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Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary 2001

Blessed Pope John Paul II's words at the Angelus
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold"! Thus the Church sings today, as she admires with great joy the miraculous event of the Assumption into Heaven of the Virgin Mary, in body and soul. This solemnity, set in the middle of summer, is a favourable occasion for meditating on the realities that go beyond earthly life. Contemplating Our Lady in heavenly glory, we understand better that our everyday commitments and efforts must not completely absorb us, because the horizons of life are not limited to the earth. In Her who shines with light today, we see the complete fulfilment of what the Heavenly Father promised to those who faithfully serve him, spurring their faithfulness, if necessary, even to the supreme gift of their lives.

2. St Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, was a courageous witness of this fidelity. He was always inspired by Mary, whom he liked to call his "sweet mother". A worthy spiritual son of St Francis, he died on 14 August 1941, precisely on the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption, in the sadly notorious starvation bunker at Auschwitz.

This year is the 60th anniversary of his dramatic and heroic martyrdom. After indescribable sufferings, he was finished off with "an injection of poisonous acid in his left arm" - as recounted in the report by one of those who had observed the death - and, the next day, his corpse was burned in the crematorium ovens. He offered himself eagerly in exchange for a father of a family who was shouting: "My wife, my children! I won't see them any more!" His extraordinarily generous gesture can be symbolically considered a "gift to the family", whose fundamental mission in the Church and in society he understood well. For this reason he wrote, "the mutual love of persons who are united to form a family is an authentic echo of divine love" (SK 1326).

3. May the memory of this martyr of charity help believers to follow Christ and his Gospel without hesitation or compromise. St Maximilian, a devoted son of the Virgin Mary, encouraged families and youth in particular to find in the Mother of God a support in difficult times and a sure guide to holiness.

He always let himself be led by the hand of Mary Immaculate, convinced as he liked to repeat, that "Mary will think of everything for us and, removing every anguish and difficulty, will quickly come to the aid of our corporal and spiritual needs" (SK 2556)."

After the Angelus:

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française. À l’exemple de la Vierge Marie, Étoile de la nouvelle évangélisation, demeurez disponibles aux appels du Seigneur, témoignant par toute votre vie de la joie du salut apporté par le Christ ! Avec la Bénédiction apostolique.

On the great feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, I invite the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors to live the Christian life with renewed trust in divine Providence which leads all creation to its true destiny. I commend you all to Our Lady’s intercession.

Herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache, die nach Castel Gandolfo gekommen sind. Im Herzen des Sommers feiern wir heute den "Großen Frauentag". Liebe Schwestern und Brüder! Möge die Gottesmutter euren Lebensweg begleiten und eure Hoffnung stärken auf die Auferstehung der Toten. Gottes Segen sei mit euch!

Me es grato saludar cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española aquí presentes, así como a quienes se han unido a esta plegaria mariana del Angelus mediante la radio y la televisión.

Saludo de modo especial a los miembros de la Obra de la Iglesia y a los fieles de la parroquia Nuestra Señor de Lliria, de Valencia (España). En esta solemnidad de la Asunción de la Virgen María, os encomiendo a todos bajo su maternal protección y os imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa: Na grande festa da Assunção, convido-vos a confiar sempre na Virgem Santíssima. Ela precedeu-nos a caminho do Céu, tornando-se farol seguro para todo o coração inquieto à procura de Deus. Maria seja o farol que vos leve a Deus! Para todos e para os vossos familiares, concedo minha Bênção Apostólica.

Saluto con affetto i pellegrini italiani, in particolare i fedeli della Parrocchia Santa Maria Addolorata di Zompicchia di Codroipo, i giovani del Vicariato di Noale e quelli dell'Opera di Nazareth qui convenuti da diversi Paesi. Saluto pure i giovani provenienti da ogni parte d'Italia per partecipare ad un Corso di formazione spirituale-pastorale, promosso dal Movimento FAC sul tema "Liberi e capaci di amare in Cristo".

A tutti e a ciascuno auguro di trascorrere nella gioia questa solenne e popolare festa mariana.

Oddając dziś chwałę Maryi wniebowziętej, wspominamy w sposób szczególny Jej wielkiego czciciela, św. Maksymiliana Marię Kolbego. W tych dniach bowiem mija 60. rocznica jego męczeńskiej śmierci. Z podziwem i wdzięcznością wspominamy tego wielkiego syna Kościoła, który bez reszty zawierzył siebie i swoją franciszkańską posługę Maryi Niepokalanej i Jej Synowi. To właśnie bezgraniczna miłość do Chrystusa i Maryi rozpalała jego serce i umysł, budziła apostolski zapał, popychała do podejmowania coraz to nowych form ewangelizacji. W niej też kryła się tajemnica skuteczności jego misji. W końcu ta heroiczna miłość objawiła się w sposób szczególny w oświęcimskim obozie zagłady, w dniu, w którym ojciec Maksymilian oddał życie w zamian za życie współwięnia, ojca rodziny, towarzysza obozowej niedoli.

Niech życie św. Maksymiliana Marii będzie wzorem dla wszystkich dzieci Kościoła, a posiew jego męczeńskiej krwi niech rodzi kolejne pokolenia świadków Ewangelii."

JPII - Castel Gandolfo - Wednesday, 15 August 2001

Blessed John Paul II's Homily
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (I Cor 15,26).

Paul's words that we have just heard in the Second Reading help us to understand the significance of the solemnity we are celebrating today. Christ's definitive victory over death, which came into the world because of Adam's sin, shines out in Mary, assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. It was Christ, the "new" Adam, who conquered death, offering himself as a sacrifice on Calvary in loving obedience to the Father. In this way he redeemed us from the slavery of sin and evil. In the Virgin's triumph, the Church contemplates her whom the Father chose as the true Mother of his Only-begotten Son, closely associating her with the salvific plan of the Redemption.

This is why Mary, as the liturgy points out, is a consoling sign of our hope. In looking to her, carried up amid the rejoicing of the angelic hosts, the whole of human life, marked by lights and shadows, is opened to the perspective of eternal happiness. If our experience of daily life allows us to feel tangibly that our earthly pilgrimage is under the sign of uncertainty and strife, the Virgin assumed into heavenly glory assures us that we will never lack divine help.

2. "A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun" (Apoc 12,1). Let us look at Mary, dear brothers and sisters who are gathered here on a day so dear to the devotion of the Christian people. I greet you with deep affection...

Today a great sign appears for us in heaven: the Virgin Mother! The sacred author of the Book of the Apocalypse speaks of her to us in the First Reading. What an extraordinary miracle meets our astonished eyes! Used to looking at earthly realities, we are invited to lift our gaze: to heaven, which is our definitive homeland, where the Blessed Virgin awaits us.

Perhaps, more than in the past, modern man is consumed by material interests and concerns. He seeks security and often feels lonely and anxious. Then what can be said of the enigma of death? Mary's Assumption is an event that concerns us precisely because every human being is destined to die. But death is not the last word. Death - the mystery of the Virgin's Assumption assures us - is the passage to life, the encounter with Love. It is the passage to the eternal happiness in store for those who toil for truth and justice and do their utmost to follow Christ.

3. "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed " (Lk 1,48). This is what the Mother of Christ exclaimed when she met Elizabeth, her elderly kinswoman. Once again the Gospel has just presented the Magnificat to us. It is Our Lady's response to St Elizabeth's prophetic words: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1,45).

In Mary the promise is fulfilled: the Mother is blessed and we her children will be blessed if, like her, we listen to and put into practice the Lord's words.

May today's solemnity open our hearts to this superior view of life. May the Virgin, whom today we contemplate in splendour at her Son's right hand, help contemporary man to live believing "in the fulfilment of the Lord's words".

4. "Today the children of the Church on earth are joyfully celebrating the Virgin's passing to the celestial city, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Laudes et hymni, VI). This is what the Armenian liturgy sings today. I make these words my own, thinking of my apostolic pilgrimage to Kazakhstan and Armenia on which, please God, I shall be setting out in just over a month. To you, Mary, I entrust the success of this new stage in my service to the Church and to the world. I ask you to help believers to be watchmen of the hope that does not disappoint and never to stop proclaiming that Christ is victorious over evil and death. Faithful Woman, enlighten the humanity of our time so that it may understand that every human life is not extinguished in a handful of dust, but is called to a destiny of eternal happiness. Mary, "who are the joy of heaven and of earth", may you watch over and pray for us and for the whole world, now and for ever. Amen!