3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Parish of St Marνa Josefa of the Heart of Jesus! The joy of being with you today is particularly strong. It is the delight of being able to visit the 300th parish community of the beloved Church of Rome. From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have made a priority of exercising the ministry of Bishop of Rome, even by visiting the parish communities of the Diocese.


In a special way I want to thank the Cardinal Vicar, who together with the Vicegerent and the Auxiliaries, has always been with me on these Sunday visits. With great fondness I recall the late Cardinal Poletti, the Bishops who have served the Diocese, the many parish priests and parochial vicars, as well as the thousands of faithful whom I have met on my pilgrimage through the various sections of our metropolis. For this occasion, I put my feelings on paper in the Letter that I addressed to the Cardinal Vicar, and through him, to the entire family of the Diocese, to share with him and with all of you my happiness on this extraordinary event.


On the visits I am amazed at the great amount of good, of spiritual fervour and of pastoral, apostolic and charitable creativity that I have witnessed! Each visit is a wonderful chance to give and to receive encouragement. While I desire to continue such an enriching pastoral experience, that takes me to parishes that are still waiting to meet their Bishop, I thank God for the mission he has entrusted to me. He has called me to be the Successor of the Apostle Peter, Bishop of the Church of Rome, of the Church that presides over the universal communion of charity (cf. Ignatius of Antioch, Introduction to the Letter to the Romans). I ask you to pray so that I may know how to correspond adequately to this mission.


4. Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Parish, thank you for your welcome. I want to greet you warmly. I greet your Parish Priest, Fr Angelo De Caro, and the Montfort Missionaries who cooperate with him in the care of the parish. I thank those who at the beginning of Mass greeted me in your name. I thank the faithful, who cooperate in supporting the outreach of the parish, to the young persons, to families, the sick, the senior citizens and all who live in this outlying area of a City in constant expansion.


I wish to thank the Institute of the Servants of Jesus who, with a genuine ecclesial spirit, made possible the construction of this new church, consecrated last 27 January, that is dedicated to their foundress, St Marνa Josefa of the Heart of Jesus.


May the example of this Saint, who was animated by an intense love of the Eucharist and for her neighbour in difficulty, be a stimulus for you, dear Sisters, to grow in devotion to the Eucharist and in the care of their older sick and needy neighbours.


Let the Saint encourage you, dear parishioners, to work untiringly to transform your neighbourhood into a truly human environment and to remove the risks of moral delinquency and disaffection that we find so often in the big cities.

6. The Diocese of Rome today observes the day of the collection to build new churches. Here we can experience the benefits that a whole parish complex brings to a neighbourhood. In your area, in fact, your church serves as a providential centre for bringing people together where they can be formed to listen to the call of God and to the service of their neighbour. Here too one can instill a missionary and vocational spirit that sensitizes the young above all, to an awareness to local and worldwide challenges. May the praiseworthy work of the Vicariate to build a parish centre in every area that needs one find a generous response in the people of every parish especially those who have greater resources and in religious congregations and institutes and in private and public entities.


7. "Be patient until the coming of the Lord" (James 5,7).


Advent invites us to rejoice, and at the same time, it exhorts us to wait with patience for the coming of the Lord now approaching. It exhorts us not to be discouraged, to resist every kind of adversity, with the certainty that the Lord will not delay his coming.


This vigilant patience, as the Apostle James stresses in the second reading, favours the strengthening of human ties in the Christian community. The faithful realize that they are little ones, who are poor and in great need of God's help, and they come together to receive the Messiah who is about to come. He will come in the silence, the humility, the poverty of the crib, and will bring his joy to all who welcome him with open hearts.


So let us advance with joyful hearts and minds towards Christmas. Let us make our own the inner reflections and prayers of Mary who awaited her Redeemer in prayer and silence and carefully prepared his Birth in Bethlehem. Amen!



Third Sunday of Advent
16 December 2001


1. Today, on the Third Sunday of Advent, we hear again the joyful announcement, "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4,4). They are words taken from the Letter of St Paul to the Philippians that sum up today's liturgy.


