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) respond precisely to the fundamental question — posed by every human generation — with the account of creation and our parents’ fall: God created everything so that it would exist, in particular he created man in his own image; he did not create death, rather, the latter entered the world because of the envy of the devil (cf. Wisdom 1:13-14; 2:23-24), who, rebelling against God, also attracted men with deceit, inducing them to rebellion. It is the drama of freedom, which God accepts totally out of love, but promising that there would be the son of a woman that would crush the head of the ancient serpent (Genesis 3:15).
Hence, from the beginning, the “eternal counsel” — as Dante would say — has a “fixed term” (Paradise, XXXIII, 3): The Woman predestined to be mother of the Redeemer, mother of him who humbled himself to the extreme to lead us back to our original dignity. In God’s eyes, this Woman has always had a face and name: “full of grace” (Luke 1:28), as the Angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth. She is the new Eve, spouse of the new Adam, destined to be the mother of all the redeemed. Thus wrote St. Andrew of Crete: “The Theotokos Mary, the common refuge of all Christians, was the first to be delivered from the primitive fall of our parents” (Homily IV, on Christmas, PG 97, 880 A). And today’s liturgy states that God has “prepared a worthy dwelling for his Son and, in anticipation of his death, preserved her from all stain of sin” (Collect Prayer).
Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines. This afternoon, in keeping with tradition, I will also render her homage before the monument dedicated to her in the Piazza di Spagna. Let us now invoke the Immaculate Virgin with confidence, recalling with the Angelus the words of the Gospel, which today’s liturgy proposes for our meditation.[Translation by ZENIT] [After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are present today. The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an occasion for us all to rejoice in the radiant purity of the Mother of our Redeemer. She was chosen from among all women to be our pattern of holiness, a sign of favor to the Church at its beginning and the promise of its perfection as the spotless bride of Christ. May God bless you, your families and all those you love.
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