Although we’re back to ordinary time in the liturgical calendar, there’s never a time — liturgically speaking — when it the life of the faithful is dull, much less ordinary. As if to remind us of this, ordinary time is frequently punctuated by celebrations, something that breaks up the daily routine.
This week, to mark the end of the Marian month of May, there was the Rosary procession that begins outside St. Stephen of the Abyssinians, just behind St. Peter’s Basilica, winds its way through the Vatican gardens, and culminates in the Lourdes Grotto, where Pope Benedict gave a brief reflection and blessing. The tradition began with John Paul II who, in honor of our Lady of Lourdes, initiated the candlelight procession, led by clergy and those who are sick or elderly, every year on the Feast of the Visitation.
It’s one of the few papal events — if not the only event — inside the Vatican walls that doesn’t require tickets. And, despite not being publicized, the turnout on Monday was huge. In his reflection, Pope Benedict said,
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Mary’s charity does not stop with concrete aid, but reaches its culmination in giving Jesus himself, in “having one find him.” It is once again St. Luke who stresses it: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). We are, thus, at the heart and culmination of the evangelizing mission. We are in the truest meaning and the most genuine objective of all missionary endeavor: to give men the living and personal Gospel, which is the Lord Jesus himself.
And Jesus is a communication and a donation that — as Elizabeth attests — fills the heart with joy: “For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44). Jesus is the true and only treasure that we have to give to humanity. It is of him that the men and women of our time have profound nostalgia, even when they seem to ignore or reject him. It is of him that the society in which we live, Europe, the whole world, is in great need.
To us has been entrusted this extraordinary responsibility. Let us live it with joy and commitment, so that ours will truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, liberty and love reign, fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a true orderly and peaceful coexistence.