Palermo (AsiaNews) - "Mary is the model of Christian life. I ask her above all to help you all walk the path of holiness, briskly and with joy, in the footsteps of many shining examples of Christ” this was the Pope’s prayer before today's Angelus, at the end of Mass celebrated in Palermo where he is on pastoral visit, the occasion of the regional church gathering of families and young people. Recalling that October is traditionally the month dedicated to the Rosary, Benedict XVI added: "The daily meditation on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the Virgin at prayer, strengthens us all in faith, hope and charity."
"To the Virgin Mary - the pope observed - I wish to commend all the people of God living in this beloved land. May She support families in love and education; make fruitful the seeds of vocation that God amply sows among young people, instill courage in the face of trials, hope amidst difficulties, renewed energy in doing good. The Madonna comforts the sick and all the suffering, and helps the Christian communities so that no one in them is marginalized or needy, but everyone, especially the smallest and weakest, feels welcomed and valued. "
Benedict XVI has also devoted part of his homily during the mass to the theme of "walking expediently and joyfully on the path of holiness in the footsteps of many shining examples of Christ". "Your beautiful island - he said - was among the first regions of Italy to accept the faith of the Apostles to receive the proclamation of the Word of God, to adhere to the faith so generously that even in the midst of difficulties and persecution, it has always seen the flourishing of the flower of holiness. Sicily was and is a land of saints, belonging to every walk of life, who lived the Gospel with simplicity and integrity. "
Also in the homily, the pope urged Sicilian Catholics to "witness the faith in the various sectors of society, in many situations of human existence, especially in those that are difficult".
Benedict XVI did not mention the word "mafia", but made indirect references when he asked Catholics not to be ashamed to be Christian witnesses: "One should be ashamed of that evil - he added - which offends God, that offends man, one should be ashamed of the evil that is inflicted on civil and religious communities with actions that loath the light of day”.
"The temptation to discouragement, resignation, comes to those who are weak in faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who believe that there is nothing to be done before evil, often of the deepest kind. Instead, those who are firmly founded in faith, who have full confidence in God and live in the Church are able to bring the uncontainable power of the Gospel. This is how the saints behaved, who flowered, over the centuries, in Palermo and in Sicily, as well as lay people and priests of today who are well-known to you all, such as, for example, Don Pino Puglisi. Tmay they always watch over you and keep you united and nurture in everyone the desire to proclaim, in word and deed, the presence and love of Christ. People of Sicily, look with hope to your future”.
In his reflection before the Angelus, Benedict XVI also mentioned another great witness of lay faith: Anna Maria Adorni (1805-1893), beatified today in Parma. "In the nineteenth century - said the pope – she was exemplary wife and mother and when widowed, she devoted herself to charity for women in prison and in difficulty, for whose needs she founded two religious institutes. Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the 'Living Rosary'".