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CHRISTMAS Homily and Messages, of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2012

CHRISTMAS Homily and Messages, of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2011

Pope's New Year's Address to Diplomatic Corps

Message on the occasion of the 45th World Day of Peace 2012, Educating Young People in Justice and Peace: [ArabicEnglishFrenchGermanItalianPolishPortugueseRussianSpanish]

ADVENT Homily and Messages, of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2011

Chritmas Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2010

ADVENT Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2010

Chritmas Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2009

ADVENT Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2009



 

 

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 27 November 2011

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 04 December 2011

Angelus Message His Holiness Benedict XVI 08 December 2011

ACT OF VENERATION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN IN PIAZZA DI SPAGNA 08 December 2011

Angelus Message and Homily, His Holiness Benedict XVI 11 December 2011

Homily, His Holiness Benedict XVI 12 December 2011

Angelus Message and Homily, His Holiness Benedict XVI 18 December 2011

 

 


ADVENT

 

 

 

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

Vatican Basilica Saturday, 27 November 2010

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, 27 November 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, together with the Church, we are beginning the new liturgical year: a new journey of faith to experience together in Christian communities but, as always, also to be taken within world history so as to open it to God's mystery, to the salvation that comes from his love. The liturgical year begins with the Season of Advent. It is a marvellous period in which the expectation of Christ's return and the memory of his first Coming — when he emptied himself of his divine glory to take on our mortal flesh — reawakens in hearts.
"Watch!" This is Jesus' call in today's Gospel. He does not only address it to his disciples but to everyone: "Watch!" (Mk 13:37). It is a salutary reminder to us that life does not only have an earthly dimension but reaches towards a "beyond", like a plantlet that sprouts from the ground and opens towards the sky. A thinking plantlet, man, endowed with freedom and responsibility, which is why each one of us will be called to account for how he/she has lived, how each one has used the talents with which each is endowed: whether one has kept them to oneself or has made them productive for the good of one's brethren too.
Today, Isaiah, too, the prophet of Advent, with a heartfelt entreaty addressed to God on behalf of the people, gives us food for thought. He recognized the shortcomings of his people and said at a certain point: "There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our iniquities" (cf. Is 64:6).
How can we fail to find this description striking? It seems to reflect certain panoramas of the post-modern world: cities where life becomes anonymous and horizontal, where God seems absent and man the only master, as if he were the architect and director of all things: construction, work, the economy, transport, the branches of knowledge, technology, everything seems to depend on man alone. And in this world that appears almost perfect at times disturbing things happen, either in nature or in society, which is why we think that God has, as it were, withdrawn and has, so to speak, left us to ourselves.

In fact, the true "master" of the world is not the human being but God. The Gospel says: "Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will coming, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep" (Mk 13:35-36).
The Season of Advent returns every year to remind us of this in order that our life may find its proper orientation, turned to the face of God. The face is not that of a "master" but of a Father and a Friend. Let us make the Prophet's words our own, together with the Virgin Mary who guides us on our Advent journey."O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our potter: we are all the work of your hand" (Is 64:8).

After the Angelus:
The Convention of the United Nations Organization on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol will begin tomorrow in Durban, South Africa. I hope that all the members of the international community will agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrying and complex phenomenon, taking into account the needs of the poorest populations and of the generations to come.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. Today, the Church begins the celebration of Advent, which marks the beginning of a new liturgical year and our spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Let us heed the message in today's Gospel by entering prayerfully into this holy season, so that we may be ready to greet Jesus Christ, who is God with us. I wish you all a good Sunday. May God bless all of you!
I address a cordial welcome to the European directors of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and encourage them in their commitment to tackle with a Gospel spirit both the old and the new forms of poverty.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good journey through Advent.

 

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ANGELUS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI SECOUND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

St Peter's Square Sunday, 4th December 2011

 

Advent a time for honest self assessment 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday marks the second stage of Advent. This period of the liturgical year highlights the two figures who played a prominent role in preparation for the historical coming of the Lord Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. In fact today’s Gospel of Mark focuses on the figure of the Baptist. Indeed it describes the personality and mission of the Precursor of Christ (cf. Mk 1.2 to 8). Beginning with his outward appearance, John is presented as a very ascetic figure dressed in camel skin, he feeds on locusts and wild honey, found in the desert of Judea (cf. Mk 1.6). Jesus himself once held him in contrast to those who "wear fine clothing” in the “royal palaces " (Mt 11.8). The style of John the Baptist was meant to call all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas, when the Lord - as Saint Paul would say - "became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich"(2 Cor 8.9).

With regard to the John’s mission, it was an extraordinary appeal to conversion: his baptism "is tied to a fiery invitation to a new way of thinking and acting, it is above all linked to the announcement of God's justice" (Jesus of Nazareth I, Milan 2007, p. 34) and the imminent appearance of the Messiah, defined as "he who is mightier than I" and who will "baptize with the Holy Spirit" (Mk 1,7.8). Therefore, John’s appeal goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of He who is "the Greatest" and made himself small, he who is "the Strongest" but became weak.

All four Evangelists describe the preaching of John the Baptist referring to a passage from the prophet Isaiah: " A voice proclaims:In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God'"(Isaiah 40.3 ). Mark also adds a quote from another prophet, Malachi, who says: " Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me " (Mk 1.2, see Mal 3.1). These references to the Old Testament Scriptures "speak of the saving intervention of God, coming out of his inscrutability to judge and save, we must open the door to Him, preparing the way" (Jesus of Nazareth, I, p. 35).

To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin who awaits, we entrust our journey towards the Lord who comes, as we continue our journey of Advent to prepare our hearts and our lives for the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us.

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After the Angelus the Pope said:
In the next few days, in Geneva and in other cities, the 60th anniversary of the creation of the World Organization for Migrants, the 60th of the Convention on the Status of Refugees, and the 50th of the Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Statelessness. I entrust to the Lord all those who are obliged, often by force, to leave their country or are deprived of their nationality. As I encourage solidarity for them, I pray for all who are doing their utmost to protect and help these brothers and sisters in emergency situations  and who are exposing themselves to serious efforts and dangers.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus.  Today we mark the second Sunday of Advent by a Gospel passage where John the Baptist calls us to conversion.  May we heed his call to repentance and ask the Lord to forgive us our sins, so that Emmanuel, God-with-us, may find us ready when he comes.  Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
I wish you all a good Sunday.


“As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives”, said Pope Benedict XVI Sunday, in his reflections before the midday Angelus prayer on this second Sunday of Advent.

The Holy Father also drew attention to a series of upcoming anniversaries this week and in doing so to the plight of millions worldwide, without a country to call their own: “In the coming days, in Geneva and other cities, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Organization for Migration, the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 50 th anniversary of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. I entrust to the Lord all those who, often forcibly, must leave their homeland, or who are stateless. While I encourage solidarity for them, I pray for all those who are doing their utmost to protect and assist these brothers and sisters in emergency situations, even if it means exposing themselves to serious hardships and dangers”.

Pilgrims and visitors to St Peter’s this Sunday huddled under umbrella’s as the mild December weather gave way to incessant rain. A decidedly Advent atmosphere permeated the square where the nativity scene is currently under construction. This year it will be dedicated Mary, the Mother of God, and as is tradition it will be inaugurated on 24 December. Waiting for midday and the Pope to appear, children gathered around an enormous Christmas tree, that will be hoisted into position next to the central obelisk by a crane on Monday. The gigantic spruce is a gift to the Holy Father from the Zakarpattia region in Ukraine and is a towering 30.5 metres high. The tree will be blessed and lit on 16 December in the presence of the bishops of Ukraine.

With preparations for Christmas well underway at the Vatican, commenting on this Sunday’s Gospel Pope Benedict spoke of Advent as the season of inner preparation for the coming of the Lord: Listen>>>


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

8th December 2011

 

ANGELUS
St Peter's Square 
Thursday, 8 December 2011

[Video]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Church solemnly celebrates the Immaculate Conception of Mary. As Bl. Pius IX declared in the Apostolic Letter Ineffabilis Deus of 1854, she “was preserved, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, free from all stain of original sin”. This truth of faith is contained in the words of greeting the Archangel Gabriel addressed to her: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28). The expression “full of grace” indicates that marvellous work of the love of God, who through his Only-Begotten Son incarnate who died and rose again, wanted to restore to us the life and the freedom, lost by original sin. Because of this, since the 2nd century both in the East and the West, the Church invokes and celebrates the Virgin who with her “yes” brought Heaven closer to earth, becoming “Genetrix of God and nurturer of our life”, as St Romanus the Melodus expressed it in an old song (Canticum XXV in Nativitatem B. Mariae Virginis, in J.B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra t. I, Paris 1876, 198). In the 7th century St Sophronius of Jerusalem praised the greatness of Mary, for in her the Holy Spirit came to dwell, and said: “You surpass all the gifts that God’s magnificence ever bestowed on any human person. More than anyone you are made rich by God dwelling in you” (Oratio II, 25 in SS. Deiparæ Annuntiationem: PG 87, 3, 3248 AB). And St Bede the Venerable explains: “Mary is blessed among women, for with the dignity of virginity she has enjoyed the grace to be parent to a son who is God” (Hom I, 3: CCL 122, 16).
We are also given the “fullness of grace” which we must make shine in our life, for, as St Paul writes: the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... has blessed us ... with every spiritual blessing ... even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless .... to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3-5). We receive this sonship through the Church on the day of Baptism. In this regard St Hildegarde of Bingen wrote: “The Church is, therefore, the virgin mother of all Christians. In the secret power of the Holy Spirit she conceives them and brings them to the light, offering them to God in such a way that they too might be called sons of God” (Scivias, visio III, 12: CCL Continuatio Mediævalis XLIII, 1978, 142). And, finally, among the many who have sung of the spiritual beauty of the Mother of God, St Bernard of Clairvaux stands out. He declares that the invocation “Hail, Mary full of grace” is “pleasing to God, to angels and to men. To men, thanks to her motherhood, to the angels, thanks to her virginity, to God, thanks to her humility” (Sermo XLVII, De Annuntiatione Dominica: SBO VI,1, Rome 1970, 266).
Dear friends, in anticipation of the customary homage we will pay to Mary Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna this afternoon, let us offer our fervent prayer to the one who intercedes before God, that she help us to celebrate with faith the Birth of the Lord so close at hand.

