Pope's Address to Marian Group of His Youth

Nazi Power “Cast Doubt on the Future of Christianity”

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of an address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the Marianische Männer-Congregation “Mariä Verkündung” (the Sodality of Our Lady), a Marian group from Regensburg, Germany, which he himself joined as a teenager.

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Dear Mr. President,
Dear Members of the Sodality,

A cordial “vergelt’s Gott” [God reward you] for your visit, for the gift, for the fact of having drawn out of the past a forgotten moment of my life. In fact, it is a time that is not simply “in the past”: admission in this Marian Congregation looks to the future, and it is never simply a time that passed. See, after 70 years, this moment is a time of “today,” a time that indicates the way to “tomorrow.” I am grateful for your having “pulled out” this time and I am happy.

I thank you from my heart, dear president, for your kind words, which came from the heart and go to the heart. At that period, then — they were dark times; there was the War. Hitler had subjected one country after another, Poland, Denmark, the Benelux States and France, and in April of 1941 — precisely in this season 70 years ago — he had occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. It seemed that the Continent was in the hands of this power that, at the same time, cast doubt on the future of Christianity.

We had been admitted to the Congregation, but shortly after the war began against Russia, the seminary was dissolved, and the Congregation — before it was reunited, before it succeeded in coming together again — was already scattered to the four winds. Thus what was not considered an “exterior moment” of life nevertheless remained an “interior moment” of life, because it has always been clear that Catholicity cannot exist without a Marian expression, that to be Catholics means to be Marian, that this means love for the Mother, that in the Mother and by the Mother we find the Lord.

Here, through bishops’ “ad limina” visits, I constantly witness how people — above all in Latin America, but also on the other continents — can entrust themselves to the Mother, can love the Mother and, through the Mother they learn to know, understand and love Christ. I see how the Mother continues entrusting the world to the Lord, how Mary continues to say “yes” and to bring Christ into the world.

After the War, when we studied, the Mariology that was taught in the German universities was a bit austere and sober — and I believe it has not changed much today; I do not think the situation is much improved. I believe, however, that we found the essential. At that time, we were oriented to Guardini and to the book of his friend, parish priest Josef Weiger, “Maria, Mutter der Glaubenden” (Mary, Mother of Believers), which referred to the words of Elizabeth: “Blessed are you who have believed!” (cf. Luke 1:45).

Mary is the great believer. She took up Abraham’s mission to be a believer and made Abraham’s faith concrete in faith in Jesus Christ, thus indicating to us the whole way of faith, the courage of entrusting ourselves to that God who gives himself into our hands, the joy of being his witnesses; and then her determination to remain firm when all fled, the courage to be on the Lord’s side when he seemed lost, and rendering precisely in this way that witness that led to Easter.

Therefore, I am pleased to know that in Bavaria there are about 40,000 members of the Sodality; that still today there are men who, together with Mary, love the Lord, men who, through Mary, learn to know and to love the Lord and, like her, give witness of the Lord in difficult hours and in happy hours; who are with him, under the cross and who continue to live Easter joyfully together with him. Hence, I thank all of you because you hold this witness high, because we know that there are Bavarian Catholic men who are in this Sodality, who journey on this path opened by the Jesuits in the 16th century, and who continue to demonstrate that faith does not belong to the past, but is always open to a “today” and, above all, to a “tomorrow.”

“Vergelt’s Gott fur alles” [God reward you for everything], and God bless you all! Thank you from my heart.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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