Monday, January 28, 2013

Beginning the Creed

General Audience: January 23, 2013

With today's audience, the Holy Father officially started his catechesis on the Creed.  Up until now, we have been looking primarily at the preambula fidei, the steps that come before faith.  So, we have examined the act of faith, God's gift of faith as well as our free response.  We have also looked at Revelation and how Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh, is the pinnacle of revelation; in Him, God's revelation is completed and forever fulfilled.

Our act of faith depends on hearing the word of God so that we may respond to His call.  We hear that word in Sacred Scripture, which recounts for us God's gradual revelation of Himself to humanity.  The Bible teaches us about faith and also shows us to be faith-filled people.

Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks in a singular way about faith and also shines a light on the most important people in the Bible who let themselves be guided and God and responded to Him in faith.  Abraham is especially a great model of faith.

Why is Abraham still a model for us?  Sustained by God’s blessing and trusting in his promises, Abraham set off into the unknown. Like Abraham, we too are called to let faith shape our thoughts and actions in accordance with God’s saving word, even when this runs contrary to the thinking and ways of this world. With the eyes of faith, we discern God’s presence and his promise of eternal life beyond the realities of this present existence. In opening ourselves to God’s blessing, we become in turn a blessing for others.

Like Abraham, faith allows us to persevere in a paradoxical path: we are blessed, but not always with visible signs that we can see.  When we affirm: "I believe in God" we also mean that we trust in God and in His promises.  It doesn't matter what the world or other people may think or say about us.  We are children of God.  Like Abraham, we walk in faith toward our true homeland.

Friday, January 25, 2013


January 20, 2013

          Blessed Week of Christian Unity!  This past Sunday, the Holy Father greeted all of the pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square and prayed with them the Angelus. 

            In his message this week, the Holy Father reflected a bit on Sunday's Gospel passage – the wedding feast at Cana.  He mentioned that the reason why the Church meditates on this Gospel right now is because it is a part of the “Epiphany Triology”, along with the arrival of the Magi and the Baptism of the Lord.  It is another of event of the manifestation of Christ, and, it is “the first miracle that Jesus worked with which he showed his glory in public, inspiring faith in his disciples”. 

            Recalling the events of the Gospel passage, the Holy Father taught that with the sign of Jesus in which He turns the six jars of water into wine, even better wine, He is revealing Himself,

as the messianic Bridegroom come to establish with his people the new and eternal covenant, in accordance with the prophets' words: 'as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you' (Is 62:5).  Moreover, wine is a symbol of this joy of love; but it also alludes to the blood that Jesus was to pour out at the end to seal his nuptial pact with humanity.

Pope Benedict XVI then related this to the Church, how Christ's grace makes her holy and pure.  However, the Church, formed by human beings, needs to be constantly purified.  One of the greatest sins is the division which undermines her visible unity.  These have taken place due to historical circumstances and their consequences that have yet to be healed and resolved.  The Holy Father mentioned that this week, January 18-25, is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and he will be celebrating Vespers on January 25 (Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul) with the different Ecclesial Communities and other Churches.  The theme of the week is about achieving “what the Lord requires of us” (cf. Mic 6:6-8), and he asked all to pray to overcome discrimination, to achieve visible unity, and to pray for peace.  Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mediatrix of Grace, pray for us!

          Also, this past week, on the Feast of Saint Agnes, the Holy Father was presented with blessed lambs!  The wool from the lambs is used to make the Palliums given by the Holy Father to certain archbishops and bishops as a sign of unity with the Bishop of Rome.  

Image from

Monday, January 21, 2013


Baptism of the Lord

January 13, 2013


     Blessed Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord!  Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI baptized many infants according to a long-standing tradition!  At noon, he prayed the Angelus with all pilgrims present at Saint Peter’s Square, and gave his weekly reflection.  Meditating particularly on Luke’s Gospel, in which a voice came from heaven, saying, “Thou art my beloved Son; with Thee I am well-pleased”, the Holy Father commented:

     This Jesus is the Son of God who is totally immersed in the will of the Father’s love. This Jesus is the One who will die on the cross and rise again through the power of the same Spirit who now descends upon him and consecrates him. This Jesus is the new man who wills to live as the son of God, that is, in love; the man who in the face of the evil of the world, by choosing the path of humility and responsibility he chooses not to save himself but to offer his own life for truth and justice. Being Christian means living like this, but this kind of life involves a rebirth: to be reborn from on high, from God, from Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism, which Christ gives to the Church in order to regenerate men and women to new life.

