Dec. 2 - Address to the International
Theological Commission: "A Truly Catholic Theology
... Is Necessary Today More Than Ever" - Translated
conclusion (Dec. 6, 2011, Zenit.org).
“…. I invoke for you the intercession of Mary,
the Woman of Advent and the Mother of the Incarnate Word,
who is for us, in her carrying of the Word in her heart,
the paradigm of proper theologizing, the sublime model of
the true knowledge of the Son of God. May she, the Star
of Hope, guide and protect the precious work that you undertake
for the Church and in the name of the Church. …”
Dec. 4 - On Preparing for Christmas:
"We Must Let Ourselves Be Illumined by the Ray of Light
That Comes From Bethlehem" - Translated excerpt of
the Angelus address. (Dec. 5, 2011, Zenit.org).
… This period of the liturgical year highlights
two figures who had a pre-eminent role in the preparation
of Jesus Christ’s entering into history: the Virgin
Mary and St. John the Baptist. …
To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin of expectation, let us entrust our path toward the Lord, while we continue our Advent itinerary of making our heart and our life ready for the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us.
Dec. 7 - On Jesus' Cry of Exultation
- Translated Italian greetings after the General Audience.
(Dec. 7, 2011, Zenit.org).
“…The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception,
which we will celebrate tomorrow, reminds us of Mary’s
singular adherence to God’s saving plan. Preserved
from every shadow of sin, in order to be the all holy dwelling
place of the Word Incarnate, she always entrusted herself
wholly to the Lord. Dear young people, strive to imitate
her with pure and limpid hearts, allowing yourselves to
be molded by God who also intends “to do great things”
in you (cf. Luke 1:49). Dear sick, with Mary’s help
trust always in the Lord, who knows your sufferings and
who, by uniting them to His own, offers them for the salvation
of the world. And you, dear newlyweds, who wish to build
your homes on the grace of God, make your homes, in imitation
of the home of Nazareth, a hearth of love and piety. …”
Dec. 8 - On Mary, Full of Grace: "With
Her 'Yes,' She Brought Heaven Near to Earth" (Zenit.org).-
Translation of Angelus address for the feast of the Immaculate
Conception. Dec. 8, 2011.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Today the Church solemnly celebrates
the immaculate conception of Mary. As Pope Pius IX declared
in his apostolic letter Ineffabilis Deus of 1854,
she "was preserved from every stain of original sin
by a special grace and privilege of almighty God in view
of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race."
This truth of faith is contained in the Archangel Gabriel's
words of greeting: "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is
with thee! (Luke 1:28). The expression "full of grace"
indicates the marvelous deed of the love of God, who desired
to give back to us -- through his only-begotten incarnate
Son, who died and rose again -- the life and freedom that
we lost with sin. It was this that led the Church in the
East and West to invoke and celebrate the Virgin who, with
her "yes," brought heaven near to earth, becoming
"the Mother of God and the nurse of our life,"
as St. Romanos the Melodist writes in an ancient song (Canticum
XXV in Nativitatem B. Mariae Virginis, in J.B. Pitra, Analecta
Sacra t. I, Parigi 1876, 198). In the seventh century
St. Sophronius of Jerusalem praises the greatness of Mary
since in her the Holy Spirit came to dwell: "You surpass
all the gifts that God's magnificence ever bestowed on any
human being. More than anyone you are made rich by God dwelling
in you" (Oratio II, 25 in SS. Deiparæ Annuntiationem:
PG 87, 3, 3248 AB). And St. Bede the Venerable explains:
"Mary is blessed among women because with her virginity
she enjoyed the grace of being the mother of a son who is
God" (Hom I, 3: CCL 122, 16).
Upon us too is bestowed the "fullness of grace"
that we must make shine in our life, because "the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ," St. Paul writes, "has
blessed us with every spiritual blessing ... and has chosen
us before the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate
... predestining us to be his adopted sons" (Ephesians
1:3-5). We receive this filiation through the Church on
the day of baptism. In this regard St. Hildegard writes:
"The Church is, therefore, the virgin mother of all
Christians. By the secret power of the Holy Spirit she conceives
them and gives them birth, offering them to God is such
a way that they are also called sons of God" (Scivias,
visio III, 12: CCL Continuatio Mediævalis
XLIII, 1978, 142). And, finally, among the many who have
sung of the spiritual beauty of the Mother of God, there
stands out St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who says that the invocation
"Hail, Mary, full of grace" is "pleasing
to God, the angels and men. To men because of her maternity,
to Angels because of her virginity and to God because of
her humility" (Sermo XLVII, De Annuntiatione Dominica:
SBO VI, 1, Roma 1970, 266)...
here for the complete article.
