Pope Benedict XVI Warns of 'Pollution of the Spirit'
'There is another pollution...the pollution of the spirit; it is that which renders our faces less smiling, more gloomy, which leads us not to greet one another, to not look at one another in the face'.
The Pope reflected about the pollution of the city and the purity and transparency of Mary when he made the traditional visit to Piazza di Spagna for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The Holy Father blessed a basket of roses that was later placed at the feet of the Column of the Immaculate.
He noted how in the "heart of Christian cities, Mary constitutes a sweet and reassuring presence. [...] In the churches, in the chapels, on the walls of palaces: a painting, a mosaic, a statue recalls the presence of the Mother who constantly watches over her children."
The Pontiff proposed that Mary's message for the city is an affirmation from St. Paul: Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
"She is the Immaculate Mother who repeats also to the men of our time: Do not be afraid, Jesus has conquered evil; he has conquered it at the root, freeing us from its dominion," he said.
Benedict XVI said there is great need of this "beautiful news" as the press brings a daily serving where "evil is recounted, repeated, amplified, accustoming us to the most horrible things, making us become insensitive and, in some way, intoxicating us, because the negative is not fully disposed of and accumulates day after day."
Hearts harden and thoughts darken, the Pope said, and because of this, "the city has need of Mary, who with her presence speaks to us of God, reminds us of the victory of grace over sin, and induces us to hope."
The city is formed by each one of us, the Holy Father continued. And though the "media tends to make us feel always as 'spectators,' as if evil refers only to others, and certain things could never happen to us," in truth, "we are all 'actors' and, in evil as in good, our behavior has an influence on others."
He added: "We often lament the pollution of the air, which in certain places of the city is unbreathable. It is true: We need everyone's commitment to make the city cleaner.
"And yet, there is another pollution, less perceptible to the senses, but just as dangerous. It is the pollution of the spirit; it is that which renders our faces less smiling, more gloomy, which leads us not to greet one another, to not look at one another in the face. [...] Persons become bodies, and these bodies lose the soul, become things, objects without a face, to be exchanged and consumed."
With this backdrop, the Blessed Virgin "helps us to rediscover and defend the depth of persons, because in her there is perfect transparency of the soul in the body. She is purity personified, in the sense that the spirit, soul and body are in her, fully consistent between themselves and with the will of God," the Pope said.
Mary teaches us not only to open ourselves to God's action, he proposed, but also to look at others as he does -- from the heart.
"And," the Holy Father said, "to look at them with mercy, with love, with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, most looked down upon, most exploited. 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.'"
Benedict XVI said he wanted to give public tribute to all those people who silently go about doing good.
"They are so many, also here in Rome, and rarely do they make news," he reflected. "Men and women of every age, who have understood that it is no use to condemn, to lament, to recriminate, but it is better to respond to evil with good. This changes things, it changes persons and, in consequence, improves society."
The Pope concluded by encouraging us to "listen to Mary's voice" in the midst of daily activities.
"Let us hear her silent but pressing appeal," he said. "She says to each one of us: Where sin increased, grace can overflow, beginning precisely from your heart and your life! And the city will be more beautiful, more Christian, more human."
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