     Concluding, the Holy Father reminded us and asked us all to remember and reflect upon our own baptism, the “spiritual rebirth that opened the way to eternal life to us”. 

“May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, rediscover the beauty of being reborn from on high, from the love of God, and live as a child of God.”

     After the Angelus, the Holy Father reminded all that it was the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  He sent all migrants and refugees his greeting, with a special prayer and blessing. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

As one with Christ, we stand in the light of truth.

The following entry is from the Holy Father's annual address to the College of Cardinals and the Roman Curia.  It took place on December 21, 2012.  In it, the Holy Father addresses issues most pertinent to the role of the Church in the world today, and he speaks with candor, loving concern, and clarity of vision.
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI

on the Occasion of Christmas Greetings

to the Roman Curia

December 21, 2012

            Gathered together in San Clementine Hall, Pope Benedict XVI met with all of the members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate to extend his Christmas greeting to all.  In his message this year, particularly pertinent to our time and our culture, he reflected upon some of the events from this past year, along with the different challenges posed to the Church today.  More specifically, he reflected upon the breakdown of the family, reflected in the misunderstanding of the human person and God-given dignity and identity of the human person, along with the question and need for dialogue and proclamation of the Word of God in our world today. 

            To begin, Pope Benedict, reflecting upon this past year, mentioned the importance of his journeys to both Mexico and Cuba, which he called “unforgettable encounters with the power of faith” even amidst the countries' economic problems and violent struggles.  He recalled with great joy the liturgies that took place in both countries.  Further, he mentioned the Meeting of Families which took place in Milan, as well as his visit to Lebanon where he consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation which offers signposts pointing to peace and unity to the churches and societies in the Middle East.  Lastly, he mentioned the Synod on the New Evangelization which took place in October and the opening of the Year of Faith, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.  The Holy Father mentioned how all of these various events spoke to several fundamental themes of our time, two of which he brought to light: the theme of the family and the nature of dialogue, with an observation of the question of the new evangelization.

            First, the Holy Father commented upon the joy of the gathering in Milan which reflected that the family is still strong and vibrant today, but he did not neglect the difficulties and the crisis threatening the very structure and foundation of family life today, especially in the West.  He noticed from the Synod in October that the importance of the family for the transmission of the faith and of the family “as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence” was highly emphasized.  In light of this, he argued that the family is not just about a social construct, but is about man himself, “about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human”.      Of course, he argued, the challenges are manifold, beginning with the question of man's capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment.  The Holy Father stated:

Man's refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it.  Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity.  When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, and child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

            The Holy Father went on to say that the very notion of being itself, of what it means to be a human being, is being challenged today.  A new philosophy entrenched in our culture speaks of gender today not as an element of nature given by God as a gift, but rather what the individual makes it to be and what the individual chooses for him or herself.  People today are denying their nature and their identity.  God no longer creates, but the person creates for oneself what one is.  The complementarity of man and woman is called into question and the creation story is no longer seen as valid.  If this is so, than the creation of the family is also no longer a reality and the dignity of each of the spouses, and likewise the child, is lost.  Pope Benedict explained:

When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker Himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being.  The defense of the family is about man himself.  And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears.  Whoever defends God is defending man.

            The next question His Holiness addressed involved the question of dialogue and proclamation.  Beginning with dialogue, Pope Benedict XVI directed that he sees three main areas of dialogue for the Church today: dialogue with states, dialogue with society, and dialogue with religions.  The Church speaks on the basis of the light given her by faith, but also from the memories of human experience and human condition from history – revelation and human experience.  This does not exclude her or make her unable to speak to our world today, but rather, “By entering into the thinking and understanding of mankind, this knowledge broadens the horizon of reason and thus it speaks also to those who are unable to share the faith of the Church”.  The Church does not have answers for individual questions arising from the state or the society, but she will wrestle for answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition, upholding the fundamental values of the human condition clearly, and this can stimulate political action. 