 

After the Angelus:

I offer a special greeting to the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate Conception, recalling with devotion and affection the late Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, who presided over it for many years. May the Virgin assist you always, dear friends, in your every endeavour.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors on this great Feast day when we honour the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God’s grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures. In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God, let us prepare to welcome her Son into our lives and into our hearts. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.
I wish all of you the best spiritual fruits on this Feast of the Virgin Mary, our Mother. Thank you. A happy Feast day to you all!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



 

 

 

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!

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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

11th December 2011

Third Sunday of Advent - "Gaudete"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The liturgical texts for this Season of Advent renew the invitation to us to live in expectation of Jesus and not to stop looking forward to his coming so as to keep ourselves open and ready to encounter him. Heartfelt watchfulness, which Christians are always called to practise in their daily life, characterizes in particular this season in which we prepare joyfully for the mystery of Christmas (cf.Preface of Advent II).
The external environment proposes the usual commercial messages, although perhaps to a lesser degree because of the economic crisis. Christians are asked to live Advent without allowing themselves be distracted by the bright lights but knowing how to give things their proper value and how to fix their inner gaze on Christ. Indeed if we persevere in “watching in prayer, our hearts filled with wonder and praise” (ibid.), our eyes will be able to recognize in him the true light of the world that comes to dispel our gloom.
The liturgy of this Sunday, known as “Gaudete” Sunday, is a special invitation to us to joyfulness, to a vigilance that is not sad but happy. “Gaudete in Domino semper”, St Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). True joy is not a fruit of “divertirsi” [having a good time] understood in the etymological sense of the word di-vertere (di-version), that is, shirking the commitments of life and one’s responsibilities.
True joy is linked to something deeper. Of course, in the all too often frenetic pace of daily life it is important to find time for rest and relaxation, but true joy is linked to our relationship with God. Those who have encountered Christ in their own lives feel a serenity and joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take from them. St Augustine understood this very well; in his quest for truth, peace and joy, after seeking them in vain in many things he concluded with his famous words: “and our heart is restless until it rests in God” (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1).
True joy is not merely a passing state of mind or something that can be achieved with the person’s own effort; rather it is a gift, born from the encounter with the living Person of Jesus and, making room within ourselves, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our lives. It is the invitation of the Apostle Paul who says: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:23).
In this Season of Advent let us reinforce our conviction that the Lord has come among us and ceaselessly renews his comforting, loving and joyful presence. We should trust in him; as St Augustine says further, in the light of his own experience: the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves: “interior intimo meo et superior summo meo” (“higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self”) (Confessions III, 6, 11).
Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate Virgin whose spirit is exulted in God our Saviour. May she guide our hearts in joyful expectation of the coming of Jesus, an expectation full of prayer and good works.

After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, today the first greeting is reserved for the children of Rome who have come for the traditional blessing of the “Baby Jesus” figurines, organized by the Centro Oratori Romani. I thank you all! Dear children, when you pray in front of your nativity scene, remember me too, just as I remember you. I thank you, and Happy Christmas!
I am pleased to greet the representatives of the Movement for Life from many European countries, who have gathered on the occasion of the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Prize for Life, awarded in memory of Chiara Lubich. Dear friends, during the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us remember that the first of all the rights is the right to life. I wish you every success in your activity.
I would also like to invite the university students of the athenaeums of Rome to the celebration of Vespers in preparation for Christmas: the event is to take place next Thursday, 15 December, in St Peter’s Basilica.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, encouraging us to prepare the way of the Lord. Through renewed faith, prayer and penance, may we too become authentic heralds of the Lord’s coming among us at Christmas. May God bless all of you!
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you. Have a good “Gaudete” Sunday!

 

 

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Third Sunday of Advent - "Gaudete" Sunday, 11 December 2011

Photo Gallery

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Parish of Santa Maria della Grazie,
We have heard Isaiah’s prophesy, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted... to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Is 61:1-2). These words spoken so many centuries ago, ring out, in a very up-to-date way for us too, today, while we are halfway through Advent and already look forward to the great Solemnity of Christmas. These are words that revive hope, that prepare us to welcome the Lord’s salvation and announce the inauguration of a season of grace and liberation.
Advent is precisely a time of waiting, of hope and of preparation for the Lord’s coming. The figure and preaching of John the Baptist invite us to make this commitment, as we heard in the Gospel that has just been proclaimed (cf. Jn 1:6-8, 19-28). John had withdrawn into the wilderness to live a very austere life and to invite people to conversion, also by the example of his life. He conferred on them a baptism of water, a single rite of penance which distinguished it from the many rites of external purification of the sects of that time.
So who was this man? Who was John the Baptist? The response he himself gave is surprisingly humble. He was not the Messiah, he was not the light. He was neither Elijah come back to the earth nor the great prophet awaited. He was the Forerunner, a simple witness, totally subordinate to the One he proclaimed; a voice in the wilderness, as in our day too, in the wilderness of the great cities of this world, of the great absence of God, we need voices that simply announce to us “God exists. He is always near, even if he seems absent”.
John the Baptist was a voice in the wilderness and a witness to the light; and this moves our hearts, for in this world where there are so many shadows, so much darkness, we are all called to be witnesses of light. This is the mission of the Season of Advent itself: to be witnesses of light, and we can only be this if we carry the light within us, if we are not only certain that the light exists, but also that we have seen a ray of light.
In the Church, in God’s word, in the celebration of the sacraments, in the Sacrament of Confession with the forgiveness that we receive, in the celebration of the Blessed Eucharist where the Lord gives himself into our hands and hearts, we touch the light and receive this mission: to bear witness today that there is light, and to carry the light in our time.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am very glad to be with you on this beautiful, “Gaudete” Sunday, the Sunday of joy that tells us that “even in the midst of so many doubts and difficulties, joy exists because God exists and is with us!”.
I cordially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of the sector, your parish priest, Fr Domenico Monteforte, whom I thank not only for his kind words to me on behalf of you all, but also for the beautiful gift of the parish history. And I greet the parochial vicar. I also greet the religious communities, the Sisters, Apostles of the Consolata, the Religious Teachers Venerini and the Guanellians; they are a precious presence in your parish and an important spiritual and pastoral resource for the life of the community as witnesses of light!
I also greet all those who are involved in the parish context. I am referring to the catechists — I thank them for their work — the members of the prayer group inspired by the Renewal in the Holy Spirit and the young people of the Gioventù Ardente Mariana Movement.
Next I would like to extend my thoughts to all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, especially the elderly, the sick, those who are lonely or in difficulty, without forgetting the large Filipino community which is well integrated and plays an active part in the fundamental moments of community life.
Your parish came into being in one of the typical suburbs of the Agro Romano. It was canonically established in 1985 with this beautiful title: Santa Maria delle Grazie [St Mary of Grace], it took its first steps in the 1960s when, at the initiative of a group of Dominican Fathers led by the memorable Fr Gerard Reed, a small chapel was set up in a family home that was later moved to larger premises and served as the parish church until 2010, last year. In that year, in fact, as you know the building in which we are celebrating the Eucharist was dedicated precisely on 1 May. This new church is a privileged space for growing in the knowledge and love of the One whom we shall welcome in a few days’ time in the joy of his Birth.
As I look at this church and at the parish buildings, I see them as the result of your patience, dedication and love and I would like to encourage you with my presence to bring into being, better and better, the Church of living stones which you yourselves are.
Each one of you must feel you are an element of this living building. The community is built with the contribution that each one makes, with the commitment of all; and I am thinking in a special way of the field of catechesis, that of the liturgy and that of charity: pillars that support Christian life.
Yours is a young community, I saw it in greeting your children. It is young because it is made up of young families — especially with regard to the new settlements — and because so many children and boys and girls live in it, thanks be to God! I warmly hope that through the contribution of competent and generous people, your educational commitment may develop ever better and that your parish, also with the help of the Vicariate of Rome, may set up as soon as possible a well-structured after-school recreation and prayer centre with sufficient space for games and meeting-rooms, so as to meet the need of the young generations to develop in faith and in a healthy sociability.
I congratulate you on your work in preparing the boys and girls and young people to receive the sacraments. The challenge we are facing consists in planning and proposing a true and proper itinerary of formation in faith which involves all those who are receiving Christian initiation, helping them not only to receive the sacraments but to live them out, in order to be true Christians. This aim,to receive, must be to live, as we heard in the First Reading: justice must sprout, just as the seed sprouts from the ground. Live the sacraments so that justice, law and love will sprout likewise.
In this regard, the diocesan pastoral work that is currently being reviewed and that concerns, precisely, Christian initiation, is a favourable opportunity to deepen and live the Sacraments we have already received — such as Baptism and Confirmation — and those we continue to receive for nourishment on our journey of faith, Penance and the Eucharist. For this reason, necessary in the first place is attention to the relationship with God through listening to his word, through your response to the word in prayer and through the gift of the Eucharist.
I know that in your parish prayer meetings take place and lectio divina and that Eucharistic adoration is organized. These are precious initiatives for spiritual growth at the personal and community levels. I warmly urge more and more of you to take part in them. In a special way I would like to recall the importance and centrality of the Eucharist. May the centre of your Sunday be Holy Mass which should be rediscovered and lived as a day of God and of the community, a day on which to praise and celebrate the One who was born for us, who died and rose for our salvation and asks us to live together joyfully and to be a community open and ready to receive every person who is lonely or in difficulty.
Do not lose your sense of Sunday and be faithful to the Eucharistic gathering. The early Christians were prepared to give their lives for this. They realized that this is life and gives life.
In coming to see you I cannot but know that a great challenge is posed to your territory by religious groups who claim to be the depositaries of the Gospel truth. In this regard it is my duty to recommend you to be alert and to deepen your knowledge of the reasons for faith and for the Christian message; so that you may transmit it in a way that guarantees the authentic millenary tradition of the Church. May you — as St Peter says — always be prepared “to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15); put into practice the language of love and brotherhood that is comprehensible to all, but without forgetting the commitment to purifying and strengthening your own faith in the face of the dangers and snares that may threaten it in these times.
Overcome the limitations of individualism, withdrawal into self and the fascination of relativism that views any kind of behaviour as licit, and of the attraction exercised by forms of religious sentiment that exploit the deepest needs and aspirations of the human soul, offering prospects of easy but deceptive gratification. Faith is a gift of God but demands of us a response, a decision to follow Christ, not only when he heals and alleviates but also when he speaks of love even to the point of self-gift.
Another point on which I want to insist is the witnessing to charity that must characterize your community life. In recent years you have seen it increase rapidly, in the number of its members too, but you have also seen it help many people in difficulty and in situations of hardship who need you, who need your material aid, but also and above all need your faith and your testimony as believers. Make sure that the face of your community is always able to express in practice the love of God, who is rich in mercy, and invite people to approach him with trust.
I would like to address a special word of affection and friendship to you, dear boys and girls and young people who are listening to me, as well as to your peers who live in this parish. History’s today and tomorrow and the future of faith are entrusted especially to you who are the new generations. The Church expects much of your enthusiasm, your ability to look ahead, to be inspired by ideals and your desire for radicalism in the decisions of life. The parish is accompanying you and I would like you also to feel my encouragement.
“Brethren.... Rejoice always” (1 Thes 5:16). This invitation to joy which St Paul addressed to the Christians of Thessalonica in that time, also characterizes this Sunday, commonly known as “Gaudete” Sunday. It resonates from the very first words of the Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is at hand”; St Paul, in prison, wrote these words to the Christians of Philippi (cf. Phil 4:4-5) and also addresses them to us.
Yes, we are glad because the Lord is near us and in a few days, on Christmas night, we shall be celebrating the mystery of his birth. Mary, who was the first to hear the Angel’s invitation: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28), points out to us the way to reach true joy, which comes from God. St Mary of Grace, Mother of Divine Love, pray for us all. Amen!

