In his general audience Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Church, turning to the aspect of her maternity, of which the Virgin Mary is a model encouraging us to reach out to our brothers and sisters. “The Church is also mother because she cares for her children and guides us on the path of salvation,” the Pope stated in his Sept. 3 general audience. “She nourishes and sustains us with the sacraments; she illuminates us with the light of the Gospel, orients us to the good, encourages us in moments of darkness and defends us from the snares of evil, exhorting us to vigilance so as not to succumb to its seductions.” Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear his weekly address, the pontiff began by noting that “In our catechesis, we have often noted that we do not become a Christian on our own, but by being born and nurtured in the faith in the midst of the People of God, that is the Church.” The Church, he said, “is a true mother who gives us life in Christ and, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, brings us into a common life with our brothers and sisters.” Pointing to the mother of Jesus, the Roman Pontiff explained that “The model of maternity for the Church is the Virgin Mary” who “in the fullness of time conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God.” “Her motherhood continues through the Church, who brings forth sons and daughters through baptism, whom she nourishes through the Word of God,” he said. “The birth of Jesus in the womb of Mary as firstborn of many brothers is a prelude of the new life that Christians receive in baptism.” Going on, the Bishop of Rome observed how Jesus “gave the Gospel to the Church” in order to “bring forth new life by generously proclaiming his word and winning other sons and daughters for God our Father.” As a mother, he explained, the Church “nurtures us throughout life by illuminating our path with the light of the Gospel and by sustaining us with the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.” “With this nourishment, we are able to choose the good and be vigilant against evil and deceit, and overcome the difficult moments of life with courage and hope,” the pontiff noted, stating that “This is the Church: a mother who has at heart the good of her children.” Concluding his address, Pope Francis explained that since we are all a part of the Church, we have the call “to live this same spiritual, maternal attitude toward our brothers and sisters.” “Let's not forget that in the Church we are all baptized, and that her maternity is also expressed in our ability to welcome, to forgive, and to instill courage and hope.” He then invited all present to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, praying that we can “learn from her that tenderness which allows us to be witnesses of maternity of the Church.” Following his reflections, the Roman Pontiff extended greetings to groups of pilgrims present from various countries around the world, including Ireland, Malta, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Canada, the United States, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia and bishops visiting from Cameroon for their ad limina.
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