Castel Gandolfo was busy yesterday as Pope Benedict XVI marked the solemnity of the Assumption.
First there was the celebration of Mass at the Church of St. Thomas, located just across from the summer Papal residence. Later in the day, the Holy Father welcomed the faithful to Castel Gandolfo for his Angelus address.
Of course, his address and homily focused on our Blessed Mother, and the significance of her assumption "body and soul into heavenly glory". (Munificentissimus Deus 44)
In his homily the Pontiff stressed Mary's great faith. The Pope said faith is the root of the victory over death that we see anticipated in the Assumption. Her faith is "obedience to the Word of God and a total abandon to divine initiative and action as announced to her by the Archangel."
The Pope also offered a meditation on Heaven during his homily. He says when the Church teaches that Mary was taken "body and soul into heaven," heaven
is not a reference "to some place in the universe, a star or something similar." He explained:
With the word "Heaven', we affirm that God, the God who made himself close to us, will never abandon us, not even in death or beyond it, but has a place for us and grants us eternity. We are saying that in God, there is a place for us.
... It is his love that triumphs over death and that gives us eternity, and it is this love that we call 'heaven'. God is so great that he has room for all of us. ...
And God welcomes to his eternity that which now, in this life made up of suffering and love, of hope, of joy and sadness, grows and 'becomes'. All of man, all of human life, is taken in by God and, purified in him, receives eternity.
Dear friends, I think this is a reality that should fill us with profound joy. Christianity does not just announce some generic salvation of the soul in an imprecise afterlife, in which everything that was precious and dear to us in life would be annulled - but it promises eternal life, 'the life of the world to come'. Nothing of that which is precious and dear to us will end in ruin but will rather find their fullness in God.
You can find the full text of the homily HERE
At the Angelus, the Holy Father's focus shifted from faith to joy.
Framing his address in Sunday's Gospel of the Visitation, Pope Benedict noted that Mary went in haste to Elizabeth to bring her the Savior of the world.
When she arrived, the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped with joy:
The two women, who were awaiting the fulfillment of divine promises, had a foretaste of the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the joy of salvation.
Quoting Servant of God Paul VI, the Pope says though Mary was assumed in to heaven, she did not give up her mission of intercession and salvation. He encouraged the faithful to invoke her to accompany us now so that she may one day welcome us alongside her Son Jesus in heaven.
To read the Angelus text, visit HERE
CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo