While highlighting that Christmas is a day of great joy, he stressed it is a primarily religious event for which spiritual preparation is needed.
“God comes to establish His dominion in our history, in the ‘today’ of every day of our lives; and where it is accepted with faith and humility, love, joy and peace flourish.”
“In this Advent season, let us be guided by the exhortation of John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (v. 3).”
Accordingly, Francis encouraged all faithful to “examine our conscience, watch our attitudes,” and “chase away these sinful attitudes,” which come from the devil.
Before reciting the midday prayer, the Pontiff prayed that the Virgin Mary “prepare the encounter with this always greater love, which is what Jesus brings.”
Pope Francis recalled that this Thursday, Dec. 8, marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, where, as tradition holds, the Pope annually goes to the Spanish steps, a popular shopping area of Rome, to venerate the Blessed Mother where she is positioned above an obelisk. Crowds await the Pope’s arrival. On this day, the Pope noted, we will “pray together, asking her maternal intercession for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace.”
Pope Francis concluded, reminding those present to pray for him, have a good lunch, and saying, “See you Thursday!”