Dec. 11 - On True Joy: "Not a
Mere Passing State of Soul" - Translated excerpt of
Angelus address (Dec. 12, 2011, Zenit.org).
…Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate Virgin,
whose spirit exulted in God the Savior. May she be the one
to guide our hearts in the joyous expectation of the coming
of Jesus, an expectation that is rich in prayer and good
Dec. 12 – Eucharistic Celebration
on the Occasion of the Bicentenary of Independence of Countries
in Latin America and the Caribbean – Translated extracts
of the homily (Dec. 12, 2011, Vatican.va).
“The earth has yielded its increase” (Ps 67
:6). The Fathers of the Church recognized in this image,
taken from the Psalm we just heard and which invites all
the peoples and nations to praise the Lord with joy, the
Virgin Mary and of Christ, her Son: “The earth is
Mary Most Holy, who comes from our earth, our lineage, from
this clay, from this mud, from Adam. The earth has yielded
its fruit: it first produced a flower ... this flower then
became a fruit so that we might eat it so that we might
eat its flesh. Would you like to know what this fruit is?
It is the Virgin Son who proceeds from the Virgin Mother;
the Lord from the handmaid; God from man; the Son from the
Mother; the fruit from the earth” (St Jerome, Breviarum
in Psalm. 66: PL, 1010-1011) ....
…I greet fraternally the Cardinals and Bishops who
are with us, the various diplomatic representatives, the
priests and men and women religious, as well as the faithful
gathered here in St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate
with joy the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother
and Star of the Evangelization of America.…
…The Successor of Peter could not let this occasion
pass without expressing the Church’s joy in the many
gifts which God, in his infinite kindness, has in these
years poured out upon these beloved nations, who so affectionately
invoke Mary Most Holy.
The venerated image of the Black Madonna of Tepeyac, with
her sweet and peaceful countenance, imprinted on the tilma
of the indio St. Juan Diego, shows her as “the ever
Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God from whom she lives”
(From the Office of Readings. Nicán Mopohua, twelfth
ed., Mexico City, D.F., 1971, 3-19). She reminds us of the
“woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her
feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with
child” (Rev 12:1-2). She signals the presence of the
Saviour to the indigenous and mestizo population. She always
leads us to her divine Son, who is revealed as the foundation
of the dignity of every human being, as a love that is stronger
than the powers of evil and death, and the fountain of joy,
filial trust, consolation and hope.
The Magnificat that we proclaimed in the Gospel “is
the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the
song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God;
the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured
out in the economy of salvation and the song of the ‘poor’
whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made
to our ancestors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church,
n. 2619). In an act of gratitude to her Lord and of the
humility of his handmaid the Virgin Mary praises God for
all that he is doing on behalf of his people Israel. God
is the One who deserves all honour and glory, the Mighty
One who does marvels for his faithful servant and today
continues to show his love to all men and women, especially
those who are facing difficult trials. …
…Since the Incarnation of the Word, the divine Mystery
is revealed in Jesus Christ, who is the contemporary of
every human person in every time and place through the Church,
whose Mother and model is Mary. …
… By her “yes” to God’s call, the
Virgin Mary manifested divine love among men. In this sense
she, with her simplicity and maternal heart, continues to
indicate the one Light and the one Truth: her Son, Jesus
Christ, who is “the definitive answer to the question
of the meaning of life, and to those fundamental questions
which still trouble so many men and women on the American
continent” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia
in America," n. 10). Similarly, “by her manifold
intercession (she) continues to bring us the gifts of eternal
salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren
of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers
and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed
home” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62). …
…I commend to the loving mediation of Our Lady of
Guadalupe, our heavenly Mother all these intentions and
the present situation of the Latin American and Caribbean
nations and their progress towards a better future …
Dec. 15 - Address to University Students:
"In the Stable of Bethlehem Man's Solitude Is Overcome"
- Translated excerpts (Dec. 15, 2011, Zenit.org).
