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Pope Francis hands gifts to children during a meeting with an Italian association for large families to mark the the feast of the Holy Family in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 28.

Vatican City

Pope: Christmas is time to heal wounds, defects, play with kids

By CAROL GLATZ, Catholic News Service | Published January 8, 2015

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Christmas is the time to heal wounds and fix whatever defects still linger in one’s life and heart, Pope Francis told Vatican employees.

And leading by example, the pope asked everyone for their forgiveness—for any errors or shortcomings he and his “colleagues” may be guilty of and “also for some scandals that cause so much harm. Forgive me.”

The pope’s comments came during a special audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall Dec. 22. It was the first time the pope invited everyone who works at the Vatican, along with their family members and loved ones, to receive the pope’s pre-Christmas greetings.

“I did not want to spend my second Christmas in Rome” without meeting the people whose hard work and dedication often go unnoticed, those who are “ironically defined as ‘the unknown, the invisible,’” like the gardeners, doormen and maintenance staff.

While the pope had warned the heads of the Roman Curia against 15 “illnesses” to avoid in their work as leaders within the church, the pope talked to employees about the importance of care, by underlining the connection between the word “curia” and the Italian word, “curare,” meaning “to take care of” and “to heal.”

He asked that they use the Christmas season as an occasion “to heal every wound and to take care of every shortcoming.”

The first thing to take care of is one’s spiritual life—one’s relationship with God—because that is “the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

“Christians who do not nourish themselves with prayer, the sacraments and the Word of God inevitably shrivel up and run dry,” he said.

Employees must take care of their families, he said. Their focus should not just be to provide an income, but to give all family members “time, attention and love.”

“The family is a treasure, children are a treasure,” he said.

He told everyone to ask themselves: “Do I have time to play with my children or am I always busy and I have no time for them?” Playing with one’s kids is so important and “it’s so wonderful. It is sowing the seeds of the future,” he said.

Other things the pope listed that people must take the time to do in their lives were: Take care of your relationships with others, transforming faith into good works, especially toward the elderly, homeless, sick, hungry and “the foreigner, because this is what we will be judged for.”

Watch your mouth, “purifying” one’s vocabulary. “Heal the wounds of the heart” by forgiving people who have wronged you and repairing wrongs caused to others. Be mindful of doing a good job by working “with enthusiasm, humility, competence and passion with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

Heal oneself of “envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our inner peace.” Pray to God for “the wisdom … to not say insulting things.” Let go of all “rancor that leads us to revenge and from laziness.”

Stop pointing fingers and “complaining continuously.”

The holy season of Christmas must be a time of joy in “welcoming the Lord in the creche and the heart.”

He asked that people look at others, especially those most in need, with God’s eyes—with “eyes of goodness and tenderness, the way God looks at us; he is waiting for us and he forgives us.”

Often people are afraid of humility and tenderness, the pope said, but it is in humility that “we find our strength, our treasure.”