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General Audience His Holiness Benedict XVI 29th December 2010

Lunche offered to Rome's neediest served by the Missionaries of Charity

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 26th December 2010

URBI ET ORBI Message His Holiness Benedict XVI CHRISTMAS 25th December 2010

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord - Midnight Mass Vatican Basilica 24th December 2010

 

 

 



On this Third Sunday of Advent the liturgy proposes a passage from the Letter of St. James that opens with this exhortation: "Be constant, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). It seems to me more important than ever in our days to underscore the importance of constancy and patience, virtues that belonged to the generation of our fathers but which are less popular today in a world that instead exalts change and the capacity always to adapt to new situations.

Homage to the Immaculate at the Spanish Steps by His Holiness Benedict XVI 8th December 2010

Do not fear, my child, God loves you; he loves you personally; he thought of you before you came into the world and called you into being to fill you with love and with life and for this reason he came to meet you, he made himself like you, he became Jesus, God-man, like you in all things but without sin; he gave himself for your sake to the point of dying on the Cross, and thus he gave you a new life, free, holy and immaculate” (cf. Eph 1:3-5). Mary gives us this message...

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 5th December 2010

The Gospel of this Second Sunday of Advent (Mt 3:1-12), presents to us the figure of St John the Baptist, who, a famous prophecy of Isaiah says (cf. 40:3), withdrew to the desert of Judaea and, with his preaching, called the people to convert so as to be ready for the coming of the Messiah, now at hand.

Homily Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 27 November 2010

The Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new Liturgical Year, starting with its first season: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. "Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord"

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 28 November 2010

Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent how to live our daily actions with a new spirit, with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill..

 

 


 

 

 

 

Christmas

A Pope and the poor



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http://media01.vatiradio.va/imm/1_0_450087.JPG Pope Benedict XVI offered a luncheon to people assisted by the various Roman communities of the Missionaries of Charity, in order to mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The lunch, which took place in the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, was attended by 350 people from various welcome centres, and by 150 religious, including Missionaries of Charity, Contemplative Brothers, priests and seminarians.
Following some words of greeting by Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Pope arose to address the assembly. "May the light of the Baby Jesus, of the Son of God made man, illuminate our lives to transform them into light, as we see happen particularly in the lives of saints", he said. In this context, he also recalled the witness of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which he defined as "a reflection of the light of God's love. Celebrating a hundred years since her birth is a cause for gratitude and reflection, for a renewed and joyful commitment to serve the Lord and our brothers and sisters, especially the most needy".
"Blessed Teresa of Calcutta", the Holy Father said, "showed charity to everyone without distinction, but with a preference for the poor and abandoned: a luminous sign of God's paternity and goodness. In all people she was able to recognise the face of Christ, Whom she loved with her entire being. She continued to encounter the Christ she adored and received in the Eucharist in the streets and lanes of the city, becoming a living 'image' of Jesus Who pours the grace of merciful love onto man's wounds.
"To those who ask why Mother Teresa became as famous as she did, the answer is simple: because she lived humbly and discretely for and in the love of God. She herself said that her greatest prize was to love Jesus and serve Him in the poor. Her diminutive figure, her hands joined in prayer or caressing the sick, a leper, the dying, a child, was the visible sign of an existence transformed by God. In the night of human pain she made the light of divine Love shine and helped many hearts to find the peace which only God can give.
"We thank the Lord", Benedict XVI added, "because in Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we all see how our lives can change when we meet Jesus; how they can become a reflection of the light of God for other people. To so many men and women who experienced poverty and suffering, she gave the consolation and certainty that God never abandons anyone, ever. Her mission continues through those who, here as elsewhere in the world, live the charism of being missionaries of charity.
"We are very grateful, dear sisters and brothers, for your humble and discreet presence, hidden to the eyes of mankind but extraordinary and precious to the heart of God. Your life witness shows man - who often searches for illusory happiness - where true joy is to be found: in sharing, in giving, in loving with the same gratuitousness as God, which breaks all the logic of human selfishness".
The Holy Father concluded his remarks with assurances of his prayers. "Know that the Pope loves you", he said, "and carries you in his heart, gathering you all together in a paternal embrace".

Dear friends,

I'm very happy to be here today with you, and I extend warm greetings to the Reverend Mother-General of the Missionaries of Charity, to the priests, sisters, contemplative brothers and and all of you here to enjoy this brotherly moment together.

The light of the Lord's Birth fills our hearts with the joy and peace announced by the Angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those whom he loves." The Baby that we see in the manger is God himself who made himself man, to show us how much he desires our good, how much he loves us: God has become one of us, that he might make himself close to each of us, that he might conquer evil, liberate us from sin, give us hope, that he might tell us that we are never alone. We can always look to Him without fear, calling Him Father, sure that in every moment, in every situation of life, even the most difficult ones, He never forgets us. May we say ever more often: Yes, God himself takes care of me, he loves me, Jesus was born for me, too; I must trust in him always.

Dear brothers and sisters, clinging to the light of the Baby Jesus, of the Son of God made man, illuminates our lives to transform them in light, which we see especially in the lives of the saints. I think of the witness of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, a reflection of the light of the love of God. To celebrate a hundred years since her birth is cause for gratitude and for reflection, that we might have a renewed and joyous charge toward the service of the Lord and our brothers and sisters, especially the neediest among us. As we know, the Lord himself wanted to be needy. Dear Sisters, Priests and Brothers, dear friends, love is the force that changes the world, because God is love. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta lived love for everyone without distinction, but with a preference for the poorest and most abandoned: a luminous sign of the fatherhood and the goodness of God. She knew to recognize in each person the face of Christ, who she loved with her whole self: the Christ who she loved and received in the Eucharist she continued to find in the streets and pathways of the city, becoming living "images" of Jesus who crosses over the wounds of man with the grace of his merciful love. Whoever asks why Mother Teresa became so famous, the answer is simple: because she lived in a humble, hidden way, for love and in love of God. She herself affirmed that her greatest prize was to love Jesus and serve him in the poor. Her tiny figure, whether with her hands joined together or embracing a sick person, a leper, the dying, a child, is the visible sign of an existence transformed by God. Amid the night of human suffering, she became resplendent in the light of divine Love and helped so many hearts find the peace only God can give.

Let us thank the Lord, that in Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we all have seen how our existence can change when it encounters Jesus; it can become for others a reflection of the light of God. To many men and women, in situations of sorrow and suffering, she gave consolation and the certainty that God doesn't abandon anyone, ever! Her mission continues among many, here and in other parts of the world, who live her charism of being missionaries and missionaries of Charity. Our thanks to you is great, dear Sisters, dear Brothers, for your humble, discreet, almost hidden presence in the eyes of men, but extraordinary and precious to the heart of God. To man often in search of happy, fleeting illusions, your witness of life says where true joy is found: in sharing, in giving, in loving with the same generosity of God that destroys the logic of human selfishness.