 

PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE ROMAN PARISH 
OF "SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE" IN CASAL BOCCONE

Third Sunday of Advent - "Gaudete" Sunday, 11 December 2011

Greeting of the Holy Father to the children:
Dear Children,
I wish you all a good Sunday. We know that Christmas is approaching: let us prepare not only with gifts but with our hearts. Let us remember that Christ the Lord is near us, he enters our lives and gives us light and joy. St Paul says today in his Letter to the Thessalonians: “pray constantly”. This does not of course mean that we must always speak in words of prayer but it does mean that in our hearts we must not lose touch with God. If this contact exists, a factor of joy exists. I wish all of you all the joy of Christmas and all the joy of the presence in our hearts of the Child Jesus Christ who is God. My best wishes! Have a good Sunday and a Happy Christmas from this moment!
* * *
After Mass, outside the church, the Pope took his leave of the parish community of Santa Maria delle Grazie and said extemporaneously:
Dear friends, a spiritual embrace for you all. Thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome. This cordiality, so lovely and so open, the open, lively chorus, is what it was like in Africa. It gives me great joy to see how the Church lives here in the City of Rome: in this new parish people really participate in the Eucharist and are preparing for Christmas.
Preparing for Christmas is very difficult today. And I know there are so many commitments. But preparing for Christmas is not only buying, preparing and thinking, it is also keeping in touch with the Lord, going to meet him. And it seems to me very important not to forget this dimension. I have already explained to the children that St Paul said: “pray constantly”, in other words do not lose your contact with God. And this is not a burden in addition to all the others but rather the strength that helps us to do all that is necessary.
In this regard, I wish you an enduring contact with Jesus, hence all his joy and his strength in order to live in this world. Have a good Advent and a Happy Christmas! I thank you all.

 

HOMELY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI 12th December Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe

EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION
ON THE OCCASION OF THE BICENTENARY OF INDEPENDENCE
OF COUNTRIES IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, Vatican Basilica
Monday, 12 December 2011


Photo Gallery 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“The earth has yielded its increase” (Ps 67 [66]:6). The Fathers of the Church recognized in this image, taken from the Psalm we just heard and which invites all the peoples and nations to praise the Lord with joy, the Virgin Mary and of Christ, her Son: “The earth is Mary Most Holy, who comes from our earth, our lineage, from this clay, from this mud, from Adam. The earth has yielded its fruit: it first produced a flower ... this flower then became a fruit so that we might eat it so that we might eat its flesh. Would you like to know what this fruit is? It is the Virgin Son who proceeds from the Virgin Mother; the Lord from the handmaid; God from man; the Son from the Mother; the fruit from the earth” (St Jerome, Breviarum in Psalm. 66: PL, 1010-1011). Today, exulting over the fruit of this earth, we too are saying: “Let the peoples praise thee, O God” (Ps 67 [66]:4). We proclaim the gift of redemption gained by Christ and, in Christ, we acknowledge his power and divine majesty.
Moved by these sentiments, I greet fraternally the Cardinals and Bishops who are with us, the various diplomatic representatives, the priests and men and women religious, as well as the faithful gathered here in St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate with joy the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Star of the Evangelization of America. I also remember all those who have joined us in spirit and are praying to God with us for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, many of whom are celebrating the bicentenary of their Independence at this time and, going beyond the historical, social and political aspects of these events, are expressing anew to the Most High their gratitude for the great gift of faith they received, a faith that proclaims the redemptive mystery of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, so that all the peoples of the earth may have life in Him. The Successor of Peter could not let this occasion pass without expressing the Church’s joy in the many gifts which God, in his infinite kindness, has in these years poured out upon these beloved nations, who so affectionately invoke Mary Most Holy.
The venerated image of the Black Madonna of Tepeyac, with her sweet and peaceful countenance, imprinted on the tilma of the indio St Juan Diego, shows her as “the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God from whom she lives” (From the Office of Readings. Nicán Mopohua, 12th ed., Mexico City, D.F., 1971, 3-19). She reminds us of the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child” (Rev 12:1-2). She signals the presence of the Saviour to the indigenous and mestizo population. She always leads us to her divine Son, who is revealed as the foundation of the dignity of every human being, as a love that is stronger than the powers of evil and death, and the fountain of joy, filial trust, consolation and hope.
The Magnificat that we proclaimed in the Gospel “is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the ‘poor’ whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2619). In an act of gratitude to her Lord and of the humility of his handmaid the Virgin Mary praises God for all that he is doing on behalf of his people Israel. God is the One who deserves all honour and glory, the Mighty One who does marvels for his faithful servant and today continues to show his love to all men and women, especially those who are facing difficult trials.
“Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass” (Zech 9:9), we heard in the First Reading. Since the Incarnation of the Word, the divine Mystery is revealed in Jesus Christ, who is the contemporary of every human person in every time and place through the Church, whose Mother and model is Mary. Therefore, today we can continue praising God for the wonders he has worked in the life of the people of Latin America and the whole world, revealing his presence in the Son and the outpouring of his Spirit as the newness of personal and community life. God has hidden these things from the “wise and learned”, letting them be known to the humble and simple of heart (cf. Mt 11:25).
By her “yes” to God’s call, the Virgin Mary manifested divine love among men. In this sense she, with her simplicity and maternal heart, continues to indicate the one Light and the one Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ, who is “the definitive answer to the question of the meaning of life, and to those fundamental questions which still trouble so many men and women on the American continent” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, n. 10). Similarly, “by her manifold intercession (she) continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62).
At this time, as various parts of Latin America are commemorating the bicentenary of their Independence, the process of integration in this beloved continent is progressing, while at the same time it is playing a new role on the world scene. In these circumstances it is important that its diverse people can safeguard the rich treasure of faith and their historical-cultural dynamism, always being the defenders of human life from conception to natural end and promoters of peace; they must likewise care for the family in this genuine nature and mission, at the same time intensifying a vast grass-roots educational campaign that correctly prepares individuals and makes them aware of their capacities in such a way that they can face their destiny with responsibility and dignity. They are likewise called to foster ever more proven initiatives and effective programmes that promote reconciliation and fraternity, increase solidarity and care for the environment, at the same time intensifying efforts to overcome poverty, illiteracy and corruption, and to eradicate every form of injustice, violence, criminality, civic unrest, drug trafficking and extortion.
When the Church was preparing to recall the fifth centenary of the planting of the Cross of Christ in the good soil of the American Continent, on that same soil Bl. John Paul II formulated for the first time a programme for a new evangelization, new “in its ardour, in its methods, in its expression” (cf.Address to the CELAM Assembly, 9 March 1983, III: AAS 75, 1983, 778). Because of my responsibility of confirming in the faith, I also want to encourage the apostolic zeal that is now motivating and driving the “continental mission” promoted in Aparecida, so that “Christian faith may become more deeply rooted in the heart of Latin American individuals and peoples as founding event and living encounter with Christ” (Fifth General Conference of the Council of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Final Document, n. 13). Thus there will be a multiplication of genuine disciples and missionaries of the Lord and a renewal of Latin America and the Caribbean’s vocation to hope. May the light of God shine more and more on the face of each of the sons and daughters of this beloved land and may his redemptive grace guide their decisions so that they may continue progressing untiringly in the building of a society founded upon the development of the good, the triumph of love and the spread of justice. With these fervent desires and sustained by the help of Divine Providence, I intend to undertake an Apostolic Journey to Mexico and Cuba before Easter, to proclaim there the Word of Christ and support the conviction that this is a precious time to evangelize with a true faith, a living hope and an ardent charity.
I commend to the loving mediation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our heavenly Mother all these intentions and the present situation of the Latin American and Caribbean nations and their progress towards a better future. I likewise invoke upon them the intercession of the many saints and blesseds that the Spirit has raised up throughout the length and breadth of the history of this continent, offering heroic models of Christian virtue in diverse states of life and social milieu, that their example may promote more and more a new evangelization under the gaze of Christ, Saviour of man and strength of our soul. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



ANGELUS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI 4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT

ANGELUS
St Peter's Square
Fourth Sunday of Advent, 18 December 201
1

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this fourth and last Sunday of Advent, this year the liturgy presents the narrative of the Angel’s announcement to Mary. Contemplating the amazing icon of the Blessed Virgin at the moment when she receives the divine message and gives her answer, we are enlightened within by the light of truth that shines from that mystery ever new. In particular I would like to reflect briefly on the importance of Mary’s virginity, namely that she conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin
Against the background of the event of Nazareth is the prophecy of Isaiah. “Behold, a young virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7:14). This ancient promise found superabundant fulfilment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. Indeed, not only did the Virgin Mary conceive, but she did so through the work of the Holy Spirit, that is, God himself.
The human being who came to life in her womb took Mary’s flesh, but his existence derived totally from God. He is fully man, made of clay — to use the biblical symbol — but comes from on high, from Heaven. The fact that Mary conceived while remaining a virgin is thus essential to the knowledge of Jesus and to our faith, because it testifies that it was God’s initiative and, above all, it reveals who the conceived being was.
As the Gospel says: “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus guarantees each other. This is what makes that single question so important that Mary, “greatly troubled”, asks the Angel: “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (Lk 1:34). Mary was very wise in her simplicity. She did not doubt God’s power, but she wanted to better understand his will, in order to conform herself completely to this will. Mary was infinitely overcome by the Mystery, yet she occupied perfectly the place which, in its centre had been assigned to her. Her heart and her mind are fully humble and precisely because of her unique humility, God awaits this young woman’s “yes” in order to carry out his plan. He respects her dignity and her freedom. Mary’s “yes” entailed motherhood and virginity as a whole. She wanted everything in her to glorify God and he wanted the Son, born of her, to be totally a gift of grace.
Dear friends, Mary’s virginity is unique and unrepeatable; but its spiritual meaning concerns every Christian, who is essentially linked to faith. In fact, those who put deep trust in God’s love welcome Jesus and his divine life within them through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas! I hope that you will all experience it with deep joy.