The invitation to joy has a definite motive: "the Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4,5). It is a truth known to the pious Israelite, and from it he drew confidence and consolation; it is a truth that has in Christ its perfected foundation. "In him, in fact, God has drawn near to everyone:  He is the Messiah, the "Emmanuel", "God with us" (cf. Isaiah 7,14; Matthew 1,23). Joy is the heart of the Gospel of Christmas.

2. As an expert Mother, the Church knows better than any other institution the difficulties and sufferings that are part of the human condition. She knows well that in the life of many peoples and persons sadness prevails over joy, anxiety over hope.


It is particularly to these men and women that the Christmas message is proclaimed in a preferential way because "[Christ] brought the good news of salvation to the poor, to prisoners freedom, and to those in sorrow joy" (Fourth Eucharistic Prayer). He is the genuine liberator of the human person, sent by God to redeem him from the power of evil and death. The joy that Christ gives to his friends derives from this deep and integral liberation. It is a joy that, like his peace, is different from that of the world (cf. John 14,27) which is superficial and fleeting.


The serious problems surrounding human life sometimes make it difficult to recognize the gifts of Christ. The mission of the Church, that is coached by the Holy Spirit, is precisely that of making his gifts visible and of witnessing to their presence. Today humanity yearns especially for the gifts of joy and peace. It is our mission as believers, with the eloquence of love expressed in deeds, to become every day the prophetic ferment of a world reconciled by love and animated by divine joy.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we honour as the "Cause of our joy" help us to be faithful to this mission. Who more than she experienced the closeness of the Lord, source of joy and peace? We now entrust ourselves to her maternal protection in order to be at all times, but especially now, credible witnesses of the joy of Christ.



After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the little children who have an annual appointment with the Holy Father in St Peter's Square to wish him Merry Christmas and to bring the baby Jesus who is to be placed in their cribs for the Holy Father's blessing. The Holy Father also greeted pilgrims from Pula and Zagreb, from Ljubljana, from Venice and Vicenza.


I greet warmly the great number of youngsters who according to tradition have come with the baby Jesus (bambinelli) whom they will place in their Christmas cribs. Young ones, thank you for your good wishes for a Happy Christmas and I also wish you best wishes for Christmas asking God to bless you and your families with peace and serenity. My thanks go to the Centre for Roman Oratories and to the Catholic schools of Rome, Pescara and Teramo, who organized this joyful meeting.


Today the Diocese of Rome in all the parishes is promoting the collection for the building of new churches in the outlying districts of the city. In many of these areas the people lack a Church where the they can pray, catechize and run other social activities. I ask you to share in this observance which benefits the entire city.


In particular today I wish to greet the Associates of the World Food Programme of the United Nations who have completed a global survey on the feeding of children at school. Hunger is a continuing tragedy for millions of people around the world, and the school feeding programme has proved to be a very effective way of fighting it and helping the world's poorest children. I pray that the international community will generously support your work, and upon your efforts I invoke Almighty God's blessings of strength and perseverance.


Merry Christmas!





Third Sunday of Advent, 12 December 2004


1. The feast of Christmas is approaching and in many places, such as here in St Peter's Square, the Christmas crib is already being set up. Small or large, simple or elaborate, it is a familiar and most vivid representation of Christmas. The Nativity scene is a feature of our culture and art, but above all it is a sign of faith in God, who in Bethlehem came "and dwelt among us" (John 1: 14).


2. As I do every year, in a little while I shall bless the Baby Jesus figurines that on the Holy Night will be placed in the Christmas cribs, where St Joseph and Our Lady are already silent witnesses of a sublime mystery. With their loving gaze they invite us to watch and pray in order to welcome the divine Saviour, who comes to bring the joy of Christmas to the world.


3. Today's liturgy, the Third Sunday of Advent known as "Gaudete" Sunday, invites us to a foretaste of this joy. Let us ask the "Virgin of waiting" that the desire to encounter the Lord who is now at hand may be alive in Christians and in all people of good will.


After the Angelus: 


Today, in the Diocese of Rome, we are celebrating the Day for Building New Churches in the City's suburbs. In recent years, 54 communities have received a new church, but at least another 20 are still waiting. I therefore encourage you to be generous so that all may find a place in which to grow in faith and in Christian life.