Dear friends! Know that the Pope loves you, carries you in his heart, brings you all close in a fatherly embrace and prays for you. Every wish for a Merry Christmas! Thank you for wanting to share the joy of these feast days with me. I call upon the maternal protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth who we celebrate today -- Jesus, Mary and Joseph -- and I bless all of you and your dear ones.

 

DISCORSO DEL SANTO PADRE BENEDETTO XVI

PRANZO OFFERTO DAL SANTO PADRE AI POVERI 
OSPITI DELLE CASE ROMANE DELLE MISSIONARIE DELLA CARITÀ
IN OCCASIONE DEL 100° ANNIVERSARIO DELLA NASCITA 
DELLA BEATA MADRE TERESA DI CALCUTTA
DISCORSO DEL SANTO PADRE BENEDETTO XVI
Atrio dell'Aula Paolo VI
Domenica, 26 dicembre 2010

Cari amici,
sono molto contento di essere oggi con voi e rivolgo il mio cordiale saluto alla Reverenda Madre Generale delle Missionarie della Carità, ai Sacerdoti, alle Suore, ai Fratelli contemplativi e a tutti voi presenti per vivere insieme questo momento fraterno.
La luce del Natale del Signore riempie i nostri cuori della gioia e della pace annunciata dagli Angeli ai pastori di Betlemme: “Gloria a Dio nel più alto dei cieli e sulla terra pace agli uomini, che egli ama”(Lc 2,14). Il Bambino che vediamo nella grotta è Dio stesso che si è fatto uomo, per mostrarci quanto ci vuole bene, quanto ci ama: Dio è diventato uno di noi, per farsi vicino a ciascuno, per vincere il male, per liberarci dal peccato, per darci speranza, per dirci che non siamo mai soli. Noi possiamo sempre rivolgerci a Lui, senza paura, chiamandolo Padre, sicuri che in ogni momento, in ogni situazione della vita, anche nelle più difficili, Egli non ci dimentica. Dobbiamo dirci più spesso: Sì, Dio si prende cura proprio di me, mi vuole bene, Gesù è nato anche per me; devo avere sempre fiducia in Lui.
Cari fratelli e sorelle, lasciamo che la luce del Bambino Gesù, del Figlio di Dio fatto uomo illumini la nostra vita per trasformarla in luce, come vediamo in modo speciale nella vita dei santi. Penso alla testimonianza della beata Teresa di Calcutta, un riflesso della luce dell’amore di Dio. Celebrare 100 anni dalla sua nascita è motivo di gratitudine e di riflessione per un rinnovato e gioioso impegno al servizio del Signore e dei fratelli, specialmente dei più bisognosi. Il Signore stesso voleva essere bisognoso, come sappiamo. Care Suore, cari Sacerdoti e Fratelli, cari amici del personale, la carità è la forza che cambia il mondo, perché Dio è amore (cfr 1Gv 4,7-9). La beata Teresa di Calcutta ha vissuto la carità verso tutti senza distinzione, ma con una preferenza per i più poveri e abbandonati: un segno luminoso della paternità e della bontà di Dio. Ha saputo riconoscere in ognuno il volto di Cristo, da Lei amato con tutta se stessa: il Cristo che adorava e riceveva nell’Eucaristia continuava ad incontrarLo per le strade e per le vie della città, diventando “immagine” viva di Gesù che versa sulle ferite dell’uomo la grazia dell’amore misericordioso. A chi si domanda perché Madre Teresa sia diventata così famosa, la risposta è semplice: perché è vissuta in modo umile e nascosto, per amore e nell’amore di Dio. Ella stessa affermava che il suo più grande premio era amare Gesù e servirlo nei poveri. La sua figura piccola, con le mani giunte o mentre accarezzava un malato, un lebbroso, un moribondo, un bimbo, è il segno visibile di un’esistenza trasformata da Dio. Nella notte del dolore umano ha fatto risplendere la luce dell’Amore divino e ha aiutato tanti cuori a trovare quella pace che solo Dio può donare.
Ringraziamo il Signore, perché nella beata Teresa di Calcutta tutti abbiamo visto come la nostra esistenza può cambiare quando incontra Gesù; può diventare per gli altri riflesso della luce di Dio. A tanti uomini e donne, in situazioni di miseria e di sofferenza, Ella ha donato la consolazione e la certezza che Dio non abbandona nessuno, mai! La sua missione continua attraverso quanti, qui come in altre parti del mondo, vivono il suo carisma di essere missionari e missionarie della Carità. La nostra gratitudine è grande, care Sorelle, cari Fratelli, per la vostra presenza umile, discreta, nascosta agli occhi degli uomini, ma straordinaria e preziosa per il cuore di Dio. All’uomo spesso in ricerca di felicità illusorie, la vostra testimonianza di vita dice dove si trova la vera gioia: nel condividere, nel donare, nell’amare con la stessa gratuità di Dio che rompe la logica dell’egoismo umano.
Cari amici! Sappiate che il Papa vi vuole bene, vi porta nel cuore, vi raccoglie tutti in un abbraccio paterno e prega per voi. Tanti auguri! Grazie per aver voluto condividere la gioia di questi giorni di festa. Invoco la materna protezione della Santa Famiglia di Nazareth che oggi celebriamo - Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe - e benedico voi tutti e i vostri cari.

 

 

 

 

Angelus

Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr - Feast of the Holy Family  
Saint Peter's Square, 26th December 2010
Angelus (Video)

Pope Benedict XVI condemns violence, encourages charity

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http://media01.vatiradio.va/imm/1_0_449718.JPG Pope Benedict XVI called for renewed commitment to good-faith dialogue and peaceful resolution to conflict on Sunday, as he condemned deadly violence against Christians in Nigeria, a church bombing in the Philippines and a suicide bombing in Pakistan that left more than forty people dead over the Christmas weekend.

“Once again,” said Pope Benedict, “the Earth is stained with blood.” The Holy Father went on to express his heartfelt condolences to the victims of these senseless acts of violence, and renew once again his call to abandon the path of hatred to find peaceful solutions to conflicts.

Reflecting that on the first Sunday after Christmas, the Church traditionally celebrates the feast of the Holy Family, which lived through the dramatic experience of flight into Egypt in order to escape the murderous rampage of Herod, the Pope said, “We also remember all those - especially families - who are forced to flee their homes because of war, violence and intolerance.”

Pope Benedict invited all the faithful present to join him prayer, to ask with strength that the Lord touch the hearts of men, and bring hope, reconciliation and peace.

Shortly after the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict made his way to the Paul VI audience hall, for a special luncheon with some of Rome’s poorest people, in the care of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity.

This year saw the 100th anniversary of the birth of the woman who would become Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and Pope Benedict celebrated her as a reflection of the light of God’s love and a person who lived Christian charity toward all, without distinction, but with a special preference for those most in need. He said the 100th anniversary of her birth is an occasion for gratitude and reflection, for renewed and joyful commitment to service of the Lord and of all our brothers and sisters – especially the neediest. 

