"Yes", he cried, "that is how it was! ... This popular Marian prayer is a vital spiritual means to increase our intimacy with Jesus and to learn, in the school of the Blessed Virgin, always to carry out the divine will".
"Yet in order to be apostles of the Rosary, it is necessary to gain a personal experience of the beauty and profundity of this prayer, so simple and universally accessible. ... The Rosary is a school of contemplation and of silence. At first sight it may seem like a prayerful accumulation of words and hence not easily compatible with the silence which is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In reality though, this regular repetition of the Ave Maria does not disturb inner silence, rather it ... nourishes it".
The Pope recalled that, as in the case of the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, "silence rises up through the words and phrases, not as a vacuum but as a presence of ultimate meaning which transcends the words themselves and, together with them, speaks to the heart. ... Even when prayed in large groups ... the Rosary must be seen as a contemplative prayer, and this cannot come about if an atmosphere of inner silence is lacking". Furthermore, he went on, the Rosary "is interwoven with elements from Holy Scripture" such as "the enunciation of the mystery using ... words taken from the Bible. ... The first part of the Ave Maria comes from the Gospel; ... the second part ... rings out like the response of children who, addressing themselves imploringly to their mother, express their own adherence to the plan of salvation. ... Thus the minds of those who pray remain anchored in Scripture and in the mysteries it contains".
Finally, Pope Benedict spoke of World Mission Day, which is being celebrated today. Once again he evoked the figure of Barotlo Longo who, famous for his spirit of charity, wished the shrine of Pompeii to be "open to the whole world as a centre whence to irradiate the prayer of the Rosary and a place of intercession for peace among peoples.