On this solemnity, the patronal feast of the United States, a blessed Immaculate Conception to all. (Forgive the slow posting -- given the craziness of this time of year, a bit of a breather's been in order.)
As shown above, in the afternoon the Pope went to pay the traditional homage to the statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza di Spagna. And below is a translation of B16's Angelus, given at noon from his studio window.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today we celebrate one of the most beautiful and popular feasts of the Blessed Virgin: the Immaculate Conception. Mary didn't only not commit any sin, but was preserved even from the common inheritance of the human race, its original fault. This was so in light of the mission o which from eternity God destined her: to be the Mother of the Redeemer. All this is contained in the truth of faith of the "Immaculate Conception." The biblical foundation of this dogma is found in the words the Angel rendered to the girl of Nazareth: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). "Full of grace" -- in the original Greek kecharitoméne -- is the most beautiful name of Mary, the name that God himself gave her, to indicate that she is from eternity and for eternity the beloved, the chosen, the preselected to welcome the most precious gift, Jesus, the "incarnate love of God" (Deus caritas est, 12).
We can ask ourselves: why, among all women, did God choose this Mary of Nazareth? The response is bor in the unfathomable mystery of the divine will. Still there is a reason that the Gospel places as evidence: her humility. This is underlined well by Dante Alighieri in the last Song of the Paradiso: "Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son, / most humble and high of all creatures, / the destination of the eternal counselor" (Par. XXXIII, 1-3). The same Virgin in the "Magnificat," her song of praise, says this: "My soul magnifies the Lord... for he has looked upon the lowliness of his servant" (Lk 1:46,48). Yes, God was attracted to the humility of Mary, who found grace in his eyes. She so became the Mother of God, image and model of the Church, chosen among the people to receive the blessing of the Lord and to spread it over the entire human family. This "blessing" is none other than Jesus Christ himself. He is the Wellspring of grace, by which Mary was moved from the first instant of her existence. She welcomed Jesus with faith and with love gave him to the world. This is also our vocation and our mission, th vocation of the mission of the Church: to welcome Christ in our lives and to give him to the world, "that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17).
Dear brothers and sisters, this feast of the Immacolata shines a light upon this time of Advent, the time of vigilance and trust in the Lord. While we advance closer toward the encounter with the God who comes, let us look to mary who "shines as a sign of sure hope and consolation for the people of God in the journey" (Lumen gentium, 68). With this knowledge I invite you to unite yourselves with me when, in the afternoon, I will renew in the Piazza di Spagna the traditional act of homage to this sweet Mother for grace and of grace. To her let us return now the prayer that recalls the annunciation from the Angel.
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....
PHOTO 1: AP/Pier Paolo Cito
PHOTO 2: AP/Gregorio Borgia