Shortly before noon today, Pope Francis met with employees of the Holy See and of Vatican City State, with their families, for the exchange of Christmas greetings.
Here is a translation of his address.
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It was pride that transformed angels into devils; it is humility that renders men like the angles (Saint Augustine).
Beloved men and women collaborators, good morning!
Beloved dependents of the Curia — not disobedient of the Curia, as someone unwittingly described you, committing a press error!
A short time ago I met with the Heads of Dicasteries and Superiors of the Roman Curia for the traditional Christmas greetings, and now I meet with you, to express to each of you my gratitude and my most sincere wishes for a true Christmas of the Lord.
It is a statement of fact that the vast majority of you are of Italian nationality; therefore, allow me also to express a particular, and I would say, rightful thank you to the Italians who, in the course of the history of the Church and of the Roman Curia, have worked constantly with a generous and faithful spirit, putting their singular industriousness and filial dedication at the service of the Holy See and of the Successor of Peter, offering the Church great Saints, Popes, martyrs, missionaries, and artists, which no passing shadow of history will be able to obfuscate. Thank you so much!
I also thank the persons who come from other countries and who work generously in the Curia, far from their homelands and their families, representing for the Curia the face of the “catholicity” of the Church.
Having given an address to the Superiors of the Roman Curia, comparing it to a body that seeks always to be more united and more harmonious to reflect, in a certain sense, the Mystical Body of Christ, namely the Church, I exhort you paternally to meditate on that text, making it an idea of reflection for a fruitful examination of conscience in preparation for a Holy Christmas and New Year. I exhort you also to approach the Sacrament of Confession with a docile spirit, to receive the mercy of the Lord who knocks at the door of our heart, in the joy of the family!
I did not want to let this second Christmas of mine at Rome pass without meeting the persons who work in the Curia; without meeting the persons who work without letting themselves be seen and who describe themselves ironically as “the unknown, the invisible”; the gardeners, the cleaners, the ushers, the heads of offices, the lift-boys, the minute writers … and many, many others. Thank you for your daily commitment and your solicitous effort, the Curia expresses itself as a living body and underway: a real rich mosaic of different fragments, necessary and complementary.
Speaking of the Body of Christ, Saint Paul says that “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable – we think of the eyes — and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor … But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12”21-25).
Beloved men and women collaborators of the Curia, thinking of Saint Paul’s words and of you, namely, of the persons that are part of the Curia and that render it a living, dynamic and well cared for Body, I wished to choose the word “care” as reference to this our meeting.
To care means to manifest eager and solicitous interest, which commits as much our mind as our activity to someone or something; it means to look attentively at someone in need of care without thinking of anything else; it means to accept and to give care. There comes to mind the image of a mother looking after her sick child, with total dedication, considering the child’s pain her own. She never looks at the clock, does not complain of not having slept the whole night, desires nothing other than to see him cured, whatever the cost.
In this time spent in your midst I have noted the care you give to your work; therefore, I thank you so much. However, allow me to exhort you to transform this Holy Christmas into a true occasion to “care” for every wound and to be “cured” of any lack.
Therefore I exhort you:
– To take care of your spiritual life, your relation with God, because this is the vertebral column of all that we do and of all that we are. A Christian who does not nourish himself with prayer, the Sacraments and the Word of God, inevitably withers and dries up. Take care of the spiritual life;
– To take care of your family life, giving your children and your dear ones not only money but, above all, time, attention and love;
– To take care of your relations with others, transforming the faith into life and words into good works, especially towards the neediest;
– To take care of your speech, purifying your tongue from offensive words, from vulgarities and from worldly decadent language;
– To take care of wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forging persons who have wounded us and medicating the wounds we have caused others;
– To take care of your work, completing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion, with a spirit that is able to thank the Lord;
– To rid yourselves of envy, concupiscence, hatred and negative sentiments that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive persons;
– To rid ourselves of rancor that leads us to revenge, and of sloth that leads us to existential euthanasia, of pointing the finger that leads us to pride, of constant complaining that leads us to despair. I know that sometimes, to keep one’s job, there is talk of someone, to defend oneself. I understand these situations, but that way does not end well. In the end we will all be destroyed among ourselves, and this we must not do, it is of no use. Rather, we should ask the Lord for the wisdom to be able to bite our tongue in time, not to say insulting words, which then leave your mouth bitter;
– To take care of weak brothers: I have seen many beautiful examples among you in this, and I thank you, congratulations! Namely, take care of the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers because we shall be judged on this;
– To take care that Holy Christmas is never a feast of commercial consumerism, of appearance and of useless gifts, or of superfluous waste, but that it is the feast of joy of receiving the Lord in the Crib and in the heart,
To take care — to take care of so many things, each one of us can think: “What is the thing I must take care of most?” To think this: “Today, I will take care of this.” However, above all take care of the family! The family is a treasure; children are a treasure. A question that young parents can ask themselves: “Do I have time to play with my children, or am I always busy, busy, and have no time for the children?” I leave you with that question. To play with the children: it is so lovely. And this is to sow the future.
Beloved men and women collaborators,
Let us imagine how our world would change if every one of us began immediately, and here, to take care seriously and to take care generously of his relation with God and with his neighbor; if we were to put into practice the golden rule of the Gospel, proposed by Jesus in his discourse on the mountain: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12); if we looked at the other, especially the neediest, with the eyes of goodness and tenderness, as God looks at us, waits for us and forgives us; if we found in humili
ty our strength and our treasure! And so often we are afraid of tenderness, we are afraid of humility!
This is a true Christmas: the celebration of the poverty of God who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant (Cf. Philippians 2:6); of God who served at table (Cf. Matthew 22:27); of God who hides himself from the wise and understanding and reveals himself to babes, to the simple and the poor (Cf. Matthew 11:25); of the “Son of man who did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
However, above all it is the celebration of Peace brought on earth by the Baby Jesus: “Peace between heaven and earth, peace between all peoples, peace in our hearts” (Liturgical Hymn); the peace sung by the Angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will” (Luke 2:14).
Peace that is in need of our enthusiasm, of our care, to warm cold hearts, to encourage distrusting spirits and to illumine lifeless eyes with the light of the face of Jesus!
With this peace in the heart I would like to greet you and all your families. I also wish to say thank you to them and to give an embrace, above all to your children and especially the littlest ones!
I do not want to end these words of greetings without asking you for forgiveness for the failings, mine and my collaborators’, and also for some scandals, which do so much evil. Forgive me.
Happy Christmas and, please, pray for me!
Let us pray to Our Lady: Hail Mary …[Blessing] [Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]