After the Angelus :
Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Madrid, 22 missionaries Oblates of Mary Immaculate and a layman were beatified. They were killed in Spain in 1936 for simply being zealous witnesses of the Gospel. The hope that their sacrifice will continue to bear abundant fruits of conversion and reconciliation is joined with joy in their beatification.
I would like to reassure my closeness to the populations of the southern Philippines, hit by a violent tropical storm. I pray for the victims, many of whom are children, for the homeless and for the many who have been dispersed.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. The Gospel of today’s liturgy recounts the Archangel Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and bear a son to be called Jesus. Just as the Immaculate Virgin brought God to us, may we be not afraid to let her bring us to God. In this final week of Advent, let us intensify our efforts to prepare for his coming. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God!
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good preparation for Holy Christmas.


 

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
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Solemnity of the Immaculate of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Thursday, 8 December 2011


Photo Gallery

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Every year the important Feast of Mary Immaculate invites us to meet here, in one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, to pay homage to her, the Mother of Christ and our Mother. I greet with affection all of you present here, as well as all those who are joining us via radio and television. I thank you for your unanimous support in my act of prayer.
Mary is portrayed, on the top of the pillar around which we have gathered, by a statue which, in part, recalls the passage from the Book of Revelation that has just been proclaimed: “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). What is the meaning of this image? It represents at the same time Our Lady and the Church.
First of all the “woman” of the Book of Revelation is Mary herself. She appears “clothed with the sun, that is, clothed with God: the Virgin Mary in fact is wholly surrounded by God’s light and lives in God. This symbol of her luminous garment clearly expresses a condition that concerns Mary’s whole being: she is “full of grace”, filled with God’s love. And “God is light”, St John says further (1 Jn 1:5). Here, therefore, the One who is “full of grace”, “the Immaculate One”, reflects in her whole person the light of the “sun” which is God.
This woman has under her feet the moon, a symbol of death and of mortality. Indeed Mary is fully associated with the victory of Jesus Christ, her Son, over sin and death; she is free from any shadow of death and totally filled with life. Just as death no longer has power over the risen Jesus (cf. Rom 6:9), so, through a grace and a rare privilege of Almighty God, Mary has left it behind her and gone beyond it. And this is manifest in the two great mysteries of her life: in the beginning, having been conceived without original sin, which is the mystery that we are celebrating today; and, at the end, being taken up body and soul into Heaven, into God’s glory. However, the whole of her earthly life was also a victory over death, because it was spent entirely at God’s service, in the unreserved sacrifice of herself to him and to her neighbour. For this reason Mary is in herself a hymn to life; she is the creature in whom Christ’s words have already come true: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
In the vision of the Book of Revelation there is a further detail: upon the head of the woman clothed with the sun there is “a crown of twelve stars”. This sign symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel and means that the Virgin Mary is at the centre of the People of God, of the entire communion of saints. And thus this image of the crown of 12 stars ushers us into the second great interpretation of the heavenly portent of the “woman clothed with the sun”: as well as representing Our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all time. She is with child, in the sense that she is carrying Christ in her womb and must give birth to him in the world. This is the travail of the pilgrim Church on earth which, amidst the consolations of God and the persecution of the world, must bring Jesus to men and women.
It is for this very reason, because she is carrying Jesus, that the Church comes up against the opposition of a ferocious adversary, represented in the apocalyptic vision by “a great red dragon” (Rev 12:3). This dragon sought in vain to devour Jesus — the “male child”, destined to rule all the nations” (12:5) — because Jesus, through his death and resurrection, ascended to God and is seated on his throne. Therefore the dragon, defeated once and for all in Heaven, directly attacks the woman — the Church — in the wilderness of the world. However in every epoch the Church is sustained by the light and strength of God who nourishes her in the desert with the bread of his Word and of the Holy Eucharist. And so it is that in every tribulation, in all the trials she meets over time and in the different parts of the world the Church suffers persecution but turns out to be victorious. And in this very way the Christian community is her presence, the guarantee of God’s love against all the ideologies of hatred and selfishness.
The one threat of which the Church can and must be afraid is the sin of her members. Whereas Mary is indeed Immaculate, free from any stain of sin, the Church is holy but at the same time she is blemished by our sins. This is why the People of God, on pilgrimage through time, addresses its heavenly Mother and asks for help; it asks her to accompany it on its journey of faith, to encourage the commitment to Christian living and to support its hope. We are in need of this, especially at this time which is so difficult for Italy, for Europe, and for various parts of the world.
May Mary help us to see that there is a light beyond the blanket of thick fog in which reality seems to be enveloped. For this reason, we too, especially on this Feast, do not cease to ask her for help with filial trust: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to you”. Ora pro nobis, intercede pro nobis ad Dominum Iesum Christum!

 

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

 

 

CHRISTMAS Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2011

SUNDAY, 25 DECEMBER 2011

MONDAY, 26 DECEMBER 2011

SATURDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2011

SUNDAY, 1st JANUARY 2012 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

6th JANUARY 2012 - EPIPHANY

SUNDAY 8th JANUARY 2012 - Baptisim of the Lord

9th JANUARY 2012 Pope's New Year's Address to Diplomatic Corps

 

Angelus

Booklet for the Celebration

SATURDAY, 24 DECEMBER 2011- Inauguration of the Crib- Saint Peter's Square, at 16.45
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord - Midnight Mass Vatican Basilica, at 22.00
PAPAL MASS- Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration

MIDNIGHT MASS
SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saint Peter's Basilica
24 December 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus that we have just heard begins solemnly with the word “apparuit”, which then comes back again in the reading at the Dawn Mass: apparuit – “there has appeared”.  This is a programmatic word, by which the Church seeks to express synthetically the essence of Christmas.  Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways.  God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind (cf. Heb 1:1 – Mass during the Day).  But now something new has happened: he has appeared.  He has revealed himself.  He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells.  He himself has come into our midst.  This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared.  No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words.  He has “appeared”.  But now we ask: how has he appeared?  Who is he in reality?  The reading at the Dawn Mass goes on to say: “the kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” (Tit 3:4).  For the people of pre-Christian times, whose response to the terrors and contradictions of the world was to fear that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary, this was a real “epiphany”, the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness.  Today too, people who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good and the beautiful which we encounter in radiant moments in our world.  “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed”: this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas.
In all three Christmas Masses, the liturgy quotes a passage from the Prophet Isaiah, which describes the epiphany that took place at Christmas in greater detail: “A child is born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.  Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end” (Is 9:5f.).  Whether the prophet had a particular child in mind, born during his own period of history, we do not know.  But it seems impossible.  This is the only text in the Old Testament in which it is said of a child, of a human being: his name will be Mighty-God, Eternal-Father.  We are presented with a vision that extends far beyond the historical moment into the mysterious, into the future.  A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God.  A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father.  And his peace “has no end”.  The prophet had previously described the child as “a great light” and had said of the peace he would usher in that the rod of the oppressor, the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood would be burned (Is 9:1, 3-4).
God has appeared – as a child.  It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace.  At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph.  And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you.  We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God.  In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours.
Christmas is an epiphany – the appearing of God and of his great light in a child that is born for us.  Born in a stable in Bethlehem, not in the palaces of kings.  In 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas in Greccio with an ox and an ass and a manger full of hay, a new dimension of the mystery of Christmas came to light.  Saint Francis of Assisi called Christmas “the feast of feasts” – above all other feasts – and he celebrated it with “unutterable devotion” (2 Celano 199; Fonti Francescane, 787).  He kissed images of the Christ-child with great devotion and he stammered tender words such as children say, so Thomas of Celano tells us  (ibid.).  For the early Church, the feast of feasts was Easter: in the Resurrection Christ had flung open the doors of death and in so doing had radically changed the world: he had made a place for man in God himself.  Now, Francis neither changed nor intended to change this objective order of precedence among the feasts, the inner structure of the faith centred on the Paschal Mystery.  And yet through him and the character of his faith, something new took place: Francis discovered Jesus’ humanity in an entirely new depth.  This human existence of God became most visible to him at the moment when God’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  The Resurrection presupposes the Incarnation.  For God’s Son to take the form of a child, a truly human child, made a profound impression on the heart of the Saint of Assisi, transforming faith into love.  “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” – this phrase of Saint Paul now acquired an entirely new depth.  In the child born in the stable at Bethlehem, we can as it were touch and caress God.  And so the liturgical year acquired a second focus in a feast that is above all a feast of the heart.
This has nothing to do with sentimentality.  It is right here, in this new experience of the reality of Jesus’ humanity that the great mystery of faith is revealed.  Francis loved the child Jesus, because for him it was in this childish estate that God’s humility shone forth.  God became poor.  His Son was born in the poverty of the stable.  In the child Jesus, God made himself dependent, in need of human love, he put himself in the position of asking for human love – our love.  Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity.  Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.
Francis arranged for Mass to be celebrated on the manger that stood between the ox and the ass (cf. 1 Celano 85; Fonti 469).  Later, an altar was built over this manger, so that where animals had once fed on hay, men could now receive the flesh of the spotless lamb Jesus Christ, for the salvation of soul and body, as Thomas of Celano tells us (cf. 1 Celano 87; Fonti 471).  Francis himself, as a deacon, had sung the Christmas Gospel on the holy night in Greccio with resounding voice.  Through the friars’ radiant Christmas singing, the whole celebration seemed to be a great outburst of joy (1 Celano 85.86; Fonti 469, 470).  It was the encounter with God’s humility that caused this joy – his goodness creates the true feast.
Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find that the doorway five and a half metres high, through which emperors and caliphs used to enter the building, is now largely walled up.  Only a low opening of one and a half metres has remained.  The intention was probably to provide the church with better protection from attack, but above all to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback.  Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down.  It seems to me that a deeper truth is revealed here, which should touch our hearts on this holy night: if we want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our “enlightened” reason.  We must set aside our false certainties, our intellectual pride, which prevents us from recognizing God’s closeness.  We must follow the interior path of Saint Francis – the path leading to that ultimate outward and inward simplicity which enables the heart to see.  We must bend down, spiritually we must as it were go on foot, in order to pass through the portal of faith and encounter the God who is so different from our prejudices and opinions – the God who conceals himself in the humility of  a newborn baby.  In this spirit let us celebrate the liturgy of the holy night, let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped.  Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart.  And let us also pray especially at this hour for all who have to celebrate Christmas in poverty, in suffering, as migrants, that a ray of God’s kindness may shine upon them, that they – and we – may be touched by the kindness that God chose to bring into the world through the birth of his Son in a stable.  Amen.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