After several courses that included lasagna, veal and roast potatoes, cake and coffee, the Holy Father visited with the sisters and their guests – his guests, greeting them as “Dear friends,” and telling them, “the Pope loves you, he carries you in his heart, he welcomes you all in a fatherly embrace, and he prays for you.” Before imparting his Apostolic Blessing, the Pope thanked his guests for sharing the joy of these festive days with him.

Listen to Chris Altieri's report: RealAudioMP3 

 

 

 

 

 

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI

CHRISTMAS 2010

URBI ET ORBI

English

May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Saviour has been born for us.


(Video)

“Verbum caro factum est” – “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14).
Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus.
This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope. First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognized in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:14).
“The Word became flesh”. Before this revelation we once more wonder: how can this be? The Word and the flesh are mutually opposed realities; how can the eternal and almighty Word become a frail and mortal man? There is only one answer: Love. Those who love desire to share with the beloved, they want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great love story of God for his people which culminated in Jesus Christ.
God in fact does not change: he is faithful to himself. He who created the world is the same one who called Abraham and revealed his name to Moses: “I am who I am … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (cf. Ex3:14-15; 34:6). God does not change; he is Love, ever and always. In himself he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion. The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space.
“The Word became flesh”. The light of this truth is revealed to those who receive it in faith, for it is a mystery of love. Only those who are open to love are enveloped in the light of Christmas. So it was on that night in Bethlehem, and so it is today. The Incarnation of the Son of God is an event which occurred within history, while at the same time transcending history. In the night of the world a new light was kindled, one which lets itself be seen by the simple eyes of faith, by the meek and humble hearts of those who await the Saviour. If the truth were a mere mathematical formula, in some sense it would impose itself by its own power. But if Truth is Love, it calls for faith, for the “yes” of our hearts.
And what do our hearts, in effect, seek, if not a Truth which is also Love? Children seek it with their questions, so disarming and stimulating; young people seek it in their eagerness to discover the deepest meaning of their life; adults seek it in order to guide and sustain their commitments in the family and the workplace; the elderly seek it in order to grant completion to their earthly existence.
“The Word became flesh”. The proclamation of Christmas is also a light for all peoples, for the collective journey of humanity. “Emmanuel”, God-with-us, has come as King of justice and peace. We know that his Kingdom is not of this world, and yet it is more important than all the kingdoms of this world. It is like the leaven of humanity: were it lacking, the energy to work for true development would flag: the impulse to work together for the common good, in the disinterested service of our neighbour, in the peaceful struggle for justice. Belief in the God who desired to share in our history constantly encourages us in our own commitment to that history, for all its contradictions. It is a source of hope for everyone whose dignity is offended and violated, since the one born in Bethlehem came to set every man and woman free from the source of all enslavement.
May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the Land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful coexistence. May the comforting message of the coming of Emmanuel ease the pain and bring consolation amid their trials to the beloved Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East; may it bring them comfort and hope for the future and bring the leaders of nations to show them effective solidarity. May it also be so for those in Haiti who still suffer in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the recent cholera epidemic. May the same hold true not only for those in Colombia and Venezuela, but also in Guatemala and Costa Rica, who recently suffered natural disasters.
May the birth of the Saviour open horizons of lasting peace and authentic progress for the peoples of Somalia, Darfur and Côte d’Ivoire; may it promote political and social stability in Madagascar; may it bring security and respect for human rights in Afghanistan and in Pakistan; may it encourage dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica; and may it advance reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
May the birth of the Saviour strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his Church, may keep alive the flame of hope. May the love of “God-with-us” grant perseverance to all those Christian communities enduring discrimination and persecution, and inspire political and religious leaders to be committed to full respect for the religious freedom of all.
Dear brothers and sisters, “the Word became flesh”; he came to dwell among us; he is Emmanuel, the God who became close to us. Together let us contemplate this great mystery of love; let our hearts be filled with the light which shines in the stable of Bethlehem! To everyone, a Merry Christmas!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

MIDNIGHT MASS

Saint Peter's Basilica
Friday, 24 December 2010

(Video)
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
“You are my son, this day I have begotten you” – with this passage from Psalm 2 the Church begins the liturgy of this holy night. She knows that this passage originally formed part of the coronation rite of the kings of Israel. The king, who in himself is a man like others, becomes the “Son of God” through being called and installed in his office. It is a kind of adoption by God, a decisive act by which he grants a new existence to this man, drawing him into his own being. The reading from the prophet Isaiah that we have just heard presents the same process even more clearly in a situation of hardship and danger for Israel: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given. The government will be upon his shoulder” (Is 9:6). Installation in the office of king is like a second birth. As one newly born through God’s personal choice, as a child born of God, the king embodies hope. On his shoulders the future rests. He is the bearer of the promise of peace. On that night in Bethlehem this prophetic saying came true in a way that would still have been unimaginable at the time of Isaiah. Yes indeed, now it really is a child on whose shoulders government is laid. In him the new kingship appears that God establishes in the world. This child is truly born of God. It is God’s eternal Word that unites humanity with divinity. To this child belong those titles of honour which Isaiah’s coronation song attributes to him: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is 9:6). Yes, this king does not need counsellors drawn from the wise of this world. He bears in himself God’s wisdom and God’s counsel. In the weakness of infancy, he is the mighty God and he shows us God’s own might in contrast to the self-asserting powers of this world.
Truly, the words of Israel’s coronation rite were only ever rites of hope which looked ahead to a distant future that God would bestow. None of the kings who were greeted in this way lived up to the sublime content of these words. In all of them, those words about divine sonship, about installation into the heritage of the peoples, about making the ends of the earth their possession (Ps 2:8) were only pointers towards what was to come – as it were signposts of hope indicating a future that at that moment was still beyond comprehension. Thus the fulfilment of the prophecy, which began that night in Bethlehem, is both infinitely greater and in worldly terms smaller than the prophecy itself might lead one to imagine. It is greater in the sense that this child is truly the Son of God, truly “God from God, light from light, begotten not made, of one being with the Father”. The infinite distance between God and man is overcome. God has not only bent down, as we read in the Psalms; he has truly “come down”, he has come into the world, he has become one of us, in order to draw all of us to himself. This child is truly Emmanuel – God-with-us. His kingdom truly stretches to the ends of the earth. He has truly built islands of peace in the world-encompassing breadth of the holy Eucharist. Wherever it is celebrated, an island of peace arises, of God’s own peace. This child has ignited the light of goodness in men and has given them strength to overcome the tyranny of might. This child builds his kingdom in every generation from within, from the heart. But at the same time it is true that the “rod of his oppressor” is not yet broken, the boots of warriors continue to tramp and the “garment rolled in blood” (Is 9:4f) still remains. So part of this night is simply joy at God’s closeness. We are grateful that God gives himself into our hands as a child, begging as it were for our love, implanting his peace in our hearts. But this joy is also a prayer: Lord, make your promise come fully true. Break the rods of the oppressors. Burn the tramping boots. Let the time of the garments rolled in blood come to an end. Fulfil the prophecy that “of peace there will be no end” (Is 9:7). We thank you for your goodness, but we also ask you to show forth your power. Establish the dominion of your truth and your love in the world – the “kingdom of righteousness, love and peace”.
“Mary gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7). In this sentence Saint Luke recounts quite soberly the great event to which the prophecies from Israel’s history had pointed. Luke calls the child the “first-born”. In the language which developed within the sacred Scripture of the Old Covenant, “first-born” does not mean the first of a series of children. The word “first-born” is a title of honour, quite independently of whether other brothers and sisters follow or not. So Israel is designated by God in the Book of Exodus (4:22) as “my first-born Son”, and this expresses Israel’s election, its singular dignity, the particular love of God the Father. The early Church knew that in Jesus this saying had acquired a new depth, that the promises made to Israel were summed up in him. Thus the Letter to the Hebrews calls Jesus “the first-born”, simply in order to designate him as the Son sent into the world by God (cf. 1:5-7) after the ground had been prepared by Old Testament prophecy. The first-born belongs to God in a special way – and therefore he had to be handed over to God in a special way – as in many religions – and he had to be ransomed through a vicarious sacrifice, as Saint Luke recounts in the episode of the Presentation in the Temple. The first-born belongs to God in a special way, and is as it were destined for sacrifice. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross this destiny of the first-born is fulfilled in a unique way. In his person he brings humanity before God and unites man with God in such a way that God becomes all in all. Saint Paul amplified and deepened the idea of Jesus as first-born in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians: Jesus, we read in these letters, is the first-born of all creation – the true prototype of man, according to which God formed the human creature. Man can be the image of God because Jesus is both God and man, the true image of God and of man. Furthermore, as these letters tell us, he is the first-born from the dead. In the resurrection he has broken down the wall of death for all of us. He has opened up to man the dimension of eternal life in fellowship with God. Finally, it is said to us that he is the first-born of many brothers. Yes indeed, now he really is the first of a series of brothers and sisters: the first, that is, who opens up for us the possibility of communing with God. He creates true brotherhood – not the kind defiled by sin as in the case of Cain and Abel, or Romulus and Remus, but the new brotherhood in which we are God’s own family. This new family of God begins at the moment when Mary wraps her first-born in swaddling clothes and lays him in a manger. Let us pray to him: Lord Jesus, who wanted to be born as the first of many brothers and sisters, grant us the grace of true brotherhood. Help us to become like you. Help us to recognize your face in others who need our assistance, in those who are suffering or forsaken, in all people, and help us to live together with you as brothers and sisters, so as to become one family, your family.
At the end of the Christmas Gospel, we are told that a great heavenly host of angels praised God and said: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14). The Church, in the Gloria, has extended this song of praise, which the angels sang in response to the event of the holy night, into a hymn of joy at God’s glory – “we praise you for your glory”. We praise you for the beauty, for the greatness, for your goodness, which becomes visible to us this night. The appearing of beauty, of the beautiful, makes us happy without our having to ask what use it can serve. God’s glory, from which all beauty derives, causes us to break out in astonishment and joy. Anyone who catches a glimpse of God experiences joy, and on this night we see something of his light. But the angels’ message on that holy night also spoke of men: “Peace among men with whom he is pleased”. The Latin translation of the angels’ song that we use in the liturgy, taken from Saint Jerome, is slightly different: “peace to men of good will”. The expression “men of good will” has become an important part of the Church’s vocabulary in recent decades. But which is the correct translation? We must read both texts together; only in this way do we truly understand the angels’ song. It would be a false interpretation to see this exclusively as the action of God, as if he had not called man to a free response of love. But it would be equally mistaken to adopt a moralizing interpretation as if man were so to speak able to redeem himself by his good will. Both elements belong together: grace and freedom, God’s prior love for us, without which we could not love him, and the response that he awaits from us, the response that he asks for so palpably through the birth of his son. We cannot divide up into independent entities the interplay of grace and freedom, or the interplay of call and response. The two are inseparably woven together. So this part of the angels’ message is both promise and call at the same time. God has anticipated us with the gift of his Son. God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth.
Saint Luke does not say that the angels sang. He states quite soberly: the heavenly host praised God and said: “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk 2:13f.). But men have always known that the speech of angels is different from human speech, and that above all on this night of joyful proclamation it was in song that they extolled God’s heavenly glory. So this angelic song has been recognized from the earliest days as music proceeding from God, indeed, as an invitation to join in the singing with hearts filled with joy at the fact that we are loved by God. Cantare amantis est, says Saint Augustine: singing belongs to one who loves. Thus, down the centuries, the angels’ song has again and again become a song of love and joy, a song of those who love. At this hour, full of thankfulness, we join in the singing of all the centuries, singing that unites heaven and earth, angels and men. Yes, indeed, we praise you for your glory. We praise you for your love. Grant that we may join with you in love more and more and thus become people of peace. Amen.

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General Audience 29th December 2010

Pope Benedict on Catherine of Bologna



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In the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday, with thousands of pilgrim faithful on hand during the Octave of Christmas, Pope Beneidct XVI held his weekly General Audience, during which he reflected on the life and legacy of St. Catherine of Bologna, a Poor Clare abbess of the fifteenth century, whom the Holy Father described as a woman of great wisdom and culture.

Born of noble stock, Catherine spent her childhood at the court of Ferrara. At fourteen she joined a group of other young women devoted to the common life and eventually became a Poor Clare. In her spiritual journey, Catherine endured her own dark night of the soul, experiencing doubts and temptation, but also great consolations. In her treatise The Seven Spiritual Weapons, she writes of the many graces she received and lists the most effective means of resisting the temptations of the devil.

Pope Benedict went on to discuss how Catherine tells of the visions which led her to understand both the severity of the Last Judgment and, at the same time, God’s infinite mercy.

Catherine’s entire life was a model of humility and obedience; indeed, she saw all disobedience as a sign of that spiritual pride which destroys all virtue. 

The Holy Father concluded his reflection by praying that the example and prayers of Saint Catherine of Bologna inspire in us humble obedience to God’s will in our daily efforts to remain faithful to his plan for our lives.

Following the reflection, which continued Pope Benedict’s series of catecheses on great women in Church history, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English, during which he had a special word of welcome for the students of the American College at Louvain…

I greet the seminarians of the American College of Louvain and I offer prayerful good wishes for your studies. May this pilgrimage to Rome be a source of spiritual enrichment as you prepare for priestly ministry in the United States. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke the joy and peace of Christ our newborn Saviour.

