.- After noting the arrival of spring, the Holy Father remarked before Sunday's Regina Coeli that May is the Month of Mary. He spoke of her as the Mother and model of the Church, "the perfect disciple of Jesus."
The Pope was joined by thousands in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer on a sunny and clear spring day.
Explaining that for the Liturgy, May always falls within the Easter season, he said, it is "the time of 'alleluia,' of the waking of the mystery of Christ in the light of the Resurrection and of the Paschal faith. It is the time of waiting for the Holy Spirit, that came down powerfully on the nascent Church at Pentecost."
Thus, continued the Pope, the natural and liturgical contexts go together well with the Church's tradition of dedicating the month of May to Mary, the "most beautiful flower" of creation, a "rose" through whom God, in sending his Son, donated "a new spring" to the world.
"And at the same time," he added, "she is the humble and discreet protagonist of the first steps of the Christian community. Mary is its spiritual core, because her very presence in the midst of the disciples is the living memory of the Lord Jesus and a guarantee of the gift of his Spirit."
Mary, said Pope Benedict XVI, was the "perfect disciple of Jesus" and loved her Son as a mother, but also as a "humble and obedient servant."
Referring to Jesus' words described by St. John in Sunday's Gospel that the disciples would be assisted in remembering and understanding his teachings profoundly, the Pope asked, "how could we not think that Mary, that in her heart, a temple of the Spirit, meditated and interpreted faithfully everything that her Son did and said?
"In this way, already before and especially after Easter, the Mother of Jesus became also Mother and model of the Church."
Pope Benedict closed by expressing joy for his upcoming visit to Portugal which falls in "the heart of this Marian month" and invited participation from the faithful through prayer.