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Sunday, April 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2010 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today the Pope celebrated Mass at the Floriana Granaries in Malta, the island's largest square which is used to host the most important civil and religious celebrations and can accommodate up to 10,000 people.

  In his homily the Holy Father encouraged the faithful to trust in God and follow His teachings in order to gather an abundant harvest.

  "Not everything that today's world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta", he said. "Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and His Church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live. They tell us we have no need of God or the Church. If we are tempted to believe them, we should recall the incident in today's Gospel" of the miraculous catch of fish. "When Jesus appeared on the shore, He directed them to a catch so great that they could scarcely haul it in".

  Commenting on the first reading of today's Mass, recounting St. Paul's shipwreck on the shores of Malta "and his warm reception by the people of these islands", the Pope highlighted how the crew of the ship were forced to throw the cargo overboard, as the Apostle "urged them to place their trust in God alone while the ship was tossed to and fro upon the waves. We too", said Benedict XVI, "must place our trust in Him alone.

  "It is tempting to think that today's advanced technology can answer all our needs and save us from all the perils and dangers that beset us", he added. "But it is not so. At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in Whom we live and move and have our being. Only He can protect us from harm, only He can guide us through the storms of life, only He can bring us to a safe haven, as He did for Paul and his companions adrift off the coast of Malta".

  "It is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfilment", said the Pope, noting how God "calls us to a relationship of love. ... It is our love for the Lord that must inform every aspect of our preaching and teaching, our celebration of the Sacraments, and our care for the people of God. It is our love for the Lord that moves us to love those whom He loves, and to accept gladly the task of communicating His love to those we serve".

  "In every area of our lives we need the help of God's grace. With Him, we can do all things: without Him we can do nothing", said Benedict XVI.

  He then encouraged the faithful to "preserve the faith and values transmitted to you by your father the Apostle St. Paul. Continue to explore the richness and depth of Paul's gift to you and be sure to hand it on not only to your children, but to all those you encounter today. No visitor to Malta could fail to be impressed by the devotion of your people, the vibrant faith manifested in your feast-day celebrations, the beauty of your churches and shrines. But that gift needs to be shared with others, it needs to be articulated".

  Going on then to refer to Malta's first canonised saint, Dun Gorg Preca, the Pope highlighted "his tireless work of catechesis, inspiring young and old with a love for Christian doctrine and a deep devotion to the Incarnate Word of God". This "set an example that I urge you to maintain", he told his audience.

  In closing his homily, the Pope addressed some words to members of the clergy present at the celebration, in the context of the current Year for Priests. "Dun Gorg was a priest of remarkable humility, goodness, meekness and generosity, deeply devoted to prayer and with a passion for communicating the truths of the Gospel. Let him serve as a model and an inspiration for you".

  "Remember, too, the question that the Risen Lord put three times to Peter: 'Do you love me?' That is the question He asks each of you. Do you love Him? Do you wish to serve Him through the gift of your whole lives? Do you long to bring others to know and love Him? With Peter, have the courage to answer, 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you', and accept with grateful hearts the beautiful task He has assigned you. The mission entrusted to priests is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world".

  After Mass, and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father mentioned the "particular devotion of the Maltese people to the Mother of God, expressed with great fervour to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu", whose image was "brought here specially from Gozo for this occasion. I am also delighted to present a golden rose to her, as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God.

  "I ask you in particular to pray to her under the title Queen of the Family, a title added to the Litany of Loreto by my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, himself on more than one occasion a visitor to these shores. In offering you this tangible memento of my own visit, I thank you for all that I have received from you in return, especially for the warmth of your devotion and the support of your prayers for my ministry as the Successor of Peter".

  Following Mass and the Regina Coeli, the Benedict XVI travelled to the apostolic nunciature in Rabat, where he had lunch with the bishops of Malta and the papal entourage.
PV-MALTA/                                VIS 20100418 (970)

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