The Holy Father this year made a stop en route to receive the homage of the Merchants’ Association of via dei Condotti – the famous shopping street that runs to the base of the Steps.
After a brief reading from the Book of Revelation, Pope Benedict spoke to the gathered faithful about the meaning of the Church’s constant faith conviction, according to which the Mother of God was conceived without the stain of Original Sin.
“The only pitfall of which the Church can and should be afraid,” said Pope Benedict, is the sin of her members.”
“Mary, on the other hand,” he continued, “is Immaculate, free from all stain of sin. The Church is holy, but at the same time marked by our sins.”
“For this reason,” explained Pope Benedict, “the pilgrim people of God, turn in time to Christ’s celestial Mother and ask her help; they ask that she accompany their journey of faith; that she encourage their commitment to the Christian life and that she support their hope.
“We need it,” said Pope Benedict, “especially at this difficult moment for Italy, for Europe, for so many parts of the world.”
Although it has always been part of the Faith of the Church, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined only in 1854 by Pope Pius IX in his Bull, Ineffabilis Deus, which states that “that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of Original Sin.”
Earlier in the day, in remarks to the faithful gathered for the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father refered to the Gospel account of the Annunciation in which the angel Gabriel greets Mary as “full of grace.” He said that this expression indicates God’s marvellous work of love which wishes to restore to us our life and our freedom, lost through sin, through the figure of his only begotten Son.
The Pope went on to say, “It is for this reason, that the Church has since the second century in both the East and the West invoked and celebrated the figure of the Blessed Virgin, who by saying “Yes” brought Heaven closer to Earth.”
After the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in many languages, including English.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors on this great feast-day when we honour the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God’s grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures. In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God, let us prepare to welcome her Son into our lives and into our hearts. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.
First such national TV ad campaign ever for the Catholic Church
Commercials on prime time television on all major networks set to air shortly will have a simple message - "Catholics Come Home." It's the first such national TV ad campaign ever for the Catholic Church, Tom Peterson, president of Catholics Come Home says. The organization wants to reach out not only to inactive Catholics, but also to people without a faith or who are considering switching religions.
The nonprofit lay organization Catholics Come Home has partnered with dioceses nationwide to launch a major, national 'evangelization' campaign.
"Ads will air more than 400 times during the three-week period on major networks like CBS and NBC and cable stations like TNT and CNN inviting viewers to take a look at the church and to 'come home' during the holidays and New Year's," Peterson says.
The 30 and 60-second commercials will air in English and Spanish on major networks in every diocese. Peterson adds that 250 million viewers in more than 10,000 cities and every diocese will be exposed to the ads.
Catholics Come Home has previously aired evangelization ads in regional markets like Seattle, Omaha, Neb. and Providence, R.I. A few hundred thousand people "returned" to the church as a result, Peterson says. The goal of the campaign is to bring as many as one million people back to the Catholic faith, he adds.
About 65 million people identify themselves as Catholic in the U.S., making it the single largest denomination in America. According to a recent Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate poll, only 33 percent of U.S. Catholics attend weekly Mass, which means 42.7 million, or two-thirds, of U.S. Catholics are not going to Mass, Peterson says.
That's a sizable audience of potential church-goers waiting to be tapped. Peterson says that research has proved that the average American spends 38 hours per week consuming media, with TV and Internet being the top two choices, so it's logical to reach out to them via television.
"Companies like Coca Cola, Microsoft, IBM are using advertising communication to promote a product. It makes sense for faithful Christians and Catholics to use modern media to promote the most important thing in world, and that is faith in Jesus Christ," Peterson says.
Msgr Mamberti noted that there is a growing consensus in the international community on the necessity of paying greater attention to migrants.
He said it was important to help keep migrant families together, since "the family plays a fundamental role in the integration process, giving stability to immigrants in new social environments". He said: "Migrants, aware of their rights, can be more secure in offering their services and talents and the receiving community, well-informed and respectful of these rights, will feel freer in extending its solidarity in order to build together a common future".
Archbishop Mamberti also addressed the organization's commitments in defence of fundamental freedoms and human rights, one of which is the right to freedom of religion.
"The right to religious freedom, despite being repeatedly proclaimed by the international community, as well as in the constitutions of most States, continues to be widely violated today", he said.
Pope Benedict XVI himself recalled, in his message from this year's World Day of Peace, that Christians "are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith".
According to Archbishop Mamberti, "there may be more than two hundred million Christians, of different denominations, who are in difficulty because of legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination". For this reason, he proposed the institution of an International Day against persecution and discrimination of Christians as "an important sign that governments are willing to deal with this serious issue".
The archbishop also addressed the problem of human trafficking, especially of women and minors, for sexual exploitation as well as for labour exploitation and domestic servitude, which has become a "powerful global business involving many countries of origin, transit, and destination. He said that in order to combat the scourge of trafficking in human beings, a "convergence of efforts was necessary: a mentality that is centered on the unique dignity of every person, a sure punishment of traffickers, the fight against corruption, ... and the fairness of mass media in reporting the damages created by trafficking".
