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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Vatican City, 6 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica. After the proclamation of the Gospel and the announcement of the day of Easter, which falls on 20 April this year, the Pontiff pronounced a homily.

The Holy Father considered the expression “Lumen requirunt lumine”, which refers to the experience of the Magi: “following a light, they were searching for the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi followed faithfully that light which filled their hearts, and they encountered the Lord”.

“The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East”, continued the Pope. “Our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great 'books' which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us”.

“The Gospel tells us that the Magi, when they arrived in Jerusalem, lost sight of the star for a time. They no longer saw it. Its light was particularly absent from the palace of King Herod: his dwelling was gloomy,filled with darkness, suspicion, fear, envy. Herod, in fact, proved himself distrustful and preoccupied with the birth of a frail Child whom he thought of as a rival. In reality Jesus came not to overthrow him, a wretched puppet, but to overthrow the Prince of this world! Nonetheless, the king and his counsellors sensed that the foundations of their power were crumbling. They feared that the rules of the game were being turned upside-down, that appearances were being unmasked. A whole world built on power, on success, possessions and corruption was being thrown into crisis by a child! Herod went so far as to kill children”.

“The Magi were able to overcome that dangerous moment of darkness before Herod, because they believed the Scriptures, the words of the prophets which indicated that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And so they fled the darkness and dreariness of the night of the world. They resumed their journey towards Bethlehem and there they once more saw the star, and the Gospel tells us that they experienced 'a great joy'.

“One aspect of the light which guides us on the journey of faith is holy 'cunning'. This holy 'cunning' is also a virtue. It consists of a spiritual shrewdness which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it. The Magi used this light of “cunning” when, on the way back, they decided not to pass by the gloomy palace of Herod, but to take another route. These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness and how to defend ourselves from the shadows which seek to envelop our life. … We need to welcome the light of God into our hearts and, at the same time, to cultivate that spiritual cunning which is able to combine simplicity with astuteness, as Jesus told his disciples: 'Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves'.”

“On the feast of the Epiphany, as we recall Jesus’ manifestation to humanity in the face of a Child, may we sense the Magi at our side, as wise companions on the way”, concluded the Holy Father. “Their example helps us to lift our gaze towards the star and to follow the great desires of our heart. They teach us not to be content with a life of mediocrity, of 'playing it safe', but to let ourselves be attracted always by what is good, true and beautiful… by God, who is all of this, and so much more! And they teach us not to be deceived by appearances, by what the world considers great, wise and powerful. ... We must press on towards Bethlehem, where, in the simplicity of a dwelling on the outskirts, beside a mother and father full of love and of faith, there shines forth the Sun from on high, the King of the universe. By the example of the Magi, with our little lights, may we seek the Light and keep the faith”.


Vatican City, 6 January 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Mass in the Vatican Basilica on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis remarked that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, in his book “The Infancy Narratives”, had “magnificently” commented on the episode of the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. “This was the first 'manifestation' of Christ to the people. Therefore, the Epiphany emphasizes the universal openness of the salvation brought by Jesus”.

“This festivity shows us a dual movement: on the one hand, the movement of God towards the world, towards humanity – the entire history of salvation, which culminates in Jesus – and on the other, the movement of mankind towards God – religions, the quest for the truth, the path of nations towards peace, justice and freedom. This dual movement is driven by mutual attraction. What attracts God? It is His love for us: we are his children, He loves us, and he wants to liberate us from evil, from disease, from death, and to bring us into His home, His Kingdom”.

“On our part, there is also love and desire: goodness and truth attract us, truth, life, happiness and beauty call to us ...Jesus is the meeting point for this mutual attraction and this dual movement. He is God and man: Jesus. God and man. But God always takes the initiative. God's love always precedes our own!”

“All the Church is inside this movement of God towards the world; and her joy is the Gospel, which reflects the light of Christ. The Church is made up of those who have experienced this attraction and carry it inside, in the heart of their lives. To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of His people! The Lord calls to you, seeks you and awaits you. The Lord does not proselytise, He gives love, and this love seeks you and awaits you, you who at the moment do not believe or are far from Him. And this is God's love”.

After the Marian prayer, the Pope gave his good wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches, who celebrate Christmas on 7 January, and recalled that the Epiphany is the day of missionary children, as proposed by the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood.


Vatican City, 6 January 2014 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. the Pope made a private visit to the Roman parish of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori to see the living nativity display organised by the faithful of the parish, in which two hundred people participated. The visit was in response to an invitation sent by the parish.

Accompanied by more than three thousand people, the Pope was received by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, Bishop Guerino Di Tora, and the parish priest Fr. Dario Pompeo Criscuoli.

The Holy Father greeted all those present, demonstrating warmth and closeness to the people. He joked with children, held one of the lambs from the Nativity display on his shoulders, and tasted the ricotta cheese made by the parishioners.


Vatican City, 5 January 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

“With the birth of Jesus, not only is a new world born, but also a world which can always be renewed”, said, the Pope. “God is always present to revive mankind anew, to cleanse the world of sin that ages and corrupts. While the history of humanity and the personal history of each one of us may be fraught with difficulties and weakness, faith in the Incarnation tells us that God is united with humanity and our history. This proximity of God to man, to every man, each of us, is a gift that never ends! Behold the glad tidings of Christmas: the divine light, which overflowed in the hearts of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, and guided the steps of the shepherds and the Magi, shines today for us too”.

The Holy Father went on to remark that there is an aspect of incarnation of the Son of God linked to the human freedom of us all. “The Word of God pitches his tent among us, sinners in need of mercy. And we should all hasten to receive the grace that He offers us. However, the Gospel of St. John tells us that 'his people did not welcome him'. We too often reject Him: we prefer to remain trapped by our mistakes and by the anxiety of our sins. But Jesus does not give up and never stops offering Himself and His grace that saves us! This is a message of salvation, ancient yet always new. And we are called to bear witness, with joy, to the Gospel message of life and light, hope and love".


Vatican City, 5 January 2014 (VIS) – Following the Sunday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis announced to the pilgrims and faithful present that he will visit the Holy Land from 24 to 26 May this year.

“If God wills, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, principally to commemorate the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras, which took place on 5 January fifty years ago. The journey will involve visits to three places: Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In the Holy Sepulchre there will be an ecumenical meeting with all the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, attended also by Patriarch Bartolomew of Constantinople. From now on, I ask for your prayers for this pilgrimage”.


Vatican City, 7 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Christian Riesbeck as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Ottawa (area 5,818, population 882,000, Catholics 423,000, priests 301, permanent deacons 87, religious 775), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Montreal, Canada in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1996. Since 2003 he has been incardinated in the priestly association “Companions of the Cross”. He studied political sciences at the University of Ottawa and holds a licentiate in canon law from the St. Paul University of Ottowa, Canada. He served as vicar and subsequently priest of the parish of Queen of Peace, Houston, U.S.A. He is currently chancellor of the archdiocese of Ottowa and judge of the regional tribunal.

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