Saturday, 7 January 2006

The month of December 2005 for the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI was an opportune time to explain the true significance of Advent and Christmas. Advent, Pope Benedict XVI underlined several times, is a season of expectation. It is a period in which we wait with faith, like Most Holy Mary and Saint Joseph, for the coming of the Son of God into the world. Christmas is the celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Messiah, a mystery through which - and this concept was also affirmed often by the Holy Father - God becomes close to mankind, he becomes a person who can be addressed as a friend or family member. Besides Advent and Christmas in his teaching in this month the Pontiff gave ample space to commemorating the Second Vatican Council. In fact on 8 December 2005, Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, there were celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II and on various occasions Pope Benedict XVI referred to the different Conciliar texts promulgated urging the faithful to read them again in order to gain a deeper understanding. Also in his address on 22 December to the Curia in the occasion of the exchanging of Christmas wishes, Benedict XVI explained how the Council should be interpreted and kept in mind by the whole Church. The Council, the Holy Father said, was an updating of the Church in line with tradition, not a break with the past. In the season of Christmas, contemplating the Holy Family, the Holy Father took the opportunity to stress once again the importance of the family as an institution and the need to protect life beginning with the human embryo, and on the feast of the first martyr, Saint Stephen, he recalled that in our day too in various parts of the world, to profess the Christian faith demands “the heroism of a martyr”.