 

SUNDAY, 25 DECEMBER 2011 - Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord- Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12.00
"Urbi et Orbi " Blessing and MessageFrenchGermanItalianPolishPortugueseSpanish]

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI

CHRISTMAS 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!
Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.
This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos!Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).
This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”
The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.
Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.
May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.
May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.
May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”

 

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© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



 

MONDAY, 26 DECEMBER 2011 - Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr- Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00
Angelus
 

FEAST OF ST STEPHEN, PROTOMARTYR
BENEDICT XVI
ANGELUS
Saint Peter's Square
Monday, 26 December 2011 

(Video)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the day after the solemn liturgy of the Lord’s Birth, we are celebrating the Feast of St Stephen, a deacon and the Church’s first martyr. The historian Eusebius of Caesarea describes him as the “perfect martyr” (Die Kirchengeschichte v. 2,5: GCS II, I, Lipsia 1903, 430), because in the Acts of the Apostles it is written that “Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (6:8). St Gregory of Nyssa commented: “he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. He was sustained by the goodness of his will to serve the poor and curbed enemies by the Spirit's power of the truth” (Sermo in Sanctum Stephanum II: GNO X, 1, Leiden 1990, 98). A man of prayer and of evangelization, Stephen, whose name means “crown”, received from God the gift of martyrdom. Indeed, “full of the Holy Spirit ... he saw the glory of God” (Acts 7:55) and while he was being stoned he prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Then, he fell to his knees and prayed for forgiveness for those who accused him: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).
This is why the Eastern Church sings in her hymns: “The stones became steps for you and ladders for the ascent to heaven... and you joyfully drew close to the festive gathering of the angels” (MHNAIA t. II, Rome 1889, 694, 695).
After the generation of the Apostles, martyrs acquired an important place in the esteem of the Christian community. At the height of their persecution, their hymns of praise fortified the faithful on their difficult journey and encouraged those in search of the truth to convert to the Lord. Therefore, by divine disposition, the Church venerates the relics of martyrs and honours them with epithets such as: “teachers of life”, “living witnesses”, “breathing trophies” and “silent exhortations” (Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 43, 5: PG 36, 500 C).
Dear friends, the true imitation of Christ is love, which some Christian writers have called the “secret martyrdom”. Concerning this St Clement of Alexandria wrote: “those who perform the commandments of the Lord, in every action ‘testify’, by doing what he wishes, and consistently naming the Lord’s name; (Stromatum IV, 7,43,4: SC 463, Paris 2001, 130). Today too, as in antiquity, sincere adherence to the Gospel can require the sacrifice of life and many Christians in various parts of the world are exposed to persecution and sometimes martyrdom. However, the Lord reminds us: “he who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22).
To Mary Most Holy, Queen of Martyrs, let us address our supplication to preserve the desire for good in its wholeness, especially the good of those who oppose us. Today let us entrust the Church’s deacons in particular to divine mercy so that, illuminated by St Stephen’s example, they may collaborate, in accordance with their mission, in the task of evangelization (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, n. 94).


After the Angelus:
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today we celebrate St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. May his example inspire us to be courageous in living our faith in Christ our Saviour and ready to forgive those who harm us. I pray that your stay in Rome may renew your love of Christ and his Church and I wish you all a blessed Christmas Season!
I wish you all happy celebrations. Many thanks!
Appeal asking for an end to violence in the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Holy Christmas awakens within us even more forcefully the prayer to God that the hands of the violent who sow death may be prevented, and that justice and peace may prevail throughout the world. Yet our earth continues to be bathed in innocent blood. I learned with deep sorrow the news of the attacks which this year too have brought mourning and grief to several Churches in Nigeria on the Day of Jesus’ Birth. I would like to express my sincere and affectionate closeness to the Christian community and to all who are affected by this absurd act, and I ask you to pray the Lord for the many victims. I appeal for the restoration of safety and serenity, with the joint efforts of the various members of society. At this time I wish to say forcefully once again: violence is a way that leads only to suffering, destruction and death; respect, reconciliation and love are the only way to achieve peace.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


 
SATURDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2011 - Vespers and Te Deum- Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Vatican Basilica, at 17:00
Booklet for the Celebration

TE DEUM AND FIRST VESPERS
OF THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
St Peter's Basilica
Saturday, 31 December 2011

Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have come together in the Vatican Basilica to celebrate First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and to give thanks to the Lord at the end of the year by singing the Te Deumtogether. I thank all of you for choosing to join me for this occasion that is always so poignant and significant. In the first place I greet the Cardinals, my brother Bishops and Priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and members of the lay faithful representing the entire ecclesial community of Rome. In a particular way I greet the Authorities present, beginning with the Mayor of Rome, and I thank him for the gift of a chalice, a gift that is renewed every year, in accordance with a fine tradition. I hope and pray that all will remain committed to making this City ever more in tune with the values of faith, culture and civilization that form an integral part of its vocation and its thousands of years of history.
Another year is drawing to a close, as we await the start of a new one: with some trepidation, with our perennial desires and expectations. Reflecting on our life experience, we are continually astonished by how ultimately short and ephemeral life is. So we often find ourselves asking: what meaning can we give to our days? What meaning, in particular, can we give to the days of toil and grief? This is a question that permeates history, indeed it runs through the heart of every generation and every individual. But there is an answer: it is written on the face of a Child who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, and is today the Living One, risen for ever from the dead. From within the fabric of humanity, rent asunder by so much injustice, wickedness and violence, there bursts forth in an unforeseen way the joyful and liberating novelty of Christ our Saviour, who leads us to contemplate the goodness and tenderness of God through the mystery of his Incarnation and Birth. The everlasting God has entered our history and he remains present in a unique way in the person of Jesus, his incarnate Son, our Saviour, who came down to earth to renew humanity radically and to free us from sin and death, to raise us to the dignity of God’s children. Christmas not only recalls the historical fulfilment of this truth that concerns us directly, but in a mysterious and real way, gives it to us afresh.
How evocative it is, at this close of a year, to listen again to the joyful message addressed by Saint Paul to the Christians of Galatia: “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). These words penetrate the heart of the history of us all and illumine it, or rather, they save it, because since the Day of the Lord’s Nativity, the fullness of time has reached us. So there is no more room for anxiety in the face of time that passes, never to return; now there is room for unlimited trust in God, by whom we know we are loved, for whom we live and to whom our life is directed as we await his definitive return. Since the Saviour came down from heaven, man has ceased to be the slave of time that passes to no avail, marked by toil, sadness and pain. Man is son of a God who has entered time so as to redeem it from meaninglessness and negativity, a God who has redeemed all humanity, giving it everlasting love as a new perspective of life.
The Church lives and professes this truth and intends to proclaim it today with fresh spiritual vigour. In tonight’s celebration we have special reasons to praise God for his mystery of salvation, active in the world through the ministry of the Church. We have so many reasons to thank the Lord for what our ecclesial community, at the heart of the universal Church, is accomplishing in the service of the Gospel in this City. In that regard, together with the Vicar General, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Auxiliary Bishops, parish priests and the whole diocesan presbyterate, I would like to thank the Lord especially for the promising communal project aimed at tayloring day-to-day pastoral work to the demands of our time, through the programme “Belonging to the Church and Pastoral Co-responsibility”. The aim is give first priority to evangelization, so as to make the participation of the faithful in the sacraments more responsible and more fruitful, so that every person can speak of God to modern man and proclaim the Gospel incisively to those who have never known it or have forgotten it.
In the Diocese of Rome, as elsewhere, the most urgent pastoral challenge facing us is the quaestio fidei. Christ’s disciples are called to reawaken in themselves and in others the longing for God and the joy of living him and bearing witness to him, on the basis of what is always a deeply personal question: why do I believe? We must give primacy to truth, seeing the combination of faith and reason as two wings with which the human spirit can rise to the contemplation of the Truth (cf.Fides et Ratio, Prologue); we must ensure that the dialogue between Christianity and modern culture bears fruit; we must see to it that the beauty and contemporary relevance of the faith is rediscovered, not as an isolated event, affecting some particular moment in our lives, but as a constant orientation, affecting even the simplest choices, establishing a profound unity within the person, so that he becomes just, hard-working, generous and good. What is needed is to give new life to a faith that can serve as a basis for a new humanism, one that is able to generate culture and social commitment.
Within this framework, at the Diocesan Conference held last June, the Diocese of Rome launched a programme which sets out to explore more deeply the meaning of Christian initiation and the joy of bringing new Christians into the faith. To proclaim faith in the Word made flesh is, after all, at the heart of the Church’s mission, and the entire ecclesial community needs to rediscover this indispensable task with renewed missionary zeal. Young generations have an especially keen sense of the present disorientation, magnified by the crisis in economic affairs which is also a crisis of values, and so they in particular need to recognize in Jesus Christ “the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history” (Gaudium et Spes, 10).
Parents are the first educators in faith of their children, starting from a most tender age, and families must therefore be supported in their educational mission by appropriate initiatives. At the same time it is desirable that the baptismal journey, the first stage along the formative path of Christian initiation, in addition to fostering conscious and worthy preparation for the celebration of the Sacrament, should devote adequate attention to the years following Baptism, with appropriate programmes that take account of the life conditions that families must address. I therefore encourage parish communities and other ecclesial groupings to engage in continuing reflection on ways to promote a better understanding and reception of the sacraments, by which man comes to share in the very life of God. May the Church of Rome have no shortage of lay faithful who are ready to make their own contribution to building living communities that allow the Word of God to burst forth in the hearts of those who have not yet known the Lord or have moved away from him. At the same time, it is appropriate to create opportunities to encounter the City, giving rise to fruitful dialogue with those who are searching for Truth.
Dear friends, ever since God sent his only-begotten Son, so that we might obtain adoptive sonship (cf. Gal 4:5), we can have no greater task than to be totally at the service of God’s plan. And so I would like to encourage and thank all the faithful from the Diocese of Rome who feel a responsibility to restore our society’s soul. Thank you, Roman families, the first and fundamental cells of society! Thank you, members of the many Communities, Associations and Movements that are committed to animating the Christian life of our City.
Te Deum laudamus! We praise you, O God! The Church suggests that we should not end the year without expressing our thanks to the Lord for all his benefits. It is in God that our last hour must come to a close, the last hour of time and history. To overlook this goal of our lives would be to fall into the void, to live without meaning. Hence the Church places on our lips the ancient hymn Te Deum. It is a hymn filled with the wisdom of many Christian generations, who feel the need to address on high their heart’s desires, knowing that all of us are in the Lord’s merciful hands.
Te Deum laudamus! This is also the song of the Church in Rome, for the wonders that God has worked and continues to work in her. With hearts full of thanksgiving, let us prepare to cross the threshold of 2012, remembering that the Lord is watching over us and guarding us. To him this evening we wish to entrust the whole world. Let us place in his hands the tragedies of this world and let us also offer him our hopes for a brighter future. And let us place these prayers in the hands of Mary, Mother of God, Salus Populi Romani. Amen.