ARCHDIOCESE OF CANBERRA AND GOULBURN REPORT: For those who are travelling this Christmas, here is a comprehensive guide to Mass times across the Archdiocese.
ADELONG-BATLOW: Christmas vigil 7pm Batlow. Christmas Day 9am Adelong.
ARANDA: Christmas vigil 6pm. Christmas Day 9am.
BATEMANS BAY: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm. Christmas Day 9am.
BEGA: Christmas vigil 6pm Bega, 7pm Bemboka, 8pm Tathra, midnight Candelo. Christmas Day 8.30am Bega.
BOMBALA: Christmas Day 10am Bombala, 8am Delegate.
BOOROWA: Christmas vigil 6pm (families) Boorowa, 8.30pm Frogmore, 8.30pm St Clement’s Galong. Christmas Day 8am Boorowa, 9am St Clement’s Galong, 9.30am Binalong.
BRAIDWOOD: Christmas vigil 8pm. Christmas Day 9am.
BRIBAREE/ QUANDIALLA: Christmas vigil 7.30pm Bribaree.
BUNGENDORE: Christmas vigil 6pm (outdoors). Christmas Day 8.30am.
CAMPBELL: Christmas vigil 6pm (children). Christmas Day 10am.
CATHEDRAL: Christmas vigil 6pm Cathedral, 9pm St Peter Chanel's Yarralumla, midnight Cathedral (carols 11.15pm). Christmas Day 8am Cathedral, 9.30am St Peter Chanel's, 11am Cathedral. No 5.30pm Mass at Cathedral. Reconciliation: 7pm, Wednesday, 21 December Second Rite Cathedral, 3.30pm-5.30pm English and Italian at Cathedral.
CENTRAL CANBERRA: Christmas vigil 6pm Dickson. Christmas Day 8am Braddon, 9.30am Dickson.
CHARNWOOD: Christmas vigil 7pm midnight. Christmas Day 10am (no 8am).
COOMA: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm Cooma, 9pm Nimmitabel. Christmas Day 8am Adaminaby, 10am Cooma.
COOTAMUNDRA: Christmas vigil 7 pm, Cootamundra, 7pm Wallendbeen. Christmas Day: 8am Stockinbingal, 9.30am Cootamundra.
CROOKWELL: Christmas vigil 9pm. Christmas Day 9am.
EVATT: Christmas vigil 6pm 8pm Evatt, 10pm Hall. Christmas Day 8.30am Evatt.
GOULBURN: Christmas vigil 5.30pm Marulan, 6pm (children) 9pm Old Cathedral. Christmas Day 8am Our Lady of Fatima, 10am Old Cathedral.
GRENFELL: Christmas Day 8am.
GUNDAGAI: Christmas vigil 6pm (family) 8pm. Christmas Day 8am Gundagai.
GUNDAROO: Christmas vigil 8.30pm.
GUNGAHLIN: Christmas vigil 7pm (children) 10pm (carols 9.30pm). Christmas Day 9am. No 8am or 5.30pm Mass on Christmas Day.
HARDEN-MURRUMBURRAH: Christmas vigil 7pm.
JINDABYNE: Christmas vigil 5pm Thredbo, 7pm Berridale, 8pm Jindabyne, midnight Jindabyne. Christmas day 9am Jindabyne, 9am Dalgety.
KALEEN: Christmas vigil 7.30pm, 10pm. Christmas Day 9am 5.30pm.
KAMBAH: Christmas vigil 7pm (children), 9.30pm Vietnamese Mass, midnight. Christmas Day 10am.
KIPPAX: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm midnight (carols 11.30pm). Christmas Day 9am. No evening Mass.
LAKE CARGELLIGO: Christmas vigil 7pm Tullibigeal, 9pm Lake Cargelligo. Christmas Day 9.30am Lake Cargelligo.
MICHELAGO: Christmas vigil 7pm.
MORUYA: Christmas vigil 6pm (outdoor) midnight. Christmas Day 8am Tuross Head, 10am Moruya.
NAROOMA-COBARGO: Christmas vigil 6pm Cobargo, 8pm Narooma. Christmas Day 7.30am Bermagui, 9.30am Narooma.
NARRABUNDAH: Christmas vigil 6pm, 8pm (charismatic). Christmas Day 9am.
NORTH WODEN: Christmas vigil 5.30pm Curtin (children), 7pm Garran, midnight Curtin (preceded by carols). Christmas Day 8.30am Garran, 9.30am 5.30pm Curtin.
O’CONNOR: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm. Christmas Day 9am.
PAGE: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm. Christmas Day 9.30am.
PAMBULA: Christmas vigil 5pm Merimbula (children) 7.30pm Eden, midnight Pambula. Christmas Day 10am Merimbula.
QUEANBEYAN: Christmas vigil 6pm (children, Macquoid St), midnight St Raphael's (carols 11.15pm). Christmas Day 8am 10am St Raphael's.
