We must not be afraid to share our faith, said Pope Benedict XVI from the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Wednesday evening. The "highest priority" today is to make God present in the world lest his light be "snuffed out forever."
The Pope was joined by thousands of candle-bearing faithful for the traditional prayer vigil before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima, celebrated every May 13. He blessed the candles for the procession and recited the Rosary with the people.
Speaking about the crowd of pilgrims, the Pope said that seeing so many people with candles reminded him of "a sea of light" around the Chapel of Apparitions, "lovingly built to the honor of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light."
At the same time, the light is neither ours nor of Mary, Benedict observed, saying that "we receive it from Jesus.”
"His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us."
Further developing the image of the burning bush, the Holy Father said, "we are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan..."
The Pope then went on to recount the story of Moses who guided his people to freedom in the promised land. He said, this was not about the possession of land or a national territory "to which every people has a right," rather, at the center of Moses' struggle for the freedom of Israel is “above all the freedom to worship, the freedom of a religion of one’s own.”
"Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God."
These days, said the Holy Father, in places where it seems as though the faith is like "a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God." This doesn't refer to just any god, he said, but to the God whose love was shown in the crucified and risen Christ.
The Pope implored the faithful not to be afraid to show the faith or speak of God.
Reminded of how the shepherd-children entrusted themselves to Mary's influence and the many times we have been urged to pray the Rosary, the Pope then invited Catholics to allow themselves “to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s Rosary."
Reciting the Rosary, he explained, turns our eyes and hearts to Jesus. When Catholics meditate on the mysteries the Rosary, he said, "let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus ... let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope."
Grace, he continued, will thus fill our hearts and lead us to say as St. Paul did, “For me to live is Christ.”
Laying the worries and hopes of our times at the feet of the Virgin Mary, the Pope asked for her intercession that all peoples, Christians and non-Christians, "may live in peace and harmony" and be united as "the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity."
Following the prayer, the Holy Father returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, while Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Vigil Mass before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima.