Pope to work overtime at Christmas

The Vatican has announced that 78 year old Pope Benedict XVI will rise to the challenge of a gruelling schedule of public Masses and prayer services at Christmas time.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that the Vatican Information Office released his calendar of liturgical celebrations yesterday.

He will be celebrating Christmas for the first time as pope. Last year, Pope John Paul II had to have his Christmas schedule cut back on account of his declining health.

Benedict's calendar includes:

* Presiding at Christmas Mass at midnight in St. Peter's Basilica.

* Giving a message and the traditional blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) from the central balcony of the basilica on 25 Decemeber at midday.

* Presiding over evening prayer and offering a prayer of thanks for the past year at a 6 p.m. service in St. Peter's Basilica on 31 December.

* Presiding over Mass 1 January in St. Peter's Basilica for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and World Day of Peace.

* Celebrating Mass for the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord 6 January in St. Peter's Basilica.

* Celebrating Mass on 8 January, feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and baptising infants in the Sistine Chapel.

In addition, the Holy Father will hold his annual meeting with cardinals and Vatican officials next Thursday. His speech for the occasion usually provides a review of the past year in the life of the church.

The pope also will hold his Wednesday weekly general audiences as usual during the Christmas season.

In Australia, the ABC TV will provide live coverage of Midnight Mass at 11:10 am on Christmas Day in NSW/ACT, VIC, QLD and TAS, and in delay to other states (11:10 am local time).

Pope Benedict has full calendar of public events for Christmas (Catholic News Service 15/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Celebrations to be presided by the Pope during Christmas (Vatican Information Service 15/12/05)

Theological dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox (Vatican Information Service 15/12/05)
Companies holding publishing rights of pope's works meet at Vatican (Catholic News Service 14/12/05)
Catholics, Orthodox have responsibility to work for unity, pope says (Catholic News Service 15/12/05)
Papal visit to Spain in 2006 confirmed (Catholic News Agency 15/12/05)
Pope to baptize children, not ordain bishops (Catholic World News 15/12/05)
Pope again stresses ecumenical dialogue with Orthodox (Catholic World News 15/12/05)
"God Is Always With Us," Says Benedict XVI (Zenit 14/12/05)
Commentary on Psalm 138(139):1-12 (Zenit 14/12/05)
Papal Homily on 40th Anniversary of Close of Vatican II (Zenit 14/12/05)

16 Dec 2005