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30.05.2018 | 22:47 | IKA E - 200835/5

Celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of the Stone Gate

Let us continue to be pilgrims to the Stone Gate that safeguards Mary's presence for the Church of Zagreb, for the city of Zagreb, and for all the people who venerate and invoke her as the Queen of the Croats, said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who, at the invitation of Cardinal Josip Bozanić, conducted Mass on May 30 in celebration of the feast of the patron saint of the city of Zagreb.

Zagreb, (IKA) – At the invitation of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Mass on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Stone Gate, was celebrated on Wednesday, May 30, at the cathedral in Zagreb by the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Genoa and President of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. The concelebrants included the Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Croatia, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto; the Archbishop of Utrecht, Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk; the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia; the Archbishop of Rijeka, Msgr. Ivan Devčić; the Bishop of Banja Luka, Msgr. Franjo Komarica; the Bishop of Varaždin, Msgr. Josip Mrzljak; the Bishop of Sisak, Msgr. Vlado Košić; the Vladika of Križevci, Msgr. Nikola Kekić; the Bishop of Bjelovar-Kriiževci, Msgr. Vjekoslav Huzjak; the Military Ordinary in the Republic of Croatia, Msgr. Jure Bogdan; the Bishop of Šibenik, Msgr. Tomislav Rogić, the Auxiliary Bishops of Zagreb, Msgr. Ivan Šaško and Msgr. Mijo Gorski, the Archbishop Emeritus of Đakovo-Osijek, Msgr. Marin Srakić; the Military Ordinary Emeritus, Msgr. Juraj Jezerinac; the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Zagreb, Msgr. Valentin Pozaić, as well as the Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature, Msgr. Janusz Stanislaw Blachowiak; the provincials of religious communities and over a hundred priests.
In introductory remarks, Cardinal Bozanić greeted the pilgrims to Our Lady of the Stone Gate, patron saint of the city of Zagreb, as well as the participants in the Twenty-Fifth Congress of the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC) being held in Zagreb.
Addressing the main celebrant of the Mass, Cardinal Bozanić said: "With an open heart and sincere welcome, I greet you on behalf of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and all the people of God assembled today at this celebration." As a token of gratitude and memento of this occasion, Cardinal Bozanić presented a bust of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac to Cardinal Bagnasco.
At the beginning of the homily, Cardinal Bagnasco spoke about the large number of the assembled faithful and noted that their participation was a reflection of "sincere devotion to the Blessed Virgin and that the Mother of God lives in your hearts." Noting that the celebration coincides with the feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, who asked: "'And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?,'" the cardinal emphasized that we, together with her, ask this question because "this venerated image of Mary, safeguarded for centuries in the Stone Gate, reminds us that Our Lady continues to visit simple and faithful people such as Elizabeth. Precisely as she did then, today she continues to come to nourish the faith by bringing us Jesus. She brings us the Divine Child, who is the way, the truth and the life."
During the homily, Cardinal Banasco also spoke about secularism and cautioned that today peoples and nations are afflicted by a deadly individualism that, in the name of absolute freedom, divides people from each other and condemns everyone to sorrowful loneliness.
"Christ is the light of nations, and by closing ourselves off from him, we lose the food for the soul, we lose our breath, we lose the strength to walk and we lose courage in adversity. This means to obscure the goal of eternity; this means to become wanderers of the earth instead of celestial pilgrims. Everything become grey and arduous, even the most beautiful and greatest realities. The Child Jesus carried by his Great Mother is the light of the world, the bridge that opens the realm of God, the beginning and the end, the center of the world and history. He is the King of the new world and the secret of joy; he is the Redeemer and teacher of humanity who knows us and loves us; he is our judge and one day, so we hope, our blessed eternity. We will never stop talking about him," said the cardinal, and continued: "We also cannot remain silent about Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, whose earthly remains are venerated in this beautiful cathedral. This year, we are celebrating the hundred and twentieth anniversary of his birth and the twentieth anniversary of his beatification. His profound piety toward Our Lady is well known, and he ardently recommended the prayer of the Holy Rosary and other devotions prayed with Mary, both by individuals and families. We know how he entrusted himself to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We can say that in a certain sense Blessed Alojzije Stepinac gives voice to the soul of the Croatian nation. His voice expresses the spirit of Croatia, the spirit formed by its language, its culture, its tradition and its history. This treasure did not remain only in the past; it is present here and now; it is not dead but fruitful, capable of inspiring a community of life that has a face and a soul. If this legacy of values and faith is lived and transmitted from one generation to another, then the nation has something beautiful and great, true and noble to tell and offer other nations, so that they can march together in mutual respect and fraternity. It is only upon spiritual and ethical foundations that it is possible to feel that one is living in a peaceful home."
The cardinal urged the faithful not to forget their origins, because "to forget means to die, it means not to know who we are and where we are going. Our roots are the gospel, which is entwined the course of history and makes humanity fruitful, opens it to God and neighbor, forms individual and collective consciousness, the consciousness of the family and the nation. Therefore, Christianity is not the past but it is news: the Christian community should grow in faith, in prayer, in catechesis, in reciprocal kindness and in courage. Only in that way will it be a sign of a new day, a sign of hope for all."
"The Most Holy Virgin shows us Jesus, the light that does not dim. She brings him to the world with the powerful tenderness of her motherhood. Let us trust in her and continue to be pilgrims to the Stone Gate that safeguards her presence for the Church of Zagreb, for the city of Zagreb, and for all the people who venerate and invoke her as the Queen of the Croats," said Cardinal Bagnasco at the conclusion of his homily.
Following the prayers after Holy Communion, Cardinal Bagnasco once again encouraged the faithful to safeguard the faith of their ancestors, who entrusted it to them and for which they suffered. "Pass this torch on to your children, to your young people, and they will be happy. Your testimony to the faith is also our strength … You, holy nation of God, confirm our faith, our vocation. Remain close to us, as we pastors are close to you. Now we shall go on a short pilgrimage behind the image of Our Lady. This brief procession symbolizes our procession from this earth toward heaven. Do not be afraid. The great Mother of God is with us," said the President of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe.
Then a procession behind the miraculous picture of Our Lady of the Stone Gate set out from the cathedral via Ban Josip Jelačić Square to the Stone Gate, where prayers were said by Cardinal Bozanić and a blessing of the faithful was bestowed by Cardinal Bagnasco.

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