Benedict XVI Homilies 31112


Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The atmosphere of the Communion of Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is present and alive in our hearts. The liturgy has enabled us to live it intensely in the celebrations of the past few days. In particular, visiting cemeteries has allowed us to renew our bond with those loved ones who have left us; death, paradoxically, preserves what life cannot retain. We discover how our deceased lived, what they loved, feared and hoped, what they rejected, in a singular way from their tombs, that have remained almost as a mirror of their existence, of their world — challenging us and inducing us to reestablish a dialogue that death has put in jeopardy. Thus, the burial places are a kind of assembly, in which the living meet their dead and reaffirm the bonds of communion that death was unable to stop. And here in Rome, in these singular cemeteries, namely the catacombs, we see, as in no other place, the deep links to early Christianity, that we feel so close. When we step into the corridors of the catacombs in Rome — as in those cemeteries in our cities and in our towns — it is as though we were crossing an immaterial threshold and entering into communication with those who guard their past, made of joy and sorrow, of loss and of hope there. This happens because death concerns man today just as it did then; and even if many things of the past have become estranged to us, death remains the same.

In the face of this reality, the human being of every age searches for a glimmer of light that brings hope, that still speaks of life, and visiting graves also expresses this desire. But how should we Christians respond to the question of death? We respond with faith in God, with a gaze of firm hope founded on the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, death opens to life, to eternal life, which is not an infinite duplicate of the present time, but something completely new. Faith tells us that the true immortality for which we hope is not an idea, a concept, but a relationship of full communion with the living God: it is resting in his hands, in his love, and becoming in him one with all the brothers and sisters that he has created and redeemed, with all Creation. Our hope, then, lies in the love of God that shines resplendent from the Cross of Christ who lets Jesus’ words to the good thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (
Lc 23,43) resound in our heart. This is life in its fullness: life in God; a life of which we now have only a glimpse as one sees blue sky through fog.

In this atmosphere of faith and prayer, dear Brothers, we are gathered around the altar to offer this Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who, during the course of this past year, have ended their earthly existence. In a special way, we recall our beloved Brother Cardinals: John Patrick Foley, Anthony Bevilacqua, José Sánchez, Ignace Moussa Daoud, Luis Aponte Martínez, Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, Eugênio de Araújo Sales, Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, Carlo Maria Martini, Fortunato Baldelli. We extend our affectionate memory to all the late Archbishops and Bishops, asking the Lord, who is righteous, merciful and just (cf. Ps 116[114]:5), to grant them the eternal reward promised to the faithful servants of the Gospel.

Thinking of the witness of these our venerated Brothers, we acknowledge them as “mild”, “merciful”, “pure of heart”, “peacemakers” disciples of whom the Lord spoke in the Gospel passage (Mt 5,1-12): friends of the Lord who, trusting in his promise, in times of struggle and persecution, kept the joy of the faith, and now dwell for ever in the house of the Father and enjoy the heavenly reward, filled with happiness and grace. The Pastors we remember today served the Church with fidelity and love, at times facing burdensome trials, in order to reassure the flock entrusted to their care and attention. In the variety of their gifts and tasks, they gave an example of diligent supervision, of wise and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, offering a precious contribution to the post-conciliar period, a time of renewal for the whole Church.

The Eucharistic table, to which they drew near, first as faithful and then, daily, as ministers, anticipates in a most eloquent way what the Lord promised in his “Sermon on the Mount”: possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, participation in the meal of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray that this be done for all. Our prayer is nourished by this firm hope that “does not disappoint” (Rm 5,5), for it is guaranteed by Christ who wanted to live in the flesh the experience of death in order to triumph over it with the miraculous event of the Resurrection. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Lc 24,5-6). This announcement proclaimed by the Angels on Easter morning before the empty tomb, has reached us down the centuries and it offers us, in this liturgical celebration too, the essential reason for our hope. In fact, “if we have died with Christ”, says St Paul alluding to what occurs at Baptism, “we believe that we shall also live with him” (Rm 6,8). It is the same Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God was poured into our hearts, who ensures us that our hope is not in vain (cf. Rom Rm 5,5). God the Father, rich in mercy, who gave his only Son up unto death when we were still sinners — how will he fail to grant us salvation now that we are justified by his blood (cf. Rm 5,6-11)? Our justice is based on faith in Christ. He is the “just man”, foretold in all the Scriptures; it is thanks to his Pascal Mystery that, by crossing the threshold of death, our eyes will behold God, contemplate his face (cf. Job Jb 19,27).

