Sunday, May 06, 2007

Regina Cæli: Month of Mary

~from Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters!

The month of May has begun which for many Christian communities is the Marian month par excellence. As such, May devotions have become through the centuries one of the devotions dearest to the people, and has always been valued by pastors as a propitious occasion for preaching, catechesis and community prayer.

After the Second Vatican Council, which underscored the role of the Most Holy Mary in the Church and in the story of salvation, the Marian cult has undergone a profound renewal. And the month of May, which coincides at least in part wiith Eastertide, is quite propitious to illustrate the figure of Mary as the Mother who accompanied the community of disciples gathered to pray together while awaiting the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1,12-14).

This month could therefore also be an occasion to return to the faith of the early Church and, in union with Mary, to understand that even today, our mission is to announce and testify with courage and joy to Christ crucified and risen, hope of humanity.

To the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, I wish to entrust the apostolic voyage which I am making to Brazil from May 9-14. As my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II did, I will preside at the opening of the genral conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, the fifth, which will take place next Sunday at the great National Sanctuary of Our Lady Aparecida in the city of that name.

First, however, I will be in the nearby metropolis of Sao Paulo, where I will meet the youth and the bishops of Brazil, and I will have the joy of inscribing in the book of Saints the Blessed Father Antonio di Sant'Anna Galvao.

It is my firt apostolic visit to Latin America and I am preparing myself spiritually to meet the Latin-American subcontinent, where almost half of the Catholics of the world live, many of whom are young. That is why it has been called "the continent of hope" - hope not only for the church, but all America and the whole world.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray to the Most Holy Mary for this apostolic pilgrimage and, in particular, for the fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, so that all the Christians of that region may feel that they are disciples and missionaries of Christ - Way, Truth and Life.

The present challenges are many: that is why it is important that Christians be formed to be a 'ferment' for good and the 'light' of holiness in this world.

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