On the Immaculate Conception

"Grace Is Greater Than Sin ... God's Mercy Is More Powerful Than Evil"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.


 
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
 
Today our meeting on the occasion of the prayer of the Angelus acquires a special light, in the context of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the liturgy of this feast, the Gospel of the Annunciation is proclaimed (Luke 1:26-38), which presents, precisely, the dialogue between the angel Gabriel and the Virgin.

"Rejoice! Full of grace, the Lord is with thee," says God's messenger, and in this way reveals Mary's most profound identity, the "name" so to speak with which God himself knows her: "full of grace."

This expression, which is so familiar to us from our childhood, as we say it every time we pray the Hail Mary, explains to us the mystery that we celebrate today. In fact, from the moment she was conceived by her parents, Mary was the object of a singular predilection on the part of God, who in his eternal plan chose her to be the mother of his Son made man and, hence, preserved her from original sin. For this reason, the angel addresses her with this name, which implicitly signifies: "ever full of the love of God," of his grace.
 
The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is source of interior light, of hope and of consolation. In the midst of life's trials, and especially of the contradictions man experiences in his interior and around him, Mary, Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God's mercy is more powerful than evil, and it is able to transform it into goodness.

Unfortunately, we experience evil every day, which manifests itself in many ways in relations and events, but which has its root in man's heart, a wounded, sick heart, incapable of curing itself. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that at the origin of all evil is disobedience to the will of God, and that death has prevailed because human liberty has yielded to the temptation of the Evil One. However, God does not fail in his plan of love and life: through a long and patient path of reconciliation, he has prepared the new and eternal Covenant, sealed with the blood of his Son, who to offer himself in expiation "was born of woman" (Galatians 4:4).

This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son and from conception was preserved from the contagion of guilt. Because of this, with her immaculate heart, she says to us: Trust Jesus, he saves you.
 
Dear friends, this afternoon I will renew the traditional homage to the Immaculate Virgin, before the monument dedicated to her, in Piazza di Spagna. With this act of devotion I make myself interpreter of the love of the faithful of Rome and of the whole world for the Mother that Christ has given us. I entrust to her intercession the most urgent needs of the Church and of the world. May she help us above all to have faith in God, to believe in his Word, to always reject evil and choose the good.
 
[Then the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]
 
In today's feast, I have the joy of greeting the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate. Dear friends, I invoke on each one of you the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary and I commend your activity to her intercession. I thank you for your generous work.
 
I address a special greeting also to Italian Catholic Action, which today, in many parishes renews its commitment in the Church. Recalling the great celebration with boys and young people here in St. Peter's Square, at the end of October, I express to all the members my affection and closeness. I encourage you to walk on the way of sanctity, taking the light of the Gospel to the areas of daily life.
 
[Translation by ZENIT]

[In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today the Church joyfully celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By her prayers, may our hearts and minds be kept free from sin, so that like Mary we may be spiritually prepared to welcome Christ. Let us turn to her, the Immaculate, who brought Christ to us, and ask her now to bring us to Him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

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