Founded by the bishops of the United States in 1857 as a seminary to train European men called to serve the Church as missionary priests in North America, the American College at Louvain has been for more than a century and a half in the service of the Church in the New World, in recent years forming men from the US for the missionary priesthood and preparing priests with missionary spirit in the sacred sciences.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the American College at Louvain will close its doors in June of 2011.

Listen to Chris Altieri's report: RealAudioMP3 

 

ADVENT

 

 

 

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI AT THE CELEBRATION OF FIRST VESPERS OF ADVENT

Vatican Basilica Saturday, 27 November 2010

(Video)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With this evening celebration the Lord gives us the grace and joy of opening the new Liturgical Year, starting with its first season: Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord.
In this Advent Season we shall be granted once again to experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and who cared for us to the point of deigning to become a man.
This great and fascinating mystery of the God-with-us, indeed, of the God who becomes one of us, is what we shall celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During theSeason of Advent we shall feel the Church which takes us by the hand and — in the image of Mary Most Holy, expresses her motherhood, enabling us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

While our hearts look forward to the annual celebration of Christ’s Birth, the Church’s Liturgy directs our gaze to the final goal: our encounter with the Lord who will come in the splendour of glory. For this reason in every Eucharist we “announce his death, proclaim his Resurrection until he comes again”, we watch in prayer.
The Liturgy does not cease to encourage and support us, putting on our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which the whole of Sacred Scripture ends, on the last page of the Revelation to St John: “Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20).
Dear brothers and sisters, our gathering this evening for the beginning of the journey through Advent is enriched by another important reason: together with the whole Church we wish to celebrate a solemn prayer vigil for unborn life. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have accepted this invitation and to those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in its various situations of frailty, especially when it is newly conceived and in its early stages.



 

Precisely, the beginning of the Liturgical Year helps us live anew the expectation of God who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself little, who becomes a child; it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is close, who chose to experience human life from the very beginning in order to save it totally, in its fullness. And so the mystery of Lord’s Incarnation and the beginning of human life are closely and harmoniously connected and in tune with each other in the one saving plan of God, the Lord of the life of each and everyone.
The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in a surprising way, that every human life has a very lofty and incomparable dignity.
In comparison with all the other living beings that populate the earth man has an unmistakable originality. He is presented as the one unique being, endowed with intelligence and free will, as well as consisting of material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably in both the spiritual and the corporal dimension.

This is also suggested in the text of the First Letter to the Thessalonians that has just been proclaimed: “May the God of peace himself”, St Paul writes, “sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23).
We are therefore spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limitations of our material condition, while at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome him within us. We are active in earthly realities and through them we are able to perceive God’s presence and to reach out to him, Truth, Goodness and absolute Beauty. We savour fragments of life and happiness and yearn for complete fulfilment.
God loves us deeply, totally and without making distinctions. He calls us to friendship with him, he makes us part of a reality beyond every imagination and every thought and word: his divine life itself.

With feeling and gratitude, let us be aware of the value of every human person’s incomparable dignity and of our great responsibility to all. “Christ, the final Adam”, the Second Vatican Council states, “by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear… by his Incarnation, the Son of God has in a certain way united himself with each man” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 22).
Believing in Jesus Christ also means seeing man in a new way, with trust and hope. Moreover, experience itself and right reason testify that the human being is capable of understanding and of wanting, conscious of himself and free, unrepeatable and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly realities, and who demands to be recognized as a value in himself and deserves always to be accepted with respect and love. He is entitled not to be treated as an object to be possessed or a thing to be manipulated at will, and not to be exploited as a means for the benefit of others and their interests.
The human person is a good in himself and his integral development must always be sought. Love for all, moreover, if it is sincere, tends spontaneously to become preferential attention to the weakest and poorest. This explains the Church’s concern for the unborn, the frailest, those most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the clouding of consciences.


The Church continually reasserts what the Second Vatican Council declared against abortion and against every violation of unborn life: “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care” (ibid., n. 51).
Cultural trends exist that seek to anaesthetize consciences with spurious arguments. With regard to the embryo in the mother's womb, science itself highlights its autonomy, its capacity for interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism.
It is not an accumulation of biological material but rather of a new living being, dynamic and marvelously ordered, a new individual of the human species. This is what Jesus was in Mary’s womb; this is what we all were in our mother’s womb. We may say with Tertullian, an ancient Christian writer: “the one who will be a man is one already” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.
Unfortunately, even after birth, the lives of children continue to be exposed to neglect, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence and exploitation. The many violations of their rights sorrowfully wound the conscience of every person of good will.
In the face of the sad view of injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make my own Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!” (Encyclical Evangelium vitae, n. 5).
I urge politicians, leaders of the economy and of social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture ever respectful of human life, to obtain favourable conditions and support networks for the acceptance and development of life.
Let us entrust our prayers and our commitment to unborn life to the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with her faith, with her maternal womb, with her attentive care, with her nurturing support, vibrant with love.
Let us do so in the Liturgy — which is the place where we live the truth and where truth lives with us — adoring the divine Eucharist in which we contemplate Christ’s Body, that Body which took flesh from Mary through the action of the Holy Spirit, and was born of her in Bethlehem for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine!

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Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI

First Sunday of Advent, 28 November 2010

(Video)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a new journey of faith that on the one hand commemorates the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens to its ultimate fulfillment. It is precisely in this double perspective that she lives the Season of Advent, looking both to the first coming of the Son of God, when he was born of the Virgin Mary, and to his glorious return, when he will come “to judge the living and the dead”, as we say in the Creed. I would now like to focus briefly on this evocative theme of “waiting”, for it touches upon a profoundly human aspect in which the faith becomes, so to speak, completely one with our flesh and our heart.
Expectation or waiting is a dimension that flows through our whole personal, family and social existence. Expectation is present in thousands of situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important that involve us completely and in our depths. Among these, let us think of waiting for a child, on the part of a husband and wife; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; let us think, for a young person, of waiting to know his results in a crucially important examination or of the outcome of a job interview; in emotional relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved, of waiting for the answer to a letter, or for the acceptance of forgiveness.... One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. And from his expectations man recognizes himself: our moral and spiritual “stature” can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.
Every one of us, therefore, especially in this Season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations, what brings them together? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel – that is, the expectation of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and find the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of a righteous man, Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, and yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. Moreover, God himself had prepared her before time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature “full of grace”, totally transparent to the loving plan of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent, how to live our daily actions with a new spirit, with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill.

After the Angelus:
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered here today for this "Angelus" prayer. Today, Christians begin a new Liturgical Year with the season of “Advent”, a time of preparation to celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation. By the grace of God, may our prayer, penance and good works in this season make us truly ready to see the Lord face to face. Upon you and your families I invoke God's gifts of wisdom, strength and peace!

