Saturday, December 08, 2012

On the Immaculate's Day, The Pope's "Santa" Duty

In one of the more cherished rites of Rome's calendar, later today the city's bishop takes to the streets to pay the traditional 8 December homage to the figure of the Immaculate Conception which tops a pillar in Piazza di Spagna, at the heart of the city's shopping district.

For the natives, the moment has come to hold a significance akin to the arrival of Santa Claus at the end of Thanksgiving parades – the start of the imminent run-up to Christmas. And clad in the red velvet and ermine mozzetta last worn by Paul VI (with its very conspicuous resemblance to a Santa suit), B16 has done his part to oblige.

The omaggio takes place at 4pm Rome time (10am Eastern; 1500GMT); albeit in Italian, the liturgical program is posted, and a livestream will be viewable through the Vatican's video player, which is set to be augmented by Monday's launch of "The Pope App" – a platform bringing news and event streaming to iOS devices (an Android edition is set for release in January).

In the meanwhile, buona festa a tutti... and with the pontiff's Twitter feed set to launch Wednesday, and a general eye to the season, here's a replay of Benedict's 2011 lighting of the "world's biggest Christmas tree" – a 2,500-foot high display of lights spanning an Umbrian mountain-side – with the tap of a tablet:

For those given to "The Annual Advent Argument," the preceding took place last December 7th... that said, an English translation of what he said above:
Before lighting the tree I would like to make a simple threefold wish. This large Christmas Tree is located on the slopes of Mount Ingino at the peak of which, as the Bishop recalled, the Basilica of the Patron of Gubbio, Saint Ubald, stands. Looking at it our gaze naturally turns upward, towards Heaven, towards the world of God. 
The first wish, then, is that our gaze, that of the mind and the heart, may not only pause at the horizon of our world, at material things, but be a little like this tree, knowing how to be drawn above and how to turn to God. He never forgets us but also asks us not to forget him! 
The Gospel tells us that on the night of holy Christmas a light shone on the shepherds (cf. Lk 2:9-11) announcing to them a great joy: the birth of Jesus, the One who comes to bring light, rather the One who is the true Light that enlightens every man (cf. Jn 1:9). The large tree, which will soon be lit, overlooks the city of Gubbio and will illuminate with its light the dark of the night. 
The second wish is that it may serve as a reminder that we too need light that can illumine the path of our life and which gives us hope, especially in our time when we particularly feel the burden of difficulties, problems, suffering and a veil of darkness seems to envelope us. But what light is truly able to illuminate our heart and give us hope, firm and sure? It is the Child himself, whom we contemplate at holy Christmas in a simple and poor grotto, because it is the Lord who comes near to every one of us and asks that we welcome him again into our life, asks that we love him and trust in him, to feel his presence, he is with us, he sustains us and he helps us. 
This large tree is made up of many lights. The last wish that I would like to make is that everyone may know how to bring a little light to the places where they live: in the family, at work, in the neighbourhood, in towns, in cities. May each of us be a light for those nearby; may we step out of the selfishness which often closes hearts and makes us think only of ourselves; may we give a little attention and love to others. Every small act of kindness is like a light of this great tree. Together with other lights it is able to illuminate the obscurity of the night, even the darkest. 
Thank you and may the Lord’s light and blessing rest upon you all.