.- Pope Benedict XVI marked 2012's Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God with a proclamation of the peace that is found in her son Jesus Christ.
âAs Saint Paul says, 'He is our peace,' and at the same time the 'way' by which individuals and peoples can reach this goal to which we all aspire,â the Pope said in his homily on the Jan. 1 feast day, which coincided with the Church's 45th annual World Day of Peace.
The Pope welcomed pilgrims, Church leaders, and international dignitaries to St. Peter's Basilica for the year's first public Papal Mass. He told them that peace, âin the highest and fullest sense, is the sum and synthesis of all blessingsâ given by God.
âThe Church too, on the first day of the year, invokes this supreme good in a special way,â he explained. âShe does so, like the Virgin Mary, by revealing Jesus to all.â
âJesus is a way that can be traveled, open to everyone,â the Pope said. âHe is the path of peace. Today the Virgin Mary points him out to us, she shows us the way. Let us walk in it!â
Jan. 1 also saw the official release of the Pope's statement for the World Day of Peace, on the theme of âEducating Young People in Justice and Peace.â
In his homily, he called this education âa task for every generation,â and said humanity âhas shown increasing awareness of itâ in light of the 20th century's tragic events.
From the Church's perspective, an education in peace is also âpart of the mission received from Christ â¦ because the Gospel of Christ is also the Gospel of justice and peace.â
But he warned against a âtechnological mentalityâ and a âculture of relativismâ that can obscure the need for virtue and truth in the educational process.
The Pope highlighted the role of families and religious communities, in helping young people to âlearn the importance and the art of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding.â
These goals, he said, are closely tied to the work of religious instruction.
âEvery pathway of authentic religious formation guides the person, from the most tender age, to know God, to love him and to do his will,â the Pope observed. âGod is love, he is just and peaceable, and anyone wishing to honor him must first of all act like a child following his fatherâs example.â
In his Angelus address after the Jan. 1 Mass, Pope Benedict offered further thoughts on the peace offered to humanity in Christ.
The âface of Godâ was ârevealed in Jesus,â he told pilgrims gathered outside the window of his study for Sunday's midday prayer.
âThus do we begin the new year 2012 with our gaze fixed on the face of God, revealed in the child of Bethlehem,â he said, âand on his mother Mary, who with humble submission accepted the divine plan.â
Through Mary's acceptance of God's will, âthe true light which enlightens everyone came into the world, and the path of peace was reopened.â
Pope Benedict invited all people âto have the patience and constancy to seek out justice and peace, to cultivate a taste for what is just and true.â
He noted that peace was ânever a quality that can be fully achieved, but a goal to which we must all aspire and for which we must all work.â
âLet us pray that the leaders of nations may renew their willingness and commitment to accept and support this irrepressible desire of humanity,â he urged, entrusting this hope to Mary as âthe mother of the 'King of Peace.'â
Feast of the Holy Family
Two days before the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Church observed another feast of the Christmas season as it honored the Holy Family on Dec. 30.
In his Dec. 28 general audience, Pope Benedict continued his series on prayer with a reflection on the prayer life of Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph.
Through their example, he said, âwe learn to contemplate the mystery of Godâs presence and to grow as faithful disciples of Christ.â
He noted that the Gospels âpresent Mary as the supreme model of prayerful meditation on the mysteries of Christâs life,âwhich the Church continues to practice through the Rosary.
Joseph, meanwhile, taught Jesus his own âquiet fidelity to work, prayer and observance of the precepts of the law.â
At the center of the Holy Family was âJesus' unique relationship with his heavenly Father,â a mystery that âstands at the heart of all Christian prayer.â
âMay the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer,â the Pope said, as he urged parents and children to âcome to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas.â