            In speaking about dialogue of religions, the Holy Father argued that it is “a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities”.  This dialogue involves a dialogue simply about life, which includes the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for the society, state, and for humanity.  He exhorted all that it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and his otherness of thinking.  The dialogue needs to be about the shared responsibility for justice and peace, and this is bound to go beyond the practical and into the ethical struggle for the truth, for the human being. 

            Today, the Holy Father mentioned that there are two fundamental rules for interreligious dialogue, which he believes are correct but still superficial: 1) dialogue aims at understanding, not conversion, and 2) both parties must remain consciously within their identity.  The truth is key, and it is important for both parties to be searching and always drawing closer to the truth, which is one.  The Holy Father beautifully stated:

I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity.  To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge.  Being inwardly held by the hand of Christ makes us free and keeps us safe: free – because if we are held by him, we can enter openly and fearlessly into any dialogue – because he does not let go of us, unless we cut ourselves off from him.  At one with him, we stand in the light of truth.

            Lastly, the Holy Father ended his message by prayerfully looking at Saint John's Gospel 1:35-39 in regards to the subject of proclamation, or evangelization.  First, he explained, the calling of the disciples here begins with a simple proclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God”, which is followed by listening and following behind Jesus, which is not yet discipleship but rather a curiosity or a movement of seeking.  The third act is when Jesus turns around to them and asks them what they are seeking.  They give their response and show their openness and readiness to continue further, and Jesus replies, “Come and see”, inviting them to come with Him and have their eyes opened with Him.  The Holy Father concluded, saying:

The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord.  His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better.  As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is His Body.  That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we walk.  “Come and see!”

Saturday, January 19, 2013


This Angelus message is from a few weeks ago, but we thought you might still like to see it...

Epiphany of the Lord – January 6, 2013


            This morning, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, during the Holy Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, ordained four new bishops.  Following the Mass, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with all the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.  He spoke about the faith of the magi.  At Christmas, we see the faith of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, and on the Epiphany, we contemplate the mystery of the faith of the wise men from the East.  He pointed out that in the Eastern Churches following the Julian calendar celebrate Christ's birth on this day, and he asked all to keep them in prayer.

            In speaking about the magi from the East, he taught that they represent peoples, the civilizations, the nations, that are on their way toward God and searching for His Kingdom.  Mary and Joseph represent the “remnant” of Israel foretold by the prophets.  Embodied by Mary, there was a nucleus of Israel who knew and believed in the God who revealed Himself to the patriarchs.  She becomes the Mother of God and the model of faith for the Church.  As can be seen, however, by the Magi, the People of the New Covenant is universal.  Pope Benedict declared, “...the light of Christ is so clear and strong that it makes both the language of the cosmos and of the Scriptures intelligible, so that all those who, like the Magi, are open to the truth can recognize it and come to contemplate the Savior of the world”.  Quoting Saint Leo the Great, he continued, “Let the full number of nations now take their place in the family of the patriarchs... let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not only in Judea, but in the whole world”. 

Blessed Epiphany!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jesus Christ: mediator and fullness of Revelation

January 17, 2013

This line from Dei Verbum was the nucleus of Pope Benedict XVI's audience yesterday:
...the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.
The Old Testament narrates the story of how God, after creation and the fall of man, still offers men and women the possibility of friendship with him.  The history of the people of Israel is the beginning of this.  They are set apart--truly chosen by God--but their election is in view of the salvation of all peoples.  Pope Benedict makes an interesting point here: "being chosen" or "elected" is not so that God can take some and exclude others.  The one who is chosen is actually chosen for the sake of the others.  This is what we call mediation.

Philip the Apostle from
Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper
Revelation takes a turn which no human being could have expected in the Incarnation, which we have been learning about the past few weeks.  In the Gospel according to John, we read, "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (1,18)."  And yet, we have such a strong desire to see the face of God.  Think of Philip at the Last Supper: Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.  The Old Testament talks over 100 times about seeking the face of God!  This is a recurring theme in Scripture because it is a recurring, even essential, theme in the life of man.

