.- After celebrating the Mass of Pentecost in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a crowd of at least 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father told the faithful that the Holy Spirit is the “soul” of the Church and that without the Holy Spirit, the Church would only be a “humanitarian agency.”
“In truth many regard the Church in this way because they observe it from outside the viewpoint of the Faith,” Pope Benedict explained. “Yet in reality, its true nature and its real historic presence has ceaselessly been guided and formed by the Holy Spirit and by the Lord.”
“The Church is a living body, whose vitality is, exactly the fruit of the invisible, Divine Spirit.”
The Pope recalled that this year, the Solemnity of Pentecost falls on the day in which the universal Church celebrates the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, May 31, and inspired by this coincidence, he spoke of the youth of Mary and of the Church.
“The young Mary, who is carrying Christ in her womb, forgets herself to run to the aid of others. She is a wonderful icon for the Church in the perennial youth of the Holy Spirit, the Missionary Church of the Word Incarnate, called to bring it to the world and witness it particularly through charity,” the Pope reflected.
“Let us invoke the intercession of Mary, most Holy, so the Church of our time may be continually strengthened by the Holy Spirit,” he urged.
The Pope also prayed for those Christians who are being persecuted, saying,“May the ecclesial communities who suffer persecution for Christ feel the comforting presence of the Paraclete, so that by participating in the Lord’s suffering they may receive in abundance the Spirit of Glory.”
Following the Regina Coeli prayer, the Pontiff spoke of the young people of Italy’s Abruzzo region who will mark a regional Youth Day soon. “In communion with the young people of that land that was badly hit by the earthquake (last month),” he said, “we ask the Risen Christ to send upon them his Spirit of consolation and of hope.”