Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"Under the influence of a hedonistic consumerism, unfortunately, Christmas runs the risk of losing its spiritual significance to be reduced to a mere commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts. In truth, nevertheless, the difficulties and the uncertainties and the very economic crisis that in these months so many families are living, and which affects all of humanity, can be a stimulus to discover the warmth of simplicity, friendship and solidarity -- characteristic values of Christmas. Stripped of consumerist and materialist incrustations, Christmas can thus become an occasion to welcome, as a personal gift, the message of hope that emanates from the mystery of the birth of Christ.

"All of this, nevertheless, is not enough to assimilate fully the value of the feast for which we are preparing. We know that it celebrates the central event of history: the incarnation of the divine Word for the redemption of humanity. St. Leo the Great, in one of his numerous Christmas homilies, thus exclaimed: "Let us exult in the Lord, my dear ones, and open our hearts to the most pure joy. Because the day has dawned that for us means the new redemption, the ancient preparation, eternal bliss. Thus in the yearly cycle, the elevated mystery of our salvation is renewed for us, which, promised at the beginning and fulfilled at the end of times, is destined to endure without end (Homily XXII).

"At Christmas, then, we are not limited to commemorating the birth of a great personality; we do not celebrate simply and in the abstract the mystery of the birth of man or in general, the birth of life; neither do we celebrate only the beginning of a great season. At Christmas, we remember something very concrete and important for man, something essential for Christian faith, a truth that St. John summarized in these few words: "The Word was made flesh.""

Pope Benedict XVI
December 17, 2008