To desire to see the face of God also implies that even though we cannot imagine what God looks like (and to make pictures or images of God was absolutely prohibited in the Old Testament), there is a call to relationship.  We cannot make God an object, but we can believe in Him and love Him because He is calling us to do just that.  He comes near to us so that we might come to Him.

However, the newness of the Incarnation is that in Jesus we do see the face of God.  If we go back to Philip, Jesus' response to him is shocking: He who has seen me has seen the Father.  This is why we talk about Jesus as the fullness of Revelation.  He is the perfect Word of God, and therefore in Him we find the completion of Revelation.  He reveals and is revelation itself.

The desire to truly know God, what we called above the desire to seek His face, is within every person, even atheists.  Simply put, we just want to know Who He is, and Who He is for us.  The desire is not in vain.  It is met by following Christ, who has revealed the face of God to us, and still does so, particularly through Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments.  If you want to get to know someone, though, you have to spend a little time with him or her.  The same is true for God.  If we want to know Christ and then begin to see Him in those around us (for He truly is present in those we meet), then we must go to the sources of that relationship and spend time with God.  Ask questions and wait for answers.  Go deeper into your knowledge of the faith and participation in the Sacraments, the life of the Church, especially the Most Holy Eucharist.  Try it, and see what happens.

     It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone.  "Look out!" we cry, "it's alive."  ...An "impersonal God"--well and good.  A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads--better still.  A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap--best of all.  But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband--that is quite another matter...  There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (Man's search for God!") suddenly draw back.  Supposing we really found Him?  ...Worse still, supposing He had found us?
     So it is a sort of Rubicon.  One goes across; or not.  But if one does, there so manner of security against miracles.  One may be in for anything.
--C. S. Lewis, Miracles, as quoted in J. Pieper's Faith, Hope, Love

Thursday, January 10, 2013

He became man

General Audience - January 9, 2013

In yesterday's audience, Pope Benedict XVI went through a few more reflections on the mystery of the Incarnation.  In Jesus, God became incarnate and opened the way to heaven for all of us.

Perhaps because we say so often "God became incarnate" it has lost some of its meaning and mystery.  Let's try to re-discover it a little.

"Incarnate" comes from the Latin word incarnatio, and we use it particularly because of the Prologue of the Gospel according to John (1,14): And the Word became flesh.  "Flesh", in the way Saint John is using it here, goes back to the Hebrew understanding of human life.  It is man in his wholeness (not just the body, but vivified flesh, body and spirit).  It also encompasses the falleness of man, that is, our temporality, poverty, and contingency.

Therefore, when we talk about Jesus as the Word made flesh, we mean that salvation through and in the person of Jesus touches man in whatever situation and concrete reality he is in.  God took upon himself human life--all of it--so that he could heal everything that keeps us away from him.  This quote from Saint Irenaeus (CCC 460) sums up this idea:
St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pt 1,4): For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.
The truth of the Incarnation and the corresponding greatness of our lives is only accessible to us through faith.  In faith, Jesus continues to accompany us and allows the light of his Incarnation to illumine our lives and give them meaning, even in the most mundane, stressful, tragic, or joyful circumstances.

At Christmastime, we often exchange gifts with the people we love.  When we do this, we are imitating the gift of God's Son given to us.  Not only that, we recognize the truth that if we give a gift and give nothing of ourselves to the other, we have given him or her too little.  God teaches us to give ourselves to others because that is exactly what He did and does all the's what his life is all about.

The Incarnation should drive home for us how much God loves us.  He doesn't just tell us that he loves us, although those words are in Sacred Scripture.  He dives into our history and literally takes up a human existence just like ours.  Think about how God is acting here!  This reality should be a challenge and stimulus to our faith.  If you want to understand it better, then live into the mystery.  Believe in God, pray, go to the sacraments regularly, and do his will with the help of us grace.

In the baby Jesus, we truly see the face of God.  We also truly see the face of a human being.  Only by opening ourselves to his grace and striving to follow him everyday will we understand who we are and who we are to become.  Let your faith be a reality and your life an experiment of his love!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A few messages...

January 09, 2013

This entry is going to be a summary of a few Angelus messages as well as the Holy Father's Urbi et Orbi Message on Christmas Day.  (Urbi et Orbi is Latin for 'to the city and to the world'.  It is a blessing given only twice a year, on Christmas Day and on Easter Sunday.)

