Advent & Christmastide: January 2013 Archives

An annual tradition on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the baptism of the children by the Pope in the Sistine Chapel. Today, Benedict baptized 20 children. This is the same place where the cardinals meet under lock and key to elect a new pontiff. Here is the pope's teaching.

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The joy arising from the celebration of Christmas finds its completion today in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. To this joy is added another reason for those of us who are gathered here: in the Sacrament of Baptism that will soon be administered to these infants, the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested, enriching the Church with new children, enlivening and making them grow, and we cannot help but rejoice. I wish to extend a special greeting to you, dear parents and godparents, who today bear witness to your faith by requesting Baptism for these children, because they are regenerated to new life in Christ and become part of the community of believers.

The Gospel account of Jesus' baptism, which we have heard today according to St Luke's account, shows the path of abasement and humility that the Son of God freely chose in order to adhere to the plan of the Father, to be obedient to His loving will for mankind in all things, even to the sacrifice on the Cross. Having reached adulthood, Jesus begins His public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John the baptism of repentance and conversion. What happens may appear paradoxical to our eyes. Does Jesus need repentance and conversion? Of course not. Yet He Who is without sin is placed among the sinners to be baptized, to fulfil this act of repentance; the Holy One of God joins those who recognize in themselves the need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion - that is, the grace to turn to Him with their whole heart, to be totally His. Jesus wills to put Himself on the side of sinners, by being in solidarity with them, expressing the nearness of God. Jesus shows solidarity with us, with our effort to convert, to leave behind our selfishness, to detach ourselves from our sins, saying to us that if we accept Him into our lives, He is able to raise us up and lead us the heights of God the Father. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to speak, a mere exercise of the mind and will. Jesus was really immersed in our human condition; He lived it to the utmost - although without sin - and in such a way that He understands weakness and fragility. Therefore He is moved to compassion; He chooses to "suffer with" men, to be penitent together with us. This is the work of God that Jesus wishes to accomplish: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and to cure those who are sick, to take upon Himself the sin of the world.

The Spirit descends

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Jesus comes up out of the water and raises up the whole world with him. He sees the heavens rent open, which Adam had barred to himself and his posterity even as paradise was barred by a flaming sword. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, because he had come from heaven. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood, and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

Saint Gregory Nazianzen

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Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us Thine aid!
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid!

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him, in slumber reclining, --
Maker, and Monarch and Savior of All.

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom, and offerings divine,
Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us Thine aid!
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid!

Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
Anglican Bishop of Calcutta
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The beauty of Nativity has been marred by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Naturally, some good hardly find joy, hope, people, love with the terrible loss; some even question the existence of a God who really knows and loves us. Here is the text of a sermon delivered on the Third Sunday Advent by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, at the National Shrine here in Washington. The archbishop is a gift theologian, trained at Yale and now works at the Holy See. 

As we prepare to celebrate the 12th day of Day of Christmas perhaps it is worthwhile reflecting on what needs saying.

Brothers and sisters in Christ. A week ago today, in St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut, the Dominican Fr. Peter John Cameron opened his homily with the startling words: "Never before has the Massacre of the Holy Innocents taken place before the Birth of Christ. But that is what has happened in Newtown." At another point in his homily he mentioned that he had run into a man that morning who reported that someone had said to him that Christmas should be canceled this year.  "No," Fr. Cameron declared, "Christmas will not be canceled! We need Christmas more than ever! Because the only way that we can make sense of this horror is if God himself becomes flesh and comes to dwell among us as our Friend. We need the presence of Jesus Christ in our midst to rescue us from this misery."
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Pope meets the Kings

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The Pope meets the Kings on January 1.

Do you ever ask what peace really is? What are the horizons of peace? Why is the name of Jesus held holy, revered, not to be easily used in common speech? What brings every man, woman and child peace? Who is Mary, and why is she important? Pope Benedict answers these questions in a homily at a Mass he celebrated today to mark the New Year, the World Day of Peace, the solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most ven...

The Theotokos of Vladimir.

"May God bless us and make his face to shine upon us." We proclaimed these words from Psalm 66 after hearing in the first reading the ancient priestly blessing upon the people of the covenant. It is especially significant that at the start of every new year God sheds upon us, his people, the light of his
Holy Name, the Name pronounced three times in the solemn form of biblical blessing. Nor is it less significant that to the Word of God - who "became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14) as "the true light that enlightens every man" (1:9) - is given, as today's Gospel tells us, the Name of Jesus eight days after his birth (cf. Lk 2:21).

It is in this Name that we are gathered here today. I cordially greet all present, beginning with the Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I greet with affection Cardinal Bertone, my Secretary of State, and Cardinal Turkson, with all the officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; I am particularly grateful to them for their effort to spread the Message for the World Day of Peace, which this year has as its theme "Blessed are the Peacemakers".

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Advent & Christmastide category from January 2013.

Advent & Christmastide: December 2012 is the previous archive.

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