CNA) - On Saturday night, Pope Benedict XVI officiated a celebration in St. Peter's Basilica of first vespers before the first Sunday of the Advent season. His message in the homily was one of 'silence and hope' during the season of Advent.
The Holy Father ushered the Church into the new liturgical year, telling those in attendance at yesterday evening's celebration of first vespers that "Advent invites us to pause in silence to understand a Presence."
In his homily, Pope Benedict, gave a short lesson on the meaning of 'advent' to those early Christians who adopted the word "to explain their relationship with Jesus Christ." He taught that the word adventus would have been understood by them in that time to mean "God is here, he hasn't retired to his world, he hasn't left us alone." He further explained that an additional definition of the word could be " a visit from God."
His Holiness implored that the faithful put aside the activities, amusements, and multiple societal interests that "possess us" and can "sweep us away" to take the time observe silence and seek to understand signs of God that are present in every day life. These signs, he said, illustrate the presence of His love.
The Pontiff explained that "Advent invites and stimulates us to contemplate the Lord present."
It's also a time of expectation and hope, the Pope said. "It is a favorable occasion for our salvation." But, he continued, one has "hoped too little if beyond the profession or social position he has nothing left to hope in"
"Hope signals the path for humanity, and for Christians," he continued, " this is encouraged by a certainty: the Lord is present in our lives."
Through this relationship, he said, when a person's "time is full of sense, and in each instant we perceive something specific and valid, then the joy of the expectation makes the present more precious."
Pope Benedict called the congregation to "live the present intensely" and to "project it towards the future" with the gifts given to each of them. "In this way," he related, "the Christian Advent becomes occasion for a reawakening of the true meaning of expectation in us, returning to the heart of our faith that the mystery of Christ, the much awaited Messiah... "
"And if Jesus is present there no longer exists any time without meaning and empty," said the Holy Father, "if He is present, we can continue to hope even when others can no longer assure us of support, even when the present becomes difficult.""Advent is a time of the presence and the expectation in the eternal," he stated. "Exactly for this reason, it is... the time of joy, an internalized joy, that no suffering can negate. Joy because God is made child."