Catholic News Agency:
At the Etzelsbach Marian shrine in Germany, Pope Benedict said that Mary helps us understand our purpose in life and shows us the path to authentic happiness.
“'Understand,' she seems to say to us, that God, who is the source of all that is good and who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields unreservedly and joyfully to his will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise,” he said.
The Marian Vespers service on Sept. 23 is the latest in a series of events planned for Pope Benedict's Sept. 22-25 state visit to his native land.
Before presiding over the vespers in an esplanade near the small chapel, the Pope greeted the crowds as they gathered in the field of Wallfahrtkapelle for the service.
In his homily, Pope Benedict said that Christians throughout history have turned to Mary, “acting on the spontaneous conviction that Jesus cannot refuse his mother what she asks.”
We rely “on the unshakable trust that Mary is also our mother—a mother who has experienced the greatest of all sorrows, who feels all our griefs with us and ponders in a maternal way how to overcome them.”
“How many people down the centuries have made pilgrimages to Mary, in order to find comfort and strength before the image of the Mother of Sorrows?” he asked.
Pope Benedict explained that Marian devotion focuses on the contemplation of “the relationship between the Mother and her divine Son,” and helps modern man in his search for happiness.
“It is not self-fulfillment that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which can easily turn into a sophisticated form of selfishness,” he underscored.
“Rather it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary and hence also towards the heart of the Redeemer.”
The Pope said that Mary desires “to help us grasp the breadth and depth of our Christian vocation,” and that with “a mother’s tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, who is so rich in mercy.”
“Where God is, there is a future,” the Pontiff said, reiterating the theme for his papal visit to Germany. “Indeed—when we allow God’s love to influence the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open.”
On Sept. 24, Pope Benedict will travel to Freiburg, where he will meet with representatives of the Orthodox Churches along with seminarians at the local St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Chapel. That evening, he will attend a prayer vigil with young people at Frieburg's trade fair grounds.