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Advent in the Year of Faith, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus on the 1st Sunday of Advent
St Peter's Square, 2 December 2012 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Church begins a new Liturgical Year, a journey which, 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, is further enriched by the Year of Faith. The first season on this itinerary is Advent, formed — in the Roman Rite — of the four weeks preceding the Nativity of Our Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence”. In the ancient world it meant the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the Christian language it refers to the Coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that embraces the entire cosmos and history, but that has two culminating events: the First and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The first is, precisely, the Incarnation. The second is his glorious return at the end of time. These two events that are chronologically distant — and we are not given to know by how long — are deeply connected, because with his death and Resurrection Jesus fulfilled that transformation of man and of the cosmos which is the final goal of Creation. However, before the end, the Gospel must be proclaimed to all the nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel according to St Mark (cf Mk 13, 10). The Lord’s Coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence and this ongoing Coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continuous collaboration. Moreover the Church who is, as it were, the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the Lamb of the Crucified and Risen God (cf Rev 21, 9), in communion with her Lord, collaborates in this Coming of the Lord, in which his glorious return has already begun.

Today the word of God calls us to this, outlining the lines of conduct we should follow to be ready for the Lord’s Coming. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says to the disciples: “take heed... lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life... at all times, praying” (Lk 21, 34, 36). Therefore, moderation and prayer. And the Apostle Paul adds the invitation to “increase and abound in love” among ourselves and for everyone, to make our hearts blameless in holiness (cf 1 Thess 3, 12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, may Christians accept salvation from God and bear witness to it with a different way of life, like a city set upon a hill. “In those days”, the Prophet Jeremiah announced, “Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: the Lord is our righteousness” (33, 16). The community of believers is a sign of God’s love, of his justice which is already present and active in history but is not yet completely fulfilled and must therefore always be awaited, invoked and sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent that consists in listening to God, with a profound desire to do his will and to serve our neighbour joyfully. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her, so that God who comes may not find us closed or distracted but rather may extend a little of his kingdom of love, justice and peace in each of us."

After the Angelus:

"Dear brothers and sisters,
Today, in Kottar, India, Devasahayam Pillai has been beatified. He was a faithful layman who lived in the 18th century and died a martyr. Let us join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that the new Blessed may sustain the faith of the Christians of that large and noble country.

Tomorrow the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be celebrated. Every person, also with his physical and psychological limitations, is always of inestimable value and should be considered as such. I encourage the ecclesial communities to be attentive and welcoming to these brothers and sisters. I exhort legislators and governing authorities to protect people with disabilities and to encourage their full participation in the life of society.

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones. Nous entrons aujourd’hui dans l’Avent, le temps liturgique de l’attente et de l’espérance du Christ qui cette année se situe dans le contexte de l’Année de la foi. Je vous invite donc à découvrir le lien profond entre les vérités sur l’incarnation du Christ que nous professons dans le Credo et notre existence quotidienne. Dieu veut nous sauver et en son Fils Jésus il s’est fait l’un de nous. Approfondissons, de dimanche en dimanche, le salut qui nous est offert pour le recevoir avec foi. Notre vie en sera transformée. Bon Avent à tous !

I welcome all gathered here today to pray with me. I especially greet the people of Kottar who today are celebrating the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai. His witness to Christ is an example of that attentiveness to the Coming of Christ recalled by this First Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope. God bless all of you!

Einen herzlichen Gruß sage ich den Pilgern und Besuchern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Mit dem ersten Advent treten wir aufs neue ein in die Zeit der Erwartung und der Vorbereitung auf die Ankunft Christi. Als Christen sind wir adventliche Menschen: Unser Leben muß ausgerichtet sein auf das Kommen des Herrn hin. In diesem Jahr des Glaubens wollen wir uns im Advent mit neuer Kraft darum mühen, Christus entgegenzugehen, ihm unser Herz zu öffnen, damit er in uns wohnen kann, und mit Taten der Liebe seine Wiederkunft zu bereiten. Der Herr erfülle euch allezeit mit seiner lebendigen Gegenwart.

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española que participan en esta oración mariana. Abrimos hoy el Adviento, que nos trae a la memoria la doble venida de Jesús, la primera que se reveló en la realidad de la carne y la segunda que se manifestará al final de los tiempos. Que al comenzar este tiempo - como se ora en la liturgia- el Señor avive en nosotros el deseo de salir a su encuentro, acompañados por las buenas obras, y así un día merezcamos poseer el reino eterno. Que la Virgen María, que esperó a su Divino Hijo con inefable amor de Madre, nos acompañe y guíe para alcanzar estos anhelos. Muchas gracias.

