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Feast of the Visitation 2011

Papa Benedict XVI's Address in the Lourdes Grotto

at the Candlelit procession in the Vatican Gardens to conclude Mary's month of May
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to join you in prayer before the statue of the Holy Virgin, whom we are contemplating today on the Feast of the Visitation. I greet and thank Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the cardinals and bishops present, and all of you gathered here this evening. At the end of the month of May, let us unite our voice to Mary’s, in her song of praise; with her let us magnify the Lord for the wonders which he continues to work in the life of the Church and of each one of us. In particular, it was and remains for all a cause of great joy and gratitude to have begun this Marian month with the memorable beatification of John Paul II. What a great gift of grace for the entire Church this great Pope’s life has been! His witness continues to illuminate our lives and spurs us to be true disciples of the Lord, to follow him with the courage of faith, to love him with the same enthusiasm with which Pope Wojtyła gave him his very life.

Meditating today on the Visitation of Mary, we are led to reflect on precisely the courage of faith. She, whom Elizabeth receives into her home, is the Virgin who “believed” the Angel’s message and responded with faith, bravely accepting God’s plan for her life and so welcoming within her the Eternal Word of the Most High. As my Blessed Predecessor underlined in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, it was through faith that Mary proclaimed her fiat, “she entrusted herself to God without reserve and ‘devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son’”. This is why, in greeting her, Elizabeth exclaims: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). Mary truly believed that “with God nothing will be impossible” (1:37) and, on the strength of this faith, she, in daily obedience, allowed herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit in his plans. How can we not wish for own lives the same abandonment to trust? How could we cut ourselves off from a happiness that is born of such an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus? Therefore, turning today to the one, “full of grace”, let us ask her to obtain from Divine Providence for us, too, the ability to say “yes” to the plans of God with the same humble and pure faith with which she did. May she, who, by welcoming within her the Word of God, entrusted herself to him without reserve, guide us to an ever more generous and unconditional response to his plans, even when in them we are called to embrace the cross.

In this Easter Season, as we call upon the Risen one for the gift of his Spirit, let us entrust the Church and the whole world to the motherly intercession of Our Lady. May Mary Most Holy, who together with the Apostles in the Upper Room invoked the Consoler, obtain for every baptized person the grace of a life illumined by the mystery of God, Crucified and Risen, the gift of knowing how to accept ever more in our own lives the Lordship of the One who through his Resurrection has vanquished death. Dear Friends, upon each one of you, upon your hearts, especially upon those suffering, I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing.