Pope Francis prays for the world's families
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to imitate Mary’s deep trust and openness to God when faced with serious problems.
“Today we look at the beauty of Our Lady, who was born and lived without sin, always docile and transparent with God. This does not mean that life was easy for her. Living with God does not magically solve problems,” Francis told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis highlighted Mary’s radical trust at the moment of the Annunciation found in her response to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
“Why not start your days like this? It would be nice to say every morning: ‘Here I am, Lord, today your will be done in me’,” Pope Francis said, noting that the Angelus prayer provides an opportunity to repeat Mary’s words.
After the Annunciation, the angel departed and Mary’s “problems began immediately,” he said.
Mary knew that “she would become the Mother of God, but the angel had not explained it to others,” Francis explained. “Think of her irregular situation according to the law, the torment of St Joseph, the skipped life plans, what the people would say…”
“The angel leaves the Virgin alone in a difficult situation… And she trusts,” he said. “We ask the Immaculate to have the grace to live like this.”
The Pope expressed joy at the beatification of the Bishop Peter Claverie and 18 martyred companions, who were proclaimed blessed in Algeria on the feast day.
“Their courageous testimony is a source of hope for the Algerian Catholic community and a seed of dialogue for the whole of society,” Francis said.
Pope Francis later prayed in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, venerating the Byzantine icon Salus Populi Romani inside.
The Holy Father then offered a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the Column of the Immaculate Conception in the piazza below Rome’s Spanish Steps.
Standing beneath the 19th-century Marian monument, Pope Francis entrusted all priests, religious, and Catholic families to the care of the Immaculate Mother.
“O Mother of Jesus, one last thing I ask you, in this time of Advent, thinking of the days when you and Joseph were anxious about the imminent birth of your child, worried because there was a census and you had to leave your country, Nazareth, and go to Bethlehem,” Pope Francis prayed.
“You know what it means to bring life into your lap and feel indifference, rejection, and sometimes contempt. This is why I ask you to stay close to the families that are living today in Rome, in Italy, in the whole world live in similar situations, so that they are not abandoned.”