Monday, November 30, 2020

Our first Saint of Day for December


Bl. Charles de Faucauld

Venerable Charles de Foucauld Little Brother Charles of Jesus Charles Eugene, (Vicomte de) Foucauld 1858 - 1916

 Died Age 58 Charles was left an orphan by the age of six, and he and his sister were brought up by their grandfather. By the time he was fifteen, less than a year after his First Communion, Charles had ceased to be a Christian and was an agnostic. In 1878, his grandfather died. Love for the old man had prevented Charles from indulging in the worst excesses, but at his death, Charles began to "live." On receiving his inheritance, he set about spending it in riotous living.  For a time he lived in Paris, where he took an apartment near a cousin, Marie de Bondy. Marie, who had first entered his life when he was about eleven, was a deeply spiritual young woman. Gradually, through her example, the gay and reckless young man began to change. His religion, when he rediscovered God, was a highly personal discipleship and love of the Person of Jesus Christ. Regarding his conversion, Charles said, "The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone." For a time after his return to the sacraments, Charles lived as a Trappist monk. Although he is remembered as an exemplary religious, the conviction grew that this was not his vocation. After being released from his temporary vows, Charles went to the Holy Land where he became a servant for the Poor Clare nuns.  Mother Elizabeth, the Superior of these Clarist sisters, was a woman of uncommon wisdom. She helped Charles to the realization that he should become a priest in order to serve God better. Charles finished his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in 1901. Later that year, he left for Algeria to take up the life of a hermit in the desert. Little Brother Charles of Jesus, as he called himself, thought up and wrote down a plan for two religious orders. The members of these orders would live a life patterned on the life of Jesus at Nazareth.  At the time of Brother Charles' death, neither his missionary contacts  nor his designs for new religious orders had borne visible fruit.  In 1916, living among the fierce Tuaregs of Tamanrasset, Charles de Foucauld was murdered in an attempt to warn two Arab soldiers of danger from a group of Senussi rebels.  The life of Charles de Foucauld was like the biblical seed which had to die before it sprouted into a healthy plant. Within twenty years after his death, there appeared three congregations which derived their inspiration, purpose, and Rules from Charles de Foucauld. These Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and Little Sisters of Jesus live in small groups all over the world, preaching by the lives they lead. Two other Orders, founded later, trace their heritage to Little Brother Charles of Jesus. Each of these groups bases its apostolate on the ideas of the Orders which the martyr of the desert had planned, but did not live to see. Knowledge of the life of Charles de Foucauld has spread throughout the Church. After preliminary investigations, all proved positive, and he was declared Venerable on April 13, 1978.

Getting ready for December with the monthly prayer intentions of the Pope

 Pope Francis 2020 prayer intentions:


For a Life of Prayer
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.

Five Shreveport Louisiana Priests serving thru pandemic might one day be elevated to Sainthood


Five Louisiana priests who died in 1873 pandemic considered for sainthood


NEW YORK — After Father Peter Mangum anointed a 98-year-old woman who had COVID-19, he couldn’t help but think of five French priests who sacrificed their lives to care for the sick through a yellow fever epidemic in the late nineteenth century.

“When I walk into the room I’m totally scrubbed up, mask, face shield. There she was sitting in a lazy boy chair and she offers me her hand. I’ve been told not to touch her but of course I reach down, took her hand and anointed her,” Mangum told Crux.

“When I left and went back to the rectory, I was struck by the fact that I had no way to give a free offering of my life in the situation. I had no fear I was going to die or catch whatever,” he continued.

The Shreveport priest then thought of Fathers Jean Pierre, Jean Marie Biler, François Le Vézouët, Isidore Quémerais and Louis Marie Gergaud – the French priests who came to Louisiana during the 1873 yellow fever epidemic.

“These (five priests) knew they were going to die,” Mangum said.

In May, Bishop Francis Malone of Shreveport wrote a letter to the Vatican to formally begin the process of making them Servants of God – the first step in the canonization process.

Between late August to mid-November of 1873 Shreveport, Louisiana lost a quarter of its population to yellow fever.

The mosquito-borne disease causes fever, nausea, and muscle pains and can lead to liver and kidney failure.