…Dear friends, we run with joy to Bethlehem, we
embrace the Child that Mary and Joseph present to us. …
…At the conclusion of this liturgy, the image of
the "Sedes Sapientiae" will be handed over by
the Spanish university delegation to the delegation from
La Sapienza University of Rome. A Marian pilgrimage will
begin among the chaplaincies, which I will accompany with
Dec. 16 - Video message for closure
of Naples’ Jubilee Year. Translated extract. (Dec.
17, 2011, VIS).
…May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, protectress of the
city of Naples, and St. Genuarius, watch over you and help
you to maintain, with perseverance and faithfulness the
commitments you have taken on in this Jubilee Year.
Dec. 17 - Papal Address to New Zealand,
Pacific Bishops on 'Ad Limina' Visit - Translated conclusion
(Dec. 19, 2011, Zenit.org).
…Commending you to the intercession of Our Lady,
Star of the Sea, …..
Dec. 18 - “Who trusts in God
Accepts Jesus Through the Holy Spirit:” Translated
excerpt of the Angelus address (Dec. 18, 2011, VIS).
"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Emmanuel", … this ancient promise
was abundantly fulfilled in the incarnation of the Son of
God. Not only did the Virgin Mary conceive, but she did
so by the Holy Spirit; that is, by God Himself. The human
being Who began life in her womb took Mary's flesh, but
His existence derived entirely from God.
The fact that Mary conceived while remaining a virgin is,
then, essential for an understanding of Jesus and of our
faith. It is a testament to the fact that the initiative
was God's and, above all, it reveals Who the person conceived
is. As the Gospel says, “the child to be born will
be holy; he will be called the son of God.” In this
perspective, Mary's virginity and Jesus' divinity are warranties
of one another."
God awaited the “yes” of this young girl in
order to achieve His plan. He respected her dignity and
her freedom. ... Mary's virginity is unique and unrepeatable,
but its spiritual significance concerns all Christians,
... because those who have profound trust in the love of
God welcome Jesus and His divine life into their own lives,
by the action of the Holy Spirit.”
Dec. 18 - On Our Lady's Question to
Gabriel: "The Virginity of Mary and the Divinity of
Jesus are Reciprocally Guaranteed"- Translation of
the Angelus address (Dec. 18, 2011, Zenit.org).
…. On this Fourth and last Sunday of Advent this
year the liturgy presents us with the account of the angel's
announcement to Mary. Contemplating the wondrous image of
the Holy Virgin in the moment in which she receives the
divine message and gives her answer, we are enlightened
within by the always-new light of truth that shines forth
from that mystery. For a brief moment I would like to reflect
in particular on the importance of Mary's virginity, of
the fact that she conceived Jesus remaining a virgin.
In the background of the event of Nazareth there is the
prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, the virgin will conceive
and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel" (Isaiah
7:14). This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment
in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only
did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the
Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human
being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary,
but his existence comes totally from God. He is fully man,
made from the earth -- to use a biblical symbol -- but comes
from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining
a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith,
because it shows that the initiative is God's and above
all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel
says: "For this reason he who will be born will be
holy and will be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35). In
this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus
are reciprocally guaranteed.
This is why the one question that Mary, "greatly disturbed,"
asks the angel is so important: "How can this be since I
do not know man?" (Luke 1:34). In her simplicity Mary is
very wise: She does not doubt God's power, but wants to
understand His will better so that she can completely conform
to this will. Mary is infinitely surpassed by the mystery
and yet, she perfectly occupies the post that she is assigned
at its center. Her heart and her mind are completely humble,
and, precisely because of her singular humility, God awaits
this young woman's "yes" to realize his design. He respects
her freedom. Mary's "yes" implies both maternity and virginity,
and it desires that everything in her is for God's glory,
and that the Son whom she will bear will be wholly the gift
Dear friends, Mary's virginity is unique and unrepeatable,
but its spiritual significance regards every Christian.
It, in substance, is linked to faith: In fact, those who
deeply trust in the love of God welcome Jesus within themselves,
his divine life, through the action of the Holy Spirit.
This is the mystery of Christmas! ….
Dec. 21 - On Christmas: The "Love
Story Between God and Man Passes by Way of the Manger of
Bethlehem" – Translated extracts of the general
audience. (Dec. 21, 2011, Zenit.org).
