Friday, 24 December 2010
Text of the Holy Father's "Thought for the Day":
Recalling with great fondness my four-day visit to the United Kingdom last September, I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you once again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation.
They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.
God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them.
The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place - he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history.
And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means; rather, Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross.
And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God.
Out of love for us, he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life to a share in the life of God himself.
As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.
Dear Friends from Scotland, England, Wales and indeed every part of the English-speaking world. I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers this Holy Season.
I pray for your families, for your children, for those who are sick and for those who are going through any form of hardship at this time.
I pray especially for the elderly and for those who are approaching the end of their days.
I ask Christ, the light of the nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant to every one of you the grace of a peaceful and joyful Christmas.
May God bless all of you!
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit.
The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him.
We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die.
In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it.
All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet.
It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God.
Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident.
This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous.
Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.
Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter.
If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves.
Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): In Praise of the Virgin Mother (Hom. 4, 8-9) from the Office of Readings for December 20
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Friday, 10 December 2010
Petition by Wilson Chowdhry Vice Chairman of the "British Pakistani Christian Association"
Asia Bibi an innocent Christian woman caught up in the injust and unequal society of Pakistan has been given an historical death sentence (by hanging) from the Sheikupura Court of Pakistan. The malevolent Blasphemy Law of Pakistan is a constant threat to people from minority faiths residing in Pakistan.
The BPCA calls for the British Government to urge the president of Pakistan to act by bringing an anullment to this unjust legal decision.
We urge the UK Pakistani Embassy to seek justice for this victim and to urge a repeal of the judicial decision by President Zirdari. We express our complete horror that such a decision has caused turmoil and perplexity to an innocent mother and her family.
Thanks H/T Fr Blake