Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31, Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

The last day of the year is also the feast of St. Sylvester — bishop of Rome in 314. Constantine gave him the Lateran Palace, which became the cathedral church of Rome. Many legends exist about Sylvester. He supposedly cured Constantine from leprosy and later baptized him on his deathbed.
Pope Sylvester I was elected in 314 and led the Church during a time of peace after centuries of persecution. He was able to build the first St. Peter’s Basilica and he is the first person who was not a martyr to be venerated by the Church as a saint. Today Pope Benedict will meet with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the Director General of the Apostleship of Prayer, and will give him his prayer intentions for 2011. This will give the Apostleship time to translate them and prepare materials to help people pray for them. Now, as we come to the end of another calendar year, we pray for the Holy Father and all his intentions as we reflect on words he spoke at last year’s solemn vespers on this day.

The year that is ending and that which is approaching on the horizon are both under the blessed gaze of the Most Holy Mother of God. … Christ's Nativity, which we are commemorating in these days, is entirely suffused with the light of Mary and, while we pause at the manger to contemplate the Child, our gaze cannot fail to turn in gratitude also to his Mother, who with her "yes" made possible the gift of Redemption. This is why the Christmas Season brings with it a profoundly Marian connotation; the birth of Jesus as God and man and Mary's divine motherhood are inseparable realities; the mystery of Mary and the mystery of the Only-Begotten Son of God who was made man form a single mystery, in which the one helps to better understand the other. became man to set us free you did not spurn the Virgin's womb".

This evening, let us place in the hands of the heavenly Mother of God our choral hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts he has generously granted us during the past 12 months. The first sentiment which spontaneously rises in our hearts this evening is precisely that of praise and thanksgiving to the One who gave us time, a precious opportunity to do good; let us combine with it our request for forgiveness for perhaps not always having spent it usefully. …By coming into the world, the eternal Word of the Father revealed to us God's closeness and the ultimate truth about man and his eternal destiny; he came to stay with us to be our irreplaceable support, especially in the inevitable daily difficulties. … In our times, marked by uncertainty and concern for the future, it is necessary to experience the living presence of Christ. It is Mary, Star of Hope who leads us to him.

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