The traditional procession and Rosary marking the end of the Marian month took place in the Vatican Gardens yesterday at 8:00 in the evening. The procession wound from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Pope arrived at the Grotto of Lourdes at 9:00pm and briefly addressed the present faithful before imparting the apostolic blessing.
"Having begun this month of Mary with the memorable beatification of John Paul II has been and continues to be for all of us", the Pope said, "a reason for great joy and thankfulness. What a great gift of grace for the whole Church was the life of this great Pope! His witness continues to illuminate our lives and urges us to be true disciples of the lord, to courageously follow him in faith, and to love him with the same enthusiasm with which he gave his life to Christ,"
Then, referring to yesterday's feastday, Benedict XVI noted that "the Visitation of Mary leads us to reflect on this courage of faith. The one who Elizabeth welcomes into her home is the Virgin who 'has believed' the Angel's annunciation, who responded with faith, courageously accepting God's plan for her life and thus embracing within herself the eternal Word of the Most High".
"Mary truly believed that 'nothing is impossible to God' and, strong in this confidence she let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit in daily obedience to his plan. How can we not desire that same trusting abandon in our lives? How can we not yearn for that beatitude that is born of a profound and intimate familiarity with Jesus? That is why, addressing the one who is 'full of grace', we can today ask that she intercede with Divine Providence for us too, so that we might each day proclaim our 'yes' to God's plan with the same humble and sincere faith that the Virgin said her yes". May she, who welcomed the Word of God within her and wholeheartedly abandoned herself to him, guide us to an ever more generous and unconditional response to his plan, even when we are called to embrace the Cross".
The Holy Father concluded by "entrusting the Church and the world to Mary's maternal intercession", asking for "the gift of always knowing how to embrace in our lives the lordship of the One who by his Resurrection conquered death".
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