Archive of August 15, 2004

In Lourdes, Pope calls Christians to pray for vocations, change world “from the inside”

Lourdes, France, Aug 15, 2004 (CNA) - On Saturday evening, during the prayer of the Rosary before the grotto of Lourdes, Pope John Paul called Christians to pray for more priestly and religious vocations and challenged them to change the world starting “from the inside,” meaning personal conversion.

“Kneeling here, before the grotto of Massabielle, I feel deeply that I have reached the goal of my pilgrimage. This cave, where Mary appeared, is the heart of Lourdes.”

“It reminds us of the cave of Mount Horeb where Elijah met the Lord, who spoke to him in ‘a still small voice’”, the Pope said.

“As pilgrims to Lourdes –he added,- we too wish this evening to retrace in prayer, together with Mary our Mother,”  “We wish to learn from the lowly handmaid of the Lord an attitude of docility and openness to the word of God and a generous commitment to welcoming Christ’s teaching into our lives.”

Before starting the prayer of the Rosary, the Pontiff invited Christians “to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to virginity for the Kingdom of God, so that all those who are called will respond with generosity and perseverance”.

After the Rosary, the Holy Father addressed a personal prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes, asking her among other things to “be our guide along the paths of the world.”

“Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified,” he prayed.

The Pontiff also asked the Virgin to “teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.”

Read the Pope’s full prayer at:

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Ailing Pope launches powerful call for life and freedom from Lourdes

Lourdes, France, Aug 15, 2004 (CNA) - Despite evident signs of pain and weakness, Pope John Paul II delivered from Lourdes a powerful call to defend life from the moment of conception to its natural end.

Before a crowd of more than 250,000 pilgrims, including many sick, the Pontiff said that “with special affection I greet the sick and all who have come to this holy place to seek consolation and hope. May the Blessed Virgin enable you to sense her presence and give comfort to your hearts!”

At one point during the Mass, the Pope said in Polish “pomorzie mi” –“Help me,”- as he gestured to aide Monsignor Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki for a glass of water.

Nevertheless, after a short while, he whispered again in Polish “musze siconczyc” -“I must continue to the end”.-

The crowd erupted into applause, many moved to tears at his refusal to yield to the pain.

Referring to the Gospel, the Pope said that “what strikes us about Mary is above all her loving concern for her elderly relative. Hers is a practical love, one which is not limited to words of understanding but is deeply and personally involved in giving help.”

“The Magnificat –he added- is followed by silence: nothing is said to us about the three months that Mary stayed with her kinswoman Elizabeth. Yet perhaps we are told the most important thing: that goodness works quietly, the power of love is expressed in the unassuming quietness of daily service.”

“Dear brothers and sisters! –the Pope continued- From this grotto of Massabielle the Blessed Virgin speaks to us too, the Christians of the third millennium. Let us listen to her!”

John Paul said the Virgin call women, “in our own time, tempted as it is by materialism and secularism”,  “to be in today’s society a witness of those essential values which are seen only with the eyes of the heart.”

“I appeal urgently to all of you, dear brother and sisters, to do everything in your power to ensure that life, each and every life, will be respected from conception to its natural end. Life is a sacred gift, and no one can presume to be its master,” he explained.

Finally, the Pope said that Our Lady of Lourdes “has a message for everyone”: “Be men and women of freedom! But remember: human freedom is a freedom wounded by sin. It is a freedom which itself needs to be set free. Christ is its liberator”.

Read the Pope’s homily at:

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In Lourdes Pope calls youth to bring “fresh breath of air” to the world

Lourdes, France, Aug 15, 2004 (CNA) - At the conclusion of the solemn Mass on Sunday, during the Angelus prayer, Pope John Paul called the youth to become a source of hope to the world through a life of prayer and austerity.

“I greet in particular all the young people, who are so much at home in Lourdes and have placed themselves so generously at the service of their sick brothers and sisters as hospitaliers,” said the Pope.

“Dear young friends –he added:- these meetings have given me a great hope which I wish to share with you today. Let Mary be your teacher, and you will bring a fresh breath of optimism to the world, as you proclaim to all the ‘good news’ of Christ’s Kingdom.

The Pontiff recalled that Our Lady of Lourdes “called for penance and prayer.”

“She indicated to Bernadette a spring of water and asked her to drink of it. That spring of fresh water has become one of the symbols of Lourdes: a symbol of the new life which Christ gives to all who turn to him.”

“Christianity is truly a fountain of life, and Mary is the first guardian of this fountain. She points it out to all people, inviting them to renounce their pride and to learn humility, so that they can draw from the mercy of her Son and thus work together for the dawn of the civilization of love,” he concluded.

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