While people fled Shreveport for safety, Pierre and Quémerais, who were assigned to the northern Louisiana city, stayed to care for the victims. Biler, who was chaplain to a local convent, also stayed in the city. Pierre and Quémerais contracted yellow fever and died. When Biler came down with the illness, he contacted Gergaud – a priest from a nearby town – who arrived in time to give Biler last rites. However, Gergaud, too, quickly succumbed to the virus. Hearing about the desperate situation, Le Vézouët  then left Natchitoches – then the seat of the diocese – to travel to Shreveport and minister to the sick and dying. He, too, quickly contracted the disease and died.

“The fact that not a single one of them hesitated to stay in an epidemic area where they believed it was person to person transmittable while other people were leaving, the story is above and beyond normal human experience,” said Cheryl White, history professor at Louisiana State University Shreveport in an interview with Crux. “It is a willing offering of their lives.”

White, Mangum and local historian Ryan Smith have done extensive research on the priests over the past five years. The culmination of that work is a book titled The Surest Path to Heaven: Shreveport Martyrs of 1873 with a forward by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Pierre is from Brittany, the same region of France as the five priests. They were recruited to come to the United States by Bishop Auguste Marie Martin, the founding bishop of what is now the Diocese of Shreveport.

Pierre has prayed at the priests’ tombs in a visit to Shreveport and recognizes the sacrifice they all made. He also recognizes their significance during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Given the challenges that we face in the current pandemic, I believe that the sacrifices of these giants in the faith have a special significance for our time,” Pierre wrote. “As a Frenchman and a fellow Brittany priest, I am particularly proud of them and all who have chosen freely to leave their homeland in generous response to their missionary calling.”

White and Smith recognize the parallels between the yellow fever epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they also see vast differences in the sacrifice these five priests made.

White points to the medical equipment of the 21st century that the priests didn’t have to keep them safe.

“They had potentially decades more to give to the church and different communities, but this was their calling, and they knew it,” Smith told Crux. “Our current pandemic has heroes, and many of them, but this was something where their days were numbered and they knew they must go.”

The timeline of the story is of particular interest to White. She said there must’ve been divine intervention involved because each priest lived long enough for the next to arrive. Therefore, the city of Shreveport was never left without the sacraments.

Although the story of the five priests is not well known nationwide, it’s been celebrated in Shreveport for nearly 150 years. The French clerics are honored in the stained-glass windows of the Holy Trinity Church in downtown Shreveport and the city’s Pierre Avenue is named after the city’s founding pastor.

Pope Francis and new Cardinals visit Benedict XVI


Visit With Pope Benedict - Copyright: Vatican Media

Benedict XVI Visited by New Cardinals With Pope Francis

Heartwarming Photos Capture Encounter in Mater Ecclesiae Following Consistory

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Following the Consistory, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was visited by the new Cardinals created on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020 by Pope Francis.

After leaving the Vatican Basilica, they went together with Pope Francis to the “Mater Ecclesiae” Monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where Benedict XVI lives.

The thirteen new members of the College of Cardinals are:  Bishop  Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop  Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Archbishop  Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda; Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington; Archbishop José Advincula of Capiz, Philippines; Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago de Chile; Bishop Cornelius Sim, titular Bishop of  Puzia di Numidia and Vicar Apostolic of Brunei, Kuala Lumpur; Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena-Colle Val d’Elsa-Montalcino; Fra Mauro Gambetti, Conventual Franciscan, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi; Bishop  Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico; Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, titular Archbishop of Asolo, Apostolic Nuncio; Fra Raniero Cantalamessa, Capuchin, Preacher of the Papal Household; Msgr Enrico Feroci, parish priest of Holy Mary of the Divine Love in Castel di Leva.

Cardinal Sim of Brunei and Cardinal Advincula of the Philippines were unable to travel to Rome for the consistory due to the global COVID19 pandemic.

In consideration of the health dispositions in force at present, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual courtesy visits did not take place.

The new cardinals created in the recent consistories also went to visit the Pope Emeritus.

Photos provided by Vatican Media showed a warm encounter between the Pope, Pope Emeritus and new cardinals.

The Photos provided in this article are all Vatican Media copyright.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Feast of an Apostle, Andrew; older brother of St. Peter


St. Andrew the Apostle

Feastday: November 30
Patron: of Fishermen, singers, Scotland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Patras
Birth: Early 1st Century
Death: Mid-to late 1st Century

St. Andrew, also known as Andrew the Apostle, was a Christian Apostle and the older brother to St. Peter.

According to the New Testament, Andrew was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee during the early first century. Much like his younger brother, Simon Peter, Andrew was also a fisherman. Andrew's very name means strong and he was known for having good social skills.

In the Gospel of Matthew, it is said Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and saw Andrew and Simon Peter fishing. It is then he asked the two to become disciples and "fishers of men."

In the Gospel of Luke, Andrew is not initially named. It describes Jesus using a boat, believed to be solely Simon's, to preach to the multitudes and catch a large amount of fish on a night that originally was dry. Later, in Luke 5:7, it mentions Simon was not the only fisherman on the boat, but it is not until Luke 6:14 that there is talk of Andrew being Simon Peter's brother.

However, the Gospel of John tells a separate story, stating Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" It is then that Andrew and another made the decision to follow Jesus.

Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels, but it is believed Andrew was one of the closer disciples to Jesus. It was he who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes, according to John 6:8. When Philip wanted to speak to Jesus about Greeks seeking him, he spoke to Andrew first. Andrew was also present at the last supper.

Per Christian tradition, Andrew went on to preach the Good News around the shores of the Black Sea and throughout what is now Greece and Turkey. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras. He was bound, rather than nailed, to a cross, as is described in the Acts of Andrew. He was crucified on a cross form known as "crux decussata," which is an X-shaped cross or a "saltire." Today this is commonly referred to as "St. Andrew's Cross." It is believed Andrew requested to be crucified this way, because he deemed himself "unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus."

Andrew's remains were originally preserved at Patras. However, some believe St. Regulus, who was a monk at Patras, received a vision telling him to hide some of Andrew's bones. Shortly after Regulus' dream, many of Andrew's relics were transferred to Constantinople by order of Roman emperor Constantius II around 357. Regulus later received orders in a second dream telling him to take the bones "to the ends of the earth." He was to build a shrine for them wherever he shipwrecked. He landed on the coat of Fife, Scotland.

In September 1964, Pope Paul VI had all of St. Andrew's relics that ended up in Vatican City sent back to Patras. Now, many of Andrew's relics and the cross on which he was martyred are kept in the Church of St. Andrew in Patras.

St. Andrew is venerated in Georgia as the first preacher of Christianity in that territory and in Cyprus for having struck the rocks creating a gush of healing waters upon landing on the shore.

His saltire cross is featured on the flag of Scotland and is represented in much of his iconography. He is commonly portrayed as an old man with long white hair and a beard, often holding the Gospel book or a scroll.

St. Andrew is the patron saint of fishermen and singers. He is also the patron saint to several countries and cities including: Scotland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Patras and his feast day is celebrated on November 30.

All about Advent wreaths, candles and other Advent traditions


Advent Wreath & Candles: Understanding the Meaning, History & Tradition

  • Laura RichieAuthor
  • 20209 Nov
advent wreath and candles meaning

Advent is a time of expectation and hope. “Advent” means “arrival” or “coming,” and it prompts us to pause each day in December and remember why Jesus came at Christmas. Traditions vary by country, but common ways of commemorating Jesus’ birth are through Advent calendars, wreaths, and candles. Ideally, any Advent tradition should involve families in a fun activity each day of December, helping them remember why we celebrate Christmas.

The History of Advent

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia.  Most know Advent today as a time of anticipation and expectation of the birth of Christ. However, Advent began as early as the 4th and 5th centuries as a time of fasting and prayer for new Christians. The first mention of Advent occurred in the 300’s A.D at a meeting of church leaders called the Council of Saragossa. It gradually developed into a season that stretched across the month of December. Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The Advent season not only symbolizes the waiting for Christ's birth but also for his final return. 

What Is the Advent Wreath? 

advent wreathing meaning candles

The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays. 

Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death as the evergreen is continuously green. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible.

