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Veronica Scarisbrick reports on the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Holy Mass at the Marian Shrine of Aparecida on Wednesday 24th of July:

While Pope Francis inherited from Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus, most of the planned World Youth Day events, he also chose to add to the schedule a visit to the Marian Shrine of Aparecida which lies two hundred kilometres from Rio de Janeiro and is visited each year by over seven million pilgrims.

It took place on Wednesday, the 24th of July. The event began at the Basilica of the Shrine with a brief moment of prayer in the Chapel by the Hall of the 12 Apostles where an image of Our Lady is housed and it ended with an Act of Consecration to Our Lady of Apericida. A consecration which took place at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated in Portuguese with the local Bishops. During his homily on this occasion, Pope Francis highlighted in a special way his Marian devotion.

As we know right from the very start of his pontificate Pope Francis entrusted his ministry as Successor of Peter to Our Lady making a surprise visit to Rome’s Basilica of Saint Mary Major on the day after his election.
In Brazil Pope Francis chose to repeat this gesture of Marian devotion , during his first visit to Latin America, personally requesting it be added to his World Youth Day schedule.
He did so at the Marian Shrine of Aparecida, on Wednesday 24th of July in the course of his homily during Holy Mass, at what he described as the house of the Mother of every Brazilian. It was here that he chose to place at her feet the future not just of the young pilgrims currently in Brazil for the XXVIII World Youth Day but also that of the people of the entire Latin American continent.
“When the Church looks for Jesus”, he said on this occasion, “she always knocks at his Mother’s door”. I too, he remarked , have come here to knock on the door of the house of Mary, so she may help us pass on to future generations those values necessary to build both a more just and fraternal nation and world. In order to do this Pope Francis indicated three simple attitudes to be adopted: to be hopeful, to allow ourselves to be surprised by God and to live joyfully.
To be hopeful, Pope Francis insisted forcefully, because despite the presence of evil in society with its attraction to idols that take the place of God such as money , success, power and pleasure , God always has the upper hand. To allow ourselves to be surprised by God because, even in the midst of difficulties, God can surprise us if we place our trust in him. And to live joyfully because Christians should never be gloomy as they always have at their side, the face of God as a loving Father.
Attitudes these the Pope encouraged the faithful to adopt here in Aparecida, where six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held. A Conference Pope Francis described on Wednesday as a great moment for the Church, one which gave birth to a Document which he himself wrote up. And one which six years later he described as the result of interplay between the work of the Bishops and that of the simple faith of the pilgrims under Mary’s maternal protection.

By Veronica Scarisbrick

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