Prepare Your Hearts, Says John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2004 ( John Paul II invited Christians to prepare themselves for Christmas by preparing their hearts to receive the Redeemer.

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This was the advice the Pope gave today at the end of the general audience, held in a Paul VI Hall decked with firs and Christmas colors.

Addressing the 9,000 pilgrims present, the Holy Father thanked, in particular, “young people, the sick, and newlyweds for their participation” in the meeting and hoped that they would come "to the solemn feast of Christmas with a vigilant heart ready to receive our Redeemer.”

“May the Lord grant everyone a happy Christmas and a New Year full of love and peace,” he said in Spanish a few minutes earlier to the Latin American and Spanish pilgrims.

John Paul II was visibly moved when 500 Polish pilgrims present sang a song accompanied by the military band of the Alpines of Podhale, where “the mountains of my land” are, he said speaking in his maternal tongue.

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