Friday, December 08, 2006

On Mary, Full of Grace

On Mary, Full of Grace

"God Was Captivated by Mary's Humility"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today we celebrate one of the most beautiful and popular feasts of the Blessed Virgin -- the Immaculate Conception. Not only did Mary not commit any sin, but she was also preserved from that common inheritance of the human race which is original sin, because of the mission to which God had destined her from all eternity: to be the mother of the Redeemer.

All this is contained in the truth of the faith of the Immaculate Conception. The biblical foundation of this dogma is found in the words the Angel addressed to the maiden of Nazareth: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28). "Full of grace," in the Greek original "kecharitomene," is Mary's most beautiful name, the name God himself gave her to indicate that from all eternity and forever she is the beloved, the chosen one, chosen to receive the most precious gift, Jesus, "the incarnate love of God" ("Deus Caritas Est," 12).

We might ask ourselves: Why did God choose, among all women, Mary of Nazareth specifically? The answer is hidden in the unfathomable mystery of the divine will. However, there is a reason that the Gospel highlights: her humility.

Dante Alighieri underlines this in the last canto of "Paradise": "Virgin mother, daughter of your Son, humble and loftier than any other creature, fixed term of the eternal counsel" (Paradise XXXIII, 1-3). The Virgin herself in the Magnificat, her canticle of praise, says this: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord ... For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness" (Luke 1:46, 48). Yes, God was captivated by Mary's humility, who found favor in his eyes. (cf. Luke 1:30). In this way she became the Mother of God, image and model of the Church, chosen among the peoples to receive the Lord's blessing and radiate it to the whole human family.

This "blessing" is Jesus Christ himself. He is the source of "grace," of which Mary was full from the first instance of her existence. With faith she received Jesus and with love she gave him to the world. This is also our vocation and our mission, the vocation and mission of the Church: to receive Christ in our lives and give him to the world "so that the world might be saved by him" (John 3:17).

Dear Brothers and Sisters: The feast of the Immaculate Conception illuminates like a beacon the season of Advent, which is a time of vigilant and confident awaiting of the Savior. While we go out to encounter God, who comes, let us look at Mary who "shines as a sign of sure hope and of consolation for the people of God on the way" ("Lumen Gentium," 68).

With this awareness I invite you to join me in the afternoon when, in Piazza di Spagna, I will renew the traditional homage to this gentle Mother by grace and of grace. We now turn to her with the prayer that recalls the angel's announcement.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. Today the Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of our Lord's mother, Mary. She who was conceived without sin is a constant reminder of God's covenant with his chosen people, a promise that is fulfilled in our savior Jesus Christ.

May Christians everywhere, following the example of Mary, allow the gift of grace to bear fruit in a life of holiness. I wish you a happy feast day and a pleasant stay in Rome.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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