Urbi et Orbi

Christmas 2012

“To the city and to the world…”

Image from

                On Christmas day, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the city of Rome and the world with his annual “Urbi et Orbi” message from the central loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica!

                In his message, the Holy Father reflected upon verse 12, “Truth has sprung out of the earth!” from Psalm 85, and its relation to where humanity finds itself today.  The Pope exclaimed with great joy that these words have been fulfilled, fulfilled in Jesus Christ who has been born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary.  The Holy Father quoted Saint Augustine, saying:

[I]n this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven’. The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe…

If we believe!  Pope Benedict reflected upon this comment of Saint Augustine, saying that God has done everything for us.  He has done what is impossible.  He became man and it is up to us to open our hearts to him!  Porta Fidei!  We must open the door of faith! 

“And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei!  The door of faith!  We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence.  This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful.  But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born!  “The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7).  Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness.  In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us.  A dwelling place for his presence in the world.  This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up!  Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations.  Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.”

The Holy Father addressed specifically the people of Syria and appealed for an end to the bloodshed, access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in pursuit of a political solution.  He addressed the peoples in the Holy Land, the Israelis and Palestinians.  He addressed the countries in North Africa, especially Egypt, and the continent of Asia, especially the Peoples’ Republic of China.  He addressed Mali, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.  He addressed all the faithful in Latin America.  He addressed us all and reminded us that,

“Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity.”

 “May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace.  Happy Christmas to all of you!”


Feast of Saint Stephen

December 26, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI at his Angelus Message on December 26, 2012, through the Christmas tree!
Image from

            Every year we celebrate the Feast of the first martyr, Saint Stephen the Deacon, the Protomartyr, after Christmas day.  Saint Stephen’s whole life was shaped by God, conformed to Christ, whose Passion is replicated in him”.  With beautiful words, the Holy Father teaches:

             On St. Stephen’s Day we too are called to fix our eyes on the Son of God whom in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas we contemplate in the mystery of his Incarnation. Through Baptism and Confirmation, through the precious gift of faith nourished by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, Jesus Christ has bound us to him and with the action of the Holy Spirit, wants to continue in us his work of salvation by which all things are redeemed, given value, uplifted and brought to completion. Letting ourselves be drawn by Christ, as St Stephen did, means opening our own life to the light that calls it, guides it and enables it to take the path of goodness, the path of a humanity according to God’s plan of love. Lastly, St Stephen is a model for all who wish to put themselves at the service of the new evangelization. He shows that the newness of the proclamation does not consist primarily in the use of original methods or techniques — which of course, have their usefulness — but rather in being filled with the Holy Spirit and letting ourselves be guided by him.

The newness of the proclamation lies in the depth of the believer’s immersion in the mystery of Christ and in assimilation of his word and of his presence in the Eucharist so that he himself, the living Jesus, may speak and act in his messengers. Essentially, evangelizers can bring Christ to others effectively when they themselves live in Christ, when the newness of the Gospel is reflected in their own life. Let us pray the Virgin Mary that in this Year of Faith the Church may see an increasing number of men and women who, like St Stephen, can bear a convincing and courageous witness to the Lord Jesus.

             After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted all the pilgrims present, asking that we may all be blessed with God’s grace to have the courage to speak up and to the defend the truth in public with charity and constancy. 

            Saint Stephen, pray for us!

Feast of the Holy Family
December 30, 2012
            Blessed Feast of the Holy Family!  The Holy Father, today, reflected upon the day’s Gospel passage found in Luke when Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy stays in the Temple while Mary and Joseph leave to return to Nazareth.  He offers these words:
Mary and Joseph’s anxiety about Jesus is the same as that of every parent who educates a child, introduces him or her to life and to understanding reality.  Today, therefore, it is only right to say a special prayer to the Lord for all the families of the world.  Emulating the Holy Family of Nazareth, may parents be seriously concerned with the development and upbringing of their children so that they grow up to be responsible and honest citizens, never forgetting that faith is a precious gift to be nurtured in their children by their own example.
At the same time let us pray that every child be welcomed as a gift of God and be supported by the love of both parents in order to increase, like the Lord Jesus in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man (Lk 2:52).
May the love, loyalty and dedication of Mary and Joseph be an example to all Christian couples who are not the friends or masters of their children’s lives, but rather are custodians of this incomparable gift of God.
Image from

The silence of Joseph, a just man (cf. Mt 1:19), and the example of Mary who kept all these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:51), usher us into the mystery of the Holy Family, full of faith and humanity.  I hope that all Christian families will live in God’s presence with the same love and the same joy as the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
            …May God bless you and your dear families!


