Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - In front of the image of the
Virgin Mary carried to St Peter's Square from Fatima , Pope Francis renewed the
Act of consecration to Mary. " Act we carry out with confidence, confident
that each of us is precious in your sight and that nothing is alien to you".
"We celebrate with you - he said - the mighty works of God, who never gets tired of bending over mankind, beset by evil and wounded by sin, with mercy to heal and to save it. Mother embrace with benevolence this act of entrustment that we make today with confidence, before this your image which is so dear to us. We are confident that each of us is precious in your sight and that nothing is alien to you of all that dwells in our hearts.
We are touched by the gaze of your sweet eyes and welcome the comforting caress
of your smile. Safeguard our lives in your arms: bless and strengthen every
desire for goodness, revitalize and nourish our faith, sustain and brighten the
hope that stirs the soul and charity ; guide all of us on the path of holiness.
Teach us your same love and preference for the young and the poor, the
marginalized and the suffering, for sinners and those whose hearts are lost:
gather all under your protection and deliver us all to your beloved Son , our
Lord Jesus. "
The Act took place at the end of the Mass celebrated for the " Marian Day" on the occasion of the Year of Faith . The Day began yesterday, when the statue of the Virgin of Fatima arrived in Rome gathering more than 100 thousand people to St Peter's Square, even today.
To them, in the course of the Mass, the Pope spoke of the three "realities" seen "by looking to Mary" who is "one of the wonders of the Lord: "God surprises us, God asks us to be faithful, God is our strength". This led Francis to reflect on the question "Do I truly let God into my life ? How do I respond to Him ?"; whether " Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time?" in a " culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith " and if , finally , I know how to give " thanks, praise for what the Lord does for us", because "everything is his gift , He is our strength . "
The first "reality ", therefore, is that " God surprises us ." God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him. This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth: not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). God always surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!"
"Today let us all ask ourselves: Do I fear what God might ask of me, or what he does ask of me? Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own security, in my plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I respond to him?" .
"The second point is "to remember Christ always and to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he asks us to be faithful in following him. Think of all the times we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but then, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have taken on. Often it is easy enough to say "yes", but then we fail to repeat this "yes" each and every day."
"Mary said her "yes" to God: a "yes" which upset her simple life in Nazareth, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt "yes" at moments moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the "yes" she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary's faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son on the cross".
"Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? The culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday actions. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength".
"The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him, and keeping their distance, they call out: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. To know how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us".
"Let us look to Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: "My soul magnifies the Lord" - the Magnificat, a canticle of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he has done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift; he is our strength! Saying "thank you" is so easy, and yet so hard! How often do we say "thank you" to one another in our families? How often do we say "thank you" to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? Often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too".
"Let us invoke Mary's intercession. May she help us to be open to God's surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength."
The act of consecration made today by Pope Francis follows those made by John Paul II. The first took place on June 7, 1981 , in Santa Maria Maggiore. The Pope was absent as a result of the assassination attempt on 13 May, but a prayer he had composed for the occasion was read. The act was renewed in Fatima May 13, 1982 and repeated March 25, 1984 in St. Peter's Square in Rome , in spiritual union with all the bishops of the world, including the Russian Orthodox bishops .
The celebrations will take place on June 24 and 25 in Fatima, with the participation of Lebanese patriarchs and bishops. Macro-history finds its sense in micro-history. The Church is engaged in a spiritual struggle. Leo XIII wrote a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.
Believers meet in many prayer groups. The Dominican Congregation in Vietnam has set up Rosary Associations. Many people are actively involved in promoting and supporting such groups. Several pilgrimages to Vietnam's shrines devoted to the Virgin are organised. Some young Catholics set up the Vinh Fatima prayer group. Celebrations are held throughout May, the Marian Month of Flowers.