The singular human existence of the Son of God is accompanied by his Most Holy Mother, who, alone among all creatures, we venerate as Immaculate and full of grace. Our Brother Cardinals and Bishops, whom we remember today, were loved with preference by the Virgin Mary and reciprocated her love with filial devotion. To her motherly intercession today we wish to entrust their souls, that by her they may be led to the eternal Kingdom of the Father, surrounded by so many of their faithful for whom they offered their lives. May Mary, with her loving gaze, watch over them watch over them who now sleep in peace awaiting the blessed resurrection. And we lift up our prayers to God for them, sustained by the hope of meeting again one day, united forever in Paradise. Amen.


HOLY MASS WITH THE NEW CARDINALS Vatican Basilica Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe Sunday, 25 November 2012

Your Eminences,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, is enriched by our reception into the College of Cardinals of six new members whom, following tradition, I have invited to celebrate the Eucharist with me this morning. I greet each of them most cordially and I thank Cardinal James Michael Harvey for the gracious words which he addressed to me in the name of all. I greet the other Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as the distinguished civil Authorities, Ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful, especially those coming from the Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral care of the new Cardinals.

In this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to celebrate the Lord Jesus as King of the Universe. She calls us to look to the future, or more properly into the depths, to the ultimate goal of history, which will be the definitive and eternal kingdom of Christ. He was with the Father in the beginning, when the world was created, and he will fully manifest his lordship at the end of time, when he will judge all mankind. Today’s three readings speak to us of this kingdom. In the Gospel passage which we have just heard, drawn from the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus appears in humiliating circumstances – he stands accused – before the might of Rome. He had been arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation to death by crucifixion. They had presented him to Pilate as one who sought political power, as the self-proclaimed King of the Jews. The Roman procurator conducts his enquiry and asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (
Jn 18,33). In reply to this question, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship and his messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves. He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign: “My kingship is not of this world … is not from the world” (v. 36).

Jesus clearly had no political ambitions. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people, enthralled by the miracle, wanted to take him away and make him their king, in order to overthrow the power of Rome and thus establish a new political kingdom which would be considered the long-awaited kingdom of God. But Jesus knows that God’s kingdom is of a completely different kind; it is not built on arms and violence. The multiplication of the loaves itself becomes both the sign that he is the Messiah and a watershed in his activity: henceforth the path to the Cross becomes ever clearer; there, in the supreme act of love, the promised kingdom, the kingdom of God, will shine forth. But the crowd does not understand this; they are disappointed and Jesus retires to the mountain to pray in solitude, to pray with the Father (cf. Jn 6,1-15). In the Passion narrative we see how even the disciples, though they had shared Jesus’ life and listened to his words, were still thinking of a political kingdom, brought about also by force. In Gethsemane, Peter had unsheathed his sword and began to fight, but Jesus stopped him (cf. Jn 18,10-11). He does not wish to be defended by arms, but to accomplish the Father’s will to the end, and to establish his kingdom not by armed conflict, but by the apparent weakness of life-giving love. The kingdom of God is a kingdom utterly different from earthly kingdoms.

That is why, faced with a defenceless, weak and humiliated man, as Jesus was, a man of power like Pilate is taken aback; taken aback because he hears of a kingdom and servants. So he asks an apparently odd question: “So you are a king?” What sort of king can such a man as this be? But Jesus answers in the affirmative: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (18:37). Jesus speaks of kings and kingship, yet he is not referring to power but to truth. Pilate fails to understand: can there be a power not obtained by human means? A power which does not respond to the logic of domination and force? Jesus came to reveal and bring a new kingship, that of God; he came to bear witness to the truth of a God who is love (cf. 1Jn 4,8), who wants to establish a kingdom of justice, love and peace (cf. Preface). Whoever is open to love hears this testimony and accepts it with faith, to enter the kingdom of God.

