Vatican City, 8 May 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin celebrated Holy Mass this morning at the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary at Pompeii, Italy, a place of Marian devotion, where on 8 May every year thousands of faithful participate in reciting the Supplication to the Virgin, a prayer composed in 1883 by Blessed Bartolo Longo, founder of the Shrine who visited St. John Paul II in 1979 and in 2003 and by Benedict XVI in 2008.
“We are in a place where charity has pitched her tent”, said the cardinal in his homily, “and has taken root as a constitutive element in a history of faith that continues to look ahead, driven by the powerful force of its humble origin: here the prayer, the chaplet of the Rosary of which the founder Bartolo Longo was an apostle, encountered a situation of an entirely different type; of poverty and neglect, injustice and oppression. Man's dignity was trampled and the poor, the last in line, were barely considered”.
Charity “has opened the doors, has thrown them wide open to hope, giving rise to a new era. No problem, no fear, no matter how strong or reasonable it may be, can drive away a hope that here is made manifest as concrete, made up of works that speak the language of a charity that transforms, constructs and renews. This remains true even though what we experience today does not protect us from trouble and distress, such as the danger of a forever-lurking violence, or the scarce and uncertain job prospects for our young people, for whom not only the current economic crisis, but also delays deep-seated and structural delays make it difficult to look to the future with serenity and confidence”.
The cardinal emphasised three important concepts which may help us to understand what the Lord wishes to say to us every day. The first is that of proclaiming our faith. The prelate mentioned Peter, who was “pulled along by Jesus into an adventure that was greater than him”, with his fears and frail humanity, but with the help of the Lord who sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, he found the strength to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He also mentioned Mary, “humble servant of the Lord and mother of our faith”. “We are all baptised and have received, in Confirmation, the gift of the Holy Spirit”, he continued. “Let us make this gift bear fruit. Let us proclaim our faith like St. Peter. Even if this costs us dearly, as it did him”.
The second concept is to put our faith into practice – that is, to love our neighbour. “It is precisely this that is at the heart of our faith. This is the revolution Jesus brought. Mutual love is the commandment he gave to his followers before dying, defining it as 'his' and 'new'. It is, therefore, the very essence of his teaching”. The cardinal explained that the name “New” Pompeii indicated not only the temporal distance between the ancient and splendid excavated city, but also the territory of the desolate Valley that Bartolo Longo encountered, and made the starting point for a “new beginning”. The founder was aware of the need to put faith into practice, and made the prayer of the Rosary the central pillar of the Shrine, a “house of the faith and hope of a new people”.
Being a light for the world – mission – was the final concept set forth by the secretary of State, who emphasised that, as exhorted by Pope Francis, “we must bring this light, this truth to the world, to bear witness to it and to proclaim it to all, and do so with joy”. To put these concepts into effect, Cardinal Parolin encouraged those present to look to Mary “who welcomed the gift that God gave her and brought it into the world. In the Magnificat, she professed her faith, living at the same time the concrete love for her brethren. She followed Jesus to the end, below the Cross, as his Stabat, living witness of the light of faith, and even today she continues to give to her children”.
The Cardinal concluded, “let us entrust to Mary … all our worries, our anxieties, our needs. Let us pray for the Church, for Pope Francis … for the whole world, and for peace. May the Child we see on Mary's lap and the mystical crown we see in her hand inspire in us the confidence that we will be heard”.