CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Assumed into heaven, Mary is with God and is ready to listen and respond to cries for help, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Joining God in heaven, Mary “does not draw away from us, does not go to an unknown galaxy,” but becomes “even closer to each one of us,” the pope said Aug. 15 during his homily at Mass for the feast of the Assumption.
With his 88-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, seated in the front pew, the pope celebrated an early morning Mass in the Church of St. Thomas. Using a white-handled cane, the pope walked to the church across the square from the main entrance to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.
Mary's assumption, he said, gives believers “a sure hope: God expects us, he awaits us. We are not moving toward a void.”
“And going to that other world, we will find the goodness of the Mother (Mary), we will find our loved ones, we will find eternal love,” the pope said.
Pope Benedict, who set aside his prepared text for much of his homily, said that Mary's closeness to God ensures her closeness to all God's creatures.
“Mary, totally united with God, has a heart that is so big that all creation can find a place there,” a fact illustrated by the votive offerings people around the world leave at Marian shrines and statues when their prayers are answered, he said.
Mary's presence in heaven shows that “in God there is room for man,” he said.
At the same time, he said, she demonstrates that “in man there is room for God,” and when God is present within individuals and they allow God to influence the way they act in the world, the world becomes a better place.
Many people today speak of their hopes for a better world, he said.
“If and when this better world will come, we do not know. But one thing is certain: A world that moves away from God will not become better, but worse. Only the presence of God can guarantee a better world.”
The Christian hope for a better world and for finding a place with God for eternity “is not just yearning for heaven,” but allowing one's desire for God to “make us untiring pilgrims, increasing our courage and strength of faith, which is at the same time the courage and strength of love,” he said.
Later Aug. 15, Pope Benedict recited the Angelus with visitors crowded into the courtyard of the papal summer villa.
Continuing his reflection on the meaning of the Assumption, he said that “it shows us, in a brilliant way, our destiny and that of humanity and of history. In Mary, in fact, we contemplate that reality of glory to which each one of us and the entire church is called.”