Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy New Year

Blessed Advent to all.

Last night, the Pope kicked off the new liturgical year with First Vespers in St Peter's. He continued the theme this morning with his Sunday Angelus, which also contained some reflections on what he was up to this week.

Here's the translation:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Together with you, I wish to thank the Lord one more time for the Apostolic Voyage to Turkey which I undertook in these past days: in it I felt accompanied and sustained by the prayer of the entire Christian community. To all my heartfelt thanks! Next Wednesday, during the General Audience, I'll be speaking in a more extensive manner about this unforgettable spiritual and pastoral experience from which I hope many good fruits will spring for an ever-more sincere cooperation among all the disciples of Christ and for a profitable dialogue with Muslim believers. I'm impelled now to renew my gratitude to all those who organized the trip, and contributed in various ways to its peaceful and fruitful progression. I send a special thought to the Authorities of Turkey and to all the friendly Turkish people, who reserved for me a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality.

I'd like to recall with renewed affection the dear Catholic community that lives on Turkish soil. I think of it as, on this Sunday, we enter into the time of Advent. I was able to meet and celebrate the Holy Mass together with these brothers and sisters of ours, who find themselves in conditions which aren't often easy. It's truly a small flock, diverse, rich in enthusiasm and in faith that, we can say, lives constantly and in a strong way the experience of Advent sustained by hope. In Advent the liturgy repeats to us often and assures us, so to conquer our natural distrust, that God "comes": he comes to be among us, in each of our situations; he comes to live in our midst, to live with us and in us; he comes to overwhelm the distances that divide us and separate us; he comes to reconcile ourselves with Him and with each other. He comes in the history of humanity, to knock on the door of each man and of each woman of good will, to bring to individuals, to families and to peoples the gift of fraternity, of concord and of peace. For this, Advent is par excellence the time of hope, in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in a watchful and industrious vigil, fed by prayer and the active pledge of love. May the coming Birth of Christ replenish the hearts of all Christians with joy, with serenity and with peace!

To live this period of Advent in the most authentic and fruitful way, the liturgy exhorts us to look to Mary Most Holy, and ideally to place ourselves together with her on the path to the Grotto of Bethlehem. When God knocked on the door of her young live, she welcomed him with faith and love. In the coming days we will contemplate her in the luminous mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Finding ourselves attracted by her beauty, reflective of the divine glory, may "the God who comes" find in each one of us a good and open heart that he may overwhelm with his gifts.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....