…Christmas, then, while commemorating Jesus' birth
in the flesh of the Virgin Mary -- and numerous liturgical
texts put before our eyes this or that event -- is an efficacious
event for us. …
… And again, in another Christmas homily St. Leo
the Great affirms: "Today the Maker of the world was
born of a Virgin's womb, and He, who made all natures, became
the Son of her, whom He created. … (Sermon 26, "In
Nativitate Domini," 6,1; PL 54,213).
[Italian greetings]: …Dear young people, especially
you students of the school of Braucci of Caivano, may you
approach the mystery of Bethlehem with the same sentiments
of faith as the Virgin Mary; … and may you, dear newlyweds,
desire to contemplate assiduously the example of the holy
Family of Nazareth, in order that the virtues there practiced
might be impressed upon the path of family life you have
Dec. 24 – Pope's Christmas Eve
Homily: "A Child, in All Its Weakness, Is Mighty God"
- A Vatican translation of an excerpt of the Christmas Eve
Mass homily (Dec. 24, 2011, Zenit.org).
…This human existence of God became most visible
to him [St. Francis] at the moment when God’s Son,
born of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in swaddling clothes
and laid in a manger. …
Dec. 25 -- Pope's Urbi et Orbi Address:
"Only the God Who Is Love, and the Love Which Is God,
Could Choose to Save Us in This Way"- A Vatican translation
of excerpts of the traditional blessing to the city [of
Rome] and the world. (Dec. 25, 2011, Zenit.org).
…The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone;
he is the Saviour of all. …
…They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger
hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear
brothers and sisters, this hand is Jesus, born in Bethlehem
of the Virgin Mary. …
… This is the meaning of the Child's name, the name
which, by God's will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named
Jesus, which means "Saviour" (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk
… Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout
the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the
Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say:
"Come to save us!" …
Dec. 26 – “The True imitation
of Christ Is Love” – Excerpt of Angelus address
(Dec. 28, 2011, VIS):
…Let us pray to Most Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs,
to maintain our desire for goodness intact, especially towards
those who oppose us. …
Dec. 28 - On the Holy Family's Prayer:
"Learn More and More to Say With Your Whole Existence:
'Father'" – Translated excerpts of the general
audience (Jan. 1, 2012, Zenit.org).
…The home of Nazareth, in fact, is a school of prayer
where we learn to listen, to ponder and to penetrate the
profound meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God,
drawing our example from Mary, Joseph and Jesus. …
St. Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph, "when the
time came for their purification according to the Law of
Moses, brought the child up to Jerusalem to present him
to the Lord" (2:22). Like every observant Jewish family,
Jesus' parents go up to the temple to consecrate the firstborn
son to God and to offer sacrifice. Moved by fidelity to
the law's prescriptions, they set off from Bethlehem and
go up to Jerusalem with Jesus, who is now forty days old.
Instead of a one-year-old lamb, they present the offering
of simple families; that is, two young pigeons. The Holy
Family's pilgrimage is one of faith, of the offering of
gifts, a symbol of prayer, and of encounter with the Lord,
whom Mary and Joseph already see in the son Jesus.
The contemplation of Christ has in Mary its matchless
model. The face of the Son belongs to her in a special way,
since it was in her womb that He was formed, taking from
her also a human resemblance. No one has dedicated himself
to the contemplation of Jesus as devotedly as did Mary.
Her heart's gaze focuses upon Him already at the moment
of the Annunciation, when she conceived Him through the
power of the Holy Spirit; in the months that follow, little
by little she feels His presence, until the day of His birth,
when her eyes are able to gaze with maternal tenderness
upon the face of her Son, while she wraps Him in swaddling
clothes and lays Him in the manger.
The memories of Jesus -- fixed in her mind and in her
heart -- marked every moment of Mary's life. She lives with
her eyes on Christ and she treasures His every word. St.
Luke says: "For her part [Mary] kept all these things,
pondering them in her heart" (2:19) and in this way
he describes Mary's attitude before the Mystery of the Incarnation,
an attitude that will extend throughout her entire life:
to keep all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke
is the evangelist who makes Mary's heart known to us, her
faith (cf. 1:45), her hope and obedience (cf. 1:38), above
all her interiority and prayer (cf. 1:46-56) and her free
adherence to Christ (cf. 1:55). And all this proceeds from
the gift of the Holy Spirit who descends upon her (cf. 1:35)
as He will descend upon the Apostles according to Christ's
promise (cf. Acts 1:8).
