Pope: 'Advent is joyful because we await the birth of Christ'

 At noon yesterday, in remarks made before praying the Angelus with pilgrims who had gathered below his study window overlooking St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul noted that this third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called 'Gaudete' Sunday, as it is a day that calls the faithful to joy. "Advent is a time of joy," he said, "because it makes us relive the anticipation of the most joyful event in history - the birth of the Son of God to the Virgin Mary. To know that God is not far but near, not indifferent but compassionate, not extraneous but a merciful Father who lovingly follows us in respect for our freedom: all of this is reason for a deep joy that daily events can not mar." He said: "an unmistakable characteristic of Christian joy is that it can coexist with suffering because it is all based on love. In fact, the Lord Who is 'near', to the point of becoming man, comes to infuse us with His joy, the joy of loving. Only in this way can we understand the joyful serenity of martyrs in the midst of trials or the smile of the saints of charity before those in pain: a smile that does not offend but rather consoles." After praying the Angelus, the Pope addressed the children gathered in St Peter's Square who had brought him their statues of Baby Jesus for the traditional blessing before Christmas. "When you place these statues in the nativity scene," he told them, "say a prayer for me and for the many people who turn to the Pope in their difficulties. Merry Christmas to all!" Source: VIS

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