First Vespers of Advent with the Holy Father

December 3, 2012

This past Saturday evening, the Holy Father celebrated the First Vespers of the Advent Season with Rome’s University community–students, professors, and chaplains.  For the past several years, and also this year, the event begins before the Pope’s arrival with the procession of a modern icon of Sedes Sapientiae (Our Lady Seat of Wisdom).  At the end of the liturgy, the icon was taken by Brazilian students, in anticipation of the next world Youth Day to be held in Brazil. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the profound mystery of the advent season:

God is not self-enclosed in his heaven, but bent down into the history of man: a great mystery that surpasses every possible expectation.  God entered into the time of men in an unexpected way:  making himself a child and traversing the stages of human life, so that our entire existence, spirit, soul, and body–recalling the words of St. Paul–might be kept irreproachable and be elevated to the heights of God.  And all of this he does on account of his faithful love for humanity.  When it is true, love tends by its nature to the good of the other, to the greater possible good, and is not limited simply to respecting duties undertaken in friendship, but goes further, without cost or measure.  This is precisely what the living and true God has done, whose profound mystery was revealed to us in the words of St. John:  “God is love”.  In Jesus of Nazareth, this God has taken onto himself the fullness of humanity, the fulness of human history, and gives a new, decisive direction towards a new way of being human, characterized by being born of God and of striving towards him.

He also reminded students that university training is a preparation, a preparation to serve the Church and the community.  As such, the liturgical life must remain at the center of their own life of faith:

The liturgy, seen in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school to live the life of Christian faith, a “theological” faith that involves your entire being–spirit, soul, and body–to make you become living stones in the construction of the Church and collaborators in the New Evangelization. In a particular way, in the Eucharist, the living God makes himself so near, by making himself the food that sustains us on the way, the presence that transforms with the fire of his love.

Below is a series of pictures taken from Advent.  To see a video of Vespers, visit the website of the Holy See.

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