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Sunday, November 20, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Shortly before 5 p.m. today, Benedict XVI visited the Home of Peace and Happiness in Cotonou, where six sisters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity look after dozens of abandoned and sick children, and feed may others from the local area who suffer malnutrition.

  The Pope was welcomed by the children with songs and dances. Having prayed with them he visited the centre then, accompanied by the infants, went on to the nearby parish church of St. Rita where a further 800 children from the city were awaiting his arrival. The celebration began with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, after which Bishop Rene-Marie Ehuzu C.I.M. of Porto Novo arose to pronounce a greeting in the name of all those present. The Holy Father then delivered his address.

  "It is with much joy that I greet you", he said. "Thank you for coming out in such great numbers! God our Father has gathered us around His Son and our Brother, Jesus Christ, ... Who loves us very much, is truly present in the tabernacles of all the churches around the world, in the tabernacles of the churches in your neighbourhoods and in your parishes. I ask you to visit Him often to tell Him of your love for Him.

  "Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it", the Pope added. "When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome Him with love and listen closely to Him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell Him, for example: 'Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.' Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure Whom you should share generously".

  "Prayer", the Pope went on, "is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our Brother. ... Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to Him. I can also use the Gospels. That way, I keep within my heart a passage which has touched me and which will guide me throughout the day. To stay with Jesus like this for a little while lets Him fill me with His love, light and life! This love, which I receive in prayer, calls me in turn to give it to my parents, to my friends, to everyone with whom I live, even with those who do not like me, and those whom I do not appreciate enough. ... Ask your parents to pray with you!"

  "Look! I have this rosary in my pocket", the Holy Father explained. "The rosary is like a tool that we can use to pray. It is easy to pray the rosary. Maybe you know how already; if not, ask your parents to help you to learn how. At the end of this meeting, each one of you will receive a rosary. When you hold it in your hands, you can pray ... for every important intention. And now, before I bless you all with great affection, let us pray together a Hail Mary for children throughout the world, especially for those who are sick, who are hungry and in places of war".

  Having imparted his blessing, the Pope travelled by popemobile to the apostolic nunciature in Cotonou where he was due to meet with bishops of Benin.
PV-BENIN/                                VIS 20111120 (630)

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