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On Bambinelli Sunday, Pope Gives Children Advice for Praying in Front of Baby Jesus

A Week Ahead of Christmas, Francis Also Warns Against Taking Jesus Out of Christmas

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In order to help faithful and little ones prepare for the true meaning of Christmas, Pope Francis has given faithful,  and little ones, advice, during today’s Angelus.
Today, Gaudete Sunday, is the traditional Bambinelli Sunday, when children from across Italy bring their figurines of the Baby Jesus for a blessing at the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.
In his address to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis  reminded faithful that the past Sundays, the liturgy has stressed what it means to put oneself in an attitude of vigilance, and what it entails concretely to prepare the way of the Lord.
However, in this Third Sunday of Advent, called the “Sunday of joy,” the Pope noted, «the liturgy invites us to receive the spirit with which all this happens, that is, exactly, joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, persevering prayer and constant thanksgiving.”
The first attitude that St. Paul calls for is constant joy: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
«It means to remain always in joy, even when things don’t go according to our desires, and when there are anxieties, difficulties and sufferings, Francis said, noting, «Jesus came on earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can communicate, and to give joy.»
The second attitude, he continued, requires–as St. Paul said–praying constantly.
«Through prayer, we can enter a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not purchased, it can’t be bought, it comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason of our happiness. And the more we are rooted in Christ, the closer we are to Jesus, the more we rediscover interior serenity, even in the midst of daily contradictions.»
The third attitude pointed out is constant thanksgiving, namely, grateful love in our relationship with God. «In fact, He is very generous with us, and we are invited to be grateful always for His benefits, His merciful love, His patience and kindness, thus living in incessant gratitude.»
Joy, prayer and gratitude, the Holy Father said, are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas genuinely.
«Let us all say it together: joy, prayer and gratitude [the people in the Square repeat it] Once again! [They repeat it].  In this last stretch of the Season of Advent, we entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is the “cause of our joy,” not only because she generated Jesus, but because she sends us continually to Him.»
After the midday prayer, the Pope affectionately greeted the children that have come for the blessing of the “Baby Jesus’s.”
The Pontiff gave them the following advice: «When you pray at home, before the Crib with members of your family, let yourselves be drawn by the tenderness of Baby Jesus, born poor and frail in our midst, to give us His love.»
Francis said this is the ‘true Christmas.’
«If we take Jesus away, what remains of Christmas? An empty celebration. Don’t take Jesus away from Christmas! Jesus is the center of Christmas; Jesus is the true Christmas! Understood?»
Pope Francis, as usual, concluded wishing those present a good Sunday and good lunch, and asking those present to pray for him.
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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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