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5/31/2009 3:45 AM
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A candlelight procession through the Vatican Gardens to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes marked the formal end of the month of Mary tonight, May 30. Pope Benedict XVI joined the gathering afterwards and delivered brief remarks.

The celebration took place today because this year, the Feast of the Visitation on May 31, which traditionally ends the Marian month, coincides with Pentecost Sunday, which takes liturgical precedence.

Fireworks brightened the night sky over St. Peter's to mark the celebration.


Venerated Brothers,
Dear brothers and sisters:

I greet you all with affection at the end of the traditional Marian vigil which concludes the month of May at the Vatican.

This year it has a very special value because it falls on the vigil of Pentecost. Gathering together spiritually around the Virgin Mary and contemplating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, you have relived the experience of the first disciples reunited at the Cenacle with 'the mother of Jesus' - "devoted with one accord to prayer" to await the arrival of the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1,14).

We too, on this next-to-last day of May, from this Vatican hill, we invoke an effusion of the Spirit Paraclete on ourselves, on the Church which is in Rome, and on the entire Christian people.

The great feast of Pentecost invites us to meditate on the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Mary, a very close, privileged and indissoluble relationship.

The Virgin of Nazareth was pre-chosen to become the Mother of the Redeemer by the action of the Holy Spirit: in her humility, she had found favor even in the eyes of the Lord (cfr Lk 1,30).

Indeed, in the New Testament, we see that Mary's faith 'attracts', so to speak, the gift of the Holy Spirit. First of all, in the conception of the Son of God, a mystery which the Archangel Gabriel explained this way: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1,35).

Shortly thereafter, Mary went to help Elizabeth, and as she reached her and greeted her, the Holy Spirit made the baby leap for joy in the womb of her aged relative (cfr Lk 1,44).

The entire dialog between the two women is inspired by the Spirit of God, above all the canticle of praise with which Mary expresses her deepest sentiments, the Magnificat.

The entire story of the birth of Jesus and his early childhood is guided in almost palpable manner by the Holy Spirit, even if he is not always named. The heart of Mary, in perfect consonance with her divine Son, is the temple of the Spirit of truth, where every word and every event was kept in faith, in hope and in charity (cfr Lk 2,19.51).

We can thus be certain that the most sacred heart of Jesus, during his entire 'hidden' life in Nazareth always found in the immaculate heart of his Mother a 'hearth' that was always lit in prayer and in constant attentiveness to the voice of the Spirit.

Testimony to this singular syntony between Mother and Son in seeking the will of God was what happened at the wedding in Cana. In a situation laden with symbols of alliance, as the nuptial banquet is, the Virgin Mary intercedes and provokes, so to speak, a sign of over-abundant grace: the 'good wine' which refers forward to the mystery of the Blood of Christ.

This leads us directly to Calvary where Mary stands at the foot of the Cross with other women and the apostle John. The Mother and the disciple spiritually receive the testament of Jesus: his last words and his last breath, when he started to 'hand over the spirit'.

And they also received the silent cry of his Blood, completely shed for us (cfr Jn 19,25-34). Mary knew where that blood came from: it was generated in her by the action of the Holy Spirit, and she knew that the same creative 'power' would resurrect Jesus, as he had promised.

Thus, the faith of Mary sustained that of the disciples until their meeting with the risen Lord, and continued to accompany them even after his Ascension to heaven, as they awaited their 'baptism in the Holy Spirit'.

At Pentecost, the Virgin Mary appears once again as the Spouse of the Spirit, through her universal motherhood of all those who are generated by God through faith in Christ.

That is why Mary is for all generations the image and model of the Church, which together with the Spirit, walks through time, invoking the glorious return of Christ: "Come, Lord Jesus" (cfr Ap 22,17.20).

Dear friends, in the school of Mary, let us learn ourselves to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, to listen to his breath and to follow him obediently. He can make us grow in the fullness of Christ, with those good fruits that the Apostle Paul lists in his letter to the Galatians: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5,22).

I wish you to be filled with these gifts and to always walk with Mary according to the Spirit, and as I express my appreciation to you for participating in this evening celebration, I impart, with all my heart, on you and all those dear to you the Apostolic Blessing.

What a beautiful reflection! More than any spiritual writer I have read (not that I have read very many), Benedict XVI makes the Holy Spirit almost palpably concrete as the Third Person of the Trinity - a 'whole person' not just a 'spirit' (and certainly not a bird). As a lifelong and fully instinctive devotee of the Holy Spirit, I am most thankful.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/31/2009 11:06 PM]
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