John Paul II: Two Secrets to Live A Christian Christmas

Relive Christ´s Birth and Offer an Act of Solidarity

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2000 ( Just hours before opening of the Christmas liturgy, John Paul II offered the many thousands of pilgrims at the Vatican two indispensable secrets to live a Christian Christmas.

First, the Holy Father asked them to “undertand the mystery of Christmas in its true value” that is, the coming of the Savior. This mystery necessarily brings us — and this is the second secret — to make an act of solidarity to poor, abandoned, and those who suffer.

In spite of the penetrating cold and light rain, several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s square to pray the Angelus with the Pope, who appeared at the balcony of his apartment at midday.

“On the streets and in our homes, everything speaks of Christmas,” the Pope declared, “Lights, decorations, and gifts create an unmistakable Christmas spirit.”

He added, “The external preparations, while necessary, however, must not distract our attention from the central and extraordinary event that is being remembered: the birth of Jesus, the priceless gift of the Father to humanity.”

In this way, the Pontiff called to mind the Gospel narrative which shows how “not even the indispensible minimum that every family provides for the birth of a child is set aside for the King of the universe.”

“In the cave beside Jesus is Mary, the Virgin Mother, who received the word of God with complete obedience. Joseph, her chaste spouse, is also there, obedient to the arcane designs of the Omnipotent, even when the events seems incomprehensible and difficult to accept,” explained the Holy Father.

“This scene, in its simplicity, consitutes a silent invitation to undertand the mystery of Christmas in its true value,” the Pope stated, “a mystery of humility and love, joy and care for the poor.”

Christians cannot remain indifferent to the contemplation of Christ´s birth. John Paul II added, “While we put the finishing touches on the manger scenes in our homes, and we prepare ourselves to pass Christmas in serene harmony of our families, let us not forget gestures of solidarity toward those who will live these days in solitude and suffering.”

“How much greater the joy of this feast will be if we share it not only with our family and friends, but also with all those who long for a concrete remembrance from us,” he concluded.

Before saying goodbye to the pilgrims, the Pope invited them to meet him again at midnight for Christmas Eve mass. Due to the large number of faithful, the Pope will celebrate this Mass in the open air of St. Peter´s Square for the first time in his pontificate.

He also invited them to participate in the Christmas Day mass which will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State. At the end of the Mass, John Paul II will impart the traditional “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

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