Monday, December 8, 2008

The feast of the Immaculate Conception

St Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary by Jean Bellegambe. (Flemish painter c. 1480 - c. 1535)

Vatican City, Dec 8, 2008 / 11:47 am (CNA).- In celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the angelus prayer today at noon. The Pontiff said that this feast is a chance to "contemplate the reflection of the Beauty who saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ."

Thousands of pilgrims poured into St. Peter's Square today to pray the angelus with the Holy Father and hear his teaching on the Virgin Mary. Pope Benedict described her, saying, "this beauty is totally pure, humble, free from arrogance and presumption." This is how the Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, where she told the saint, "I am the Immaculate Conception," he reminded the faithful.

The Pope explained that the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary recalls two truths of the faith: the existence of original sin, and especially the victory of Christ over evil, a victory that shines so sublimely in the form of the Virgin Mary.

"The existence of what the Church calls ‘original sin’ is unfortunately overwhelmingly evident, if only we look around us and within ourselves. The experience of evil is so consistent that it arouses in us the question: where did it come from?" This question becomes an "even more profound one" for the believer, the Pope noted. "If God, who is absolute Kindness, has created everything, where does evil come from?" he asked.

Benedict XVI explained that the answer is clear from the first pages of the Bible, which tell the story of creation and the fall of the first parents.

"God created all that exists, in particular he has created human beings in his own image, he did not cause death, but it entered the world through the envy of the devil (Wisdom 1:13-14; 2,23-24), who rebelled against God, and also deceived men, causing them to rebel." (Continued here)

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