Rome (AsiaNews) - Being able to make definitive decisions, at a time when the "ephemeral seduces", as if we wanted to stay young forever. The Pope asks this of Mary, who in her lifetime was "a hymn to life," who, as a "good mother", "helps us to grow, to face life, to be free." "Always be signs and instruments of life", is the prayer that Francis has elevated this evening to the Madonna, in his meditation pronounced at the end of the Holy Rosary, in the Roman basilica of Saint Mary Major.
The Pope arrived at the first basilica dedicated to Our Lady in the West, where he went 14 March (pictured), the day after his election, just before 18, greeted by a large crowd. At the entrance he kissed the crucifix, as an act of "taking possession" of the Basilica and went in prayer before the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani, then introduced the recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
After the Marian prayer, addressing those present, the Pope spoke of Mary's being a mother, who, like any good mother, " takes care above all of the health of her children and knows how to heal them with her great and tender love. The Madonna is the custodian of our health. What does this mean? My thoughts go, above all, to three aspects: she helps us in our growth, she helps us to face life, she teaches us to be free".
"A mother helps her children to grow and it is her wish that they grow well; this is why she teaches them to not yield to laziness - which is something that derives also from certain wellbeing -, she teaches them not to adapt themselves to a life of ease that desires nothing beyond material possessions. A mother takes care that her children's growth is not stunted, that they grow strong and capable of taking responsibilities upon themselves, that they take on commitments in life and lean towards great ideals. Our Lady " helps us to grow humanely and in faith, to be strong and not to yield to the temptation of being men and Christians in a superficial way, but to live with responsibility, reaching upwards all the time".
"And then, a mother thinks of the health of her children, teaching them to face the difficulties of life. One does not educate, one does not look after someone's health avoiding problems, as if life was a highway without obstacles. A mother helps her children to look to the problems in life with realism, not to lose oneself in them but to tackle them with courage, not to be weak, to know how to overcome them, in a healthy balance that a mother can "feel" is to be found in between the areas of safety and of risk.".
"One last aspect: a good mother not only accompanies her children during their growth, not avoiding the problems and the challenges of life; a good mother also helps to take important decisions with freedom. But what does freedom mean? Certainly not doing all that one wants, letting oneself be dominated by passions, passing from one experience to the next without discernment, following the trends of the moment; freedom does not mean, so to say, throwing all that one does not like from the window. Freedom is given to us so that we make good choices in life! As a good mother, Mary teaches us to be, like she is, capable of making important decisions with the same full freedom with which she answered "yes" to God's plan for her life".
"How difficult it is in our time to take important decisions! The ephemeral seduces us. We are victims of a tendency that pushes us towards the ephemeral... as if we wished to remain adolescents throughout our lives! We must not be afraid of definitive commitments, of commitments that involve and have an effect on our whole lives. In this way our lives will be fruitful!".
whole existence of Mary is a hymn to life, a hymn to love and to life: she
generated Jesus the man and she accompanied the birth of the Church on Mount
Calvary and in the Cenacle. The "Salus Populi Romani" is the mother that looks
after our growth, she helps us face and overcome problems, she gives us freedom
when we make important decisions; she is the mother who teaches us to be
fruitful of good, joy, hope, to give life to others, both physical and
This is what we are asking of you this evening, Oh Mary, Salus Populi Romani, for the people of Rome, for all of us: give us the grace that only you can give, so that we may always be signs and tools of life".