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Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary 2005

Pope Benedict XVI's homily at Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption
Parish Church of Castel Gandolfo, Monday 15 August 2005 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all, I offer a cordial greeting to you all. It gives me great joy to celebrate Mass in this beautiful parish church on the day of the Assumption. I greet Cardinal Sodano, the Bishop of Albano, all the priests, the Mayor and all of you. Thank you for your presence. The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us. We have a mother in Heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: "Behold, your Mother!". We have a Mother in Heaven. Heaven is open, Heaven has a heart.

In the Gospel we heard the Magnificat, that great poem inspired by the Holy Spirit that came from Mary's lips, indeed, from Mary's heart. This marvellous canticle mirrors the entire soul, the entire personality of Mary. We can say that this hymn of hers is a portrait of Mary, a true icon in which we can see her exactly as she is. I would like to highlight only two points in this great canticle. It begins with the word "Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great in her life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great. Our life is not oppressed but raised and expanded: it is precisely then that it becomes great in the splendour of God.

The fact that our first parents thought the contrary was the core of original sin. They feared that if God were too great, he would take something away from their life. They thought that they could set God aside to make room for themselves. This was also the great temptation of the modern age, of the past three or four centuries. More and more people have thought and said: "But this God does not give us our freedom; with all his commandments, he restricts the space in our lives. So God has to disappear; we want to be autonomous and independent. Without this God we ourselves would be gods and do as we pleased." This was also the view of the Prodigal Son, who did not realize that he was "free" precisely because he was in his father's house. He left for distant lands and squandered his estate. In the end, he realized that precisely because he had gone so far away from his father, instead of being free he had become a slave; he understood that only by returning home to his father's house would he be truly free, in the full beauty of life. This is how it is in our modern epoch. Previously, it was thought and believed that by setting God aside and being autonomous, following only our own ideas and inclinations, we would truly be free to do whatever we liked without anyone being able to give us orders. But when God disappears, men and women do not become greater; indeed, they lose the divine dignity, their faces lose God's splendour. In the end, they turn out to be merely products of a blind evolution and, as such, can be used and abused. This is precisely what the experience of our epoch has confirmed for us.

Only if God is great is man also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not distance ourselves from God, but render God present; we must ensure that He is great in our lives; hus, we too will become divine; all the splendour of the divine dignity is then ours. Let us apply this to our lives. It is important that God be great among us, in public and in private life. In public life, it is important that God be present, for example, through the cross on public buildings, and that he be present in our community life, for only if God is present do we have an orientation, a common direction; otherwise, disputes become impossible to settle, for our common dignity is no longer recognized. Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning with prayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into our time, all time becomes greater, fuller, richer.

A second observation: Mary's poem - the Magnificat - is quite original; yet at the same time, it is a "fabric" woven throughout of "threads" from the Old Testament, of words of God. Thus, we see that Mary was, so to speak, "at home" with God's word, she lived on God's word, she was penetrated by God's word. To the extent that she spoke with God's words, she thought with God's words, her thoughts were God's thoughts, her words, God's words. She was penetrated by divine light and this is why she was so resplendent, so good, so radiant with love and goodness. Mary lived on the Word of God, she was imbued with the Word of God. And the fact that she was immersed in the Word of God and was totally familiar with the Word also endowed her later with the inner enlightenment of wisdom. Whoever thinks with God thinks well, and whoever speaks to God speaks well. They have valid criteria to judge all the things of the world. They become prudent, wise, and at the same time good; they also become strong and courageous with the strength of God, who resists evil and fosters good in the world.

Thus, Mary speaks with us, speaks to us, invites us to know the Word of God, to love the Word of God, to live with the Word of God, to think with the Word of God. And we can do so in many different ways: by reading Sacred Scripture, by participating especially in the Liturgy, in which Holy Church throughout the year opens the entire book of Sacred Scripture to us. She opens it to our lives and makes it present in our lives. But I am also thinking of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that we recently published, in which the Word of God is applied to our lives and the reality of our lives interpreted; it helps us enter into the great "temple" of God's Word, to learn to love it and, like Mary, to be penetrated by this Word. Thus, life becomes luminous and we have the basic criterion with which to judge; at the same time, we receive goodness and strength.

Mary is assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of Heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us? The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, "within" all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a "mother" to whom we can turn at every moment. She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.