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruję do Polaków. Liturgia pierwszej niedzieli adwentu przypomina zapowiedź powtórnego przyjścia Chrystusa. Zachęca do czuwania i do modlitwy, abyśmy byli gotowi do radosnego spotkania z Panem. W tym duchu przeżywajmy adwentowy czas oczekiwania. Niech Bóg wam błogosławi!

Lastly, I renew my greeting to the various representatives of the world of travelling performers whom I had the joy of meeting yesterday. I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday and a good Advent journey. A good Advent and a good Sunday to you all! Many thanks.

Pope Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus on the 2nd Sunday of Advent
St Peter's Square, 9 December 2012 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the season of Advent the liturgy highlights in a special way two figures who prepare for the coming of the Messiah: the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St Luke presents the latter to us and does so with characteristics that differ from those of the other Evangelists. “All four Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and they reveal him as the one who prepared the way for Jesus. St Luke presents the connection between the two figures and their respective missions at an earlier stage.... Even in conception and birth, Jesus and John are linked together” (BXVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, p 14). This setting helps us to realize that John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both from priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets but also represents the entire priesthood of the Old Covenant and thus prepares people for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus (cf ibid p 18-19). In addition, Luke discredits all the mythical interpretations that are often made of the Gospels, by putting the Baptist’s life in its historical context and by writing: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor... in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas” (Lk 3, 1-2). The great event, the birth of Christ, which his contemporaries did not even notice, fits into this historical framework. For God the great figures of history serve as a frame for the little ones!

John the Baptist is described as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight” (Lk 3, 4). The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God comes first, since the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness (cf Lk 3, 2). He therefore plays an important role but always in terms of Christ. St Augustine comments: “John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning (cf Jn 1, 1). John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever. Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart” (In ev. Johannis tractatus 293, 3: pl 38, 1328). Today it is up to us to listen to that voice so as to make room for Jesus, the Word who saves us, and to welcome him into our hearts. Let us prepare ourselves in this season of Advent to see, with the eyes of faith in the humble Grotto of Bethlehem, God’s salvation (cf Lk 3, 6). In the consumer society in which we are tempted to seek joy in things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential manner, so that Christmas may be lived not only as an external feast, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring to men and women peace, life and true joy.

Let us entrust our journey to encounter the Lord who comes to the motherly intercession of Mary, the Virgin of Advent, in order to be ready to receive, in our heart and in our whole life, the Emmanuel, God-with-us."

After the Angelus:

"Chers pèlerins francophones, l’Avent nous invite à aller à la rencontre du Seigneur, et donc à nous mettre en route. Cette réalité est bien familière aux personnes obligées de quitter leur région, pour différentes raisons, dont les guerres ou la pauvreté. Les migrants connaissent la précarité et rencontrent souvent peu de compréhension. Puissent-ils être accueillis et avoir une existence digne ! En ce temps préparatoire à Noël, qu’une solidarité fraternelle et joyeuse vienne en aide à leurs besoins et soutienne leur espérance ! N’oublions pas que tout chrétien est en route vers sa vraie patrie : le ciel. Le Christ est le seul chemin ! Que la Vierge Marie qui a connu les voyages et l’exil accompagne notre marche ! Bon dimanche à tous !

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

Ganz herzlich grüße ich die Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Das Evangelium des 2. Adventssonntags berichtet von der Predigt des heiligen Johannes des Täufers, der zu Umkehr und Versöhnung mit Gott aufruft. Auch wir sind eingeladen, immer wieder das Geschenk der Vergebung von Gott zu empfangen, neue Menschen zu werden. Das Sakrament der Versöhnung ist ein besonderer Ort, um dem barmherzigen Gott zu begegnen. Hier vergibt der Herr alle Sünden, hier heilt er unsere Verwundungen und macht alles gut. Jedes verzagte Herz nimmt er in seine Hände, und er schenkt uns seinen Frieden und seine Freude. Gott segne euch alle!

Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española presentes en esta oración mariana. La liturgia de la Palabra de este domingo nos muestra cómo san Juan Bautista exhorta al pueblo a la conversión, esperando de los hombres de su tiempo una respuesta concreta de fe. Que la Santísima Virgen, que supo dar su “sí” incondicional al Señor, nos ayude a ratificar cada día nuestras promesas bautismales, para que, por los frutos de las buenas obras, seamos testigos ante el mundo de la gracia de Dios que actúa en nosotros. Feliz domingo.

Serdecznie pozdrawiam Polaków. Dzisiejsza Ewangelia przypomina, że w konkretnym momencie historii Jan Chrzciciel przekazał światu usłyszane od Boga słowo. Wzywał do nawrócenia, zapowiadał nadejście Mesjasza, głosił zbawienie Boże. Nie wszyscy to słowo przyjęli, nie wszyscy uwierzyli. Wielu nie wierzy także dzisiaj. Wzorem świętego Jana bądźmy dla nich w Roku Wiary zwiastunami Ewangelii, wiernymi świadkami Chrystusa. Z serca wam błogosławię.

E rivolgo infine il mio cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare ai partecipanti al congresso dell’Unione Giuristi Cattolici, accompagnati dal Cardinale Coccopalmerio. Saluto il gruppo della parrocchia della Cattedrale di Cerreto Sannita, nel 50° di fondazione, la corale “Dalmistro” di Coste (Treviso), i ragazzi di Carugate e Bùssero con i loro catechisti e i fedeli di Altavilla Irpina. A tutti auguro una buona domenica, una buona settimana. Buon Avvento. Buona domenica a voi tutti. Grazie!

Pope Benedict XVI's words at the Angelus on the 3rd Sunday of Advent
St Peter's Square, Gaudate Sunday, 16 December 2012 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent presents once again the figure of John the Baptist, and it depicts him while he is speaking to the people who come to him at the River Jordan to be baptized. Since John, with incisive words, urges them all to prepare themselves for the Messiah’s coming, some ask him, “What then shall we do?” (Lk 3, 10, 12, 14). These exchanges are very interesting and prove to be of great timeliness.

The first answer is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v 11). Here we can see a criterion of justice, motivated by charity. Justice requires that the imbalance between the one who has more than enough and the one who lacks the necessary be overcome; charity prompts us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs, instead of seeking justification to defend one’s own interests. Justice and charity are not in opposition but are both necessary and complete each other. “Love — caritas — will always prove necessary, even in the most just society”, because “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 28).

Then we see the second answer, which is directed at some "publicans", that is, tax-collectors on behalf of the Romans. The publicans were already despised for this, and also because they often made the most of their position to steal. The Baptist does not ask them to change their profession, but to exact no more than what has been established (cf v 13). The prophet, in the name of God, does not demand exceptional acts, but first and foremost the just fulfilment of one’s duty. The first step towards eternal life is always the observance of the Commandments; in this case, the seventh one: You shall not steal (cf Ex 20, 15).

The third reply concerns the soldiers, another class that enjoyed a certain authority, and was thus tempted to abuse it. John says to the soldiers: “Rob no one by violence, and be content with your wages” (v 14). Here too the conversation begins with honesty and with respect for others: an instruction that applies to everyone, especially for those with greater responsibility.

On considering this dialogue as a whole, we are struck by the great concreteness of John's words: since God will judge us according to our works, it is there, in our behaviour, that we must show that we are doing his will. For this very reason, the Baptist's instructions are ever timely: even in our very complex world, things would go much better if each person observed these rules of conduct. Therefore let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that he may help us to prepare ourselves for Christmas, bearing the good fruits of repentance (cf Lk 3, 8)."

After the Angelus:

"Dear brothers and sisters, the European Meeting organized by the Taizé Community will take place from 26 December to 2 January. I thank the families who, in accordance with the Roman tradition of hospitality, have readily offered to host these young people. Since, thanks be to God, the requests exceed the offers I renew the appeal already made to parishes, so that other families may join with great simplicity this beautiful experience of Christian friendship!

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. I was deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain. During this Advent Season, let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace. Upon those affected by this tragedy, and upon each of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

Today I address a special greeting to the children of Rome! You have come for the traditional blessing of the Baby Jesus figurines. Dear children, while I bless the little images of Jesus that you will put in your nativity scenes, I warmly bless each one of you as well as your families, your teachers and the Centro Oratori Romani.

I greet the group of students from the Istituto De Merode of Rome with several Australians from Adelaide; as well as the representatives of the news agency Zenit. I wish you all a good Sunday and good spiritual journey towards Bethlehem! Have a good Sunday. My best wishes to you!

Papa Benedetto XVI's words at the Angelus on the 4th Sunday of Advent
St Peter's Square, 23 December 2012 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Fourth Sunday of Advent that comes just before the Nativity of the Lord, the Gospel speaks of Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth. This event is not merely a courteous gesture but portrays with great simplicity the encounter of the Old Testament with the New. Indeed the two women, both of them then pregnant, embody expectation and the Expected One. The elderly Elizabeth symbolizes Israel which is awaiting the Messiah, whereas the young Mary bears within her the fulfilment of this expectation for the benefit of the whole of humanity. First of all in the two women the fruit of their wombs, John and Christ, meet and recognize each other. The Christian poet Prudentius comments: “the child imprisoned in the aged womb greets by his mother’s lips his Lord, the maiden’s son” (Apotheosis, 590: pl 59, 970). John’s exultation in Elizabeth’s womb is a sign of the fulfilment of the expectation: God is about to visit his People. In the Annunciation the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (cf Lk 1, 36) as proof of God’s power; in spite of her old age her barren state was made fecund.

