I'll quote at length:
VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2006 (VIS) - At the beginning of the general audience Benedict XVI recalled that today's catechesis was the last "of the long cycle begun years ago by my beloved predecessor, the unforgettable John Paul II," who wished to cover "the entire sequence of Psalms and Canticles that constitute the basic fabric of the Liturgy of the Hours and of Vespers.
"Having reached the end of this textual pilgrimage - like a journey through a flower garden of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation - we now come to the canticle that closes the celebration of Vespers: the Magnificat."
The Pope went on: "It is a canticle that reveals ... the spirituality ... of those faithful who recognized themselves as 'poor,' not only in detaching themselves from all forms of idolatry of wealth and power, but also in profound humility of heart, free from the temptation to pride and open to the irruption of divine saving grace."
If the first part of the Magnificat, the Holy Father explained, is "the celebration of divine grace which irrupted into the heart and the life of Mary, making her Mother of the Lord," Mary's personal witness was nonetheless "not solitary, ... because the Virgin Mother was aware she had a mission to achieve for humanity, and her own story is part of the history of salvation."
In the second part, "the voice of Mary is joined by the entire community of faithful" who celebrate God's actions in history. "The 'style' that inspires the Lord of history is clear: He takes the side of the least and the lowliest." On this subject, the Pope quoted the words of St. Ambrose: "May each one of us glorify the Lord with the soul of Mary. ... If, according to the flesh, the mother of Christ is one, then according to the faith, all souls generate Christ."
Prior to the general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope went to the Vatican Basilica to greet a group of Italian students and participants in a pilgrimage promoted by the French religious family, "Freres de Saint-Jean."
Addressing the students, Benedict XVI spoke of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," recalling that "the love of God is the source and motive for our true joy. I invite each of you to understand and accept ever more this Love that changes life and renders you credible witnesses of the Gospel."
The Holy Father then turned to the participants in the pilgrimage of the "Freres de Saint-Jean" who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the foundation of their organization. "May your pilgrimage be a time of renewal, one in which to analyze the experiences you have had, learn the appropriate lessons, and discern with ever greater profundity the vocations that arise and the missions to which you are called, in trusting collaboration with the pastors of local churches."
The work of John Paul comes to an end in another instance and Benedict is free now to pursue something new and different. I'm interested in seeing what topic he'll cover next time. He could spend a little time on Deus Caritas Est or perhaps he'll take up a Lenten theme? We'll have to wait and see what the professor will talk about next.
The Magnificat (by verse)
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."