SOUTH TUGGERANONG: Christmas vigil 6pm (children’s outdoor) Calwell, 9pm Gowrie, midnight Gowrie (carols 11.30pm). Christmas Day 8am Gowrie, 10am Gowrie. No 6pm Mass. Boxing Day 9am Gowrie.
SOUTH WODEN: Christmas vigil 6pm 9pm. Christmas Day 8.30am 10.30am, all Sacred Heart, Pearce.
TARAGO: Christmas Day 10.30am (carols 10am).
TARALGA: Christmas vigil 6pm.
TEMORA: Christmas vigil 6.30pm in park (children), 9pm. Christmas Day 8am Barmedman, 10am Temora.
TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS: Christmas vigil midnight Garran. Christmas Day 8am Campbell, 10am Garran.
TUMUT: Christmas vigil 7pm (outdoor). Christmas Day 8am Talbingo, 10am Tumut.
WANNIASSA: Christmas vigil 7pm (children) 9pm. Christmas Day 9am. No evening Mass Christmas Day.
WATSON: Christmas vigil 6pm (children), 10pm. Christmas Day 8am 10am (no 6pm).
WESTON CREEK: Christmas vigil 6pm Holder (children, carols 5.30pm), 6pm Waramanga (children), 9 pm Holder (carols 8.30pm). Christmas Day 9am Waramanga.
WESTERN MISSION: Christmas vigil 5.30pm Tallimba, 6pm Weethalle, 7pm West Wyalong, 8pm Ariah Park, 8pm Binya, 9pm Ungarie, 10pm Barellan. Christmas Day 8am Ardlethan, 8.30am West Wyalong.
YASS-GUNNING: Christmas vigil 5.30pm Gunning, 7pm Yass, 8.30pm Murrumbateman recreation hall. Christmas Day 8.30am Yass, 10.30am Wee Jasper.
YOUNG: Christmas vigil 6pm (outdoor family), 9pm. Christmas Day 9.30am.
Yangon (AsiaNews) – The celebrations for the centennial of Yangon’s recently renovated Saint Mary’s Cathedral is an opportunity for “reconciliation with God, reconciliation with others and reconciliation of each person with his or her conscience,” said Archbishop Charles Bo on the eve of the solemn Mass planned for tomorrow, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Speaking toAsiaNews, the prelate confirmed that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is Buddhist, will be present “from start to finish”. Myanmar’s foreign minister is also set to attend, government sources said. The Vatican sent an envoy, Card Renato Raffaele Martino, who will preside over the ceremony and will read a message of Pope Benedict XVI.
“Aung San Suu Kyi will be present at the celebrations for the cathedral’s centennial,” said Mgr Bo, “from start to finish”. The prelate, who has led the diocese since 2003, explained that he has known the Burmese opposition leader for many years and has met her on several occasions.
“It is more than a formal relationship,” the 63-year-old prelate said, and for this reason, “she decided to join us to show solidarity to the people and that she encourages all religions, nationalities and ethnic groups.”
Tomorrow’s events are open to representatives of all religions in the predominantly Buddhist nation where Catholics represent 1 per cent of the population and Christians count for 4 per cent.
In the past three years, the cathedral, Mgr Bo explained, went through “major renovation”, especially in the past year. “To renew all things in Christ” is the motto of the Archdiocese of Yangon. For this reason, in the last year, “we had retreats and communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, special prayers to be prayed everyday and now the Novena. Thousands have joined and this is very encouraging. All done in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection,” the archbishop added. Tomorrow, “Thousands are here per the Novena, the Mass and prayers and procession. It is a beautiful experience.”
Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Bo stressed that reconciliation in Myanmar includes Burmese Catholics as well. “As we restore in Christ, the love that was lost, the trust that was corroded, and the relationship that was frozen, let us reconstruct our lives with bonds of genuine affection.”
Likewise, he calls on people to “pray for the Country, so that we shall live in New Jerusalem” in which, like the renovated cathedral, human freedom and dignity will shine. He hopes that people can prepare themselves through prayer and devotion to a new age of “true freedom”.
Yangon cathedral is Myanmar’s main Christian place of worship and one of the most important in all of Asia. Built in the Gothic style, it has undergone major renovation in the past three days. Time, the 1930 earthquake, bombs during World War 2 and cyclone Nargis in 2008 have made renovation an imperative. The work that was just completed entailed among things the replacement of 88 stained glass windows made by Thai artists. Some show the 12 apostles and life of Christ. A light was placed behind the statue of the Immaculate to make it visible at night. (DS)
|Luke 1: 26 - 38|
|26||In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,|
|27||to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.|
|28||And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"|
|29||But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.|
|30||And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.|
|31||And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.|
|32||He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,|
|33||and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."|
|34||And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"|
|35||And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.|
|36||And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.|
|37||For with God nothing will be impossible."|
|38||And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.|
The Immaculate Conception
Feast: December 8