 

SUNDAY, 1st JANUARY 2012 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 45th World Day of Peace- Vatican Basilica, at 9:30
PAPAL MASS- Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration

 



 
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00- Angelus
Message on the occasion of the 45th World Day of Peace 2012, Educating Young People in Justice and Peace
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SUNDAY, 6th JANUARY 2012

Holy Mass with Episcopal Ordinations - Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 
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Booklet for the Celebration


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EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION 
ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Vatican Basilica
Friday, 6 January 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Epiphany is a feast of light. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Is 60:1). With these words of the prophet Isaiah, the Church describes the content of the feast. He who is the true light, and by whom we too are made to be light, has indeed come into the world. He gives us the power to become children of God (cf. Jn 1:9,12). The journey of the wise men from the East is, for the liturgy, just the beginning of a great procession that continues throughout history. With the Magi, humanity’s pilgrimage to Jesus Christ begins – to the God who was born in a stable, who died on the Cross and who, having risen from the dead, remains with us always, until the consummation of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). The Church reads this account from Matthew’s Gospel alongside the vision of the prophet Isaiah that we heard in the first reading: the journey of these men is just the beginning. Before them came the shepherds – simple souls, who dwelt closer to the God who became a child, and could more easily “go over” to him (Lk 2:15) and recognize him as Lord. But now the wise of this world are also coming. Great and small, kings and slaves, men of all cultures and all peoples are coming. The men from the East are the first, followed by many more throughout the centuries. After the great vision of Isaiah, the reading from the Letter to the Ephesians expresses the same idea in sober and simple terms: the Gentiles share the same heritage (cf. Eph 3:6). Psalm 2 puts it like this: “I shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession” (v. 8).

The wise men from the East lead the way. They open up the path of the Gentiles to Christ. During this holy Mass, I will ordain two priests to the episcopate, I will consecrate them as shepherds of God’s people. According to the words of Jesus, part of a shepherd’s task is to go ahead of the flock (cf. Jn 10:4). So, allowing for all the differences in vocation and mission, we may well look to these figures, the first Gentiles to find the pathway to Christ, for indications concerning the task of bishops. What kind of people were they? The experts tell us that they belonged to the great astronomical tradition that had developed in Mesopotamia over the centuries and continued to flourish. But this information of itself is not enough. No doubt there were many astronomers in ancient Babylon, but only these few set off to follow the star that they recognized as the star of the promise, pointing them along the path towards the true King and Saviour. They were, as we might say, men of science, but not simply in the sense that they were searching for a wide range of knowledge: they wanted something more. They wanted to understand what being human is all about. They had doubtless heard of the prophecy of the Gentile prophet Balaam: “A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Num 24:17). They explored this promise. They were men with restless hearts, not satisfied with the superficial and the ordinary. They were men in search of the promise, in search of God. And they were watchful men, capable of reading God’s signs, his soft and penetrating language. But they were also courageous, yet humble: we can imagine them having to endure a certain amount of mockery for setting off to find the King of the Jews, at the cost of so much effort. For them it mattered little what this or that person, what even influential and clever people thought and said about them. For them it was a question of truth itself, not human opinion. Hence they took upon themselves the sacrifices and the effort of a long and uncertain journey. Their humble courage was what enabled them to bend down before the child of poor people and to recognize in him the promised King, the one they had set out, on both their outward and their inward journey, to seek and to know.

Dear friends, how can we fail to recognize in all this certain essential elements of episcopal ministry? The bishop too must be a man of restless heart, not satisfied with the ordinary things of this world, but inwardly driven by his heart’s unrest to draw ever closer to God, to seek his face, to recognize him more and more, to be able to love him more and more. The bishop too must be a man of watchful heart, who recognizes the gentle language of God and understands how to distinguish truth from mere appearance. The bishop too must be filled with the courage of humility, not asking what prevailing opinion says about him, but following the criterion of God’s truth and taking his stand accordingly – “opportune – importune”. He must be able to go ahead and mark out the path. He must go ahead, in the footsteps of him who went ahead of us all because he is the true shepherd, the true star of the promise: Jesus Christ. And he must have the humility to bend down before the God who made himself so tangible and so simple that he contradicts our foolish pride in its reluctance to see God so close and so small. He must devote his life to adoration of the incarnate Son of God, which constantly points him towards the path.

The liturgy of episcopal ordination interprets the essential features of this ministry in eight questions addressed to the candidates, each beginning with the word “Vultis? – Do you want?” These questions direct the will and mark out the path to be followed. Here I shall briefly cite just a few of the most important words of this presentation, where we find explicit mention of the elements we have just considered in connection with the wise men of today’s feast. The bishops’ task is praedicare Evangelium Christi, it is custodire et dirigere, it is pauperibus se misericordes praebere, it is indesinenter orare. Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, going ahead and leading, guarding the sacred heritage of our faith, showing mercy and charity to the needy and the poor, thus mirroring God’s merciful love for us, and finally, praying without ceasing: these are the fundamental features of the episcopal ministry. Praying without ceasing means: never losing contact with God, letting ourselves be constantly touched by him in the depths of our hearts and, in this way, being penetrated by his light. Only someone who actually knows God can lead others to God. Only someone who leads people to God leads them along the path of life.

The restless heart of which we spoke earlier, echoing Saint Augustine, is the heart that is ultimately satisfied with nothing less than God, and in this way becomes a loving heart. Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. God is restless for us, he looks out for people willing to “catch” his unrest, his passion for us, people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts and at the same time open themselves to be touched by God’s search for us. Dear friends, this was the task of the Apostles: to receive God’s unrest for man and then to bring God himself to man. And this is your task as successors of the Apostles: let yourselves be touched by God’s unrest, so that God’s longing for man may be fulfilled.

The wise men followed the star. Through the language of creation, they discovered the God of history. To be sure – the language of creation alone is not enough. Only God’s word, which we encounter in sacred Scripture, was able to mark out their path definitively. Creation and Scripture, reason and faith, must come together, so as to lead us forward to the living God. There has been much discussion over what kind of star it was that the wise men were following. Some suggest a planetary constellation, or a supernova, that is to say one of those stars that is initially quite weak, in which an inner explosion releases a brilliant light for a certain time, or a comet, etc. This debate we may leave to the experts. The great star, the true supernova that leads us on, is Christ himself. He is as it were the explosion of God’s love, which causes the great white light of his heart to shine upon the world. And we may add: the wise men from the East, who feature in today’s Gospel, like all the saints, have themselves gradually become constellations of God that mark out the path. In all these people, being touched by God’s word has, as it were, released an explosion of light, through which God’s radiance shines upon our world and shows us the path. The saints are stars of God, by whom we let ourselves be led to him for whom our whole being longs. Dear friends: you followed the star Jesus Christ when you said “yes” to the priesthood and to the episcopacy. And no doubt smaller stars have enlightened and helped you not to lose your way. In the litany of saints we call upon all these stars of God, that they may continue to shine upon you and show you the path. As you are ordained bishops, you too are called to be stars of God for men, leading them along the path towards the true light, towards Christ. So let us pray to all the saints at this hour, asking them that you may always live up to this mission you have received, to show God’s light to mankind.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 

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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2012

Pope's Homily for Feast of Jesus' Baptism"Prayer Is the First Condition for Educating"
Holy Mass and Baptism of Children - Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 

[Italian]
Booklet for the Celebration

Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's homily Sunday, celebrated in Rome as the feast of the baptism of Our Lord. 

