Pope Francis on First Sunday of Advent: "I’m improving, but my voice still doesn’t work"

Papal aide Monsignor Paolo Braida reads Pope Francis' prepared remarks for the Sunday Angelus on Dec. 3, 2023, from the chapel at the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis for the second consecutive Sunday was assisted by an aide in praying the Angelus as he continues to recover from an acute bronchial infection. 

“Even today I won’t be able to read everything: I’m improving, but my voice still doesn’t work,” the pope said during the Sunday morning broadcast on the first Sunday of Advent. Instead “it will be Monsignor [Paolo] Braida who reads the catechesis,” Francis continued. 

Braida, who serves as the head of office at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, once again read the pope’s remarks from the chapel at the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. Last week the pope introduced him, saying he is the person who usually drafts the pope’s Angelus reflections.

Pope Francis normally prays the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square. 

On Saturday afternoon the Holy See Press Office reported that “the health conditions of the Holy Father are improving; the pope has no fever and is continuing with the appropriate therapy. To avoid exposure to sudden changes in temperature, tomorrow morning Pope Francis will recite the Angelus via connection from Casa Santa Marta.”


Braida opened the first Angelus of the new liturgical year by reading the pope’s remarks on the theme of “vigilance,” noting that in the Christian context being vigilant does not arise out of “fear” but instead stems from a sense “of longing, of waiting to go forth to meet their Lord who is coming.” 

Reflecting on the parable of the master who goes from his house, leaving his servants in charge, the pope in his remarks noted that “they remain in readiness for his return because they care for him, because they have in mind that when he returns, they will make him find a welcoming and orderly home; they are happy to see him, to the point that they look forward to his return as a feast for the whole great family of which they are a part.” 

The same sense of longing that defines the season of Advent prepares us “to welcome Jesus at Christmas.”

The idea of preparedness is, Braida read, ultimately one characterized by hope as seen in the “attitude of the sentinel, who in the night is not tempted by weariness, does not fall asleep but remains awake awaiting the coming light. The Lord is our light and it is good to dispose the heart to welcome him with prayer and to host him with charity, the two preparations that, so to speak, make him comfortable.”

To that end, Advent is not only a time of preparation but also of interior reflection where we can ask ourselves “how we can prepare a welcoming heart for the Lord.”

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“We can do so by approaching his forgiveness, his word, his table, finding space for prayer, welcoming those in need. Let us cultivate his expectation without letting ourselves be distracted by so many pointless things and without complaining all the time, but keeping our hearts alert, that is, eager for him, awake and ready, impatient to meet him.”

After the recitation of the Angelus, Braida read the pope’s appeal, drawing attention to the end of the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, which lasted from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, allowed for humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza, and resulted in a prisoner exchange between the two parties. 

“It grieves us that the truce has been broken: that means death, destruction, misery. Many hostages have been freed, but many are still in Gaza. Let’s think to them, to their families who had seen a light, a hope of hugging their loved ones again,” Braida read. 

The Qatari state-owned media outlet Al-Jazeera reported that a Hamas official told the network that “negotiations on prisoner exchanges are now over and will not resume until Israel halts its attack and hands over all Palestinian prisoners.” 

The pope’s aide then noted that the Holy Father was following the events of the United Nations Climate Conference despite not being able to take the trip himself due to his illness.


“Even if from a distance, I am following the COP28 proceedings in Dubai with great attention. I’m close. I renew my appeal to respond to climate change with concrete political changes: Let us escape from the constraints of particularism and nationalism, patterns of the past, and embrace a common vision, committing ourselves all now, without delay, for a necessary global ecological conversion,” Braida read.

The pontiff, who will turn 87 on Dec. 17, was supposed to be in Dubai from Dec. 1–3 to deliver a speech to the conference and preside over the opening of the first-ever faith pavilion. However, given his illness and the ongoing treatment, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, led the Vatican delegation in place of the pope.

The pope closed the broadcast by telling the nearly 20,000 faithful present in the piazza and those watching the broadcast: “I wish everyone a happy Sunday and a happy Advent journey.”