Vatican City, Aug 9, 2023 / 03:40 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said Wednesday he likes to invoke the Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady ‘in haste,’” because she is always ready to swiftly intercede for her children’s requests.
“At World Youth Day, the Gospel proposed to young people the model of the Virgin Mary. At her most critical moment, [Mary] goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The Gospel says “she arose and went in haste,” the pope said at his weekly audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall Aug. 9.
“I really like to invoke Our Lady in this aspect,” Francis added. “Our Lady ‘in haste,’ who always gets things done quickly, never keeps us waiting, because she is the mother of all.”
“Mary arose and went with haste,” from Luke 1:39, was the theme of World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. The international gathering of Catholic youth, held Aug. 1-6, drew around 1.5 million people to its closing vigil and Mass with Pope Francis.
Pilgrims at the Wednesday general audience Aug. 9, 2023 hold up an image of the Virgin Mary. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis resumed his Wednesday general audience Aug. 9 after traveling Aug. 2-6 to Portugal and taking a break during the month of July.
While in Portugal, Francis also stopped at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where he prayed a rosary with sick young adults.
“Just as she did a century ago in Portugal, at Fatima, when she addressed three children, entrusting them with a message of faith and hope for the Church and the world,” the pope said, “today, in the third millennium, Mary still guides the pilgrimage of young people in following Jesus.”
He said he prayed at the place of the apparitions that God would heal the world of the diseases of the soul: “pride, lies, enmity, violence.”
“We renewed the consecration of ourselves, of Europe, of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And I prayed for peace, because there are so many wars in the world, so many,” he added.
On his return flight to Rome from Lisbon Aug. 6, Pope Francis said in Fatima he prayed a private prayer for peace, though he opted to skip reading aloud a prayer that consecrated the Church and “countries at war” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Francis said his second visit to Portugal “benefited from the festive atmosphere of… the wave of young people” in attendance at World Youth Day.
“It was not a vacation, a tourist trip, nor even a spiritual event closed on its self,” he said. “The Youth Day is an encounter with Christ through the Church. Young people go to encounter Christ.”
“While in Ukraine and other places in the world there is fighting, and while in certain hidden halls war is planned — it’s terrible, isn’t it? War is planned — World Youth Day showed everyone that another way is possible: a world of brothers and sisters, where the flags of all peoples fly together, next to each other, without hatred, without fear, without closing up, without weapons,” the pope said to an outbreak of applause.
“The message of the young people was clear: will the ‘great of the earth’ listen to it? I ask myself: will they listen to this young enthusiasm that wants peace?” he said.
“It is,” he continued, “a parable for our time, and even today Jesus says: ‘He who has ears, let him hear! He who has eyes, let him look!’ We hope that the whole world will listen to this Youth Day and look to this beauty of youth going forward.”
At the end of his audience, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Slovenia and Georgia, who have experienced devastating natural disasters this week, including flooding and landslides.
In Slovenia, at least six people have died, while in Georgia, at least 16 were killed and 35 more are missing, according to local officials.
“I pray for the victims and express my spiritual closeness to their families and to all those who are suffering as a result of these disasters, while I thank those who have offered them assistance, especially the volunteers,” the pope said.
Francis also noted the Catholic Church’s celebration of the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as Edith Stein, a co-patroness of Europe.
“May her witness stimulate commitment to dialogue and fraternity among peoples and against all forms of violence and discrimination,” he said. “To her intercession we entrust the dear people of Ukraine, that they may soon find peace again.”