.- On Saturday, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass with the 15 new cardinals created in Friday’s consistory. In presenting them with their new ecclesial rings of office, he compared their new roles to that of spouses, stressing their duty to serve with love.
He called the rings "a sign of dignity, pastoral solicitude and ever stronger communion with the See of Peter."
During his homily, Benedict recalled that the previous day’s celebration coincided with the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, during which, he said, "we recognize the origins of the Church."
"Everything began from there," he said. "Every historical achievement of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God."
The Pope gave particular attention to the word “beloved”, with which the Angel Gabriel addresses the Virgin Mary.
"Origen”, he pointed out, “observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture. It is a title expressed in passive form, but this 'passivity' of Mary ... implies her free consent. ... In being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her."
Turning then, to the day’s reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, the pontiff said that the mystery of the double 'yes' to God from Christ and from the Virgin must illuminate the lives of the ministers of the Church, and support the cardinals in their mission as the "Senate of Peter's Successor."
He said that “Today's event emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other, Marian, principle which is even more fundamental.”
“The importance of the Marian principle in the Church”, Benedict recalled, “was particularly highlighted, after the [Second Vatican Council], by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in keeping with his motto 'Totus tuus'."
"Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors,” he stressed, “is 'included' under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her 'yes' to God's will. ... The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also to be found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you.
He called the ring a “nuptial sign” saying that it must remind the cardinals that “first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church, ... which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse.”
In this light, the Pope said that “the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfillment of each."
"Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain," said the Holy Father who went on to recall how the Virgin, after receiving the Angel's message, went to he cousin Elizabeth "'in order to be of service to her.' ... Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbor.”
This, he said is the “image and model of the Church…Every ecclesial community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God Who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love.
Pope Benedict concluded by saying that “this is the path along which I chose to launch my pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a 'community of love'."