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Sunday, December 08, 2013
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On Marian feast, Pope Francis prays for holiness
12/8/2013 12:29:00 PM
Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2013 / 11:29 am (
).- On a day dedicated to celebrating the Mother of God, Pope Francis made a special trip in Rome to pray before a traditional statue of Mary.
“Enkindle in all of us a renewed desire for holiness: may our words glow with the splendor of truth, may our works resound with the song of charity, may purity and chastity live in our bodies and in our hearts, may our lives express the presence of all the beauty of the gospel,” he prayed on Dec. 8.
Pope Francis had crossed the city to Piazza di Spagna, where on the top of a tall ancient Roman column stands a statue of the Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.”
On the eighth of December every year, the Catholic Church celebrates the solemn feast of Mary’s conception without sin. It is customary for the Pope to pay an annual visit to the image, which was originally dedicated in 1857.
The pontiff stood at the base of the column, which was surrounded by flowers. He bowed his head as a choir sang and asked for Mary’s intercession under her various titles.
“Help us to attentively listen to the voice of the Lord: let not the cry of the poor ever leave us indifferent, may the suffering of the sick and of those who are in need not find us inattentive, may the solitude of the elderly and the weakness of children move us, may every human life be loved and respected by all,” the pontiff asked.
“Don’t let us forget the meaning of our earthly journey: may the noble light of faith illumine our days, the consoling strength of hope orient our steps, the consoling warmth of love animate our heart, may our eyes always remain fixed there, in God, where there is true joy.”
After his prayers in Piazza di Spagna, Pope Francis was scheduled to travel by car to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, which houses the Byzantine Marian icon “Salus Populi Romani” or “Protectress of the Roman People.” The Pope has gone to pray before this image before, and had it brought to St. Peter's Square in September during a prayer vigil for peace.
Pope says Mary's whole existence is 'yes' to God
12/8/2013 10:52:00 AM
Vatican City, Dec 8, 2013 / 09:52 am (
).- On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis focused his Sunday Angelus message on the importance of Mary as a model for the Christian life.
“The Virgin Mary is not far from this love (of God): all of her life, all of her being is a ‘yes’ to God,” he said to the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square Dec. 8.
“Let us look at her, and let us look to her,” encouraged Pope Francis, “in order to be more humble, and even more courageous in following the Word of God, to receive the tender embrace of her son Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope, and peace.”
Mary’s ‘yes’ to God “was certainly not easy for her!” he exclaimed. “When the angel called her ‘full of grace’ she remained ‘troubled,’ because in her humility she felt unworthy before God.”
Despite her concerns, “Mary listens, obeying interiorly and responds, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word’.”
This witness serves as an example for every Christian. “With great joy the Church contemplates Mary as ‘full of grace’,” Pope Francis explained. He encouraged the crowds to repeat with him, “full of grace!”
Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, but “we too… are chosen by God to live a life of holiness, free from sin. It is a project of love that God renews every time we come close to him, especially in the sacraments,” the Pope said.
“Mary sustains us in our journey towards Christmas, because she teaches us to live this time of Advent in waiting for the Lord.”
Pope Francis recalled Mary’s humble origins.
“The Gospel of Luke presents us with a young girl from Nazareth, a little place in Galilee, on the periphery of the Roman Empire and also on the periphery of Israel. Yet upon her was the gaze of the Lord, who chose her to be the mother of His Son.”
“The mystery of this young girl from Nazareth, which is in the heart of God, is not irrelevant to us,” reflected the pontiff. “In fact, God places his gaze of love on every man and every woman.”
The Pope noted that the second Sunday of Advent this year falls on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
“On this feast day, then, contemplating our Immaculate Mother, we also recognize our true destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love.”
The pontiff then led the crowds in the traditional Angelus prayer. Afterward, he greeted the pilgrim groups present. He said that he was particularly close to the Church in North America, which on Sunday “recalls the foundation of its first parish, 350 years ago, ‘Notre Dame de Quebec’.”
Pope Francis concluded by asking everyone to join him in prayer later Sunday afternoon at the Piazza di Spanga, at the base of Rome’s famous Spanish Steps. There, he will follow an ancient tradition of praying at the base of a monument to Mary to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The Pope ended his remarks by wishing the crowds a good feast day and a good lunch.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
12/7/2013 11:00:00 PM
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, "Ineffabilis Deus," clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for Her.Every person is called to recognize and respond to Godâ€™s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out Godâ€™s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.Maryâ€™s â€œLet it be done to me according to Thy Word,â€� in response of the Angel Gabrielâ€™s greeting is the response required of all Christians to Godâ€™s Plan. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of Godâ€™s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.â€œThe word of the Lord came to me thus: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." (Jeremiah 1:5-6)
First Reading - Is 11:1-10
12/7/2013 11:00:00 PM
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. 3 And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. 4 But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. 5 And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk. 9 They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea. 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.
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