* * *
Dear brothers and sisters!
It is always a joy to celebrate this Holy Mass with the baptism of children on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I greet all of you with affection, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers, and all of you relatives and friends! You have come -- you have said this aloud -- so that these newborns might have the gift of the grace of God, the seed of eternal life. You parents wished for this. You thought about baptism before your little boy or little girl was born. Your responsibility as Christian parents made you think immediately of the sacrament that marks the entrance into divine life, in the community of the Church. We can say that this was your first educative decision for your children as witnesses of faith: the fundamental decision!
The task of parents, helped by the godmother and the godfather, is that of educating your son or daughter. Educating is very demanding, sometimes it is quite hard on our always limited human capacities. But educating becomes a marvelous mission if it is done in collaboration with God, who is the first and true educator of every man.
In the first reading that we heard, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God addresses his people precisely as an educator. He warns them against the danger of quenching their thirst and satiating their hunger with what will not do so: "Why," he asks, "do you spend your money on what is not bread, your earnings on what does not satisfy?" (Isaiah 55:2). God wants to give us good things to drink and eat, things that will be good for us; while we sometimes use our resources badly, we use them for what is useless, indeed, for what is harmful. God wants to give us above all himself and his Word: he knows that distancing ourselves from him we will soon find ourselves in difficulty, like the prodigal son of the parable, and most importantly we will lose our human dignity. And for this reason he assures us that he is infinite mercy, that his thoughts and his ways are not as ours -- how fortunate for us! -- and that we can always return to him, to the house of the Father. Moreover, he assures us that if we welcome his Word, it will bear good fruit in our life, like the rain that waters the earth (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11).
To this word that the Lord has addressed to us through the Prophet Isaiah, we have answered with the refrain of the Psalm: "With joy we will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation." As adult persons we have a duty to draw from good sources, for our own good and for that of those entrusted to our responsibility, especially you, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers, for the good of these children. And what are "the springs of salvation?" They are the Word of God and the sacraments. Adults are the first ones who need to nourish themselves from these sources so that they can guide the younger people in their growth. The parents have to give much but to be able to give they also for their part have to receive, otherwise they will be emptied, they will run out. The parents are not the springs, as we priests are not the springs either: we are rather like channels through which the lifeblood of God's love must past. If we stop receiving from the ultimate source, we too will first of all feel the negative effects and we will no longer be able to educate others. Because of this we have committed ourselves, saying: "With joy we will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation."
And we now come to the second reading and the Gospel. They tell us that the first and principal education comes through witness. The Gospel speaks to us of John the Baptist. John was a great educator of his disciples, because he lead them to Jesus, to whom he bore witness. He did not exalt himself, he did not want to hold onto the disciples for himself. And yet John was a great prophet, his fame was quite widespread. When Jesus came on the scene John stood back and pointed to Jesus: "One mightier than I is coming after me ... I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit" (Mark 1:7-8). The true educator does not bind people to himself, he is not possessive. He wants the child, or the disciple, to learn to know the truth and establish a personal relationship with it. The educator does his duty to the end, he does not withdraw his attentive and faithful presence; but his objective is that the learner hears the voice of the truth speak to his heart and follows it on a personal journey.
Let us return again to the theme of witnessing. In the second reading the Apostle John writes: "It is the Spirit who bears witness" (1 John 5:6). He is referring to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who bears witness to Jesus, testifying that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is also seen in the scene of the baptism in the Jordan River: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove, revealing that he is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father (cf. Mark 1:10). John underscores this aspect as well in his Gospel when Jesus says to his disciples: "When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you too will bear witness to me, because you have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27). This is a great comfort to us in educating others in the faith because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is supported by the Holy Spirit.
It is very important for you parents and also for you godfathers and godmothers to believe strongly in the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit, to call upon him and welcome him in you through prayer and the sacraments. He is the one in fact who enlightens the mind, who makes the heart of the educator burn so that he or she knows how to transmit the knowledge of the love of Christ. Prayer is the first condition for educating, because in praying we create the disposition in ourselves of letting God have the initiative, of entrusting our children to him, who knows them before we do and better than us, and knows perfectly what their true good is. And, at the same time, when we pray we open ourselves to the inspirations of God to do our part better, which in any case is our duty and we must accomplish. The sacraments, especially Eucharist and Penance, permit us to perform the educative action in union with Christ, in communion with him and continually renewed by his forgiveness. Prayer and the sacraments obtain that light for us that allows us to be both tender and strong, kind and firm, to be silent and to speak when the time is right, to rebuke and correct justly.
Dear friends, let us therefore together call upon the Holy Spirit, that he might descend abundantly upon these children, consecrate them in the image of Jesus Christ, and accompany them on the journey of their life. We entrust them to the maternal guidance of Mary Most Holy, that they might grow in age, wisdom and grace and become true Christians, faithful and joyful witnesses of God's love. Amen.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] (Zenit.org)

 

 

 

Pope's New Year's Address to Diplomatic Corpsì, JAN. 9, 2012

"Education Is a Crucial Theme for Every Generation

Here is a Vatican translation of the New Year's address Benedict XVI gave today to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
* * *
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is always a particular pleasure for me to receive you, the distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, in the splendid setting of this Sala Regia, and personally to offer you my cordial good wishes for the New Year. Before all else, I thank your Dean, Ambassador Alejandro Valladares Lanza, and the Vice-Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the respectful sentiments which they expressed on your behalf, and I offer a special greeting to all those taking part in our meeting for the first time. Through you my good wishes extend to all the nations which you represent and with which the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations. It is a joy for us that Malaysia joined this community in the past year. The dialogue which you maintain with the Holy See favours the exchange of views and information, as well as cooperation in areas of common interest which are bilateral or multilateral in nature. Your presence today evokes the important contribution which the Church makes to your societies in areas such as education, health care and social services. A sign of the cooperation existing between the Catholic Church and States is seen in the Accords reached in 2011 with Azerbaijan, Montenegro and Mozambique. The first has already been ratified; I trust that this will also be the case with the two others, and that those currently under negotiation will soon be concluded. The Holy See also desires to establish a fruitful dialogue with international and regional organizations, and in this context I note with satisfaction that the member states of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have accepted the appointment of an Apostolic Nuncio accredited to that organization. Nor can I fail to mention that last December the Holy See strengthened its longstanding cooperation with the International Organization for Migration by becoming a full member. This is a sign of the commitment of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, alongside the international community, in the search for suitable solutions to this phenomenon which presents a number of aspects ranging from the safeguarding of the dignity of persons to concern for the common good of both the communities which receive them and those from which they come.
In the course of the year just ended, I personally met many Heads of State and Government, as well as the distinguished representatives of your nations who took part in the ceremony of the Beatification of my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Representatives of your countries were also graciously present for the celebrations marking the sixtieth anniversary of my priestly ordination. To all of them, and to those whom I met during my Apostolic Journeys to Croatia, San Marino, Spain, Germany and Benin, I renew my gratitude for the kindness which they showed me. My thoughts also turn in a special way to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean which in 2011 celebrated the bicentenary of their independence. On 12 December last, they emphasized their bond with the Catholic Church and with the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles by taking part, alongside distinguished representatives of the ecclesial community and institutional authorities, in the solemn celebration held in Saint Peter’s Basilica, during which I announced my intention to visit Mexico and Cuba in the near future. Finally, I wish to greet South Sudan, which last July became a sovereign state. I am happy that this was achieved peacefully. Sadly, tensions and clashes have ensued in recent months, and I express my hope that all may unite their efforts to enable the people of Sudan and South Sudan to experience at last a period of peace, freedom and development. Your Excellencies,
Today’s meeting traditionally takes place at the end of the Christmas season, during which the Church celebrates the coming of the Saviour. He comes in the dark of night and so his presence is immediately a source of light and joy (cf. Lk 2:9-10). Truly the world is gloomy wherever it is not brightened by God’s light! Truly the world is dark wherever men and women no longer acknowledge their bond with the Creator and thereby endanger their relation to other creatures and to creation itself. The present moment is sadly marked by a profound disquiet and the various crises – economic, political and social – are a dramatic expression of this. Here I cannot fail to address before all else the grave and disturbing developments of the global economic and financial crisis. The crisis has not only affected families and businesses in the more economically advanced countries where it originated, creating a situation in which many people, especially the young, have felt disoriented and frustrated in their aspirations for a serene future, but it has also had a profound impact on the life of developing countries. We must not lose heart, but instead resolutely rediscover our way through new forms of commitment. The crisis can and must be an incentive to reflect on human existence and on the importance of its ethical dimension, even before we consider the mechanisms governing economic life: not only in an effort to stem private losses or to shore up national economies, but to give ourselves new rules which ensure that all can lead a dignified life and develop their abilities for the benefit of the community as a whole. I would like next to point out that the effects of the present moment of uncertainty are felt particularly by the young. Their disquiet has given rise in recent months to agitation which has affected various regions, at times severely. I think first and foremost of North Africa and the Middle East, where young people, among others, who are suffering from poverty and unemployment and are fearful of an uncertain future, have launched what has developed into a vast movement calling for reforms and a more active share in political and social life. At present it is hard to make a definitive assessment of recent events and to understand fully their consequences for the stability of the region. Initial optimism has yielded to an acknowledgment of the difficulties of this moment of transition and change, and it seems evident to me that the best way to move forward is through the recognition of the inalienable dignity of each human person and of his or her fundamental rights. Respect for the person must be at the centre of institutions and laws; it must lead to the end of all violence and forestall the risk that due concern for popular demands and the need for social solidarity turn into mere means for maintaining or seizing power. I invite the international community to dialogue with the actors in the current processes, in a way respectful of peoples and in the realization that the building of stable and reconciled societies, opposed to every form of unjust discrimination, particularly religious discrimination, represents a much vaster horizon than that of short-term electoral gains. I am deeply concerned for the people of those countries where hostilities and acts of violence continue, particularly Syria, where I pray for a rapid end to the bloodshed and the beginning of a fruitful dialogue between the political forces, encouraged by the presence of independent observers. In the Holy Land, where tensions between Palestinians and Israelis affect the stability of the entire Middle East, it is necessary that the leaders of these two peoples adopt courageous and farsighted decisions in favour of peace. I was pleased to learn that, following an initiative of the Kingdom of Jordan, dialogue has been resumed; I express my hope that it will be maintained, and that it will lead to a lasting peace which guarantees the right of the two peoples to dwell in security in sovereign states and within secure and internationally recognized borders. For its part, the international community must become more creative in developing initiatives which promote this peace process and are respectful of the rights of both parties. I am also following closely the developments in Iraq, and I deplore the attacks that have recently caused so much loss of life; I encourage the nation’s leaders to advance firmly on the path to full national reconciliation. Blessed John Paul II stated that "the path of peace is at the same time the path of the young",1 inasmuch as young people embody "the youth of the nations and societies, the youth of every family and of all humanity".2 Young people thus impel us to take seriously their demand for truth, justice and peace. For this reason, I chose them as the subject of my annual World Day of Peace Message, entitled Educating Young People in Justice and Peace. Education is a crucial theme for every generation, for it determines the healthy development of each person and the future of all society. It thus represents a task of primary importance in this difficult and demanding time. In addition to a clear goal, that of leading young people to a full knowledge of reality and thus of truth, education needs settings. Among these, pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and States; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue. It is in the family that we become open to the world and to life and, as I pointed out during my visit to Croatia, "openness to life is a sign of openness to the future".3 In this context of openness to life, I note with satisfaction the recent sentence of the Court of Justice of the European Union forbidding patenting processes relative to human embryonic stem cells, as well as the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemning prenatal selection on the basis of sex. More generally, and with particular reference to the West, I am convinced that legislative measures which not only permit but at times even promote abortion for reasons of convenience or for questionable medical motives compromise the education of young people and, as a result, the future of humanity. Continuing our reflection, a similarly essential role in the development of the person is played by educational institutions: these are the first instances which cooperate with the family and they can hardly function properly unless they share the same goals as the family. There is a need to implement educational policies which ensure that schooling is available to everyone and which, in addition to promoting the cognitive development of the individual, show concern for a balanced personal growth, including openness to the Transcendent. The Catholic Church has always been particularly active in the field of education and schooling, making a valued contribution alongside that of state institutions. It is my hope that this contribution will be acknowledged and prized also by the legislation of the various nations. In this perspective. it is clear that an effective educational programme also calls for respect for religious freedom. This freedom has individual, collective and institutional dimensions. We are speaking of the first of human rights, for it expresses the most fundamental reality of the person. All too often, for various reasons, this right remains limited or is flouted. I cannot raise this subject without first paying tribute to the memory of the Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, whose untiring battle for the rights of minorities ended in his tragic death. Sadly, we are not speaking of an isolated case. In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes. At times they are forced to leave the countries they have helped to build because of persistent tensions and policies which frequently relegate them to being second-class spectators of national life. In other parts of the world, we see policies aimed at marginalizing the role of religion in the life of society, as if it were a cause of intolerance rather than a valued contribution to education in respect for human dignity, justice and peace. In the past year religiously motivated terrorism has also reaped numerous victims, especially in Asia and in Africa; for this reason, as I stated in Assisi, religious leaders need to repeat firmly and forcefully that "this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction".4 Religion cannot be employed as a pretext for setting aside the rules of justice and of law for the sake of the intended "good". In this context I am proud to recall, as I did in my native country, that the Christian vision of man was the true inspiration for the framers of Germany’s Basic Law, as indeed it was for the founders of a united Europe. I would also like to bring up several encouraging signs in the area of religious freedom. I am referring to the legislative amendment whereby the public juridical personality of religious minorities was recognized in Georgia; I think too of the sentence of the European Court of Human Rights upholding the presence of the crucifix in Italian schoolrooms. It is also appropriate for me to make particular mention of Italy at the conclusion of the 150th anniversary of her political unification. Relations between the Holy See and Italy experienced moments of difficulty following the unification. In the course of time, however, concord and the mutual desire for cooperation, each within its proper domain, prevailed for the promotion of the common good. I hope that Italy will continue to foster a stable relationship between Church and State, and thus serve as an example to which other nations can look with respect and interest. On the continent of Africa, to which I returned during my recent visit to Benin, it is essential that cooperation between Christian communities and Governments favour progress along the path of justice, peace and reconciliation, where respect is shown for members of all ethnic groups and all religions. It is painful to realize that in different countries of the continent this goal remains distant. I think in particular of the renewed outbreak of violence in Nigeria, as we saw from the attacks against several churches during the Christmas period, the aftermath of the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire, the continuing instability in the Great Lakes region and the humanitarian emergency in the countries of the Horn of Africa. I once again appeal to the international community to make every effort to find a solution to the crisis which has gone on for years in Somalia.
Finally I would stress that education, correctly understood, cannot fail to foster respect for creation. We cannot disregard the grave natural calamities which in 2011 affected various regions of South-East Asia, or ecological disasters like that of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development. For this reason, I hope that, pursuant to the XVII session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change recently concluded in Durban, the international community will prepare for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development ("Rio + 20") as an authentic "family of nations" and thus with a great sense of solidarity and responsibility towards present and future generations. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The birth of the Prince of Peace teaches us that life does not end in a void, that its destiny is not decay but eternal life. Christ came so that we might have life and have it in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). "Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well".5 Inspired by the certainty of faith, the Holy See continues to offer its proper contribution to the international community in accordance with the twofold desire clearly enunciated by the Second Vatican Council, whose fiftieth anniversary takes place this year: to proclaim the lofty grandeur of our human calling and the presence within us of a divine seed, and to offer humanity sincere cooperation in building a sense of universal fraternity corresponding to this calling.6 In this spirit I renew to all of you, and to your families and your staff, my most cordial good wishes for the New Year. Thank you for your attention.

