Christmas Reveals Life's Meaning. It is a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence, the Pope said when he reflected on the mystery of Christmas during the general audience.
“Unfortunately, Christmas runs the risk of losing its spiritual significance to be reduced to a mere commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts. The present economic crisis, causing so much suffering, can however help us to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and to welcome into our hearts the hope brought by God’s coming among us as man.”
“At Christmas, we remember something very concrete and important for man, something essential for Christian faith, a truth that St. John summarized in these few words: "The Word was made flesh."
Benedict XVI explained that “the Word” also means "the Meaning”. Therefore, we can understand John's expression in this way: the "eternal Meaning" of the world has made himself tangible to our senses and our intelligence.
“The "Meaning" that has become flesh is not simply a general idea inscribed in the world; it is a "word" directed to us. (…)It is not a universal law, in which we fulfil some role, but rather it is a Person who is interested in each individual person: It is the living Son of God, who has become man in Bethlehem.”
”To many people, and in some way to all of us, this seems too beautiful to be true. In effect, here it is reaffirmed for us: Yes, there is meaning, and this meaning is not an impotent protest against the absurd. The Meaning is powerful: It is God. A good God, who is not to be confused with some lofty and distant power, to which it is impossible to ever arrive, but rather a God who has made himself close to us and to our neighbour, who has time for each one of us and who has come to stay with us.”
The Pope also said that Christmas “ is the feast that sings of the gift of life. Christmas is the encounter with a newborn who cries in a miserable cave. Contemplating him in the manger, how can we not think of so many children who even today see the light from within a great poverty in many regions of the world?”
He expressed his desire that the encounter with the Child Jesus makes us open to the expectations and necessities of our brothers. In this way we too become testimonies of the light that Christmas radiates over the humanity of the third millennium.
The Holy Father ended asking most holy Mary and St. Joseph to communicate to us the sentiments they had while they awaited the birth of Jesus, so that we can prepare ourselves to celebrate in a holy way the coming Christmas and extended his best wishes for a happy and blessed Christmas.
He noted that today begins the Christmas novena. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2008
Benedict XVI reflects on the Angelus. “This prayer allows us to relive the decisive moment when God knocked at Mary's heart and, having received her "yes," began to take flesh in her and from her.” said the Pontiff today before reciting the Angelus in St. Peter's Square. “We are invited to fix our gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried for nine months in her virginal womb: the mystery of God who becomes man.”
Benedict XVI also noted that the collect prayer of today's Mass is the same prayer that is recited at the end of the Angelus: "Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection."
"Let us prepare to welcome with faith the Redeemer who comes to be with us," he added, "the Word of God's love for humanity of every age." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008
Pope Marks 400 Years of Telescopes. The Pontiff greeted participants in the events of the International Year of Astronomy, 2009, marking the 4th centenary of Galileo Galilee's first observations with his telescope. He named several Popes such as Sylvester II, who taught astronomy, Gregory XIII, to whom we owe our calendar, and St. Pius X, who knew how to build solar clocks. “If the heavens, according to the beautiful words of the psalmist, " narrate the glory of God" (Psalm 19 , 2), even the laws of nature, which in the course of centuries many men and women of science have helped us to understand better, are a great stimulus to contemplating the works of the Lord with gratitude.” said the Pontiff. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008
Pontiff Greeted 49 New Legionary Priests. The priests, who come from 13 countries, were ordained Saturday by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
"Dear friends," the Pope said, speaking in Italian from the window of his study, "may the love of Christ, that moved St. Paul in his mission, always animate your ministry. I bless you and your loved ones from my heart!" VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008
Benedict XVI addressed Italy's Catholic Action. "Many say," the Pontiff began, "that young people are capricious, that nothing satisfies them, that they are consumed by games, one after the other. But you say to Jesus: you are enough for me!" He encouraged them to proclaim the joy of faith as the "joy that never ends." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21.
Themes for Next 3 Youth Days. Benedict XVI invited youth to celebrate the next two World Youth Days at the diocesan level, leading up to a culmination in the 2011 Madrid event. The next two themes will be: "We Have Set Our Hope on the Living God" (1 Timothy 4:10).and, in 2010, "Good Teacher, What Must I do to Inherit Eternal Life?" (Mark 10:17).. These celebrations will lead up to the international World Youth Day in 2011 in Madrid with the theme: "Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (Colossians 2:7). VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2008
Pontiff Encourages Vatican Presence on Net. Benedict XVI received in audience the directors and staff of the Vatican Television Center together with their families to mark the 25th anniversary of the center's founding. He said he wants the life of the Church, and particularly of the Holy See, to be present in audio, text and video on the Internet.
"Today, 'convergence' between the various means of communication is rightly spoken of," he said. "The borders between one and another disappear and synergy increases. The instruments of social communication at the service of the Holy See naturally experience this development as well, and they have to integrate themselves consciously and actively." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008
Taking Innocent Life Is Wrong. The Holy Father received the new Luxembourg ambassador to the Holy See, and took the occasion to speak out against euthanasia. He expressed his "deep concern" for the advance of euthanasia legislation in Luxembourg, saying that politicians should remember that taking innocent human life is always wrong. "The request that arises from the heart of man in his supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when he feels the temptation to let himself be overcome by desperation, and feels lost to the point of wanting to disappear, is above all a petition for someone to accompany him and a call to greater solidarity and support in this test.” The Holy Father affirmed.
"This call can seem demanding, but it is the only one worthy of the human being, and it opens to new and deeper solidarity, which enriches and fortifies family and social bonds."
Addressing the people of Luxembourg, Benedict XVI appealed to their "Christian and humanistic roots," and asked them to reaffirm the "greatness and the inviolable character of human life."VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008
The Pope visited the Italian Embassy, invited by the Italian ambassador to the Holy See. This invitation marked the upcoming 80th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts signed on Feb. 11, 1929, as well as the 50-year mark of the revision of the concordat in 1984.
These treaties marked the first definition of Vatican City State as a sovereign entity and Italy was the first country to recognize the fledgling country. ROME, DEC. 18, 2008
Pope Says There's No Ideal Political Model. "All of us know that there is not just one political model, an ideal that has to be absolutely fulfilled, and that political philosophy develops in time and in its expressions, according as it is polished by human intelligence and the lessons taken from political and economic experience."
The Pope affirmed this today when he addressed 11 new envoys to the Holy See, representing Malawi, Sweden, Sierra Leone, Iceland, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Belize, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Bahrain and the Fiji Islands. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008
The Pope received the new ambassador of Malawi to the Holy See. The Pontiff acknowledged the new Catholic university in Blantyre, Southern Malawi, recognizing the "commitment to the intellectual and human formation of those young people who will become the leaders of the next generation, with responsibility for shaping the future of your country and that of the greater continent of which it is a part." He also affirmed that “The freedom of religion guaranteed by Malawi’s constitution has enabled the Church to proclaim her message without coercion or interference, and to carry out her works of education and charity.” Some 80% of Malawi's near 14 million people are Christian. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008
Benedict XVI received in audience the new ambassador of Sweden to the Holy See. The Holy Father acknowledged in particular the thousands of Christian refugees from Iraq who have been admitted to Sweden. “As you know,” he said, “the plight of Christians in the Middle East is of great concern to me, and while I pray daily for an improvement in conditions in their homelands that would allow them to remain, at the same time I acknowledge with gratitude the welcome given to those who have been forced to flee.” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008
Pontiff Sends Message to Ecumenical Taizé Meeting: "The Pope feels close to you in your pilgrimage of trust on earth, launched years ago by dear Brother Roger. He is confident that you will discover how to communicate hope around you, by committing your lives in a world where there is too much poverty, injustice and conflict. God needs your faith, your creativity, your spirit of initiative.” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008
"Sign of Hope" Upon receiving in audience the new ambassador of Sierra Leone to the Holy See, Benedict XVI called the end of political instability and conflict in Sierra Leone a "sign of hope" for Africa and the world. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008
Pope received in audience the new ambassador of Iceland to the Holy See. In his address the Pontiff recalled that Christianity was formally accepted in Iceland more than 1,000 years ago. He said the Church values the work Iceland has done to promote peace, fight against poverty and work to preserve the environment and commended Iceland’s concern for those who suffer the effects of war and underdevelopment. He noted how a mature democracy that fosters tolerance, acceptance, dialogue and collaboration, is enriched even more by the Christian virtue of charity. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008
Calls for solidarity with those affected by financial crisis. The Pontiff received in audience members of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment on Jan 1. "Approaching Christmas, I think almost naturally about the unemployment crisis that worries all of humanity," the Pope said. "Whoever has the possibility to work, give thanks to the Lord, and open your spirit with generosity to those who are unemployed or who are encountering economic hardship "
Citing the message that he wrote for the World Day of Peace -- to be celebrated Jan. 1 -- Benedict XVI recalled: "The fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008
Benedict XVI on Christian archaeology - Benedict XVI urged the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology to advance research into society's Christian roots because society needs a culture more open to spiritual realities.
"Knowing the heredity of past Christian generations permits succeeding generations to be faithful to the ‘depositum fidei’ of the first Christian community and, following the same route, to continue make the unchanging Gospel of Christ resound in every time and every place," he said. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008
A prayer for the Holy Father
Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.
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