.- Pope Benedict XVI consecrated a new parish church for the city of Rome yesterday. Celebrating Mass for the second Sunday of Advent at St. Mary Star of Evangelization Parish, the Holy Father recalled the important role Catholic parishes and their church buildings should play in communities.
“The parish is a beacon that radiates the light of faith," the Pope said, "above all in our largely secularized world. Thus it meets the most profound and authentic desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families."
St. Mary Star of Evangelization is a young parish, noted the Pope, both because it was founded in 1989 and because most of its families are young. "Your community," he went on, "has the arduous but fascinating task of educating its children in the life and the joy of the faith. I trust that together, in a spirit of sincere communion, you will prepare the Sacraments of Christian initiation, and help your boys and girls ... to grow in love and faithfulness to the Lord."
A sacred building, the Holy Father explained, "exists so that the Word of God may be heard, explained and understood. ... It exists so that the Word of God can work among us as a power that creates justice and love."
“The church exists so we can meet Christ there, Son of the living God. God has a face. God has a name. In Christ, God became flesh and gives Himself to us in the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist," he said.
"We humans," the Pope added, "live from Truth. This Truth is a Person, it speaks to us and we speak to it. The church is the place we meet the Son of the living God and thus it is also the place we meet one another. This is the joy God gives us: that He became one of us, that we can almost touch Him, and that He lives with us. Truly, the joy of God is our strength."
The Virgin Mary, said the Pope, also shows us why church buildings exist, “they exist so that within each of us a space may be created for the Word of God, so that within us and through us the Word can become flesh today."
Benedict XVI had previously visited two Roman parishes. On December 18, 2005 he visited the parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice which was his titular church from 1977 to 1993, and on March 26, 2006 he visited the parish of God the Merciful Father.
In his homily, Benedict XVI, praised the efforts made by the people of Rome to create awareness for the needs of many parishes in Rome and to raise funds for building new churches on the city outskirts, especially in the season of Advent. “The new church Pope Benedict pointed out, "joins the more than 50 parish structures already built over these years thanks to the Vicariate of Rome's economic efforts, the contributions of so many faithful, and the concern of the civil authorities.”
"I ask all faithful, and all citizens of good will to continue their generous commitment, so that neighborhoods that are still deprived may, as soon as possible, have a home for their parish,” the Holy Father said.