On Our Lady of Mount Carmel

"I Invite Special Prayers for Peace in the Holy Land"

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INTROD, Italy, JULY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Les Combes, Introd, in the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps, where he is taking a few days of rest.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Also this year I am happy to spend some time of rest here, in the Aosta Valley, in the house that many times welcomed our beloved John Paul II. I have immersed myself immediately in this wonderful Alpine scenery which helps to reinvigorate body and spirit, and today I am happy to live this family meeting -- my cordial greetings to each one of you, residents and holidaymakers.

I wish first of all to greet and thank the pastor of the Church that lives in this valley, the bishop of Aosta, Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, as well as the priests, men and women religious, and the laity of the diocesan community. I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, especially for the sick and those suffering. My grateful thoughts go, moreover, to the Salesians, who have placed their house at the Pope's disposition. I address my deferential greetings to the authorities of the state and region, to the municipal administrator of Introd, to the forces of order and to all who in different ways collaborate toward my peaceful stay. May the Lord recompense you!

By a happy coincidence, this Sunday is July 16, day in which the liturgy remembers the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Carmel, high promontory that rises on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, at the altitude of Galilee, has in its folds numerous natural grottoes, favorites of hermits.

The most famous of these men of God was the great prophet Elias, who in the 9th century before Christ, courageously defended the purity of the faith in the one true God from contamination by idolatrous cults. Inspired in the figure of Elias, the contemplative order of Carmelites arose, a religious family that counts among its members great saints such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (in the world, Edith Stein).

The Carmelites have spread in the Christian people devotion to the Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel, pointing to her as a model of prayer, contemplation and dedication to God. Mary, in fact, before and in an unsurpassable way, believed and felt that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the culmination, the summit of man's encounter with God.

Fully accepting the Word, "she happily reached the holy mountain" (Prayer of the Collect of the Memorial), and lives forever, in soul and body, with the Lord. To the Queen of Mount Carmel I wish to commend today all the communities of contemplative life spread throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order, among which I remember the convent of Quart, not far from here. May Mary help every Christian to meet God in the silence of prayer.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following words:]

In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population. At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly, objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.

This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, Mount of the Holy Land that, a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, the latter also recently hit. Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement. In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East.

[Benedict XVI then greeted those present in different languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here today. I pray that all who are on holiday at this time will find refreshment in body and spirit and an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, your families and loved ones at home.

[Translation by ZENIT]

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]