POPE BLESSES STATUES OF BABY JESUS, GIVES PRAYER BOOKS TO FAITHFUL – POPE FRANCIS TELLS CHILDREN OF HIS FIRST COMMUNION – HOLY FATHER ON “CHALLENGING MISSION” OF CATHOLIC MEDIA – HOLY SEE, U.S. SECRETARIES OF STATE MEET IN VATICAN

Pope Francis’ December 15 Tweet: “Today is my anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Please pray for me and all priests.”

And in two days, December 17, the Holy Father will celebrate his 78th birthday! So, remember to offer another “Ave” for His Holiness.

The Pope seems to have celebrated a delightful Gaudete Sunday yesterday, as you will see by the two stories below – one about the Angelus and the second about his parish visit. There are also two news stories from today (in addition to private audiences the Holy Father had) – the Pope’s audience to TV 2000, the Catholic TV station of the Italian bishops, and the meeting of two secretaries of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin for the Holy see and John Kerry for the U.S.

Re: the blessing of the bambinelli: wouldn’t it be lovely to have this tradition become part of every parish in every diocese?

For the third night in a row (at least as far as I have observed) the dome of St. Peter’s basilica is dark – and I don’t know why. Sent an email to someone today to find out but no answer as of now.

POPE BLESSED STATUES OF BABY JESUS, GIVES PRAYER BOOKS TO FAITHFUL

Sunday at the Angelus, Pope Francis noted that this, the third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for joy. He said, “The heart of every person desires joy… All of us desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness.” The Christian, he said, is called to live and to witness to the joy that comes from the nearness of God, from God’s presence in our life. Christian joy is not simply the fullness of joy that we will experience in heaven, the Pope said. Rather, it begins even in this life, it is experienced even now, “because Jesus is our joy, our home with Jesus is our joy.” He asked the crowd to say with him “With Jesus, joy is part of the home.”

After praying the Angelus prayer with the sizeable crowd of faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis greeted all those present – families, parish groups, associations and, in particular, faithful from Poland where today the Christmas candle is lit and commitment to solidarity is reaffirmed, especially in the current Polish “Year of Caritas.”

The third Sunday of Advent is also the day that children of all ages and from all over Rome – and sometimes other towns and cities in Italy – bring their bambinelli, statues of the Baby Jesus, to be blessed by the Pope at the end of the Angelus. These statues will be placed in the cribs of nativity scenes – known as ‘crèches’ in French and ‘presepio’ in Italian, in homes and schools. Many a child holds up two or even three statues for the papal blessing as they bring a bambinello for a friend who could not make it to the Angelus. (Photo from news.va)

BAMBINELLI

The Pope thanked the children for the joy they brought to the square where, among the many signs held up, one read, “With Jesus, there is joy in our home.” Francis wished them a happy Christmas and asked them to pray for him in front of their Nativity display at home, as he does for them.

“Prayer is the breath of the soul,” he said. “It is important to find moments during the day to open our heart to God, even with the simple and short prayers of the Christian people. Therefore, I thought of giving a gift to all of you here in the square – a surprise, a gift: I will give you a little pocket-sized book that gathers together a few prayers, for various moments in the day and different situations in life. Some volunteers will distribute to them to you. Take one each and keep it with you always, as a help to live the whole day with God, and so we do not forget that beautiful message you have brought here on your banner: ‘With Jesus, there is joy in our home’. Once again: ‘With Jesus, there is joy in our home’.” He asked the faithful to repeat this five times

The book, in 50,000 copies, contains Psalms, the Magnificat, invocations of Mary, the Gloria, the prayer to the Angel of the Guard, prayers to recite during the day and blessings for the table, in confession and for specific intentions. It was published in Italian by the Vatican Publishing House.

POPE FRANCIS TELLS CHILDREN OF HIS FIRST COMMUNION

(VIS) – Sunday afternoon Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio, in the Primavalle neighborhood of the capital where, before celebrating Mass, he met with various groups, including children, Rom gypsies,, the ill and newly baptized infants.

He first met with some children preparing for their First Communion, and spoke about his own on October 8, 1944. “I remember it as if it were today. I prepared for a year with a very kind nun and two catechists. … In those times, its was not possible to drink a little water before Mass, nothing – not even a drop of water. It was Pope Pius XII who saved us from this dictatorship! … And we all arrived in the Church with our hands together, singing. … And later, in the afternoon, we returned to the Church for our Confirmation: the same day. And you, who will take your first Communion, will remember that day forever, all your life: the first day Jesus came to you. He comes, He makes Himself one with us, he nourishes us to give us strength. … Do not forget the date, and every year, on that day, confess and take communion, will you?”

The Holy Father then spoke to the Rom families in the parish, wishing them peace within their families. Afterwards he met with the sick, thanking them for their witness of patience, of love for God and of hope in the Lord. “This does great good to the Church”, he affirmed. “You continually nurture the Church with your life, with your suffering, with your patience. Thank you, truly. The Church, without the sick, would not carry on. You are the strength of the Church, her true strength,”

Francis’ final encounter was with newly baptized children with their parents. “Our hopes reside in our children,” he said. “We hand them the torch of faith and life, and they will pass it on to their children, our grandchildren. This is life. And in Baptism, you have given them faith, and thus faith from Jesus’ time up to the present day is like a chain, transmitted by parents. And this is a real responsibility! Never forget the day of your Baptism.”

The Pope then revealed that he was baptized on December 25, just eight days after his birth, as was the custom at the time, Francis asked all those present to pray for him, and added, “babies and children cry, they make noise, they run about … and it bothers me greatly when a child cries in church and people expect him or her to leave. No! It is the best sermon. The cry of a child is the voice of God. Never, ever send them out of the church!”

Following his meetings with the parishioners, Pope Francis heard several confessions and then celebrated Mass. In his homily, he explained that, “the Church this Sunday anticipates the joy of the Nativity, and it is therefore called ‘Gaudete Sunday’, joyful Sunday”. The joy of the Nativity, he said, is a special joy the the Christian experiences not only on that day, but throughout all his or her life. “It is a serene, calm joy, a joy that always accompanies a Christian. Even in difficult moments, this joy is transformed into peace. The true Christian never loses this peace, even during suffering. This peace is a gift from the Lord.”

The Pope also spoke about all those people who do not know how to thank God and who are always looking for something to complain about. “A Christian cannot live like this, always complaining. … No saint has ever had a sad face. The saints always had joyful faces. Or at least, in moments of suffering, their faces showed peace.”

HOLY FATHER ON “CHALLENGING MISSION” OF CATHOLIC MEDIA

Catholic communication as courageous truth-telling that opens channels of dialogue and speaks to the whole person was part of Pope Francis’ message Monday morning to the management, journalists and technical staff of TV 2000 – the television broadcaster of the Italian Bishops’ Conference – as part of a special audience for them in Paul VI Hall.

He said he wished to share “three thoughts on the role of the communicator,” recalling that “the Catholic media have a very difficult mission in relation to social communication: seeking to preserve it from all that distorts and twists it for other purposes. Often communication is subject to propaganda, ideologies, political ends, or for the control of the economy or technology. He said that courageous frankness and freedom are the characteristics of the authentic communicator. and Catholic communications in particular.

The Holy Father also spoke of the duty all communicators have to do justice to the complexities of real life, without losing sight of the truth that is the object of authentic dialogue. “To open, and not to close,” channels of dialogue, said Pope Francis, “is the second task of the communicator.”

Finally, the Pope focused on the need to avoid both sensationalism and platitudes in reporting stories, and the need to cultivate an integral approach to interpersonal communication. “It is necessary to speak to people in their entirety,” he said, “to their mind and to their heart, so that they might be able to see beyond the immediate, beyond a present that is at risk of being amnesiac and fearful of the future.”  (Sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)

HOLY SEE, U.S. SECRETARIES OF STATE MEET IN VATICAN

(Vatican Radio) – A meeting was held in the Vatican Monday between the Holy See’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  A note from Vatican Press Office spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, specified that the American delegation included the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett and two members of the State Department staff.  The Holy See was represented by three Curia officials responsible for the topics covered.

According to Fr. Lombardi, the main topics discussed were the situation in the Middle East, and the commitment of the U.S. to avoid the escalation of tensions and the explosion of violence; also the commitment to promote a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States’ commitment to the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison was also illustrated and the desire expressed for the Holy See’s assistance in seeking adequate humanitarian solutions for current inmates .

The short time available for Monday’s discussions prevented both sides from examining other issues in depth, though some were mentioned – in particular, the situation in Ukraine and its prospects and the emergency surrounding the Ebola outbreak.

 

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