Monday, October 08, 2007

Angelus: Our Lady of the Rosary

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his Angelus address from his study's window overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday Oct. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

~translated at Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters,

This first Sunday of October offers us two reasons for prayer and reflection: the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary which we celebrate today, and missionary commitment, to which this month is specially dedicated.

The traditional image of Our Lady of the Rosary shows Mary who carries the Baby Jesus in one arm, and with the other, offers a rosary to St. Dominic. This significant iconography shows thatthe Rosary is a means offered by the Virgin to contemplate Jesus and, in meditating on his life, to love and follow him even more faithfully.

It is the message that Our Lady has left behind in her many apparitions. I think, in particular, of her apparitions in Fatima 90 years ago. To the three shepherd children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, presenting herself as 'The Lady of the Rosary', she recommended insistently that the rosary be recited daily to obtain an end to the war [First World War].

We too wish to comply with the maternal request of the Virgin, committing ourselves to recite the Rosary for peace in our families, among nations and in the entire world.

We know that true peace is disseminated wherever men and institutions open themselves to the Gospel. The month of October helps us to remember this fundamental truth through a special inspiration which tends to keep alive the missionary fervor in every community, and to support the work of those - priests, religious and laymen - who work on the frontiers of the Church's mission.

With special care, we are preparing to celebrate on October 21, the World Day of Missions which will have the theme "All the churches for all the world".

The proclamation of the Gospel remains the first service that the Church owes to humanity - to offer the salvation of Christ to the man of our time, who has been humiliated and oppressed in so many ways, and to orient, in the Christian sense, the cultural, social and ethical transformations which are going on in the world.

This year, another reason impels us to a renewed missionary commitment: the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Fidei donum by the Servant of God Pius XII, which promoted and encouraged cooperation among churches for the mission ad gentes.

It also gives me pleasure to recall that 150 years ago, 5 priests and a layman from the Istituto di Don Mazza of Verona left for what is the Sudan today. Among them was St. Daniel Comboni, future bishop of central Africa and patron of its peoples, and whose liturgical memory we mark on October 10.

Let us entrust all our missionaries to the intercession of this pioneer of the Gospel and to the countless missionary saints and blessed ones, and to the maternal protection of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.

May Mary help us to remember that every Christian is called on to announce the Gospel with words and with his life.

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