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

46th World Day of Peace

January 1, 2013



Blessed Feast Day and Happy New Year to all!

            “On the first day of 2013 I would like the blessing of God to reach each and every man and woman of the world. I bless you with the ancient formula contained in Sacred Scripture: ‘The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace’ (Num 6:24-26).”

          The Holy Father greets all today at the beginning of this New Year, reflecting upon the light and warmth felt by all when the Lord shines His face upon us.  He has with the birth of Jesus Christ!  Pope Benedict XVI teaches that first Jesus’ face was seen in a small, humble way by Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, but little by little it has increased and spread everywhere, first upon the Holy Land and then through the Church which is enlivened by His Spirit.  The Holy Father tells us:

         For this reason, eight days after the Nativity, when the Church — like the Virgin Mother Mary — shows the newborn Jesus, Prince of Peace, to the world we celebrate the World Day of Peace. Yes, that Child, who is the Word of God made flesh, came to bring a peace to men that the world cannot give (cf. Jn 14:27). His mission is to break down the “dividing wall of hostility” (cf. Eph 2:14); and when, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he proclaims his “Beatitudes”, among them is also “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9). Who are the peacemakers? They are all those who, day after day, seek to conquer evil with good, with the strength of the truth, with the arms of prayer and of forgiveness, with honest work well-done, with scientific research that is at the service of life, with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The peacemakers are many, but they make not a sound. Like the yeast in dough, they cause humanity to rise according to God’s plan.

In this first Angelus of the new year, let us ask Mary Most Holy, the Mother of God, to bless us, just as the mother blesses her children who must leave on a journey. A new year is like a journey: with the light and grace of God, may it be a path of peace for every person and for every family, for every country and for the entire world.


After the Angelus, the Holy Father especially greeted the members of the Taize Community, who gathered in Rome, as well as the Family Love Movement.  He repeated to all again:

Blessed are the peacemakers!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! 



Sunday, January 6, 2013

...conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary

The Incarnation - General Audience, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year and many blessings to all of you as we begin 2013!  Pope Benedict has picked up his Year of Faith catechesis series after his Christmas respite.

We have just been celebrating the Birth of Jesus and all the joyful traditions that come with it.  These special days of the year are also a door of faith that we can walk through to learn more about God, and the Pope asks us once again to reflect.  This time, the question is: where did Jesus come from?

It's actually a really interesting question.  Whether or not you believe that Jesus is God, the fact is that he existed and his life changed the course of history.  We should question why.  It's a very curious thing that a baby born in a cave in an obscure corner of the world 2,000 years ago had such an impact on world history.  It's worth wondering who he is and where he came from.

The Gospels, of course, make it clear: Jesus' origin is the Father, God.  He comes from God in a totally different way than anyone else comes from God.  As we recite in the Creed: he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.  When Gabriel spoke with Mary at the Annunciation, that's exactly what he said would happen, and we still profess the truth of the Incarnation every Sunday in the Creed. 
(Credo from the Mass of Incoronation by Mozart, recorded in the Vatican)

Let's take a closer look at this.  In the Creed, Jesus is given lots of titles and descriptions: Lord, Christ, Only Begotten Son of God, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father.  From all these names, what we can affirm is that Jesus is always referred to in relation to the Father.  His whole being points to the Father all the time. 

The Incarnation wasn't just Jesus' decision; it was the work of the whole Trinity and realized with the consent of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary is an integral part of the plan of our salvation; she became the living Ark of the Covenant when the Holy Spirit descended upon her...much like the cloud descended on the Tent of Meeting (which housed the Ark) in the days of infant Israel.

