On Mary’s Month

“Pray for This Apostolic Pilgrimage” to Brazil

VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The month of May began several days ago. For many Christian communities this is the Marian month par excellence. As such, in the course of the centuries it has become one of the peoples’ dearest devotions and has been valued by pastors as a propitious occasion for preaching, catechesis and community prayer.

After the Second Vatican Council, which emphasized the role of Mary most holy in the Church and in salvation history, Marian devotion underwent a profound renewal. And the month of May, coinciding at least in part with the Easter season, is quite propitious for illustrating the figure of Mary as the Mother who accompanies the community of disciples united in prayer in expectation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:12-14).

Consequently, this month can be an occasion to return to the faith of the primitive Church and, in union with Mary, understand that our mission even today is to proclaim and bear witness with courage and joy to Christ crucified and risen, the hope of humanity.

I would like to entrust to the Holy Virgin, Mother of the Church, my apostolic voyage to Brazil March 9-14. As did my venerable predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, I will preside at the opening of the General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean.

This fifth general conference will begin next Sunday in the great national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in the city of the same name. Before this, however, I will travel to the metropolis of São Paulo, where I will meet the young people and bishops of Brazil and have the joy to register Frei Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvão in the book of saints.

This is my first pastoral visit to Latin America and I am preparing myself spiritually to visit the continent where almost half the Catholics of the whole world, many of them young people, live. It is for this reason that Latin America has been given the name “continent of hope”: It is a hope that has to do not only with the Church, but with the whole of America and the entire world.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray to Mary most holy for this apostolic pilgrimage and, in particular, for the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, so that all the Christians of those regions may see themselves as disciples and missionaries of Christ, the way, the truth and the life. Many and multiple are the challenges of the present: This is why it is important that Christians be formed to be a “ferment” of good and a “light” of holiness in our world.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. Today’s Gospel reminds us that love is at the heart of all Christian discipleship. During this Easter season may we strengthen our desire to bear witness to Christ’s love in our lives. This Wednesday I leave for my pastoral visit to Brazil. I ask all of you: please accompany me with your prayers! Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and wisdom.

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