 

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ANGELUS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI SECOUND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

St Peter's Square Sunday, 5th December 2010

(Video)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel of this Second Sunday of Advent (Mt 3:1-12), presents to us the figure of St John the Baptist, who, a famous prophecy of Isaiah says (cf. 40:3), withdrew to the desert of Judaea and, with his preaching, called the people to convert so as to be ready for the coming of the Messiah, now at hand.
St Gregory the Great commented that John the Baptist “preaches upright faith and good works… so that the force of grace may penetrate, the light of the truth shine out, the paths to God be straightened and honest thoughts be born in the mind after hearing the word that guides us to goodness” (Hom. in Evangelia, XX, 3, CCL 141, 155).
The Precursor of Jesus, situated between the Old Covenant and the New, is like a star that heralds the rising of the Sun, of Christ, the One, that is, upon whom — according to another of Isaiah’s prophecies — “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest... the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2).
In the Season of Advent we too are called to listen to God’s voice, that cries out in the desert of the world through the Sacred Scriptures, especially when they are preached with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, faith grows all the stronger the more it allows itself to be illumined by the divine word, by “whatever”, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “was written in former days [and] written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
The model of listening is the Virgin Mary: “As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, St Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God” (Post-Synodal Apostolic ExhortationVerbum Domini, n. 28).
Dear friends, “Our salvation rests on a coming”, as Romano Guardini wrote (La santa notte. Dall’Avvento all’Epifania, Brescia 1994, p. 13). “The Saviour came from God’s freedom…. Thus the decision of faith consists... in welcoming the One who draws near” (ibid., p. 14).
“The Redeemer”, he added, “comes to every human being: in his joy and his anguish, in his clear knowledge, in his perplexities and temptations, in all that constitutes his nature and his life” (ibid., p. 15).
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Son of the Most High dwelled and whom we shall be celebrating next Wednesday, 8 December, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to sustain us on this spiritual journey to welcome with faith and with love the coming of the Saviour.


Holy Father's appeal
In this Advent Season, in which we are called to foster our expectation of the Lord and to welcome him among us, I ask you to pray for all the situations of violence, of intolerance and of suffering that exist in the world, so that the coming of Jesus may bring us consolation, reconciliation and peace. I am thinking of many difficult situations, such as the constant attacks against Christians and Muslims that are occurring in Iraq, of the clashes in Egypt in which people were killed and injured, of the victims of traffickers and criminals, such as the drama of the Eritrean hostages and those of other nationalities in the Sinai Desert. Respect for the rights of all is the indispensable condition for civil co-existence. May our prayers to the Lord and our solidarity bring hope to all those who are suffering.
* * *
After the Angelus:
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. The Liturgy of the Second Sunday in Advent invites us to prepare our hearts for the great mystery of the Incarnation. May Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, grant us his grace so that during this time of Advent we may grow ever more faithful to his unfailing love. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY - ANGELUS

8th December 2010

(Video)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today our meeting for the prayer of the Angelus acquires a special light in the context of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the Liturgy of this Feast the Gospel of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) is proclaimed. It contains, precisely, the dialogue between the Angel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, God’s messenger says, and in this way reveals Mary’s most profound identity, the “name” so to speak, with which God himself recognizes her: “full of grace”. This expression that is so familiar from childhood because we say it every time that we recite the “Hail Mary”, gives us the explanation of the mystery we are celebrating today. In fact, from the moment when she was conceived by her parents, Mary was the object of unique favour on the part of God who, in his eternal plan, chose her in advance to be Mother of his Son made man and, consequently, preserved from original sin. Therefore the Angel addressed her with this name which means implicitly, “always filled with God’s love”, with his grace.
The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a source of inner light, hope and comfort. Amidst the trials of life and, especially, the contradictions that man experiences within and around himself. Mary, Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God’s mercy is more powerful than evil and it is able to transform it into good. Unfortunately, every day we experience evil, which is manifested in many ways including relationships and events, but whose root is in the human heart, a wounded, sick heart that is incapable of healing itself. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that the origin of all evil is disobedience to God’s will and that death has the upper hand because human freedom has yielded to the temptation of the Evil One.
But God does not fail in his plan of love and life: through a long and patient process of reconciliation he prepared the new and eternal Covenant, sealed in the Blood of his Son, who in order to offer himself in expiation was “born of woman” (Gal 4:4). This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son and was preserved from the contagion of sin from the moment of her conception. Therefore, with her Immaculate Heart, she tells us: entrust yourselves to Jesus, he saves you.
Dear friends, this afternoon I shall renew the traditional homage to the Immaculate Virgin at the monument dedicated to in Piazza di Spagna. With this act of devotion I make myself an interpreter of the love of the faithful of Rome and of the whole world for the Mother that Christ has given to us. I entrust to her intercession the most pressing needs of the Church and of the world. May she help us above all to have faith in God, to believe in his Word, always to reject evil and to choose good.

After the Angelus:
In today’s event, I have the joy of greeting the Pontifical Academy of Mary Immaculate. Dear friends, I invoke upon each one of you the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary and I entrust your activities to her intercession. Thank you for your generous work.
I also address a special thought to the Italian Catholic Action which today, in many parishes, is renewing its commitment in the Church. Recalling the important celebration lived with the children and young people here in St Peter’s Square at the end of October, I express to all members my affection and my closeness. I encourage them to walk on the path of holiness, bringing the light of the Gospel to the places of everyday life.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today the Church joyfully celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By her prayers, may our hearts and minds be kept free from sin, so that like Mary we may be spiritually prepared to welcome Christ. Let us turn to her, the Immaculate, who brought Christ to us, and ask her now to bring us to him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant Blessings! I wish everyone a good and serene Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Solemnity of the Immaculate of the Blessed Virgin Mary

ACT OF VENERATION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN IN PIAZZA DI SPAGNA