The presence of Jesus in the world is the beginning of the new creation, the new beginning of humanity.  Perhaps to think of Jesus as the "New Adam" seems silly to us, but whether or not you think the first 11 chapters of Genesis is a myth, the world had to begin somehow.  In that creation, somewhere along the line, human persons began to exist.  And we are different from all the rest of the world because we have the capacity to think, to choose, and we are free to govern ourselves and our actions.  No one can ever that potential from us.  Our capacities, however, are wounded because of original sin--we do not always choose the good that we know is the true good.

Into this fight between good and evil which we all experience, Jesus comes as the New Adam and is called so because he gives humanity a new beginning.  Through faith in Jesus, therefore, we are brought into a new life that is so powerful it is like a second birth.  When we are baptized, this new humanity, that is, new life in Christ Jesus, is given to us.  It is free and unmerited.  As Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans:
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.  When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God...
It may not always feel to us like we are sons and daughters of God, but what we feel is not always equal to what is true.  If we trust God and, like Mary, entrust our lives to the Lord, everything changes.  Our lives take on new meaning and purpose: I am the child of a Father who loves me and will never abandon me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 1, 2013 - Mary, Mother of God


Vatican Basilica
Tuesday, 1st January 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“May God bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” We proclaimed these words from Psalm 66 after hearing in the first reading the ancient priestly blessing upon the people of the covenant. It is especially significant that at the start of every new year God sheds upon us, his people, the light of his Holy Name, the Name pronounced three times in the solemn form of biblical blessing. Nor is it less significant that to the Word of God – who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) as “the true light that enlightens every man” (1:9) – is given, as today’s Gospel tells us, the Name of Jesus eight days after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21). […]

In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift. All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9)” (Message, 1). This beatitude “tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort … It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation” (ibid., 2, 3). Indeed, peace is the supreme good to ask as a gift from God and, at the same time, that which is to be built with our every effort.

We may ask ourselves: what is the basis, the origin, the root of peace? How can we experience that peace within ourselves, in spite of problems, darkness and anxieties? The reply is given to us by the readings of today’s liturgy. The biblical texts, especially the one just read from the Gospel of Luke, ask us to contemplate the interior peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During the days in which “she gave birth to her first-born son” (Lk 2:7), many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a chance place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds. In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace which we ought to have amid the sometimes tumultuous and confusing events of history, events whose meaning we often do not grasp and which disconcert us.

The Gospel passage finishes with a mention of the circumcision of Jesus. According to the Law of Moses, eight days after birth, baby boys were to be circumcised and then given their name. Through his messenger, God himself had said to Mary – as well as to Joseph – that the Name to be given to the child was “Jesus” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31); and so it came to be. The Name which God had already chosen, even before the child had been conceived, is now officially conferred upon him at the moment of circumcision. This also changes Mary’s identity once and for all: she becomes “the mother of Jesus”, that is the mother of the Saviour, of Christ, of the Lord. Jesus is not a man like any other, but the Word of God, one of the Divine Persons, the Son of God: therefore the Church has given Mary the title Theotokos or Mother of God. […]

From the contemplation of the face of God are born joy, security and peace. But what does it mean concretely to contemplate the face of the Lord, as understood in the New Testament? It means knowing him directly, in so far as is possible in this life, through Jesus Christ in whom he is revealed. To rejoice in the splendour of God’s face means penetrating the mystery of his Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of his interior life and of his will, so that we can live according to his plan of love for humanity. […]

Here, dear brothers and sisters, is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the splendour of the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and thus of having, on life’s journey, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father. The splendour of the face of God, shining upon us and granting us peace, is the manifestation of his fatherhood: the Lord turns his face to us, he reveals himself as our Father and grants us peace. Here is the principle of that profound peace – “peace with God” – which is firmly linked to faith and grace, as Saint Paul tells the Christians of Rome (cf. Rom 5:2). Nothing can take this peace from believers, not even the difficulties and sufferings of life. Indeed, sufferings, trials and darkness do not undermine but build up our hope, a hope which does not deceive because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (5:5).

May the Virgin Mary, whom today we venerate with the title of Mother of God, help us to contemplate the face of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. May she sustain us and accompany us in this New Year: and may she obtain for us and for the whole world the gift of peace. Amen!

(Cited on January 1st, 2013 from: