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Monday, December 12, 2011

ADVENT: OPENNESS TO THE ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS


VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Having returned to the Vatican following his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, at midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Following a Roman tradition of this third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blessed statuettes of the Baby Jesus which were brought to the square by children from local oratories and which are destined to be placed in nativity scenes in homes, schools and parishes.

  "The liturgical texts of Advent" said the Holy Father, "invite us to live in expectation of Jesus, always to await His coming and to remain open and ready to meet Him. The vigilance Christians are called to show every day of their lives is particularly characteristic of this period in which we ready ourselves for the joy of the Christmas mystery. The external environment presents its usual commercial messages, though perhaps somewhat subdued due to the economic crisis, but Christians are called to experience Advent without allowing themselves to be distracted by the lights, giving things their correct value and fixing their inner gaze on Christ".

  "The liturgy today, 'Gaudete' Sunday, invites us to happiness, to await not sadly but joyfully", the Pope explained. "True joy is not the result of diversion, of avoiding life's responsibilities. True joy is linked to something more profound. Of course, in an often frenetic daily life it is important to find time for rest and relaxation, but true joy is linked to the relationship with God. People who have encountered Christ in their lives, experience a calmness of heart and a joy which no worldly situation can take from them. ... In this time of Advent, let us reinforce our certainty that the Lord came among us, and that He continually renews His presence of consolation, love and joy".

  Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted the children of Rome asking them, when they prayed before their nativity scenes, to remember the Pope, just as the Pope remembered them.

  He also welcomed members of the Movement for Life who have come to Rome from all over Europe for the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Prize, awarded in memory of Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolari Movement. "On this anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights", he said, "let us remember that the first of all rights is the right to life".

  Finally he addressed Croatian pilgrims who are participating in a symposium on Fr. Ruder Josip Boskovic. "That Jesuit scientist and diplomat", the Pope said, "personified and bore witness to the bond between faith and science".
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