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Tuesday, December 28, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 26 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, the first Sunday after Christmas and Feast of the Holy Family, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

"In the poor grotto of Bethlehem", the Pope said, "a bright light shone forth, a reflection of the profound mystery which surrounded that Child, and which Mary and Joseph guarded in their hearts. ... Indeed, in their most intimate depths they conserved the words of the angel's announcement to Mary: 'the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God'".

"The birth of any child brings with it something of this mystery. Parents know this well as they receive their offspring as a gift, and often talk of it as such. ... Human beings experience procreation not merely as reproductive act; they perceive its richness, they are intuitively aware that every human creature who enters into the world is a 'sign' par excellence of the Creator and Father in heaven.

"How important it is, then", the Holy Father added, "for each child coming into the world to be welcomed into the warmth of a family! Exterior comforts are not important. Jesus was born in a stable and His first cradle was a manger, but the love of Mary and Joseph made Him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved. This is what children need: the love of a father and mother. This is what gives them a sense of security and, as they grow, enables them to discover the meaning of life. The Holy Family of Nazareth had to suffer many trials, such as... the 'massacre of the innocents', which forced Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt. But, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability and ensured Jesus had a serene infancy and a solid education".

"The Holy Family was certainly unique and unrepeatable", the Pope concluded, "but at the same time it is a 'life model' for all families because Jesus, true man, chose to be born in a human family and, by doing so, blessed and consecrated that institution. And so we entrust all families to Mary and Joseph, that they may not be discouraged in the face of trials and difficulties but always cultivate conjugal love and dedicate themselves faithfully to the service of life and education".

After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father launched a fresh appeal for peace, hope and reconciliation.

"Over this Christmas period, the desire and calls for the gift of peace have become more intense. Yet our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ. I learned with great sadness of the attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines during the celebration of the Christmas liturgy, as well as attacks against Christian churches in Nigeria. The earth has also been stained with blood in other parts of the world, such as Pakistan. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims of this absurd violence, and I once again reiterate my appeal to abandon the path of hatred in order to find peaceful solutions to conflicts and bring security and tranquillity to those dear people. On this day in which we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, who underwent the dramatic experience of having to flee into Egypt because of the murderous fury of Herod, let us remember all those, especially families, who are forced to abandon their homes because of war, violence and intolerance. I invite you, therefore, to join me in praying fervently that the Lord may touch people's hearts and bring hope, reconciliation and peace".
ANG/ VIS 20101228 (630)

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