In her greeting to Mary Elizabeth recognizes that God’s promise to humanity is being fulfilled and exclaims: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1, 42-43). In the Old Testament, the phrase “blessed are you among women” refers both to Jael (Judg 5, 24), and to Judith (Jud 13, 18), two women warriors who do their utmost to save Israel. Instead it is used here to describe Mary, a peaceful young woman who is about to bring the Saviour into the world. Thus John’s leap of joy (cf Lk 1, 44) also calls to mind King David’s dancing when he accompanied the entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (cf 1 Chron 15, 29. The Ark that contained the Tablets of the Law, the manna and Aaron’s rod (cf Heb 9, 4) was the sign of God’s presence among his People. The unborn John exults with joy before Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, who in her womb is carrying Jesus, the Son of God made man.

The scene of the Visitation also expresses the beauty of the greeting. Wherever there is reciprocal acceptance, listening, making room for another, God is there, as well as the joy that comes from him. At Christmas time let us emulate Mary, visiting all those who are living in hardship, especially the sick, prisoners, the elderly and children. And let us also imitate Elizabeth who welcomes the guest as God himself: without wishing it, we shall never know the Lord, without expecting him we shall not meet him, without looking for him we shall not find him. Let us too go to meet the Lord who comes with the same joy as Mary, who went with haste to Elizabeth (Lk 1, 39). Let us pray that all men and women may seek God, discovering that it is God himself who comes to visit us first. Let us entrust our heart to Mary, Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant, so that she may make it worthy to receive God’s visit in the mystery of his Birth."

After the Angelus:

"Chers pèlerins francophones, en cette Année de la Foi, et à l’approche de Noël, recevons l’appel à convertir notre cœur pour fêter le Christ dans l’Enfant de Bethléem. Croire en Dieu demande de reconnaître dans Celui qui va naître, le Tout puissant qui vient nous sauver. Le mystère de l’Incarnation est au cœur de notre foi. Puisse cette fête de la Nativité la fortifier ! Dépassons le souci des préparatifs extérieurs et l’aspect superficiel pour suivre la Vierge Marie dans son silence et son recueillement ! Avec elle, préparons-nous à accueillir le Sauveur. Je vous bénis de grand cœur !

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. Today, as we approach the Solemnity of our Lord’s Birth among us, let us strive again to make room in our hearts to welcome the Christ Child with love and humility before such a great gift from on high. In anticipation, let me already wish you and your families a holy and peaceful Christmas!

Gerne heiße ich die Pilger und Gäste deutscher Sprache willkommen. „Der Herr ist nahe“, beten wir in diesen Tagen vor Weihnachten. Schon leuchtet der Glanz der Heiligen Nacht auf, und wir dürfen gewiß sein: Gott kommt in die Welt, er wird einer von uns, um uns Menschen Frieden und Heil zu bringen. Wie Maria wollen wir Gottes Wort und Willen gläubig annehmen, damit der Herr auch in uns und bei uns wohnen kann. Als Brüder und Schwestern Christi möchten wir unseren Mitmenschen seine Liebe und Gegenwart weiterschenken, besonders den Kranken, den Notleidenden und Bedürftigen. Allen wünsche ich ein frohes und gnadenreiches Weihnachtsfest.

Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española presentes en esta oración mariana. El evangelio de la Visitación, que la Iglesia nos propone este domingo, nos muestra la doble alegría que lleva consigo el anuncio de la salvación: la de quien, como la Santísima Virgen, acepta la buena noticia de Jesucristo y se pone en camino para proclamarla, y la de aquellos que, como Juan en el vientre de Isabel, saltan de gozo al escuchar al quien les trae al Salvador. Invito a todos a acoger al Señor, que llega y quiere colmar los corazones del inefable júbilo del Espíritu Santo. Que Dios os bendiga.

Drodzy Polacy, bracia i siostry! Już wkrótce duch Bożego Narodzenia przeniknie wasze domy, rodziny, wspólnoty. Połączy was wiara i radość z narodzin Zbawiciela. Każdemu z was, a szczególnie samotnym, chorym, tym, którym w życiu jest trudno, życzę pokoju, ciepła i miłości; wszystkim ducha nadziei, przebaczenia i pojednania. Niech światło płynące z betlejemskiego żłóbka opromienia w tym szczególnym roku – Roku Wiary – całą Polskę, wasze życie i serca. Niech Boże Dziecię wszystkim wam błogosławi.

Rivolgo infine un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. Auguro a tutti una buona domenica e tanta serenità per le prossime feste del Natale. Buona domenica!