IT IS GOD, NOT GRAND PROMISES, WHO CHANGES THE WORLD
VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORT) - This morning the Pope made a pastoral visit to the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe on the outskirts of Rome, where he celebrated Mass. As of the year 2009, the parish community has a new church, dedicated to that Polish Franciscan saint and martyr.
In his homily, the Pope highlighted how "Advent is a pressing invitation to us all to allow God to enter ever more deeply into our lives, our homes, our neighbourhoods, our communities, that we may have light amidst so much darkness and so much daily fatigue".
Noting how "with the passage of time the parish community has grown and become partly transformed, with the arrival of many people from the countries of Eastern Europe and other States", the Pope underlined the importance "of creating opportunities for dialogue and favouring mutual understanding between people from different cultures, backgrounds and social conditions".
"Here, as in all parishes", he said, "it is necessary to begin with those 'close by' then reach those 'far away', in order to bring an evangelical presence into the places in which we live and work. In parishes, everyone should be able to enjoy an adequate formation and to experience the community dimension which is a fundamental characteristic of Christian life", a community "that involves everyone, united in listening to the Word of God and in celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist".
Commenting then on today's Gospel reading in which John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is the Judge Who will change the world, or whether we must wait for another, Benedict XVI affirmed that "many prophets, ideologues and dictators have come and said: 'No, not him! He has not changed the world! We have!' And they created their empires, their dictatorships, their totalitarian regimes which were meant to change the world. And they did change it, but destructively. Today we know that all that is left of these grand promises is great emptiness and great destruction".
"The Lord, in the silent way characteristic of Him, replies: 'See what I have done. I have not brought a bloody revolution, I have not changed the world by force; but I have lit many lights which together form a great path of light over the millennia".
The Pope then turned his attention to St. Maximilian Kolbe "who volunteered to die of hunger in order to save the life of a married man", to St. Damian de Veuster "who lived and died with and for lepers", and to Mother Teresa of Calcutta "who brought light to so many people who, after a life spent without light, died with a smile because they were touched by the light of God's love.
"And so we could go on", he added, "and we would see, as the Lord said in His reply to John, that it is not violent revolution or great promises that change the world, but the silent light of truth, of God's goodness, which is the sign of His presence and gives us the certainty that we are fully loved, that we are not forgotten, that we are not the result of chance but of a will to love".
The Pope concluded his homily by highlighting how "God is close, ... but we are often far away. Let us, then draw close, let us come into the presence of His light, let us pray to the Lord and, in the contact of prayer, let us become a light for others".
COMMUNIQUE CONCERNING DOCUMENTS PUBLISHED BY WIKILEAKS
VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORTS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following communique on the subject of U.S. State Department documents published by the website Wikileaks.
"Without venturing to evaluate the extreme seriousness of publishing such a large amount of secret and confidential material, and its possible consequences, the Holy See Press Office observes that part of the documents published recently by Wikileaks concerns reports sent to the U.S. State Department by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
"Naturally these reports reflect the perceptions and opinions of the people who wrote them and cannot be considered as expressions of the Holy See itself, nor as exact quotations of the words of its officials. Their reliability must, then, be evaluated carefully and with great prudence, bearing this circumstance in mind".
VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed as members of the Congregation for Catholic Education Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and of the Co-ordinating Council of Pontifical Academies.
- Appointed Bishop Lino Fumagalli of Sabina - Poggio Mirteto. Italy, as bishop of Viterbo (area 2,161, population 187,500, Catholics 183,400, priests 177, permanent deacons 10, religious 310), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Lorenzo Chiarinelli, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.
Following a Roman tradition on this third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blessed statuettes of the Baby Jesus which were brought to the square by some two thousand local children and which are destined to be placed in nativity scenes in homes, schools and parishes.
Quoting a passage from today's reading of the Letter of St. James - "Be patient therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord" - the Holy Father said: "I believe it is important, in our time, to underline the value of constancy and patience, virtues which were part of the everyday baggage of our forebears, but which seem less popular today in a world which exalts change and the capacity to adapt to new and diverse situations. Without detracting from these aspects, which are also human qualities, Advent calls us to strengthen that inner tenacity, that resistance of heart which enables us not to lose hope as we wait for a good that is late in coming, but to await it - indeed, to prepare for its arrival - with confidence".
Continuing his commentary on the Letter, in which the Apostle proposes the example of the patience of farmers as they await their crop, Benedict XVI said: "Farmers are not fatalists but the model of a mentality which harmoniously unites faith and reason. On the one hand they know the laws of nature and skilfully carry out their work while, on the other, they trust in Providence because certain fundamental things are not in their hands but in the hands of God. Patience and constancy are, indeed, a blend of human commitment and trust in God.
"'Strengthen your hearts' says the Scripture. How can we do this?" the Pope asked. "How can we strengthen our hearts which, in themselves, are somewhat fragile and become even more instable in the culture which surrounds us? Help is not wanting: we have the Word of God. For indeed, while everything else passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not pass. If the events of life make us feel lost and all our certainties seem to crumble, we have a compass to find our way, we have an anchor so as not to drift with the current".
In this context, the Holy Father recalled "the model of the prophets; that is, of the people whom God has call to speak in His name. The prophet finds his joy and strength in the Word of the Lord and, while men and women often seek happiness by following ways which turn out to be mistaken, he announces the true hope, the hope that does not delude because it is founded on the faithfulness of God. All Christians, by virtue of their Baptism, have received prophetic dignity. May each of us rediscover this and nourish it by listening assiduously to the divine Word".
After praying the Angelus the Pope addressed some words to the children of Rome. "Dear young friends", he said, "when you place the statuette of the Baby Jesus in the grotto or the manger, say a prayer for the Pope and for his intentions.Thank you!"