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Want a Happy, Successful 2016? Pope Suggests Keeping Your Eyes on Mary

With Jam-Packed 2-Day Agenda, Pope Francis Closed Out 2015, Ushers in 2016 at Vatican

Pope Francis says the key to a successful 2016 is: Keep your eyes on Mary and follow her example.

The Holy Father stressed how doing this can change our lives and open our hearts throughout his various encounters with the faithful as he closed out 2015 and ushered in 2016 in the Vatican. On Thursday, the Holy Father presided over First Vespers on New Years Eve with the recitation of the solemn Te Deum. On Friday, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2016 in St. Peter’s Basilica. He then gave his traditional address before leading the faithful in the Angelus, and in the evening at Santa Maria Maggiore, he opened the Marian Basilica’s Holy Door.

Good always conquers

During his homily at First Vespers, his last public event of the year, the Holy Father reminded those to follow the Virgin Mary's example of doing good, even if it goes under the radar.

«How many gestures of kindness, of love and solidarity have filled the days of this year, even if they did not make television news,» he said, observing, «Good things do not make news. These signs of love cannot and must not be obscured by the arrogance of evil.»

Before concluding his reflections on the year soon to close, Francis called for Mary's intercession, and underscored, «Good always conquers, even if at some moments it might seem weaker and hidden.»

Mary Makes Us Understand Our Everyday

The next morning, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2016 in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, Francis stressed that the Church, at the beginning of a new year, «invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace.”

“In this day,” he said, “Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world.”

Let's Open Our Hearts

At noon the same day, which also marked the World Day of Peace, the Pope launched an appeal to the world, while speaking to the pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Mass. “Today we celebrate the World Day of Peace, whose theme is: ‘Overcome Indifference and Win Peace,’» he recalled, stressing we must make this peace come to be in the world, through our efforts. 

“We have, thank God,» the Pontiff observed, «much information; but sometimes we are so inundated with news that we are distracted from reality, from the brother and sister who needs us: let us begin to open our hearts, awakening attention to our neighbor.”

“This,” said Pope Francis, “is the way to win peace.”

One Who Truly Loves, Can Forgive, Forget

During the evening liturgy at Santa Maria Maggiore, the Pope stressed in his homily that it is «most fitting» that on the feast day, we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, above all, as «Mother of Mercy

«Mary is the Mother of God who forgives, who bestows forgiveness, and so we can rightly call her 'Mother of Forgiveness.'»

Noting that the word forgiveness is so misunderstood in today’s world, he stressed that the word actually points to the «new and original fruit» of Christian faith.

“A person unable to forgive has not yet known the fullness of love. Only one who truly loves is able to forgive and forget. At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves,” he said.  

Francis opened the Holy Door at the papal basilica, Rome's beloved Marian Basilica, where he regularly stops to pray to Mary, especially before and after papal trips. To inaugurate the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Francis opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, and just days later, he presided at the opening of the Holy Door at Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

First Vespers: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-homily-for-first-vespers-for-solemnity-of-mary-mother-of-god

Homily at St. Peters: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-homily-for-solemnity-of-mary-mother-of-god-in-st-peter-s-basilica

Angelus: (ZENIT Translation to be made available shortly)

Homily at Santa Maria Maggiore: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-homily-at-santa-maria-maggiore-on-new-year-s-day-for-opening-of-holy-door



Church Helps Eastern Europe With $2.5M for 99 Projects

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has approved 99 grants totaling nearly $2.5 million to fund projects such as church reconstruction, youth programs, evangelization initiatives and family ministry efforts.

«Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the countries of the former USSR have been struggling to create spaces for prayer and spiritual growth,» said Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. «Providing for all of the pastoral needs of those in that region can be a real challenge. These grants from the Subcommittee help meet such great need.»

Among the projects approved for support, the Subcommittee awarded a grant to Tervezz Természetesen Egyesület (TeTe) – Plan Naturally Association – located in the Diocese of Szombathely, Hungary. The funds will help establish a model for monitoring, maintaining and evaluating a woman's reproductive and gynecological health and offering natural solutions for infertility. TeTe will also create a professional office setting and purchase the technical equipment needed to provide pro-life medical services. In addition, they will translate English materials to Hungarian and help defray the cost of clients' registration for post-abortion retreats through the Hungarian Rachel's Vineyard Association.

The Subcommittee also awarded a grant to the Albertine Sisters in the Diocese of St. Joseph in Irkutsk, Russia. The grant will be used to build a daycare center to serve children from socially or economically disadvantaged families. The sisters currently provide care and meals for 50 children in a safe environment that fosters their growth and spiritual development. The new center will be centrally located for the families and will allow the sisters to continue their ministry.

