- Created on 25 March 2007
VATICAN CITY, MAR 25, 2007 (VIS) - The Solemnity of the Annunciation (which falls every year on March 25, but this year is being celebrated tomorrow because today is a Sunday of Lent), and the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, which falls on March 24, were the central theme of Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus today.
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of the "extraordinary mystery of faith" of the Annunciation, "a humble and unseen event ... that was nonetheless decisive for the history of humanity."
"Mary's 'yes'," he explained, "was the perfect reflection Christ's own 'yes' when He entered the world. ... And through the meeting of these two 'yeses,' God was able to assume a human face. ... Mary's reply to the angel is prolonged in the Church, which is called to make Christ present in history, offering her own readiness that God may continue to visit humanity with His mercy."
Jesus' 'yes' and Mary's 'yes' are renewed, the Holy Father explained, in the 'yes' of the saints, and especially of martyrs who died for the Gospel. He also recalled that yesterday, March 24 and the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, was the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs, "bishops, priests, religious and lay people killed in the course of their mission of evangelization and human promotion.
"They," he added, "are the 'hope of the world' because they testify that love of Christ is stronger than violence and hatred. They did not seek martyrdom, but were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified only as a supreme act of love to God and to one's fellow men and women."
After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that next Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks 22nd World Youth Day, the theme of which this year is Christ's commandment: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."
The Pope invited young Romans to the penitential celebration he is due to preside on March 29 in the Vatican Basilica. "Those who wish," he said, "will have the opportunity to access the Sacrament of Confession, a true encounter with the love of God, which all mankind needs in order to live in joy and peace."
ANG/ANNUNCIATION:MISSIONS/ROMERO VIS 070326 (410)