The Advent wreath is a symbol of the season, with a candle lit each of the four Sundays leading up to, and on Christmas Day. The light of the flickering candle flames reminds us who Jesus is: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5). Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. We will go further detail on the purpose and meaning behind each advent candle below. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red color points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, shedding his blood for our sins.

Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. Families begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday.

Meaning & Symbolism of the Advent Candles

advent candles symbolism meaning

Advent candles shine brightly in the midst of darkness, symbolizing and reminding us that Jesus came as Light into our dark world. The candles are often set in a circular Advent wreath. In Scandinavia, Lutheran churches light a candle each day of December; by Christmas, they have twenty-four candles burning. Another Advent candle option is a single candle with twenty-four marks on the side--the candle is lit each day and allowed to melt down to the next day’s mark.

The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles around the wreath. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is rose-colored. Sometimes all the candles are red; in other traditions, all four candles are blue or white. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

  • The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the "Prophet’s Candle." The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting. 
  • The second candle represents faith and is called "Bethlehem’s Candle." Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David. The second candle is also purple to symbolism preparation for the coming king.
  • The third candle symbolizes joy and is called the "Shepherd’s Candle." To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy. This candle is colored pink to represent joyfulness and rejoicing.
  • The fourth candle represents peace and is called the "Angel’s Candle." The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace--He came to bring people close to God and to each other again. This color is also purple to represent the culmination of love through the Messiah.
  • The (optional) fifth candle represents light and purity and is called "Christ’s candle." It is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day. This candle is white to represent pure light and victory.

Other Advent Traditions

A few other Advent traditions practiced across the world include the following:

-In Eastern Orthodox churches, believers participate in a Nativity Fast that begins November 15 and ends December 24. In this fast, they abstain from meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil. They hope the fast will help them to better fix their eyes on God and His Kingdom.

-In much of the Spanish-speaking world, a custom called “Posadas” is practiced. “Posadas” means “shelter” or “lodging,” and it is done from December 16-24. A group of people re-enact Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They plan a route and travel from house to house, asking for lodging. Each home plays the role of “innkeeper” and refuses to host them. At the last house, everyone is invited inside for prayer and refreshments.

-The Jesse tree involves homemade ornaments that are hung on a small tree. The ornaments represent an Old Testament prophecy about Jesus, or they may represent ancient ancestors in the lineage of Jesus. Various books are available to use along with the Jesse ornaments.

-Santa Lucia (or St. Lucy) is done on the morning of December 13. The oldest daughter in the house dresses in a white robe with a red sash, and she wears a wreath with lighted candles on her head. She carries a breakfast of coffee, gingerbread cookies, and saffron buns to her parent’s bedroom. The younger daughters follow the eldest, carrying a single candle. The brothers, called “star boys,” wear tall, pointed hats.

-In China, Christians light their homes with decorative paper lanterns. Some also decorate a “Tree of Light” with paper chains or flowers. 

-The first printed Advent calendar was created in 1908 by a German named Gerhard Lang. As a boy, his mom would sew twenty-four cookies onto the lid of a box. Each day of December, he ate a cookie. This tradition inspired him to create a calendar entitled, “In the Land of the Christ Child.” Today, Advent calendars are a popular tool for families to count down the days until Christmas.

No matter how we choose to celebrate the season of Advent, let's remember the beauty and grace of Jesus. He entered our dark, broken world on the first Christmas long ago, and He’s working even now to restore light, peace, and life. May your family find rich blessings from incorporating the advent wreath and other traditions into your celebration of this season.

Laura Richie is a wife, homeschooling mom to three, and a registered nurse. After writing The Advent Storybook for her own children, Laura felt called to publish the book and share the story of God’s rescue with families across the world.

A homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Hurry up and wait!  Ever happen to you?  Then you've never been to a doctor's appointment, or attended a big concert or sporting event or stood in a long line at Wal-Mart.  Yep, seems like we spend a lot of time hurrying up to wait.

As people of faith are we waiting and watching?  And waiting and watching for what, or who?

Advent seems to sneak up on us every year, yet here it is.  Some of us may actually have been waiting for Advent.  And now that it is here, we have plenty to watch.  The liturgical colors have changed so now we are watching the Advent color of purple.  We watch every Sunday in Advent as we light the Advent wreath; Advent is our “happy new year” in the Church.  Advent is the time we set aside for both preparing for the Christmas celebration we are hurrying up and waiting for but also a reminder of the second coming, which we too should all be waiting for but probably not so much, certainly not in a hurry.

