Friday, January 06, 2012

Benedict XVI and True Christmas

Pope Benedict XVI and the True Meaning of Christmas

No less than a dozen times in a span of less than a month between 27 November and 24 December 2011, has the Holy Father directly or indirectly invited Christians to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas through the neglected preparatory period of Advent and especially by guarding against falling prey to the commercial distractions and external trappings of what appears to be Christmas.

Compiled by Austine J. Crasta, S.T.B.

"Let us heed the message in today's Gospel by entering prayerfully into this holy season, so that we may be ready to greet Jesus Christ, who is God with us." [Benedict XVI, Angelus, 27 November 2011.]

"Dear young people, I invite you to rediscover intimacy with Christ in the spiritual atmosphere of Advent..." [Benedict XVI, General Audience, 30 November 2011.]

"Today Advent is often exactly the opposite: a time of frenzied activity, of people buying and selling, making preparations for Christmas, for large meals and so forth. It is also like this for us. Yet, as you have seen, the popular traditions of faith have not disappeared, indeed, they are being renewed, deepened, updated. And thus they create islands for the soul, islands of silence, islands of faith, islands for the Lord in our time, and to me this seems very important. And we must say “thank you” to all those who perpetrate them: they do so in families, in churches, with more or less professional groups, but they all do the same thing: they make the reality of faith present in our homes, in our epoch. And let us hope that in the future too this effort of faith, its visibility, will endure and will help us move forward, as Advent wishes, towards the Lord." [Benedict XVI, Address, 2 December 2011.]

"John the Baptist’s style must remind all Christians to opt for a lifestyle of moderation, especially in preparation for the celebration of the Christmas festivity" [Benedict XVI, Angelus, 4 December 2011.]

"We know that Christmas is approaching: let us prepare not only with gifts but with our hearts... Preparing for Christmas is very difficult today. And I know there are so many commitments. But preparing for Christmas is not only buying, preparing and thinking, it is also keeping in touch with the Lord, going to meet him. And it seems to me very important not to forget this dimension." [Benedict XVI, Address, 11 December 2011.]

"The external environment proposes the usual commercial messages, although perhaps to a lesser degree because of the economic crisis. Christians are asked to live Advent without allowing themselves be distracted by the bright lights but knowing how to give things their proper value and how to fix their inner gaze on Christ." [Benedict XVI, Angelus, 11 December 2011.]

"To you who live in the heart of the cultural and social environment of our time, who are experiencing the new and ever more refined technologies and who are protagonists of a dynamism in history that at times seems overwhelming, the Apostle’s invitation may seem anachronistic or as it were an invitation to leave history, not to want to see the results of your work, of your research. But is this really so? Is God’s invitation to wait really untimely? And we might ask ourselves even more radically: what does Christmas mean for me? Is it really important for my existence, for building society? There are many people in our time, especially among those you meet in university lecture halls, who voice the question of whether we should await something or someone; whether we should await another messiah, another god; whether it is worth trusting in that Child whom we shall find on Christmas Night in the manger between Mary and Joseph?" [Benedict XVI, Vespers Homily, 15 December 2011.]

"Dear friends, the tree and the crib are elements of the typical Christmas atmosphere that is part of our communities’ spiritual legacy: an atmosphere steeped in religious devotion and family closeness that we must also preserve in today’s society, in which consumerism and the quest for material goods sometimes seem to prevail. Christmas is a Christian feast and its symbols are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus, which the liturgy constantly calls to mind. The Creator of the universe, in making himself a child, came to live among us to share our journey. He made himself little to enter the human heart and thus to renew it with his love. Let us prepare to welcome him with faith." [Benedict XVI, Address, 16 December 2011.]

"I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good preparation for Holy Christmas." [Benedict XVI, Angelus, 18 December 2011.]

"The greeting on everyone’s lips in these days is “Happy Christmas! Best wishes for the Christmas festivities!”. Let us ensure that in today’s society too the exchange of good wishes does not lose its profound religious value and that the feast is not emptied by the exterior aspects which pluck at our heartstrings. The external signs are of course beautiful and important, as long as they do not distract us but rather help us to live Christmas in its truest sense, as sacred and Christian, so that our joy too may not be superficial but profound." [Benedict XVI, General Audience, 21 December 2011.]

"I wish all of you and your families a truly Christian celebration of Christmas so that the exchange of greetings on that day may also be an expression of the joy of knowing that God is close to us and wants to accompany us on our journey through life. Many thanks." [Benedict XVI, General Audience, 21 December 2011.]

"Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light." [Benedict XVI, Homily at Midnight Mass, 24 December 2011.]

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