We find this same perspective in the first reading we heard. The prophet Daniel foretells the power of a mysterious personage set between heaven and earth: “Behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (7:13-14). These words present a king who reigns from sea to sea, to the very ends of the earth, possessed of an absolute power which will never be destroyed. This vision of the prophet, a messianic vision, is made clear and brought to fulfilment in Christ: the power of the true Messiah, the power which will never pass away or be destroyed, is not the power of the kingdoms of the earth which rise and fall, but the power of truth and love. In this way we understand how the kingship proclaimed by Jesus in the parables and openly and explicitly revealed before the Roman procurator, is the kingship of truth, the one which gives all things their light and grandeur.

In the second reading, the author of the Book of Revelation states that we too share in Christ’s kingship. In the acclamation addressed “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”, he declares that Christ “has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (1:5-6). Here too it is clear that we are speaking of a kingdom based on a relationship with God, with truth, and not a political kingdom. By his sacrifice, Jesus has opened for us the path to a profound relationship with God: in him we have become true adopted children and thus sharers in his kingship over the world. To be disciples of Jesus, then, means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God’s love. The author of the Book of Revelation broadens his gaze to include Jesus’ second coming to judge mankind and to establish forever his divine kingdom, and he reminds us that conversion, as a response to God’s grace, is the condition for the establishment of this kingdom (cf. 1:7). It is a pressing invitation addressed to each and all: to be converted ever anew to the kingdom of God, to the lordship of God, of Truth, in our lives. We invoke the kingdom daily in the prayer of the “Our Father” with the words “Thy kingdom come”; in effect we say to Jesus: Lord, make us yours, live in us, gather together a scattered and suffering humanity, so that in you all may be subjected to the Father of mercy and love.

To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen.



“He who calls you is faithful” (
1Th 5,24).

Dear University Students,

The Apostle Paul’s words guide us to understanding the true meaning of the Liturgical Year which we are beginning this evening with the recitation of First Vespers of Advent. The whole journey of the Church Year is orientated to discovering and living fidelity to the God of Jesus Christ who will be presented to us once again, in the Grotto of Bethlehem, in the face of a Child. The entire history of salvation is a journey of love, mercy and benevolence: from Creation to the liberation of the People of Israel from slavery in Egypt, to the gift of the Law on Sinai, to the return to the homeland from the Babylonian captivity. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was always the close God who never abandoned his People. On several occasions he suffered their infidelity with sadness and patiently awaited their return, ever with the freedom of a love that precedes and sustains the beloved, attentive to his or her dignity and deepest expectations.

God did not withdraw into his heaven but lowered himself to man’s experience: a great mystery that succeeds in surpassing every possible expectation. God entered human time in the most unthinkable way: by making himself a child and going through the stages of human life, so that our whole existence, spirit, soul and body — as St Paul has reminded us — might be kept blameless and be raised to God’s heights. And he did all this out of his faithful love for humanity. When love is true, by its nature it strives for the good of others, for their greatest possible good. It is not limited merely to respecting the commitments of friendship that have been taken on, but goes further, without calculation or measure. This is precisely what the living, true God did, whose profound mystery is revealed to us in St John’s words: “God is love” (1Jn 4,8). In Jesus of Nazareth this God takes upon himself the whole of humanity, the whole history of man, and he gives it a decisive reorientation toward a new manner of human existence, characterized by having been generated by God and by aspiring to him (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 3, The Infancy Narratives).

Dear young people, distinguished rectors and professors, it is a cause of great joy to me to share these reflections with you who represent Rome’s university world. In this world, while retaining their own specific identities, converge Rome’s state and private universities and the pontifical institutions that have developed together for so many years, bearing a lively witness to a fertile dialogue and cooperation among the different branches of knowledge and theology. I greet and thank the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Rector of the Foro Italico University of Rome and your representative, for his words to me on behalf of all. I greet with deep cordiality the Cardinal Vicar and the Minister of Education, Universities and Research, as well as the various academic authorities present.

