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The mosaic of peace

· Benedict XVI presides over the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word in preparation for the day in Assisi ·

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«‘Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace’ means the commitment which we want to solemnly renew, together with members of other religions and also with non-believers who are sincerely searching for truth, in promoting the true good of humanity in the construction of peace,» said Benedict XVI, describing the significance of the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, which he will preside over on Thursday, October 27 in Assisi, together with religious leaders from around the world, on the 25th anniversary of the historical meeting convened in 1986, by Blessed John Paul II in the city of St. Francis.

On Wednesday morning, October 26th, the Pope addressed the faithful who had come to Rome to participate in the weekly general audience. This morning’s audience, however, was a special one given that it was held on the eve of the “Day of Assisi.” The Pope invited the faithful from the diocese of Rome and all other dioceses to participate in order to pray together for peace. Meetings and celebrations have been organized to accompany the Pope’s pilgrimage to the city of St. Francis.

“As Christians,” the Pope said, “ we are convinced that prayer is the most precious contribution that we can make to the cause of peace. For this reason, we gather today, as the Church of Rome, together with other pilgrims, to listen to the Word of God, and to invoke with faith the gift of peace. The Lord can illuminate our minds and our hearts and guide us to be builders of justice and reconciliation in our daily lives and in the world.”

Benedict XVI then spoke about the reading from the prophet Zechariah, which had been read in various languages at the celebration, emphasizing, “the announcement that is full of hope and light,” of the salvation promised by God. The image evokes the kingdom of God, the kingdom that Christ inaugurates in a universal dimension and of which he became king. “How can we build this kingdom today?” asked the Pope. The Gospel of Matthew offers the answer in the command of Jesus to his apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations….I am with you, until the end of the world.” The Pope’s journey to Assisi is born out of this command. “As Christians,” Pope Benedict said, “we wish to ask God for the gift of peace, we pray that He make us instruments of peace in a world still torn by hatred, by divisions, by selfishness, by war. We ask that the meeting Thursday in Assisi encourage dialogue among people of different religious affiliations and bring a ray of light to illuminate the minds and hearts of all men and women, so that rancor may give way to pardon, division to reconciliation, hatred to love, violence to gentleness and that peace reign in the world.”

The Pope will leave by train for Assisi at 8am on Thursday, 27th from the Vatican City station. Traveling with him will be leaders and representatives of religions from around the world. His arrival in Assisi is scheduled for 10am where he will first visit the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels to listen to testimonies of peace. Following a frugal lunch at the refectory of the convent and a moment for private prayer, the delegates will gather in the lower square of the convent of St. Francis for the concluding meeting. Before returning to Rome, Benedict XVI, accompanied by heads of the delegations, will visit the crypt to pray in silence at the tomb of the Saint.

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