After leading the recitation of the Rosary at the colossal shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI called on priests, religious and consecrated to remain faithful to their calling and to live in a manner that attracts new vocations to the Church.
“Remain in the school of Mary,” said the Pope, “Mary Most Holy, the pure and immaculate Virgin, is for us a school of faith destined to guide us and give us strength on the path that leads us to the Creator of Heaven and Earth…take inspiration from her teachings, seek to welcome and to preserve in your hearts the enlightenment that she, by divine mandate, sends you from on high,” he added.
He then praised “all the priests spread throughout the world, especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean” and said that their “faithfulness in the exercise of the ministry and the life of prayer, your search for holiness, your total self-giving to God at the service of your brothers and sisters”, speak “powerfully to my pastoral heart.”
The Pope highlighted that “the witness of a priestly life well lived brings nobility to the Church, calls forth admiration among the faithful, and is a source of blessings for the community” and it is also “the best way to promote vocations.”
Later, addressing religious men and women, the Pope said that consecrated life is “a divine gift that the Church has received from her Lord,” and he gave thanks to God for “your unreserved, totally, definitive, unconditional and impassioned love,” manifested “in silence, in contemplation, in prayer and in the most varied activities that you undertake in your religious families, in favor of humanity and especially of the poorest and most abandoned.”
The Pontiff then insisted one the need to “maintain our sense of belonging to the Church.” “The Pope therefore wants to say to all of you: The Church is our home! This is our home! In the Catholic Church we find all that is good, all that gives grounds for security and consolation!”
“For this reason,” he continued, “the Pope has come here to pray and to bear witness with you all: It is worth being faithful, it is worth persevering in our faith!”
In his closing remarks before the enthusiastic flag-waving crowd that filled the world’s largest Marian shrine and a large area of the surrounding parking lots, Pope Benedict reminded Latin American Catholics that coherence of the faith requires “a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation, which thus contributes to building a more just, humane and Christian society.”
He especially recommended the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and and the abridged version known as the “Compendium.”
While the sun was setting on a cool afternoon in Aparecida, Pope Benedict asked Mary to “guide our steps along the path towards the heavenly Kingdom: Our Mother, protect the Brazilian and Latin American family!”