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Monday, May 7, 2012


Vatican City, 6 May 2012 (VIS) - Today, the fifth Sunday of Easter, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square, to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered below.

Commenting on today's Gospel in which Jesus tells His disciples "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower", the Holy Father explained that "the true vineyard is God and the true vine is Jesus, Who with His sacrifice of love gave us salvation and opened the way for us to become part of that vineyard. And just as Christ abides in the love of God the Father, so the disciples, pruned by the Master's word, united themselves profoundly to Him, becoming fruitful branches which produced abundant fruit".

"The day of our Baptism, the Church grafts us as branches onto Jesus' Paschal Mystery, onto His very Person. From that root we receive the precious lymph that enables us to participate in divine life. As disciples we too, with the help of the pastors of the Church, grow in the Lord's vineyard bound together by His love. ... It is important to remain united to Jesus, to depend upon Him, because without Him we can do nothing".

The Holy Father went on to explain this latter concept by quoting a question put to the fifth-century monk John the Prophet who lived in the desert of Gaza: "How is it possible to reconcile man's freedom with the fact that we can do nothing without God?" The hermit’s response was: "If man inclines his heart to goodness and asks help of God, he receives the strength necessary to achieve his task. Therefore, man's freedom and God's power go hand in hand. This is possible because goodness comes from God but it is realised thanks to His faithful".

"Each of us", Pope Benedict continued, "is like a branch which lives only if it grows every day through prayer and participation in the Sacraments, through charity and union with the Lord. Those who love Christ, the true vine, produce fruits of faith for an abundant spiritual harvest".

Following the Regina Coeli, the Pope reminded those present of his forthcoming trip to Milan, Italy, in early June for the Seventh World Meeting of Families. Addressing Spanish-speaking pilgrims he also recalled the fact that today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the canonisation of St. Martin de Porres "whom we ask to intervene in favour of the new evangelisation, that sanctity may blossom in the Church".

Finally, the Holy Father addressed twenty-six new recruits of the Swiss Guard who took their oath today. "I greet the new Swiss Guards and their families, on the feast day of that historic corps", he said.

The oath of new recruits to the Swiss Guards takes place every year on 6 May, usually in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace but this year, due to rain, in the Vatican's Sala Nervi. The ceremony commemorates the 147 members of the corps who lost their lives protecting Pope Clement VII from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome on 6 May 1527.

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