Solemnity of the Immaculate of the Blessed Virgin Mary8th December 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010
(Video)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year too we have arranged to meet here, in Piazza di Spagna, to pay homage to the Immaculate Virgin on the occasion of her solemn Feast. I address my cordial greeting to all of you who have come here in great numbers, as well as to those who are taking part via radio and television. We are gathered round this historic monument, which today is surrounded by a mass of flowers, a sign of the love and devotion of the Roman People for the Mother of Jesus. The most beautiful gift, the most pleasing to her and which we are offering to her, is our prayer, the prayers we carry in our hearts and entrust to her intercession. They are invocations of thanksgiving and petition: thanksgiving for the gift of faith and for all the good we receive from God; and petition for the various needs, for the family, for health and for work, for every difficulty that life makes us encounter.
But when we come here, especially on this occasion of 8 December, what we receive from Mary is far more important than what we offer her. In fact, she gives us a message destined for each one of us, for the City of Rome and for the whole world. I, who am the Bishop of this City, also come to listen, not only for myself, but for everyone. And what does Mary say? She speaks to us with the Word of God who was made flesh in her womb. Her “message” is nothing other than Jesus, the One who is the whole of her life. It is thanks to him and for him that she is Immaculate. And just as the Son of God became a man for our sake, so too she, the Mother, was preserved from sin for our sake, for everyone, in anticipation of God’s salvation for every human being.
Thus Mary tells us that we are all called to open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit in order, in our ultimate destiny, to attain an immaculate state, fully and definitively free from evil. She tells us this with her own holiness, with her gaze full of hope and compassion which evokes words such as these: “Do not fear, my child, God loves you; he loves you personally; he thought of you before you came into the world and called you into being to fill you with love and with life; and for this reason he came to meet you, he made himself like you, he became Jesus, God-man, like you in all things but without sin; he gave himself for your sake to the point of dying on the Cross, and thus he gave you a new life, free, holy and immaculate” (cf. Eph 1:3-5).
Mary gives us this message and, when I come here on this Feast, it impresses me because I feel it is addressed to the whole City, to all the men and women who live in Rome: even to those who do not think of it, who do not even remember that today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception; to those who feel lonely and forsaken.
Mary’s gaze is God’s gaze upon each one of us. She looks at us with the Father’s love itself and blesses us. She acts as our “advocate” and we invoke her thus in the Salve, Regina: Advocata nostra. Even if everyone were to speak badly of us, she, the Mother, would speak well of us because her immaculate Heart is in tune with God’s mercy. So it is that she sees the City: not as an anonymous agglomeration but as a constellation in which God knows each one personally by name, one by one, and calls us to shine with his light. And those who in the world’s eyes are the first, to God are the lowliest; those who are little to God are great.
The Mother looks at us as God looked at her, a humble young girl of Nazareth, insignificant in the world’s eyes but chosen and precious to God. He recognizes in each one his or her likeness to his Son Jesus, even though we are so different! But who knows the power of divine Grace better than her? Who knows better than her that nothing is impossible for God who can even draw good from evil?
This, dear brothers and sisters, is the message we receive here, at the feet of Mary Immaculate.
It is a message of trust for every person of this City and of the whole world; a message of hope not made of words but of her history itself. She, a woman of our lineage, who gave birth to the Son of God and shared her whole life with him! And today she tells us: this is also your destiny, your own destiny and the destiny of all: to be holy like our Father, to be immaculate like our Brother Jesus Christ, to be loved children, all adopted in order to form a great family with no boundaries of colour or language, because God, Father of every human being, is one.
Thank you, O Mother Immaculate, for being with us always! May you never cease to watch over our City: comfort the sick, encourage the young and sustain families. Instill in them the strength to reject evil in all its forms and to choose good, even when it comes at a cost and entails going against the tide. Give us the joy to feel loved by God, blessed by him, predestined to be his children.
Immaculate Virgin, our sweetest Mother, pray for us!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


 

 

 

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI AT THE CELEBRATION OF THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Parish of Saint Maxinilian Kolbe Saunday, 12th December 2010

(Video)

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Parish of San Massimiliano Kolbe! Live this personal and communal path of following the Lord in a committed way. Advent is a powerful invitation to everyone to allow God to enter more and more into our life, into our houses, into our neighborhoods, into our communities, to have a light in the midst of many shadows, the many daily toils.
Dear Friends, I am very happy to be among you today to celebrate the Lord's Day, the Third Sunday of Advent, Sunday of joy. I cordially greet the cardinal vicar, the auxiliary bishop of the sector, your parish priest, whom I thank for the words that he addressed to me in the name of all of you, and the parish vicar. I greet those who are active in the parish: the catechists, the members of various groups, along with the numerous members of the Neocatechumenal Way. I greatly appreciate the decision to give a place to Eucharistic adoration, and I thank you for your prayers that you offer for me before the Blessed Sacrament. My thoughts are with all the inhabitants of this quarter, especially the elderly, the sick, the people are alone and in difficulty. I remember all and each in this Mass.
Together with all of you I admire this new church and the parish buildings and with my presence I desire to encourage you to realize in an ever better way the Church of living stones that you yourselves are. I know the many and significant efforts at evangelization that you are engaged in. I exhort all of the faithful to make your own contribution to the building up of the community, in particular in the field of catechesis, the liturgy and charity -- pillars of the Christian life -- in communion with the whole Diocese of Rome. No community can live as a cell that is isolated from the diocesan context; it must rather be a living expression of the beauty of the Church that, under the bishop's leadership -- and in the parish, under the pastor's leadership -- walks in communion toward the Kingdom of Heaven.




 

I address a special thought to families; I accompany them with the wish that they may fully realize their vocation of love with generosity and perseverance. Even when difficulties in conjugal life and in the relationships with their children present themselves, the spouses must never cease to remain faithful to that fundamental "yes" that they pronounced before God and each other on their wedding day, recalling that faithfulness to their vocation demands courage, generosity and sacrifice.
Your community includes within it many families who have come from central and southern Italy in search of work and better conditions of life. With the passing of time the community has grown and it has changed in part with the arrival of many people from Eastern Europe and other countries. Precisely starting from this concrete situation of the parish you must try to grow evermore in communion with everyone: it is important to create occasions of dialogue and to promote mutual understanding between persons from different cultures, models of life and social conditions. But it is above all necessary to help them become involved in the Christian life through care that is attentive to the real needs of each person. Here, as in every parish, it is necessary to leave those who are "near" to reach out to those who are "far away," to bring an evangelical presence to the realms of life and work. All must be able to find in the parish adequate paths of formation and experience that communal dimension that is a fundamental characteristic of Christian life. In this way they are encouraged to rediscover the beauty of Christ and of being part of his Church.
Know, then, how to form a community with everyone, united in listening to the Word of God and in the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. In this respect the diocesan pastoral verification that is underway on the theme "Sunday Eucharist and the Witness of Charity" is a propitious occasion to reflect upon and better live these two fundamental components of the life and mission of the Church and of every individual believer, that is, the Sunday Eucharist and the practice of charity. Gathered around the Eucharist we more easily feel that the mission of every Christian community is that of bringing the message of God's love to all men. This is why it is important that the Eucharist always be at the heart of the life of the faithful.
I would like to offer a special word of affection and friendship to you, dear young people who are listening to me and to your peers who live in this parish. The Church expects much from you, from your enthusiasm, from your capacity to look ahead and from your desire for radicality in the choices of life. Feel that you are true protagonists in the parish, putting all of your fresh energies and your life at the service of God and the brothers.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, along with the invitation to joy, today's liturgy -- with the words of St. James that we have heard -- tells us also to be constant and patient in waiting for the Lord who comes, and to be this together, as a community, avoiding complaining and judging others (cf. James 5:7-10).
We have heard in the Gospel the question of the Baptist who finds himself in prison; the Baptist announced the coming of the Judge who changes the world, and now it feels as if the world has stayed the same. He makes his disciples ask Jesus: "Are you the one who must come? Or must we look for another? Are you he or must we look for another?" In the last two or three centuries many have asked: "But are you really the one? Or must the world be changed in a truly radical way? Are you not doing it?" And many prophets, ideologies and dictators have come and said: "It isn't him! He didn't change the world! We are the ones!" And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarianism that was supposed to change the world. And they changed it, but in a destructive way. Today we know that of these great promises there has only remained a great void and great destruction. They were not the ones.