Our Advent celebration this year brings a change from the Sunday Gospel readings of Matthew, which we finished last Sunday, to Mark which we just heard proclaimed today.  In our Gospel we hear a direct command from Jesus: Be watchful, be alert! Watch! Jesus, who taught often in parables from Matthew’s Gospel, offers a short parable today from St. Mark.  He talks to us about a homeowner traveling, the servants and the gatekeeper.  The servants are left to work around the home and the gatekeeper is specifically ordered to watch!  And what is the gatekeeper watching for?  The answer: the return of the homeowner.  And we hear one warning in this short parable; don’t be asleep when the homeowner returns; no, be prepared, stay alert, be vigilant.  Watch!

As we hear this Gospel we may find ourselves asking the question, what does this have to do with the coming of the baby Jesus?  How is this a story of Advent or the coming Christmas celebration?  Well, perhaps it is not; instead this is a story of the second coming of Jesus.  Yes, Advent is about the preparation of our Christmas celebration, where we rejoice in the birth of the babe of Bethlehem, the incarnation of the Word of God.  But Advent is also an important reminder about the second coming of Jesus.  In fact, during Advent, the theme of the Gospels for the first two weeks of Advent is always about His second coming. 

The Church is the household and Jesus is the lord of the house; just as He truly is Lord of Heaven & earth.  The servants are all of us; the members of His Church.  We are to do the work of His Church while we sojourn here on earth; being watchful and alert to His second coming.  The gatekeeper Jesus refers to is our own souls, helping us to be prepared and not fall asleep as we await the Master’s coming(His second coming).  In this Gospel Jesus is preparing us for His second coming by foretelling of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; an event that did occur around the year 70 A.D.

How does the Master want us to prepare in this first week of Advent?  What can we do today, and in the next few days to be alert; to watch?  Our first opportunity is right here among us today as we celebrate being truly present to His Word and to His Real Presence.  Do we stay alert and watchful by keeping our focus on Advent, realizing that Christmas is a holy season yet to come, not the ho-ho holidays already here; as the world tries to convince us.  Does our family celebrate with an Advent wreath in our homes?  What a wonderful reminder of the season of Advent and help support our ministries of charity at the same time.  And finally, can we remain alert and watchful by doing something tangible for our brother and sister?  Did you know that while we support the area food bank, the many food items you bring to church are used to help feed people who show up at our door hungry and in need of help.  I've learned firsthand recently that hardly a day goes by without someone presenting themselves for a little help.  Your thoughtfulness with food donations provides that help.  And this is just but one example.  Are you familiar with I-give Catholic, an opportunity to make donations this Tuesday for all things Catholic.  St. Jane will be there, waiting hopefully for your donation which will help support our youth ministry.  

Yes, Advent is a lot about waiting and watching and not just hurrying up and waiting.  Remember, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the newborn King of Christmas, but our our hope and joy coming with glory for our salvation

Don't be asleep, be awake and Watch!

Advent Sunday Angelus 11.29.2020


© Vatican Media

Pope Reminds Faithful that Advent is Time of Expectation and Hope

Full Text of Sunday Angelus Address

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Pope Francis today welcomed the Advent season with a reminder for the faithful around the world that it is a time of  “expectation and hope”.

His remarks came in his commentary before praying the noonday Angelus with the pandemic-limited crowd of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. 

“Today’s liturgy invites us to live the first ‘important Season’, which is that of Advent, the first of the liturgical year, Advent, which prepares us for Christmas, and therefore it is a time of expectation and a time of hope. Expectation and hope,” Pope Francis said. “Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal and to lead us to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Following is the Holy Father’s full commentary, provided by the Vatican:

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

Today, the First Sunday of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. In it, the Church marks the passage of time with the celebration of the main events in the life of Jesus and the story of salvation. In so doing, as Mother, she illuminates the path of our existence, supports us in our daily occupations, and guides us towards the final encounter with Christ. Today’s liturgy invites us to live the first “important Season”, which is that of Advent, the first of the liturgical year, Advent, which prepares us for Christmas, and therefore it is a time of expectation and a time of hope. Expectation and hope.

