CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2010 ( God has shown us the road to life, and it is marked by love -- but love of service, not sentiments.

This is the affirmation Benedict XVI made today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in Castel Gandolfo. He told the assembly that he plans to leave the papal summer residence on Thursday and return to Rome, so this last public Angelus address was also his "'till we meet again' to the community of Castel Gandolfo."

The Pope reflected on the Gospel reading from today's Mass, which recounts the story of the rich man suffering torment, and the poor man Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.

The message of the parable, the Holy Father said, "points out that while we are in this world we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Scriptures and live according to his will, because, after death, it will be too late to make amends."

"So," he explained, "this parable tells us two things: The first is that [God] loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation; the second is that our eternal destiny is conditioned by our attitude; it is up to us to follow the road to life that God has shown us, and this is the road of love, not understood as sentiment but as service to others in the charity of Christ."

Role models

The Bishop of Rome called it a "happy coincidence" that Monday marks the feast of one of the Church's great heroes of charity, St. Vincent de Paul, patron of Catholic charitable organizations.

"In the France of the 1600s, he touched with his own hand the great contrast between the richest and the poorest," the Pope said. "[...] Driven by the love of Christ, Vincent de Paul knew how to organize stable forms of service to marginalized persons."

In fact, the saint founded the first women's congregation to live their consecration "'in the world,' in the midst of the people, with the sick and the needy," he noted.

The Pontiff added, "Dear friends, only Love with a capital 'L' makes for true happiness!"

And in this regard, he pointed to the example of the young woman beatified just this Saturday, Chiara Badano. This Italian born in 1971 died when she was 18, but was "a ray of light for everyone," the Pope said. 

Her parish and diocese and the Focolare Movement to which she belonged are celebrating today, the Holy Father noted, "and it is a festive day for all young people who can find in her an example of consistent Christianity."

"Her last words, of complete adherence to the will of God, were: 'Bye-bye Mamma. Be happy because I am,'" the Pontiff said. "Let us praise God because his love is stronger than evil and death; and let us thank the Virgin Mary, who guides young people, through difficulties and sufferings too, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life."

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