I greet you with special affection, dear young university students of the Roman Athenaeums, who have renewed your profession of faith at the Apostle Peter’s Tomb. In this period you are preparing for the great decisions of your life and for service in the Church and in society. This evening you can feel that you are not alone. With you are the university teachers and chaplains, as well as the animators of the colleges. The Pope is with you! And, above all you are integrated into the great academic community of Rome, in which it is possible to proceed in prayer, research, exchanges, and in bearing witness to the Gospel. It is a precious gift for your life; may you be able to see it as a sign of fidelity to God, who offers you opportunities to conform your existence to that of Christ, to let yourselves be sanctified by him to the point of perfection (cf. 1Th 5,23).

The liturgical year that we are beginning with these Vespers also represents for you the journey to live once again the mystery of this faithfulness of God, on which you are called to found your lives, as on a firm rock. In celebrating and living this itinerary of faith with the whole Church, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the one Lord of the cosmos and of history, without whom every human project risks coming to nothing. The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school for living the Christian faith, a “theological” faith which involves you in your whole being — spirit, soul and body — to make you living stones in the edifice of the Church and collaborators of the New Evangelization. Especially in the Eucharist the living God makes himself so close that he becomes food that supports us on the journey, a presence that transforms us with the fire of his love.

Dear friends, we are living in a context in which we often come across indifference to God. However, I think that in the inner depths of all those who live far from God — also among your peers — there is an inner longing for the infinite, for transcendence. It is your task to witness in the university halls to the close God who also shows himself in the search for the truth, the soul of all intellectual commitment.

In this regard, I express my pleasure and encouragement at seeing the university pastoral programme entitled: “The Father saw him from afar. The today of man, the today of God”, proposed by the Vicariate of Rome’s Office for Campus Ministry. Faith is the door that God opens in our lives to lead us to the encounter with Christ, in which the presence of the human meets the today of God. The Christian faith is not adherence to a generic or indefinite God but to the living God who in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, entered our history and revealed himself as the Redeemer of man. Believing means entrusting one’s life to the One who alone can give it fullness in time and open it to a hope beyond time.

In this Year of Faith the invitation, that I wish to address to the entire academic community of Rome, is to reflect on faith. The continuous dialogue between the State or private universities and the Pontifical universities promises hope for an ever more meaningful presence of the Church in the context of a culture that is not only Roman but also Italian and international. The Cultural Weeks and the International Symposium of Teachers which will be held next June will be an example of this experience, which I hope it will be possible to repeat in all the university towns with State, private and Pontifical athenaeums.

Dear friends, “He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1Th 5,24); he will make you heralds of his presence. In this evening’s prayer let us set out in spirit toward the Bethlehem Grotto in order to taste the true joy of Christmas: the joy of welcoming at the centre of our life, after the example of the Virgin Mary and of St Joseph, that Child who reminds us that God’s eyes are open on the world and on every man and woman (cf. Zech Za 12,4). God’s gaze is focused on us because he is faithful to his love! Only this certainty can lead humanity towards goals of peace and prosperity, in this delicate and complex period of history.

Moreover the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro will be a great opportunity for you young university students to demonstrate the historical fruitfulness of God’s fidelity, offering your witness and commitment for the moral and social renewal of the world.

The handing over of the Icon of Mary Sedes Sapientiae to the Brazilian University Delegation by the university chaplaincy of Roma Tre that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year is a sign of this common commitment of yours as young university students of Rome.

I entrust to Mary, Seat of Wisdom, all of you and your loved ones; the studies, teaching and life of the athenaeums; and, especially, the itinerary of formation and of witness in this Year of Faith. May the lamps you will carry in your chaplaincies always be fed by your faith that is humble but full of reverence so that each one of you may be a light of hope and peace in the university environment. Amen.

VISIT TO THE ROMAN PARISH OF "SAN PATRIZIO AL COLLE PRENESTINO" Third Sunday of Advent - "Gaudete", 16 December 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters of San Patrizio,

I am very happy to visit you and to celebrate the Blessed Eucharist with you and for you. I would first like to offer you a few thoughts in the light of the word of God that we have heard. On this Third Sunday of Advent, known as “Gaudete” Sunday, the Liturgy invites us to rejoice. Advent is a season of commitment and conversion in preparation for the Lord’s coming, but today the Church gives us a foretaste of the joy of Christmas that is now at hand. In fact Advent is also a time of joy, because in this season expectation of the Lord’s coming is awakened in the hearts of believers; looking forward to a person’s arrival is always a cause of joy. This joyful dimension is present in the First of the Bible Readings of this Sunday. The Gospel on the other hand, corresponds to the other dimension that is characteristic of Advent: that of conversion with a view to the epiphany of the Lord proclaimed by John the Baptist.