____________________
1 JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Dilecti Amici (31 March 1985), 15.
Ibid., 1.
3 Homily at the Mass for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, Zagreb (5 June 2011).
4 Address for the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, Assisi (27 October 2011).
Spe Salvi, 2.
6 Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 3.
[Original text: French]
© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

CHRISTMAS Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI 2012

25 DECEMBER 2012

26 DECEMBER 2012

29 DECEMBER 2012

30 DECEMBER 2012

31 DECEMBER 2012

1st JANUARY 2013 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

6th JANUARY 2013 - EPIPHANY

JANUARY 2013 - Baptisim of the Lord

 

 

 

MONDAY, 24 DECEMBER 2012
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord - Midnight Mass
Vatican Basilica, at 22.00
PAPAL MASS
Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration

 

Holiness "What would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door"

Vatican translation of the homily of his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Again and again the beauty of this Gospel touches our hearts: a beauty that is the splendour of truth. Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

I am also repeatedly struck by the Gospel writerís almost casual remark that there was no room for them at the inn. Inevitably the question arises, what would happen if Mary and Joseph were to knock at my door. Would there be room for them? And then it occurs to us that Saint John takes up this seemingly chance comment about the lack of room at the inn, which drove the Holy Family into the stable; he explores it more deeply and arrives at the heart of the matter when he writes: "he came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (Jn 1:11). The great moral question of our attitude towards the homeless, towards refugees and migrants, takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him. The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. But matters go deeper still. Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the "God hypothesis" becomes superfluous. There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so "full" of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger. By reflecting on that one simple saying about the lack of room at the inn, we have come to see how much we need to listen to Saint Paulís exhortation: "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rom 12:2). Paul speaks of renewal, the opening up of our intellect (nous), of the whole way we view the world and ourselves. The conversion that we need must truly reach into the depths of our relationship with reality. Let us ask the Lord that we may become vigilant for his presence, that we may hear how softly yet insistently he knocks at the door of our being and willing. Let us ask that we may make room for him within ourselves, that we may recognize him also in those through whom he speaks to us: children, the suffering, the abandoned, those who are excluded and the poor of this world.

There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you Ė the angelsí hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased." God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing Godís glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of Godís truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.

Linked to Godís glory on high is peace on earth among men. Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either. Nowadays, though, widespread currents of thought assert the exact opposite: they say that religions, especially monotheism, are the cause of the violence and the wars in the world. If there is to be peace, humanity must first be liberated from them. Monotheism, belief in one God, is said to be arrogance, a cause of intolerance, because by its nature, with its claim to possess the sole truth, it seeks to impose itself on everyone. Now it is true that in the course of history, monotheism has served as a pretext for intolerance and violence. It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take Godís cause into their own hands, making God into their private property. We must be on the lookout for these distortions of the sacred. While there is no denying a certain misuse of religion in history, yet it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If Godís light is extinguished, manís divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be Godís image, to which we must pay honour in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if Godís light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be. On this Holy Night, God himself became man; as Isaiah prophesied, the child born here is "Emmanuel", God with us (Is 7:14). And down the centuries, while there has been misuse of religion, it is also true that forces of reconciliation and goodness have constantly sprung up from faith in the God who became man. Into the darkness of sin and violence, this faith has shone a bright ray of peace and goodness, which continues to shine.

So Christ is our peace, and he proclaimed peace to those far away and to those near at hand (cf. Eph 2:14, 17). How could we now do other than pray to him: Yes, Lord, proclaim peace today to us too, whether we are far away or near at hand. Grant also to us today that swords may be turned into ploughshares (Is 2:4), that instead of weapons for warfare, practical aid may be given to the suffering. Enlighten those who think they have to practise violence in your name, so that they may see the senselessness of violence and learn to recognize your true face. Help us to become people "with whom you are pleased" Ė people according to your image and thus people of peace.

Once the angels departed, the shepherds said to one another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened for us (cf. Lk 2:15). The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem, the Evangelist tells us (cf. 2:16). A holy curiosity impelled them to see this child in a manger, who the angel had said was the Saviour, Christ the Lord. The great joy of which the angel spoke had touched their hearts and given them wings. Let us go over to Bethlehem, says the Churchís liturgy to us today. Trans-eamus is what the Latin Bible says: let us go "across", daring to step beyond, to make the "transition" by which we step outside our habits of thought and habits of life, across the purely material world into the real one, across to the God who in his turn has come across to us. Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may overcome our limits, our world, to help us to encounter him, especially at the moment when he places himself into our hands and into our heart in the Holy Eucharist.

Let us go over to Bethlehem: as we say these words to one another, along with the shepherds, we should not only think of the great "crossing over" to the living God, but also of the actual town of Bethlehem and all those places where the Lord lived, ministered and suffered. Let us pray at this time for the people who live and suffer there today. Let us pray that there may be peace in that land. Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom.

Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbours: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in Godís peace. The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 


 

TUESDAY, 25 DECEMBER 2012
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12.00
"Urbi et Orbi" Blessing and Message


 

WEDNESDAY, 26 DECEMBER 2012
Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00


 

SATURDAY, 29 DECEMBER 2012
Taizé: European Youth Meeting - Prayer presided over by the Holy Father
Vatican Basilica, at 18:00


SUNDAY, 30 DECEMBER 2012
Feast of the Holy Family
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00
Angelus



MONDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2012

Vespers and Te Deum
Vatican Basilica, at 17:00
Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration


 

TUESDAY, 1st JANUARY 2013
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 46th World Day of Peace
Vatican Basilica, at 9:30
PAPAL MASS

Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration


 
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00
Angelus

 

46th World Day of Peace 2013, Blessed are the Peacemakers
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WEDNESDAY, 2 JANUARY 2013

General Audience
Paul VI Audience Hall, at 10:30


 

SUNDAY, 6 JANUARY 2013
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord 
Vatican Basilica, at 9:00
Holy Mass with Episcopal Ordinations - Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration


 
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00
Angelus


 

SUNDAY, 13 JANUARY 2013
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 
Sistine Chapel, at 9:30
Holy Mass and Baptism of Children 
- Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Booklet for the Celebration


 
Saint Peter's Square, at 12:00
Angelus