Saint Paul (see 1 Cor 1:3-9) indicates the object of our expectation. What is it? The “manifestation of the Lord” (v. 7). The Apostle invites the Christians of Corinth, and we too, to focus our attention on the encounter with Jesus. For a Christian the most important thing is the continuous encounter with the Lord, being with the Lord. And in this way, accustomed to staying with the Lord of life, we prepare ourselves for the encounter, for being with the Lord for eternity. And this definitive encounter will come at the end of the world. But the Lord comes every day, so that, with His grace, we might accomplish good in our own lives and in the lives of others. Our God is a God-who-comes, do not forget this: God is a God who comes, who continually comes. Our waiting will not be disappointed by Him! The Lord never disappoints. He will perhaps make us wait, He will make us wait a few moments in the dark to allow our expectation to ripen, but He never disappoints. The Lord always comes, He is always by our side. At times He does not make Himself seen, but He always comes. He came at a precise moment in history and became man to take on our sins – the feast of the Nativity commemorates Jesus’ first coming in the historical moment -; He will come at the end of times as universal judge; He comes every day to visit His people, to visit every man and woman who receives Him in the Word, in the Sacraments, in their brothers and sisters. Jesus, the Bible tells us, is at the door and knocks. Every day. He is at the door of our heart. He knocks. Do you know how to listen to the Lord who knocks, who has come today to visit you, who knocks at your heart restlessly, with an idea, with inspiration? He came to Bethlehem, He will come at the end of the world, but every day He comes to us. Be careful, look at what you feel in your heart when the Lord knocks.

We are well aware that life is made up of highs and lows, of lights and shadows. Each one of us experiences moments of disappointment, of failure, and being lost. Moreover, the situation we are living in, marked by the pandemic, generates worry, fear, and discouragement in many people; we run the risk of falling into pessimism, the risk of falling into closure and apathy. How should we react in the face of all this? Today’s Psalm suggests: “Our soul waits for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name” (Ps 33:20-21). That is, the soul awaiting, confidently waiting for the Lord, allows us to find comfort and courage in the dark moments of our lives. And what gives rise to this courage and this trustful pledge? Where do they come from? They are born of hope. And hope does not disappoint, that virtue that leads us ahead, looking at the encounter with the Lord.

Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal and to lead us to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. God is present in the history of humanity, He is the “God-with-us”, God is not distant, He is always with us, to the extent that very often He knocks on the door of our heart. God walks beside us to support us. The Lord does not abandon us; He accompanies us through the events of our lives to help us discover the meaning of the journey the meaning of everyday life, to give us courage when we are under duress or when we suffer. In the midst of life’s storms, God always extends His hand to us and frees us from threats. This is beautiful! In the book of Deuteronomy, there is a very beautiful passage, in which the Prophet says to the people: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us?” No-one, only we have this grace of having God close to us. We await God, we hope that He manifests Himself, but He too hopes that we manifest ourselves to Him!

May Mary Most Holy, the woman of expectation, accompany our steps at the beginning of this new liturgical year and help us to fulfill the task of Jesus’ disciples, indicated by the Apostle Peter. And what is this task? To account for the hope that is in us (see 1 Pet 3:15).

After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to express my closeness to the people of Central America, hit by strong hurricanes. In particular, I recall the Island of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, as well as the Pacific coast of the north of Colombia. I pray for all the countries who are suffering as a result of these disasters.

I renew my warm greeting to you, the faithful of Rome, and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet those who, unfortunately in very limited numbers, have come on the occasion of the creation of the new Cardinals, which took place yesterday afternoon. Let us pray for the thirteen new members of the College of Cardinals.

I wish all of you a blessed Sunday and a blessed Advent journey. Let us try to try to bring out the good even from the difficult situation that the pandemic imposes upon us: greater sobriety, discreet and respectful to others who may be in need, some prayer also within the family, with simplicity. These three things will help us greatly: greater sobriety, discreet and respectful to others who may be in need, and, very importantly, some moments of prayer also within the family, with simplicity. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch, and arrivederci.