DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     August 24, 1999     vol. 10, no. 159

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Letter to Commemorate Event in Belgian Shrine

          VATICAN CITY, AUG 23 (ZENIT).- On Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's apparitions in Banneux, located in the Belgian diocese of Liege, Cardinal Jan Schotte, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated Mass at the shrine. John Paul II sent a letter to Bishop Albert Houssiau of Liege, to commemorate the occasion.

          In the apparitions at Banneux, Our Lady "exhorted leaders in society to become protagonists of peace and educators of peoples, encouraging each man to care for his brothers, for the little ones, for the unwanted and for those who suffer, all persons loved by God," the Pope wrote.

          "Every pilgrimage is an intense moment in a Christian's spiritual life; he discovers the power of prayer, which unifies his being, making him the witness that each one is called to be in his mission. With Mary, we become humble children in the Lord's hands, asking forgiveness for our faults and finding (once again) the glory of being sons of God," the Holy Father explained.

          Quoting St. Bernard, John Paul II gave special advice to all the faithful gathered at Banneux: "when you feel the wind of temptation, when you see the reefs of unhappiness, look at the star, and call on Mary."

          The Pope said that the Banneux apparitions challenge Christians to question themselves on one of the most profound mysteries of human existence. "In face of suffering, for which there is no human explanation, the believer goes directly to God, the only one who can help him bear it and live with it, and who offers him the hope of salvation and eternal happiness. God is present in a special way, with tenderness and love, in every person who suffers illness, because He allows Himself to feel what His people experience, whom He loves, and whom He wishes to console and comfort."

          John Paul II ended by entrusting to Mary's intercession all the people who participated in this feast day of Belgian Catholics. ZE99082302

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August 24, 1999       volume 10, no. 159


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