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Monday, May 9, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Pope travelled from the residence of the patriarchate of Venice to San Giuliano de Mestre Park where he presided over the celebration of Holy Mass before 300,000 persons.

  In his homily the Holy Father, after greeting those present - particularly the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola - said that they represented "the ecclesial communities born of the Mother Church of Aquileia. Just as in the past, when those churches were distinguished by their apostolic zeal and pastoral dynamism, so today it is necessary to courageously promote and defend the unity of the faith.  It is necessary to give a witness of Christian hope to today's men and women, who are often overwhelmed by the vast and disturbing issues that pose a crisis to the very foundation of their being and their actions".

  While recalling that the churches, works of art, hospitals, libraries, and schools of this city "are dotted with references to Christ", the Pope noted that, "nevertheless, today this being for Christ runs the risk of becoming empty of its truth and its deepest meanings". It runs the risk of "turning into a horizon that only superficially - and in mainly social and cultural aspects - embraces life". It runs the risk of "becoming reduced to a Christianity in which the experience of faith in Jesus crucified and resurrected does not illuminate the path of existence".

  Commenting on today's Gospel reading about the two disciples from Emmaus, "who after Jesus' crucifixion were returning home full of doubt, sorrow, and disappointment", he said that: "The problem of evil, sorrow, and suffering, the problem of injustice and tyranny, the fear of others, of strangers and of those who come to our lands from afar and seem to threaten who we are, leads Christians today to sadly say: 'We were hoping that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, and from injustice".

  "That is why it is necessary that each of us, as with the two disciples from Emmaus, let ourselves by taught by Jesus: above all how to listen and love the Word of God", participating in the sacrament of His Body and Blood. "The Eucharist is the greatest expression of the gift that Jesus makes of himself and is a constant invitation to live our existence in the logic of the Eucharist, as a gift to God and to others".

  Benedict XVI noted that "a traditionally Catholic people can also negatively sense or, almost unconsciously, assimilate the cultural repercussions that wind up insinuating a way of thinking in which the Gospel message is openly refused or surreptitiously hindered".

  "In past centuries", he continued, "your churches have known a rich tradition of holiness and generous fraternal service, thanks to the work of priests and active and contemplative religious. If we wish to listen to their spiritual teaching it is not difficult for us to recognize their personal and unmistakable call addressed to us: Be saints! Put Christ at the center of your lives!".

  The Holy Father affirmed that "the churches that Aquileia has given birth to are today called to strengthen their ancient spiritual unity, particularly in light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geopolitical circumstances. ... My presence among you also seeks to be a keen support for the efforts that are being used to promote solidarity among your dioceses of the Northeast ... and an encouragement for every initiative that tends to overcome those divisions that could frustrate the concrete aspirations for justice and for peace".

  At the end of the Eucharistic celebration and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope invited the faithful to call upon Mary Most Holy so that she might "even today sustain the apostolic efforts of priests; render fruitful the witness of men and women religious; animate the daily work of parents in the first transmission of the faith to their children; illuminate the path of youth so that they might walk confidently along the way laid down by the faith of their forebears; fill the hearts of the elderly with resolute hope; console with her nearness the ill and all those who suffer; and strengthen the work of the many lay persons who are actively collaborating in the new evangelization".
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