The First Reading we have heard is an insistent invitation to rejoice. The passage begins with the words “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion... Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem” (
So 3,14); which is similar to that of the Angel’s annunciation to Mary: “Hail, full of grace” (Lc 1,28). The essential reason why the daughter of Zion can be joyful is expressed in the affirmation we have just heard: “the Lord is in your midst” (So 3,15); this means literally “is in your womb”, with a clear reference to the dwelling place of God in the Ark of the Covenant, always set in the midst of the People of Israel. The prophet wishes to tell us that there is no longer any reason for distrust, discouragement, sorrow, whatever the situation that must be faced, because we are certain of the Lord’s presence which alone suffices to calm and cheer hearts.

The Prophet Zephaniah, in addition, lets us know that this joy is reciprocal: we are invited to rejoice, but the Lord also rejoices in his relationship with us; indeed, the prophet writes: “he will exult over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (v. 17). The joy that is promised in this prophetic text, will find its fulfilment in Jesus, who is in the womb of Mary, the “Daughter of Zion”, and in this way dwelt among us (cf Jn 1,14). Indeed, in coming into the world he gives us his joy, just as he himself confides to his disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn 15,11). Jesus brings people salvation, a new relationship with God that overcomes evil and death, and brings true joy in this presence of the Lord who comes to lighten our paths that are all too often engulfed in shadows and in selfishness.

We can reflect on whether we are really aware of this fact that the Lord is present among us, that he is not a distant God but a God-with-us, a God in our midst who is with us here, who is in the Blessed Eucharist, he is with us in the living Church and we must be heralds of this presence of God. Thus God rejoices in us and we can attain joy: God exists, God is good and God is close.

In the Second Reading we have heard, St Paul invites the Christians of Philippi to rejoice in the Lord. Can we rejoice? And why should we rejoice? St Paul answers: because “the Lord is at hand” (Ph 4,5). In a few days we shall be celebrating Christmas, the Feast of the coming of God who made himself a child and our brother so as to be with us and to share in our human condition. We must rejoice in his closeness, in his presence, and must seek ever better to understand that he really is close, and thus be penetrated by the reality of God’s goodness, joy at Christ being with us.

Paul says forcefully in another of his Letters that nothing can separate us from the love of God which was expressed in Christ. Sin alone can distance us from him, but this is a factor of separation that we ourselves introduce into our relationship with the Lord. Yet, even when we cut ourselves adrift, he does not cease to love us and continues to be close with his mercy, with his readiness to forgive and to embrace us in his love. Therefore, St Paul continues, we must never be anxious, we can always set our requests, our needs, our worries before the Lord “by prayer and supplication” (4:6). This is a great cause for joy: knowing that it is always possible to pray to the Lord and that the Lord hears us, that God is not distant, but really listens, he knows us; and knowing that he never rejects our prayers even if he does not always answer as we would like, but that he does answer. And the Apostle adds: pray “with thanksgiving” (ibid.).

The joy the Lord communicates to us must encounter grateful love in us. Indeed, our joy is complete when we recognize his mercy, when we become attentive to the signs of his goodness, if we truly perceive that this goodness of God is with us and thank him for all that we receive from him every day. Those who selfishly welcome God’s gifts fail to find true joy; but the hearts of those who make God’s gifts an opportunity to love him with sincere gratitude and to communicate his love to others, are truly filled with joy. Let us remember that!