I also remind you that on Tuesday, 14 December, at 5: 30 p.m. in St Peter's Basilica, I will preside at Holy Mass for university students of the Roman Athenaeums. I invite all to join in this celebration.


I greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful from the Dioceses of Granada, Guadix-Baza, Mαlaga, Madrid, Oviedo, Segovia and Zamora. Let us rejoice! The Lord is near and comes to save us!


Lastly, I greet the pilgrims present, in particular the children of Rome with their "Baby Jesus" figurines, the Monteverdi Choir from Val di Non, the Diocesan Youth Choir from Alessandria and the faithful from Fiano Romano.


I wish you all a good Sunday!


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.  




Third Sunday of Advent, 16 December 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice... The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4: 4-5). The entrance antiphon of Holy Mass on this Third Sunday of Advent begins with this invitation to joy, and for this very reason is called "Gaudete" Sunday. Actually, the whole of Advent is an invitation to rejoice because "the Lord comes", because he comes to save us. The Prophet Isaiah's words addressed to the Jewish people - exiled in Babylon after the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem and uncertain about being able to return to the Holy City in ruins - ring out comfortingly almost every day in these weeks. The Prophet assures them: "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40: 31). And again, "they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (ibid., 35: 10). The Advent liturgy constantly tells us that we must stir ourselves from the slumbers of habit and mediocrity, we must abandon sorrow and despair; we must lift up our hearts because "the Lord is at hand".


Today, there is another reason for us to rejoice, dear faithful of the Parish of Santa Maria del Rosario ai Martiri Portuensi: it is the dedication of your new parish church which stands on the very site where my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, celebrated Holy Mass on 8 November 1998 on the occasion of his Pastoral Visit to your community. The solemn liturgy for the dedication of this church is an event of intense spiritual joy for the entire People of God who live in this neighbourhood. For my part, I gladly share in your legitimate pleasure at having your own welcoming and functional church at last. The place where it stands evokes a past of shining Christian witnesses. Indeed, precisely here, close by, are located the catacombs of Generosa, where tradition has it that two brothers and their sister were buried: Simplicius, Faustinus and Viatrix (Beatrice) - victims of the persecution unleashed in the year 303. Part of their relics are preserved in Rome in the Church of St Nicholas in Prison at Monte Savello, and another part at Fulda, Germany, a city which has honoured the Portuensi Martyrs as its Co-Patrons since the eighth century thanks to the fact that St Boniface took their relics there. In connection with this, I greet the representative of the Bishop of Fulda and also Archbishop Carlo Liberati, Prelate of Pompei, a Marian Shrine with which your parish has arranged a spiritual "twinning".


The dedication of this parish church acquires a truly special meaning for you who live in this district. Are not these young martyrs, who died at that time for bearing witness to Christ, a powerful incentive to you Christians of today to persevere in faithfully following Jesus Christ? And does not the protection of the Virgin of the Holy Rosary require you to be men and women of deep faith and prayer as she was? Today too, although in different ways, there is opposition to the saving message of Christ and Christians are called, just as they were in the past, to account for their hope, to offer to the world their witness to the Truth of the One who saves and redeems! May this new church thus be a privileged place for growth in the knowledge and love of the One whom we shall welcome in a few days time, rejoicing in his Birth as Redeemer of the world and our Saviour.


Allow me now, making the most of the dedication of this beautiful new church, to thank all who have contributed to building it. I know how committed the Diocese of Rome has been for years now to assuring adequate parish premises to every district of this city, in constant growth. I first greet and thank the Cardinal Vicar and, with him, Auxiliary Bishop Ernesto Mandara, Secretary of the Roman Work for the Preservation of the Faith and the Provision of New Churches in Rome.
I greet and thank you in particular, dear parishioners who have worked in various ways to build this parish centre. It joins the more than 50 parish churches already functioning, thanks to the considerable financial effort of the Diocese and of the many faithful and citizens of good will, as well as the collaboration of public institutions. On this Sunday which is precisely dedicated to supporting this praiseworthy work, I ask everyone to continue their generous commitment.


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22 December 2013