Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Following the Angelus prayer recited together with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter Square, the first greeting of Benedict XVI was dedicated to Devasahayam Pillar, a Catholic layman beatified today at Kottar, India.
"Today" -the pope said - " at Kattar India Devasahayam Pillai has been beatified, a lay faithful who lived in the 18th century and died as a martyr. We share the joy of the Church in India and we pray that the new beatified will uphold the faith of the Christians in that great and noble nation". Devasahayam Pillai was a hindu dignitary, converted to the Catholic faith by the examplary behaviour of a Captain of the Dutch navy and he died as a martyr in 1752.
Prior to the Angelus, Benedict XVI explained the true sense behind Advent which began yesterday with the vespers recited by the Pope together with the university students of Rome. The Roman students handed over the icon of "Mary, salvation of the Roman people" to young university students of Rio de Janeiro, where the next World Youth Day will be held.
"The word Advent" - the pope explained - "means coming or presence. In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor in a province; in the Christian meaning of the termi it refers to the coming of God, to God's presence in the world; a mystery that encompasses entirely the cosmos and history, but that experiences two culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is the Incarnation; the second is His glorious coming at the end of time. While these two moments are chronologically distant from one another - and we do not know how distant they may be - in depth they touch each other because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already transformed man and the cosmos which is the final goal of creation.
But before the end of time, all his enemies must be at his feet (Cor. 15, 25; Sal 110,1). This plan of God's salvation which is always occurring, calls continously for man's free adherence and collaboration; and the Church, who is like the fiancee, the promised bewed of the Lamb of God crucified and resurrected (Ap 21,9) lives in memory of Her Lord and waits for His return. It is a time of waiting lived out in vigil and constructive hope."
In order to wait for the Lord, one must adopt a certain way of life. "In Luke's Gospel" - the Pope added - "Jesus said to the disciples "Your hearts should not be weighed down with dissipation, drunkedness and life's worries...be aware every moment in prayer" (Luke 21, 34.36). Therefore sobriety and prayer. And the Apostle Paul adds the invitation to "grow in love among yourselves and towards everyone, in order to strengthen our hearts and be irreproachable in sainthood (1 Ts 3, 12-13).
In the midst of turmoil around the world, and deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians should welcome God's salvation and witness it by a different way of life, like a city placed above a mountain top...The community of faithful is the sign of God's love, of His justice that is always present in history but which has not yet entirely fulfilled, and therefore must always be longed for, envoked and searched out with patience and courage".
"The Virgin Mary" - he concluded - "embodies perfectly the spirit of Advent, which calls for listening to God, desiring to do His will, serving joyfully one another. Let us be guided by her so that God who is coming may not find us aloof or distracted but can in each one of us extend His reign of love, justice and peace".
After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI also recalled that tomorrow we celebrate the International Day for the Rights of Disabled people. "Every person" - the pope said - "even with his/her physical and psychological limits, even serious ones, has always an inestimable value and as such he/she must always be recognized. I encourage church communities to be welcoming and caring towards these brothers and sisters. I exhort legislators and leaders to protect people with disabilities and promote their full participation in society."