In Loreto, following in the footsteps of John XXIII, Pope Benedict XVI has entrusted to the Blessed Virgin the Year of Faith and the and the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
Last October 4, on the 50th anniversary of the historic pilgrimage of Pope Roncalli to the Shrine of Loreto, Pope Benedict XVI went to the town in the Marches to venerate Mary, the “living house” of the Incarnate Word, remembering in particular that “where God dwells, all are ‘at home’”.
Mary, the Pope said, opens “to us the door to her home, she helps us enter into the will of her Son”. But all too often people today are afraid that the Lord’s presence may curtail their freedom. This is an unfounded fear, because God “liberates our liberty”, he repeated, “from being closed in on itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and domination; he opens it up to the dimension which completely fulfils it: the gift of self, of love, which in turn becomes service and sharing”. “God” he reasserted, forces no one, indeed “God asks for mankind’s ‘yes’, he has created a free partner in dialogue”
Mankind’s adherence entails an answer similar to the “yes” of Mary, which is the “fruit of divine grace”. But “grace does not eliminate freedom; on the contrary it creates and sustains it”. The second part of the Pope’s pilgrimage to Loreto was a “crescendo” of enormous crowds and witty exchanges that were not part of protocol, with the many faithful who gathered around him at what is a difficult time for the Holy See.
This was the local Church’s popular and spontaneous way of expressing their warmth and unwavering support to the Pope on his courageous mission of purification and renewal.
As the Pope celebrated mass in front of the Shrine of Loreto, one of the most important Marian shrines in the world, the Pope explained that the call for the lives of people and societies to be the embodiment of faith, “resounds today with particular urgency in the present crisis affecting not only the economy but also many sectors of society.”
In another part of his homily, the Pope entrusted Mary with “all the difficulties affecting our world as it seeks serenity and peace, the problems of the many families who look anxiously to the future, the aspirations of young people at the start of their lives, the suffering of those awaiting signs or decisions of solidarity and love.”