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the annual collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe and the allocation of grants as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collecti
ons. The next collection is scheduled to take place on Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016, although some dioceses schedule the collection for a different date. 

More information about the collection and the work of the Subcommittee is available at www.usccb.org/ccee.



Church in US Marks National Migration Week

National Migration Week 2016 is underway in the United States this week with the theme, «A Stranger and You Welcomed Me.» The annual celebration provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by migrants, including children, refugees, and victims of human trafficking. 

The call to welcome the stranger plays an important role in the lives of faithful Christians and has a particularly central place in the Year of Mercy. «People often forget that the Holy Family themselves were refugees fleeing into Egypt,» said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration. «Likewise, refugees around the world, all of whom are extremely vulnerable, are fleeing for their lives. As Catholics, we are called to welcome and support these families who also need our help.»

As part of the 2016 National Migration Week celebration, the USCCB established a small grant program that will provide Catholic parishes, schools and other organizations funding to help them better integrate the Church's teaching on migration into new or existing programs, materials, events and other activities. Grant recipients will be announced during National Migration Week. 

The observance of National Migration Week began over 25 years ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them. The week serves as both a time for prayer and action to try and ease the struggles of immigrants, migrants and vulnerable populations coming to the United States. 

Dioceses across the country including Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; Jackson, Mississippi; and Metuchen, New Jersey; have planned special events and Masses throughout the week. 

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at www.usccb.org/nationalmigrationweek. Posters, prayer cards, and booklets are available through the USCCB publishing service at www.usccbpublishing.org



Irish Bishops: 100 Years After Easter Rising, 2016 Needs to Be Year for 'Radical Culture of Peace'

At the start of 2016, the Irish episcopal conference has released this message marking the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. They affirm: «It is time to challenge ourselves, however, to reflect on whether we have been sufficiently courageous in promoting a radical culture of peace.» 

Here is the message:

* * *

During the forthcoming year of 2016 people across the island of Ireland will mark the centenaries of the Easter Rising of April 1916, and the Battle of the Somme, which began the following July.  These events had a profound impact on national identity and shaped the political landscape in ways that can still be felt one hundred years later.  The commemorations thus have the potential to stimulate much-needed reflection on where we are as a society and what we want to achieve for the future.  Churches have a particular responsibility to outline the Christian values that shape our understanding of these transformative events and provide spaces where the challenging questions raised can be addressed in a spirit of understanding and compassion.

We are now over halfway through the ‘decade of centenaries’, a period that was approached with some trepidation because of the risk of reopening old wounds; thankfully these fears have not materialised.  The centenaries marked to date have provided a context for mature reflection and an opportunity to rediscover and re-engage with the experiences, hopes and fears of the generations that have gone before us.  Particularly positive have been those initiatives that have engaged young people in learning about this important period of our history.

The 1916 centenaries will be more challenging still, bringing to the fore the way in which the militarisation of politics and government – both on this island and across the world – impacted on society.  There is much that separates these two events, but there are also important common denominators, most notably the tragic loss of life – primarily the lives of young people, many of whom were prepared to give their lives for their values, for their vision of the nation and its place in the world.

As we approach these centenaries, the impact of armed conflict can still be felt, both here and throughout Europe.  In their endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, and support for local and international peace initiatives in the years since, the overwhelming majority of people throughout the island of Ireland have expressed their commitment to non-violent means of conflict resolution.  It is time to challenge ourselves, however, to reflect on whether we have been sufficiently courageous in promoting a radical culture of peace.

Historians, archivists and local historical societies have been working to make heard the voices of the past, putting the experience of those who participated in these events at the heart of the discussion.  An important theme emerging is the centrality of Christian faith in shaping people’s vision for society and what it means to be a citizen.  A related issue is the prominence of social justice in that vision – the values of freedom, human rights, solidarity and the common good were espoused by people from different traditions and identity.  It must not be forgotten that issues of identity were only part of a wider debate on equality and social and economic rights.

In the events of 1916, and in the years that followed, we can see how these values were obscured by the use of violence.  There have been significant steps towards reconciliation, at both the local and international level, but a legacy of suffering remains.  Many victims feel their pain is being ignored by the wider society in the hope that we can somehow move past it without having to face the difficult and uncomfortable questions posed.  There is an important role for Churches in nurturing healing conversations.  Remembrance can take many different forms.  Important questions in the planning of such events must be: Will this take us closer to a more caring and compassionate society?  How inclusive is our approach?  Who does not feel able to participate, and why?

These centenaries will coincide with the Holy Year of Mercy.  In announcing this Jubilee Year, Pope Francis recalled how the example of Christ in his love for the sinner, which goes beyond the demands of justice, “urges each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we have a person before us. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity everyone is capable of” (Announcement of the Jubilee of Mercy, March 2015).< /p>

The challenges before us as a society today – addressing violence and injustice, combatting poverty and social exclusion, adopting a fair and sustainable approach to the consumption of goods and resources, welcoming refugees and promoting respect for religious faith, culture and identity – will require generosity of spirit and an openness to new relationships.  Churches have a particular responsibility to bring a message of hope to those who are suffering and those who are feeling disconnected from society.  We remember Christ’s message to His disciples when He found them gathered in fear: “Peace be with you” (John 20: 19, 21, 26). 

In 2016 we need to hear a renewed commitment to peace articulated from all sectors of society, supported by a clear analysis of the remaining obstacles to peace, the threats to social cohesion, and the steps we need to take as a society to address them.



Pope's Homily for First Vespers for Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ homily during the celebration in St. Peter's Basilica, Jan. 31, of the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God, which was followed by exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional Te Deum hymn in thanksgiving for the past year, and Eucharistic Benediction.

* * *
How meaningful it is to be gathered together to praise the Lord at the end of this year!

On many occasions, the Church feels the joy and duty to raise her song to God with these words of praise, which since the fourth century accompany prayer in important moments of Her earthly pilgrimage. It is the joy of thanksgiving that emanates almost spontaneously from our prayer, to recognize the loving presence of God in the events of our history. As often happens, however, we feel that our voice is not enough in prayer. It is in need of reinforcement with the company of the whole People of God, which makes its song of thanksgiving heard in unison. Therefore, in the Te Deum we ask for the help of the angels, of the prophets and of the whole of creation to praise the Lord. With this hymn, we go over the history of salvation where, by God’s mysterious design, the different events of our life of this past year find a place and synthesis.

The last words of the hymn of the Church assume a special resonance in this Jubilee Year: “Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.” The company of mercy is light to understand better all that we have lived, and hope that accompanies us at the beginning of a new year.

To go over the days of the past year can be either a recalling of facts and events that refer to moments of joy or sorrow, or an endeavor to understand if we have perceived the presence of God who renews and sustains everything with His help. We are called to verify if the events of the world took place according to the Will of God, or if we have listened primarily to men’s plans, often charged with private interests, insatiable thirst for power and gratuitous violence.

And yet, today our eyes are in need of focusing in a particular way on the signs that God has given us, to touch with our hand the strength of His merciful love. We cannot forget that many days were marked by violence, by death, by the unspeakable suffering of so many innocents, of refugees constrained to leave their homeland, of men, women and children without a stable dwelling, food and support. Yet how many gestures of kindness, of love and solidarity have filled the days of this year, even if they did not make television news. Good things do not make news. These signs of love cannot and must not be obscured by the arrogance of evil. Good always conquers, even if at some moments it might seem weaker and hidden.

Our city of Rome is not a stranger to this condition of the whole world. I would like the sincere invitation, to reach all its inhabitants, to go beyond the difficulties of the present moment. May the commitment to recover the fundamental values of service, honesty and solidarity enable us to overcome the grave uncertainties that have dominated the scene this year, and which are symptoms of a scarce sense of dedication to the common good. May the positive contribution of Christian witness never be lacking, to enable Rome, in keeping with its history and with the maternal intercession of Mary Salus Populi Romani, to be the privileged interpreter of faith, of hospitality, of fraternity and of peace.

“We praise you, O God. […] In you, Lord, we put our trust: we shall not be put to shame.”

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

At the end of the Celebration of Vespers in the Basilica, the Holy Father made a brief visit to the Crib, set up next to the obelisk in Saint Peter’s Square.


Entry Into Force of Agreement Between Holy See, State of Palestine

Below is a Vatican-provided text regarding the Entry Into Force of the Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, which was published on Saturday:


With reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed on 26 June 2015, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled, under the terms of Article 30 of the same Agreement.

The Agreement, consisting of a Preamble and 32 articles, regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.


Pope Francis' Homily at Santa Maria Maggiore on New Year's Day for Opening of Holy Door


Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis' homily on New Year's Day evening, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, at Santa Maria Maggiore, where he opened the Door of Mercy:


Salve, Mater Misericordiae!

With this invocation we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Roman Basilica dedicated to her under the title of Mother of God. It is the first line of an ancient hymn which we will sing at the conclusion of this Holy Eucharist. Composed by an unknown author, it has come down to us as a heartfelt prayer spontaneously rising up from the hearts of the faithful: “Hail Mother of mercy, Mother of God, Mother of forgiveness, Mother of hope, Mother of grace and Mother full of holy gladness”. In these few words we find a summary of the faith of generations of men and women who, with their eyes fixed firmly on the icon of the Blessed Virgin, have sought her intercession and consolation.

It is most fitting that on this day we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary above all as Mother of mercy. The door we have opened is, in fact, a Door of Mercy. Those who cross its threshold are called to enter into the merciful love of the Father with complete trust and freedom from fear; they can leave this Basilica knowing – truly knowing – that Mary is ever at their side. She is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus, Emmanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5). The Son of God, made incarnate for our salvation, has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage through this life, so that we may never be left alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.

Mary is the Mother of God, she is the Mother of God who forgives, who bestows forgiveness, and so we can rightly call her Mother of forgiveness. This word – “forgiveness” – so misunderstood in today’s world, points to the new
and original fruit of Christian faith. A person unable to forgive has not yet known the fullness of love. Only one who truly loves is able to forgive and forget. At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves. At that moment she heard Jesus utter words which probably reflected what he had learned from her as a child: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:24). At that moment, Mary became for all of us the Mother of forgiveness. Following Jesus’ example and by his grace, she herself could forgive those who killed her innocent Son.

For us, Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it. The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits. Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back. The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet. There is no other way. It is for this purpose that the Holy Spirit made the Apostles the effective ministers of forgiveness, so what was obtained by the death of Jesus may reach all men and women in every age (cf.Jn 20:19-23).

The Marian hymn continues: “Mother of hope and Mother of grace, Mother of holy gladness”. Hope, grace and holy gladness are all sisters: they are the gift of Christ; indeed, they are so many names written on his body. The gift that Mary bestows in offering us Jesus is the forgiveness which renews life, enables us once more to do God’s will and fills us with true happiness. This grace frees the heart to look to the future with the joy born of hope. This is the teaching of the Psalm: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. […] Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (51:10,12). The power of forgiveness is the true antidote to the sadness caused by resentment and vengeance. Forgiveness leads to joy and serenity because it frees the heart from thoughts of death, whereas resentment and vengeance trouble the mind and wound the heart, robbing it of rest and peace. What horrible things are resentment and vengeance.

Let us, then, pass through the Holy Door of Mercy knowing that at our side is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who intercedes for us. Let us allow her to lead us to the rediscovery of the beauty of an encounter with her Son Jesus. Let us open wide the doors of our heart to the joy of forgiveness, conscious that we have been given new confidence and hope, and thus make our daily lives a humble instrument of God’s love.

And with the love and affection of children, let us cry out to Our Lady as did the faithful people of God in Ephesus during the historic Council: “Holy Mother of God!” I invite you to repeat together this acclamation three times, aloud and with all your heart and with all your love: “Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God! Holy Mother of God!”

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]



Pope's New Year's Day Homily in St. Peter's Basilica

Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Francis' homily in St. Peter's Basilica the morning of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on New Year's Day, which also marked the World Day of Peace:


We have heard the words of the Apostle Paul: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal4:4).

What does it mean to say that Jesus was born in “the fullness of time”? If we consider that particular moment of history, we might quickly be deluded. Rome had subjugated a great part of the known world by her military might. The Emperor Augustus had come to power after five civil wars. Israel itself had been conquered by the Roman Empire and the Chosen People had lost their freedom. For Jesus’ contemporaries, it was certainly not the best of times. To define the fullness of time, then, we should not look to the geopolitical sphere.

Another interpretation is needed, one which views that fullness from God’s standpoint. It is when God decided that the time had come to fulfil his promise, that the fullness of time came for humanity. History does not determine the birth of Christ; rather, his coming into the world enables history to attain its fullness. For this reason, the birth of the Son of God inaugurates a new era, a new computation of time, the era which witnesses the fulfilment of the ancient promise. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes: “God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the world. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (1:1-3). The fullness of time, then, is the presence of God himself in our history. Now we can see his glory, which shines forth in the poverty of a stable; we can be encouraged and sustained by his Word, made “little” in a baby. Thanks to him, our time can find its fullness. The use of our personal time can also find its fullness in the encounter with Jesus Christ, God made man.

