On the Vine and Branches
"The Secret of Spiritual Fruitfulness Is Union With God"
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter the liturgy presents the Gospel passage of John in which Jesus, speaking to the disciples at the last supper, exhorts them to remain united to him like the branches of the vine. It is a truly significant parable, as it explains with great effectiveness that the Christian life is a mystery of communion with Jesus: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
The secret of spiritual fruitfulness is union with God, union that is realized above all in the Eucharist, also called Communion. I want to underline this mystery of unity at this time of the year, in which many parish communities celebrate children's first Communion.
I express special greetings to all children who in these weeks encounter Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for the first time, hoping that they will become branches of the vine, which is Jesus, and grow to be true disciples of his.
A way to remain united to Christ, as branches on the vine, is to have recourse to the intercession of Mary, whom we venerated yesterday, May 13, in a particular way, recalling the apparitions of Fatima where, in 1917, she appeared on several occasions to three children, the little shepherds Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia.
The message she entrusted to them, in continuity with that of Lourdes, was an intense call to prayer and conversion, a truly prophetic message, above all if one considers that the 20th century was scourged by unheard-of destructions, caused by wars and totalitarian regimes, as well as extensive persecutions against the Catholic Church.
Moreover, on May 13, 1981, 25 years ago, the servant of God, Pope John Paul II, felt that he was saved miraculously from death by the intervention of a "maternal hand," as he himself said, and the whole of his pontificate was marked by what the Virgin had said at Fatima.
Although there is no lack of anxieties and sufferings, and although there are still reasons for apprehension about the future of humanity, what the "Lady in white" promised the little shepherds is consoling: "At the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph."
With this conviction, we now turn to Mary most holy, thanking her for her constant intercession and asking her to continue to watch over the path of the Church and of humanity, especially families, mothers and children.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Pope greeted pilgrims in seven languages. In English, he said:]
To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I extend a warm welcome. I pray that by the intercession of the blessed Lady, you will grow ever closer to her son Jesus Christ and share his good news with all those you encounter. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant blessings of almighty God.
© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]