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    » 12/13/2009, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: The crib is a school of life, to learn the secret of true joy



    Thousands of children in St Peter's Square for the blessing of the "Infant Jesus", "Benedict XVI tells them that the crib, as it was for St. Francis, is to discover that Jesus is the centre of life, and that the love of God urges us to" make a gift of ourselves to others” even in the midst of “discomfort”, "poverty”, "exclusion". Prayers for four missionaries killed in recent days in Congo, Kenya, South Africa.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Nativity Scene, the dramatic representation of the birth of Jesus is not just a repetition of a traditional gesture, but "a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy," which "does not consist in having many things":  this was Benedict XVI’s message to the thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus the third Sunday of Advent. Among the faithful there were at least 2 thousand children who had brought their statues of the Infant Jesus to be blessed by the Pope, before they place them in the manager this Christmas Eve.

    The pontiff spoke to them directly: "I see here in St. Peter's Square so many children and teenagers, along with parents, teachers and catechists. Dear friends, I greet you all with great affection and I thank you for coming. It gives me great joy to know that in your family the tradition of the Nativity Scene is still kept. But it is not enough to repeat a traditional gesture, however important. Try to live in the reality of every day what the crib is, the love of Christ, his humility, his poverty. This is what St. Francis did in Greccio: he created a living Nativity scene, to be able to contemplate and adore it, but above all to know how best to put into practice the message of the Son of God who for our sakes was stripped of everything and became a little child”.

    For several years the crib has been the centre of much controversy in Italy, similar to recent polemics surrounding the public exposure of the crucifix. In the past it was set up in public places: schools, stations, shops. But different secularist personalities claim that the Nativity Scene is an attack on the religious freedom of others and for this, especially in schools, they prefer not display it.

    The pope did not mention this controversy; instead he emphasized the value of this simple tradition: "The crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in having so many things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in becoming a gift for others and loving one another. Let us look at the Nativity Scene: the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph do not seem like a very lucky family, they had their first child in the midst of great hardship, and yet are filled with deep joy, because they love each other, help each other and, above all, are certain that in their history God is at work, present in the Infant Jesus.  And the shepherds? What reason would they have to rejoice? That baby will not change their condition of poverty and marginalization. But faith helps them to recognize in the 'infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger', the 'sign' of the fulfillment of the promises of God for all men 'whom he loves' (Luke 2,12.14), even for them!” .

    "This, dear friends - concluded Benedict XVI - is what true joy is; the feeling that our personal and community lives are visited and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God’s love.  We need more than things to rejoice, we need love and truth: we need a God close at hand, who warms our hearts, and responds to our deepest yearnings. This God was manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. So that Child, that we put in the manger or cave, is the centre of everything, He is the heart of the world. We pray that every man, like the Virgin Mary, may accept as a centre of their lives the God who became a Child, the source of true joy".

    After the Marian prayer, in greetings, the Pope recalled the deaths of four missionaries killed in recent days in Africa: Fr. Daniel Cizimya (killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo), Fr. Louis Blondel (South Africa), Fr. Gerry Roche (Kenya), Sr Denise Kahambu (DR of Congo). They, said the pontiff, " have been faithful witnesses to the Gospel, who were able to proclaim with courage, even risking their lives. While I express my closeness to the families and communities who are in pain, I invite everyone to join me in praying that the Lord will accept them in his house, to console those who mourn their loss and bring with His coming, reconciliation and peace. "

    Photo: CPP

     

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    See also

    23/12/2011 VATICAN
    Choirs and music from around the world at the Pope’s Nativity scence
    In the presence of Card. Comastri and Mgr. Bertello, a choir of 100 children and adults will sing Christmas hymns of St.Alfonso de 'Liguori. Songs in German, English and Spanish will be also performed. Then, the Pope will look out of his studio window to light the candle of peace, awaiting the celebration of Christmas.

    22/12/2010 VATICAN
    Pope: prepare for Christmas not only decorating our homes, but also purifying our souls
    Clearing from our consciousness and our life all that is contrary to the coming of God who became a child, to do good, to contribute and realise peace and justice for every man in this world and in this way journey towards the Lord. The Nativity scene a "genuine witness to Christian faith."

    29/06/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Rome, unity and mission to all peoples at feast of Peter and Paul
    Benedict XVI emphasises the mission of the two apostles, and that of the see of Rome, to emphasise the unity and universality of the Catholic faith. Also present Bartholomew I, patriarch of Constantinople, in Rome for the beginning of the Pauline Year. The pontiff gave 40 archbishops the pallium, sign of Christ's "care" for humanity and of collegial communion with the pope.

    21/12/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Christmas, the solstice, and astronomy
    Benedict XVI recalls that the feast of the Nativity of Christ is celebrated in conjunction with the winter solstice, and that it has a "cosmic dimension." A greeting to all of those involved in the worldwide year of astronomy, a science respected and practiced by many popes as well.

    14/03/2010 VATICAN
    Pope: we contemplate the Father's heart, in the parable of the prodigal son
    Benedict XVI says that the parable that reveals God as the Father of Mercy is the basis of our culture, art and civilization.



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