We give thanks to the Lord, on this feast day, for the gift of the Mother, and we pray to Mary to help us find the right road every day. Amen.

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus
Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo, Monday 15 August 2005 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the Solemnity of the Assumption, we contemplate the mystery of Mary's passage from this world to Paradise: we celebrate, we could say, her "Pasch". Just as Christ rose from the dead with his glorious Body and ascended into Heaven, the Holy Virgin, completely united to him, was assumed into heavenly glory in her entire person. In this too, the Mother resembled her Son very closely, leading the way for us. Alongside Jesus, the new Adam, "first fruits" of those who have risen (cf. I Cor 15: 20, 23), Our Lady, the new Eve, appears as "the beginning and image of the Church" (Preface), "sign of certain hope" for all Christians on their earthly pilgrimage (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 68).

The Solemnity of the Assumption, so dear to popular tradition, serves as a useful occasion for all believers to meditate on the true sense and value of human existence in view of eternity. Dear brothers and sisters, Heaven is our final dwelling place; from there, Mary encourages us by her example to welcome God's will, so as not to allow ourselves to be seduced by the deceptive attraction to what is transitory and fleeting, and not to give in to the temptations of selfishness and evil which extinguish the joy of life in the heart.

I invoke the help of Mary assumed into Heaven especially for the young people who are participating in World Youth Day who, transferring from other German Dioceses where they were guests for some days or those coming directly from their own countries, are meeting from today on in Cologne. God willing, I will join them on Thursday to live together the various moments of this extraordinary ecclesial event. The highlight of World Youth Day will be the solemn Prayer Vigil on Saturday evening and the Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday, 21 August. May the Most Holy Virgin enable all those who are taking part to follow the example of the Magi in order to meet Christ present especially in the Eucharist, and to return to their cities and native lands with the active proposal to witness to the newness and joy of the Gospel."

After the Angelus:

"Desidero esprimere la mia spirituale vicinanza alla cara popolazione di Cipro, particolarmente provata dall’incidente aereo che ha provocato la morte di 121 persone. Mentre affido al Signore le vittime del disastro, fra le quali 48 bambini di ritorno dalle vacanze nell’Isola, assicuro il mio particolare ricordo nella preghiera per i defunti, per i loro familiari e per quanti sono nel dolore a causa di questa tragedia.

Chers pèlerins francophones, je vous adresse mon salut cordial. Je vous confie, vous et vos familles, ainsi que les jeunes qui sont en route vers Cologne, à Notre-Dame, que nous honorons en ce jour. Puissent les jeunes d’aujourd’hui se mettre à l’école de la Vierge Marie, pour dire comme elle au Seigneur: «Que ta volonté soit faite !».

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present today. I hope that your visit to Castel Gandolfo and Rome will be a source of physical and spiritual renewal so that you return home strengthened in faith and Christian love. I invite you to join me during these days in praying for the success of the coming World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. May the Lord bless you and your families!

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española llegados a Castelgandolfo para el rezo del Ángelus, particularmente a los miembros de la Obra de la Iglesia. También a cuantos se unen a través de la radio y la televisión. Que esta solemnidad de la Asunción de la Virgen María, ilumine vuestra fe y esperanza. ¡Feliz día de fiesta!

A minha saudação aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, cujos passos confio a Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Ela precedeu-nos a caminho do Céu, tornando-Se farol seguro para todo o coração inquieto à procura de Deus. Obrigado pela vossa visita.

Pozdrawiam wszystkich Polaków. W dniu Wniebowzięcia jednoczę się w duchu z pielgrzymami na Jasnej Górze, w Kalwarii i wielu innych sanktuariach. Niech Maryja wyprasza wam obfite łaski. Szczęść Boże!

Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Mit großer innerer Freude feiern wir heute das Hochfest der Aufnahme Mariens in den Himmel. Bitten wir die Gottesmutter um ihre Fürsprache für ein gutes Gelingen des 20. Weltjugendtags in Köln. Euch allen wünsche ich einen gesegneten und frohen Fest. Rivolgo ora un saluto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare saluto i giovani delle comunità neocatecumenali appartenenti a diverse parrocchie delle Diocesi di Piazza Armerina, Oppido–Palmi, Mileto e Locri, che con questa visita hanno voluto confermare la loro fedeltà al Successore di Pietro prima di recarsi a Colonia per la Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù."