By Christina Hermoso
As Roman Catholics mark the Second Sunday of Advent today, Pope Francis called on the faithful to “choose prayer and charity over consumerism.”
“Resist the dazzling lights of consumption, which will shine everywhere this month, and believe that prayer and charity are not lost time, but the greatest treasures,” Pope Francis said in his homily for the First Sunday of Advent holy mass at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.
“This is the drama of today: Houses full of things, but empty of children,” the Pontiff added.
In a Catholic News Agency post, Pope Francis warned against giving too much premium on material things that one forgets about God.
“Consumerism is a virus that affects the faith at its root because it makes you believe that life depends only on what you have, and so you forget about God. The meaning of life is not to accumulate,” he stressed.
Living for material things, the Pontiff warned, cultivates greed and discontent.
“When you live for things, things are never enough. Greed grows and others become obstacles in the race and so you end up feeling threatened and, always dissatisfied and angry. ‘I want more, I want more, I want more.’ One has many goods, but no good is done.” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis celebrated the first mass for the Catholic Church’s liturgical year with Congolese immigrants at the St. Peter’s Altar of the Chair to mark the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy of Rome.
The holy mass included traditional Congolese music and the Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
“You have come from afar. You left your homes. You left loved ones and dear things. Once here, you have found acceptance along with difficulties and unexpected events. But for God you are always welcome. For Him we are never strangers,” the Pope told the immigrants.
“Today, we pray for peace, seriously threatened in the east of the country, especially in the territories of Beni and Minembwe, where conflicts are raging, fed also by the complicit silence of many. Conflicts fueled by those who get rich selling weapons,” he said.
The Holy Father reminded the faithful to prepare for the Lord’s coming.
“The Lord comes. Here is the root of our hope: the assurance that the consolation of God reaches us among the tribulations of the world, a consolation that is not made of words, but of presence, of His presence that comes among us,” he said.
Meanwhile, today’s Church rites will include the lighting of the candle of peace, the second purple candle in the Advent wreath. Also known as the Bethlehem candle, the second purple candle “serves as a reminder that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that Jesus is King,” said Church officials. The first purple candle, the symbol of hope, that was lit last Sunday on the First Sunday of Advent, will also be lighted.
According to the Church, the progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four-week Season of Advent, it mirrors the darkness of fear receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world.
Confessional prayers will be recited during the Eucharistic celebration as part of the period of anticipation and waiting for the Second Coming while preparing for the celebration of the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. Churchgoers are encouraged to go to confession “to welcome the dawning of the Birth of Christ with clean hearts.”