.- Conversion to God, who is a God of Love, is necessary today for the world to be “liberated from war and terrorism,” said Pope Benedict XVI Monday during his papal visit to the Italian Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.
During his discourse to the faithful who gathered at the shrine, he recalled several points that he made in his first encyclical, Deus caritas est.
“From this shrine, I renew my invitation that was expressed in Deus caritas est: let us live love and, in this way, we will allow the light of God to shine in the world,” he said.
The Pope’s one-hour visit to the shrine on the first day of May launched what is considered the month of Mary in the Church. He led the recitation of the rosary in the old sanctuary and prayed privately in the new sanctuary, which was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1999. He recalled his predecessor’s first visit to the sanctuary in 1979.
“It is a comfort for me to be here with you today to recite the rosary in this Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, in which we express great affection for the Virgin Mary, rooted in the soul and history of the Roman people,” he said, following the prayer.
He noted how the Joyful Mysteries “allow the beginnings of our salvation to pass before the eyes of our heart… We have contemplated the docile faith of Mary, who trusts God without reserve and places herself fully in his hands.”
The link that unites Mary and the Holy Spirit was clear throughout her life, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, to her fiat, to her Assumption into heaven at the end of her earthly life, the Pope said.
“In the encyclical Deus caritas est I wrote that Mary is a woman who loves,” he stated. “Yes, dear brothers and sisters, Mary is the fruit and the sign of the love God has for us, of his tenderness and of his mercy.
“For this reason, together with our brothers in the faith of every time and place, we turn to her in our needs and hopes, and in the difficulties of life,” he said.
The Pope noted that many people will likely make a pilgrimage to the shrine in May and said he expected “strong spiritual support” to emanate from the shrine for the Diocese of Rome, for its bishops and clergy, for families, vocations, the poor, children, the elderly, all those who suffer and the nation of Italy.
“We also await the interior strength to fulfill the promise made by the Romans June 4, 1944, when they solemnly asked Our Lady of Divine Love to spare this city from the horrors of war,” he said. The promise was to correct and improve one’s personal moral conduct and conform it more to that of Jesus.
The Pope also recalled the victims, civilians and troops, in last week’s attack in Nassiriya, Iraq. “We entrust them to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace,” he concluded.