.- Advent calls man to strengthen the virtue of patience as he relies on Scripture to "make firm" his heart for the coming of the Lord, said the Pope at Sunday's Angelus.
More than 2,000 children were part of the large crowd present to pray the Angelus with the Pope at noon on Dec. 12. They had come especially to have Benedict XVI bless the baby Jesus statues from their family nativity scenes.
The Pontiff greeted them in particular as they waved handkerchiefs up towards his window and many cheered from their strollers or atop the shoulders of parents.
The Pope focused his message before the prayer on patience, as spoken of in the day's reading from the Letter of St. James.
"Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord," the reading began.
This virtue is more important than ever today in a world in which it is "less popular," where change and the capacity to adapt to change are exalted, said the Pope.
"Without taking anything from these aspects, which are also qualities of man," he taught, "Advent calls us to strengthen that interior persistence, that resistence of the soul that permits us to not despair ... but rather to wait for it, to prepare the coming with hard-working confidence."
St. James spoke of the patience of farmers who await the autumn and spring rains and called people to "make firm" their hearts for the coming of the Lord.
This comparison to farmers is a "very expressive" one, said the Pope, as the farmer is "the model of a mentality that unites faith and reason equally." He does his work using his knowledge of the laws of nature but also entrusts the fundamental elements of his work to God's providence.
"Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human commitment to and reliance on God," said the Pope.
And, Scripture, he said, is unfailing in making man's heart firm because "while everything passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not."
He called Scripture a "compass" and an "anchor" that can be used to regain orientation when one feels lost or uncertain.
Prophets have found joy and strength in the Word, announcing "the true hope, that which does not disappoint because it is founded on the faithfulness of God." Men often find themselves on "mistaken paths" when choosing to seek out their own paths to happiness, he said.
"Every Christian," concluded the Pope, "by virtue of Baptism, has received the prophetic dignity: may every person rediscover and feed it, with regular listening to the divine Word."
After the Angelus, Benedict XVI asked the children to say a prayer for him and his intentions as they place the baby Jesus in the manger or grotto this Christmas.