After the two Readings, let us come to the Gospel. Today’s Gospel tells us that to receive the Lord who comes we must prepare ourselves by looking clearly at our behaviour in life. John the Baptist replies to the different people who ask him what they should do to be ready for the Messiah’s coming (cf. Lk Lc 3,10, 12, 14) that God asks for nothing extraordinary but that each one live in accordance with the criteria of solidarity and justice; without them we cannot prepare properly for the encounter with the Lord. Therefore let us too ask the Lord what he expects of us and what he wants us to do, and begin to understand that he does not demand anything extraordinary but rather that we live our normal life with rectitude and goodness.

Finally John the Baptist points out that we must follow with faithfulness and courage. First of all he denies that he himself is the Messiah and firmly proclaims: “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie (v. 16). Here we note John’s deep humility in recognizing that his mission is to prepare the way for Jesus. Saying “I baptize you with water” cannot but make it clear that his action is symbolic. In fact he cannot eliminate and forgive sins: baptizing with water can only indicate that it is necessary to change one’s life. At the same time, John proclaims the coming of the one who is “mightier than he” who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (ibid.). And, as we have heard, this great prophet uses strong images to invite people to conversion; however this is not in order to instil fear but rather to encourage them to receive God’s love in the best possible way, as it alone can truly purify life. God makes himself a man like us to give us a hope that is sure: if we follow him, if we are consistent in living our Christian life, he will draw us to him, he will lead us to communion with him; and there will be in our hearts true joy and true peace, even in difficulty, even in moments of weakness.

Dear friends, I am glad to pray with you to the Lord who makes himself present in the Eucharist to be with us always. I cordially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Sector, Fr Fabio Fasciani, your parish priest, whom I thank for his kind words to me on behalf of the community in which he explained to me the situation of the parish and the spiritual wealth of parish life. I greet all the priests present. I greet all those who promote the work of the parish: the catechists, the choir members and the members of the various groups, and likewise those who adhere to the Neocatechumenal Way, committed to the mission here. I see with joy so many children who are following God’s word at various levels, preparing for First Communion, for Confirmation and, after Confirmation, for life. Welcome! I am happy to see a living Church here! I extend my thoughts to the Oblates of Our Lady of the Rosary who live in the parish territory, and to all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, especially the elderly, the sick and those in difficulty. I pray for each and every one in this Holy Mass.

Your parish that developed on the Prenestino Hill between the end of the 1960s and the mid-1980s, after the initial difficulties due to the lack of structures and services, equipped itself with a beautiful new church, inaugurated in 2007 after a long wait. May this sacred building therefore be a privileged space for growing in knowledge and love of the One whom in a few days we shall welcome in the joy of Christmas as Redeemer of the world and our Saviour. Do not fail to come to see him often, to feel more forcefully his presence that gives strength.

I rejoice in the sense of belonging to your parish community which in the course of these years has become ever more mature and consolidated. I encourage you to continue to develop your pastoral co-responsibility in a perspective of authentic communion among all those present, who are called to live complementarity in diversity. In a special way I would like to remind you all of the importance and the centrality of the Eucharist in personal and community life. May Holy Mass be the centre of your Sunday. It should be rediscovered and lived as a day of God and of the community, a day in which to praise and celebrate the One who died and rose for our salvation and asks us to live together in the joy of a community open and ready to accept every person who is lonely or in a difficult situation. Likewise, I urge you to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, especially in this season of Advent.

I know all that you do to prepare children and young people for the sacraments of Christian life. The Year of Faith, which we are living, must become an opportunity to increase and consolidate the experience of catechesis, in such a way as to permit the whole district to know and to deepen its knowledge of the Creed of the Church and to meet the Lord as a living Person. I address a special thought to families, in the hope that they may fulfil their vocation to love with generosity and perseverance.

The Pope also wishes to address a special word of affection and friendship to you, dear boys and girls and young people who are listening to me, and to your peers who live in this parish. May you feel you have lead roles to play in the new evangelization, putting your young energy, your enthusiasm and your talents at the service of God and of others in the community.

Dear brothers and sisters, as we said at the beginning of this celebration, today’s liturgy calls us to joy and conversion. Let us open our spirit to this invitation; and let us hurry to meet the Lord who comes, invoking and imitating St Patrick, a great evangelizer, and the Virgin Mary who awaited and prepared silently and prayerfully for the Redeemer’s birth. Amen!

Benedict XVI Homilies 31112