Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Eucharist, we now turn to the celebration of Mass, starting with the introductory rites. These rites are not marginal: they dispose us to listen in faith to the word of God and to partake worthily in the Eucharistic sacrifice. Each ritual gesture is expressive of the mysteries we prepare to celebrate. As the priest kisses the altar, we are reminded that Mass is an encounter of love with the living Christ. As we join in making the sign of the cross, we recall that by our baptism we share in the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, revealed on the cross of Christ. So too, the liturgical greeting — "The Lord be with you” — and our response — “And with your spirit” — bring us together as members of Christ’s body the Church, each with his or her own gifts to offer in a harmonious symphony of praise and thanksgiving. The introductory rites culminate in the penitential act, in which we humbly acknowledge our sins, in order to pass with the Lord from death to new life through the sacramental celebration of his passion, death and resurrection.
Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’Udienza odierna, specialmente i gruppi di giovani studenti provenienti da Australia e Stati Uniti d’America. Nell’imminenza del Santo Natale, invoco su voi e sulle vostre famiglie la gioia e la pace nel Signore Gesù.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the student groups from Australia and the United States of America. In these final days before our celebration of Christmas, I invoke upon you and your families the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.