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Spiritual preparation ensures Christmas joy, Pope tells parish

Catholic World News - December 12, 2011

During a December 11 visit to a parish in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that preparing for Christmas has become “very difficult” in today’s world, but exhorted the faithful to remember that the most important preparation is spiritual.

The Pontiff reminded the parishioners of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in northern Rome, that the last few weeks before Christmas should be not just a time of shopping and party planning, but a time of prayer. “This is not an additional burden,” the Pope said. That prayer, he said, is “the power that enables us to do all we need to do.”

“It is important not to forget this dimension,” the Pope said. An AP account of his advice suggested that the Pope was speaking about the difficult economic conditions facing Italian families. In fact, his focus was on the difficulty of maintaining a proper spiritual perspective in an environment permeated by consumerism.

Spiritual preparation for Christmas is founded upon the Eucharist and sacramental Confession, the Pope said. Through this preparation, he added, Catholics can overcome the difficulties they face, confident in God’s help. Noting that the day was the 3rd Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Sunday—he said the day is a reminder that “joy exists because God exists, and He is with us.”

Pope Benedict left the parishioners with a challenge: "This is our mission in the season of Advent: to be witnesses of light."

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