The image of Mary given us by St. Luke presents Our Lady
as a model for every believer who keeps and confronts Jesus'
words and actions, a confrontation that always involves
a growth in the knowledge of Jesus. In the wake of Blessed
Pope John Paul II (cf. Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis
Mariae") we may say that the prayer of the rosary draws
its model from Mary, since it consists in contemplating
Christ's Mysteries in spiritual union with the Mother of
Mary's ability to live by the gaze of God is, as it were,
contagious. The first to experience this was St. Joseph.
His humble and sincere love for his betrothed, and the decision
to unite his life to Mary's, also attracted and introduced
him who was already a "just man" (Matthew 1:19)
into unique intimacy with God. In fact, with Mary -- and
above all, with Jesus -- he enters into a new way of relating
to God, of welcoming Him into his own life, of entering
into His plan of salvation, by fulfilling His will. After
having trustingly followed the Angel's instructions -- "do
not fear to take Mary your wife" (Matthew 1:20) --
he took Mary to himself and shared his life with her; he
truly gave himself totally to Mary and to Jesus, and this
led him toward the perfect response to the vocation he had
… We may imagine that he [St. Joseph] also, like
his spouse, and in intimate harmony with her, lived the
years of Jesus' childhood and adolescence savoring, as it
were, His presence in their family. … Certainly, he
educated Jesus in prayer, together with Mary. … And
lastly, another episode that sees the Holy Family of Nazareth
gathered together in prayer: Jesus, we heard -- at the age
of twelve-- went with his parents to the temple in Jerusalem.
As St. Luke emphasizes, this episode occurs within the context
of the pilgrimage: "His parents went to Jerusalem every
year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve
years old, they went up according to custom" (2:41-42).
… After searching for three days, His parents find
him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers while
he listens to them and asks them questions (cf. 2:46). When
asked why He did this to His father and mother, He responds
that He only did what a Son should do: that is, be near
the Father. ….
Here, when Jesus is still fully a part of the life of
the Family of Nazareth, it is important to note the resonance
that hearing the word "Father" from Jesus' mouth
would have had in the hearts of Mary and Joseph, [to hear
Him] reveal and emphasize who the Father is, and to hear
this word spoken from His mouth in the awareness of the
Only Begotten Son, who on this account willed to remain
for three days in the temple, which is the "Father's
From then on, we may imagine, life in the Holy Family was
filled even more with prayer, since from the heart of the
Child Jesus -- and then from the adolescent and young man
-- this profound sense of relationship with God the Father
unceasingly poured forth and was reflected in the hearts
of Mary and Joseph. …
… the Holy Family is the icon of the domestic Church,
which is called to pray together. … I would like to
address to you the invitation to rediscover the beauty of
praying together as a family in the school of the Holy Family
of Nazareth. …
[In English:] Our continuing catechesis on prayer leads
us, during this Christmas season, to reflect on the place
of prayer in the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In
the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we learn to contemplate
the mystery of God's presence and to grow as faithful disciples
of Christ. The Gospels present Mary as the supreme model
of prayerful meditation on the mysteries of Christ's life;
in praying the Rosary, in fact, we unite ourselves to her
contemplation of those mysteries in faith and hope. …
Jesus' unique relationship with his heavenly Father was
reflected in the prayer life of the Holy Family and stands
at the heart of all Christian prayer. May the example of
the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools
of prayer, where parents and children alike come to know
that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these
days of Christmas.
[In Italian:] … The feast of the Holy Family, which
we will soon celebrate, is a propitious occasion to rethink
our relationships and our affections. Dear young people,
look to the Holy Family and imitate them, by allowing yourselves
to be formed by God's love, the model of human love. Dear
sick, with Mary's help entrust yourselves always to the
Lord, who knows your sufferings and who, uniting them with
His own, offers them for the salvation of the world. And
you, dear newlyweds, who wish to build your homes on the
rock of God's Word, make your homes, in imitation of the
home of Nazareth, a welcoming place, full of love, understanding
and forgiveness. …
Dec. 31 - Pope's Vespers Homily at
Threshold of New Year: "There Is No More Room for Anxiety
... Now There Is Room for Unlimited Trust in God" –
Extracts of the Vatican translation (Jan 1, 2012, Zenit.org).
… How evocative it is, at this close of a year,
to listen again to the joyful message addressed by Saint
Paul to the Christians of Galatia: "when the time had
fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born
under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so
that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5).
…And let us place these prayers in the hands of Mary,
Mother of God, Salus Populi Romani.