'From the land of St Benedict
my thoughts go to the people of China
and its Catholics', says Pope
CASSINO, May 24 (AsiaNews) – Before reciting the Regina Caeli today Benedict XVI’s “thoughts” went to the people of China and his “affection” to the Catholics of China.
This is how the pontiff marked the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, launched by him with the 2007 Letter to China’s Catholics, to take place each year on May 24th, the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, which is celebrated in a special way in the Marian Sanctuary of Sheshan in the foothills of Shanghai.
“Today May 24th – he said – the liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Help of Christians - who is venerated with great devotion in the Sanctuary of Sheshan, Shanghai - the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is celebrated. My thoughts go to all the people of China,
"In particular I greet with great affection the Catholics in China, and I urge them on this day to renew their communion of faith in Christ and fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter. May our common prayer obtain a spreading of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that unity between all Christians, the Catholicity and universality of the Church be ever deeper and more visible”.
Today’s Regina Caeli was proclaimed from Cassino (intoned and sung by the Pope), beneath the Benedictine Abbey of Montescassino, where the Pope is making a pastoral visit and where he celebrated Mass marking the feast of Our Lord’s Ascension.
During his homily the Pope underlined the contribution of Benedictine monasticism to the dignity of prayer, in the lectio divina, and to work.
"Saint Benedict was a great witness to peace", he said, "because he gathered it into his existence and saw it fruitfully multiply through works of authentic spiritual and cultural renewal. This is why, on the entrance to the Abbey of Montecassino, indeed on the entrance to every Benedictine monastery, the word PAX is emblazoned as a motto: the monastic community is indeed called to live according to this peace, which is the greatest gift of Easter”.
Then recalling his recent journey to the Holy Land – 'a land filled with tensions' – Benedict XVI stressed that “peace is firstly a gift from God, and therefore its strength lies in prayer”.
“It is however a gift entrusted to human commitment. The necessary energy to put it into practise is also found in prayer. That is why it is fundamental to cultivate an authentic life of prayer to insure social progress in peace.
"Once again the history of monasticism teaches us that the growth of all great civilisations is based on daily contemplation of the Word of God, which drives believers to a personal and common effort to fight against all forms of selfishness and injustice.
"Only through the grace of Christ, by learning to fight and win over the evil within ourselves and our relations with others, can we become authentic builders of peace and civil progress.
"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, help all Christians, in their varied vocations and situations of life to be witnesses of the peace, that Christ has gifted us and left us as our mission to be realised everywhere."