Nonetheless, this mystery constantly clashes with the dramatic experience of human history. Each day, as we seek to be sustained by the signs of God’s presence, we encounter new signs to the contrary, negative signs which tend to make us think instead that he is absent. The fullness of time seems to fade before the countless forms of injustice and violence which daily wound our human family. Sometimes we ask ourselves how it is possible that human injustice persists unabated, and that the arrogance of the powerful continues to demean the weak, relegating them to the most squalid outskirts of our world. We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims. How can the fullness of time have come when we are witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights? A torrent of misery, swollen by sin, seems to contradict the fullness of time brought by Christ. Remember, dear pueri cantores, this was the third question you asked me yesterday: how do we explain this… even children are aware of this.

And yet this swollen torrent is powerless before the ocean of mercy which floods our world. All of us are called to immerse ourselves in this ocean, to let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing. The grace of Christ, which brings our hope of salvation to fulfilment, leads us to cooperate with him in building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God’s original creation.

At the beginning of a new year, the Church invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace. The ancient promise finds fulfilment in her person. She believed in the words of the angel, conceived her Son and thus became the Mother of the Lord. Through her, through her “yes”, the fullness of time came about. The Gospel we have just heard tells us that the Virgin Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright. Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotia
tion cannot arrive, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can arrive, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.

Blessed are you, Mary, for you gave the Son of God to our world. But even more blessed are you for having believed in him. Full of faith, you conceived Jesus first in your heart and then in your womb, and thus became the Mother of all believers (cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 215,4). Send us, O Mother, your blessing on this day consecrated to your honour. Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace. Amen.

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]



ANGELUS ADDRESS Jan. 3: On the Word Made Flesh

Below is the Vatican Radio provided translation of Pope Francis' Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter's Square: 


Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!

The liturgy of today, the second Sunday after Christmas, presents to us the Prologue of the Gospel of Saint John, in which is proclaimed that “the Word” – that is, the creative Word of God – “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). That Word, which dwells in heaven, that is, in the dimension of God, came to earth so that we might listen and be able to know and touch with our hand the love of the Father. The Word of God is Himself the Only-begotten Son, made man, full of love and of faithfulness (cfr. Jn 1:14), Jesus Himself.

The Evangelist does not hide the dramatic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, emphasizing that the gift of the love of God is matched with the non-reception on the part of men. The Word is the light, and yet men have preferred the darkness; the Word came unto His own, but they did not receive Him (cfr. vv. 9-10); they closed the door in the face of the Son of God. It is the mystery of evil that insinuates [itself] into our lives, too, and that demands vigilance and care on our part so that it will not prevail. The book of Genesis says – in a good phrase that makes us understand this – it says that evil “lies in wait at our door” (cfr. Gn 4:7). Woe to us if we allow it to enter; it would then close our door to anyone else. Instead we are called to throw open the door of our heart to the Word of God, to Jesus, in order thus to become His children.

This solemn beginning of the Gospel was already proclaimed on: Christmas today; today it is proposed to us once more. It is the invitation of Holy Mother Church to welcome this Word of salvation, this mystery of light. If we welcome Him, if we welcome Jesus, we will grow in understanding and in the love of the Lord, we will learn to be merciful as He is. Especially in this Holy Year of Mercy, let us make sure that the Gospel becomes ever more incarnate in our own lives too. Drawing near to the Gospel, meditating on it and incarnating it in daily life is the best way to understand Jesus and bring Him to others. This is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: showing Jesus and giving Him to others; but to do that we have to know Him and have Him within us, as the Lord of our life. And He will defend us from evil, from the devil. He is always lying in wait by our door, and wants to enter.

With a renewed burst of filial abandonment, let us entrust ourselves once again to Mary: Let us contemplate the sweet image of the mother of Jesus and our mother in these days of the manger.

[Original Text: Italian] [Translation by Vatican Radio]

After the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I express cordial greetings to you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims who have come from Italy and other countries. I greet the families, associations, various parish groups, in particular that of Monzambano, the confirmation candidates of Bonate Sotto and the young people Maleo.

On this first Sunday of the year, I renew to everyone wishes of peace and of the goodness of the Lord. In happy times and in those that are sad, let us trust in Him Who is our compassion and our hope! I also remember the commitment we made for New Year's, the World Day of Peace: «Overcome Indifference and Win Peace»; with the grace of God, we can put it into practice. And also I remember the advice that I have given you many times: Every day, read a passage from the Gospel, a passage from the Gospel, to know Jesus better, to open our hearts wide to Jesus, and so we can make it better known to others. Bring a small Gospel in your pocket, in your bag: It will do us well. Do not forget: Every day, we read a passage from the Gospel.

I wish you good Sunday and good lunch. And please, please, do not forget to pray for me. See you soon.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]


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