And so we must again see Christ and ask Christ: "Are you the one?" The Lord, in the silent way that is characteristic of him, answers: "See what I have done. I did not start a bloody revolution, I did not change the world by force, but I lit many lights that form, in the meantime, a great path of light through the centuries."
Let us begin here, in our parish: St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered to starve to death to save the father of a family. What a great light he became! What light has come from this figure and encouraged others to give themselves, to be near to the suffering, to the oppressed! Let us think of Damien de Veuster who was a father to the lepers. He lived and died with and for the lepers and thus brought light into this community. Let us think of Mother Teresa, who gave so much light to people, who, after a life without light, died with a smile, because they were touched by the light of God's love.
We could go on and we would see how the Lord said in his answer to John, that it is not the violent revolution in the world, it is not the great promises that change the world, but it is the silent light of the truth, of the goodness of God that is the sign of his presence and that gives us the certainty that we are loved completely and that we are not forgotten, we are not a product of chance, but of a will of love.
In this way we can live, we can feel God's nearness. "God is near," today's first reading tells us, he is near, but we are often far away. Let us draw near, let us go to the presence of his light, we pray to the Lord and in the contact of prayer we ourselves become light for others.
And this is precisely also the meaning of the parish Church: Enter here, enter into dialogue, into contact with Jesus, with the Son of God, so that we ourselves become one of those little lights that he has lit and carry light into the world that feels that it has been redeemed.
Our spirit must open up to this invitation and thus we walk with joy to meet Christmas, imitating the Virgin Mary, who waited in prayer, with intimate and joyous trepidation, the birth of the Redeemer. Amen!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] © Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 

 

 

ANGELUS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI SECOUND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

St Peter's Square Sunday, 5th December 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel of this Second Sunday of Advent (Mt 3:1-12), presents to us the figure of St John the Baptist, who, a famous prophecy of Isaiah says (cf. 40:3), withdrew to the desert of Judaea and, with his preaching, called the people to convert so as to be ready for the coming of the Messiah, now at hand.
St Gregory the Great commented that John the Baptist “preaches upright faith and good works… so that the force of grace may penetrate, the light of the truth shine out, the paths to God be straightened and honest thoughts be born in the mind after hearing the word that guides us to goodness” (Hom. in Evangelia, XX, 3, CCL 141, 155).


The Precursor of Jesus, situated between the Old Covenant and the New, is like a star that heralds the rising of the Sun, of Christ, the One, that is, upon whom — according to another of Isaiah’s prophecies — “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest... the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2).


In the Season of Advent we too are called to listen to God’s voice, that cries out in the desert of the world through the Sacred Scriptures, especially when they are preached with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, faith grows all the stronger the more it allows itself to be illumined by the divine word, by “whatever”, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “was written in former days [and] written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
The model of listening is the Virgin Mary: “As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, St Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God” (Post-Synodal Apostolic ExhortationVerbum Domini, n. 28).
Dear friends, “Our salvation rests on a coming”, as Romano Guardini wrote (La santa notte. Dall’Avvento all’Epifania, Brescia 1994, p. 13). “The Saviour came from God’s freedom…. Thus the decision of faith consists... in welcoming the One who draws near” (ibid., p. 14).
“The Redeemer”, he added, “comes to every human being: in his joy and his anguish, in his clear knowledge, in his perplexities and temptations, in all that constitutes his nature and his life” (ibid., p. 15).
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Son of the Most High dwelled and whom we shall be celebrating next Wednesday, 8 December, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to sustain us on this spiritual journey to welcome with faith and with love the coming of the Saviour.

 

 

ANGELUS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

12th December 2010

(Video)  

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On this Third Sunday of Advent the liturgy proposes a passage from the Letter of St. James that opens with this exhortation: "Be constant, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). It seems to me more important than ever in our days to underscore the importance of constancy and patience, virtues that belonged to the generation of our fathers but which are less popular today in a world that instead exalts change and the capacity always to adapt to new situations. Without taking anything away from these latter, which are also qualities of the human being, Advent calls us to strengthen that interior tenacity, that resistance of the soul that permits us not to despair in waiting for some good thing that is late in coming, but to expect it, indeed, to prepare for its arrival with an active confidence.


"Learn from the farmer," St. James writes, "he awaits with constancy the precious fruit of the earth until it has received the first and the last rains. You too must be constant, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near" (James 5:7-8). The comparison with the farmer is quite expressive: He who has sown seeds in the field has before him some months of patient and constant expectation, but he knows that in the meantime the seed goes through its cycle thanks to the autumn and spring rains. The farmer is not a fatalist, but is the model of a mentality that unites faith and reason in a balanced way because, on one hand, he knows the laws of nature and does his work well, and, on the other hand, he trusts in Providence, because certain basic things are not in his hands but in God's hands. Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human effort and trust in God.


"Strengthen your hearts," Scripture says. How can we do that? How can we strengthen our hearts, which are already rather fragile, and made more unstable by the culture in which we are immersed? We do not lack help: The Word of God is there. Indeed, while everything passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not pass. If the vicissitudes of life make us feel lost and every certainty seems to crumble, we have a compass for finding direction, we need not fear being adrift. And here the model that is offered to us by the prophets, that is, the model of those persons whom God called to speak in his name. The prophet finds his joy and his strength in the power of the Lord's Word and, while men often seek happiness along paths that turn out to be mistaken, he announces the true hope, the one that doesn't delude because it is founded on the fidelity of God. Every Christian, in virtue of his baptism, has received the prophetic dignity. May every Christian rediscover it and develop it with an assiduous listening to the Divine Word. May the Virgin Mary, whom the Gospel calls blessed because she believed that the Lord's words would be accomplished (cf. Luke 1:45), obtain this for us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter's Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]
Dear Friends, the first greeting goes to the children and young people of Rome. Thank you for your presence! You have come for the traditional blessing of the baby Jesus figures (bambinelli) for the crèche. Dear Young Friends, when you put the child in the cave or the stable, say a prayer for the Pope and his intentions. Thank you! I also greet your parents, teachers and catechists; I thank the Center of the Roman Oratories for the initiative and the friends of the Pediatric Dispensary "Santa Maria."
[In English he said:]
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for our "Angelus" prayer. The liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent, marked by joyful expectation of the Lord's coming, invites us to open our eyes to the many signs of Christ's saving power in our midst. May these days of preparation for Christmas be for all of us a time of attentiveness to God's word, genuine conversion and interior renewal. Upon you and your families I invoke joy and peace in Jesus our Savior.
[In Italian he said:]
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] © Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana