Sunday, December 25, 2005

Urbi et Mitre

Cardinal Ratzinger's favorite piece of headgear -- the mitre with shells and the image of the shepherd culled from the Roman Catacombs, which featured prominently in the early days of this pontificate -- has returned to the Pope's head for Christmas.

With apologies to all those excitedly awaiting the return of fanon, falda and sedia gestatoria -- but all to no avail (Boo. Hoo. Hoo.) -- we return to actual substance with these excerpts of today's greeting from the Loggia Balcony at noon, Benedict XVI's first Urbi et Orbi.....
Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man" (Saint Augustine, Sermo, 185.) Wake up, O men and women of the third millennium!

At Christmas, the Almighty becomes a child and asks for our help and protection. His way of showing that he is God challenges our way of being human. By knocking at our door, he challenges us and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live our lives. The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason from its slumbers, humanity’s enlightenment after an age of darkness. Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world. For this reason, the words of the Christmas Gospel: "the true Light that enlightens every man was coming into this world" (Jn 1:9) resound now more than ever as a proclamation of salvation. "It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear" (Gaudium et Spes, 22). The Church does not tire of repeating this message of hope reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which concluded forty years ago.

Men and women of today, humanity come of age yet often still so frail in mind and will, let the Child of Bethlehem take you by the hand! Do not fear; put your trust in him! The life-giving power of his light is an incentive for building a new world order based on just ethical and economic relationships. May his love guide every people on earth and strengthen their common consciousness of being a "family" called to foster relationships of trust and mutual support. A united humanity will be able to confront the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet....
OK, so that's poverty, pollution, pandemics and proliferation. This is the Gospel of Life.

And speaking of the Midnight Homily, the fulltext has finally been posted..... I was looking for this, the first paragraph, because it puts liturgy and salvation history in the context of the chronicle of the secular world, using it to flesh out something bigger..... Again, try to find an audio version in Italian and listen to it while reading the English text.
"The Lord said to me: You are my son; this day I have begotten you". With these words of the second Psalm, the Church begins the Vigil Mass of Christmas, at which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Redeemer in a stable in Bethlehem. This Psalm was once a part of the coronation rite of the kings of Judah. The people of Israel, in virtue of its election, considered itself in a special way a son of God, adopted by God. Just as the king was the personification of the people, his enthronement was experienced as a solemn act of adoption by God, whereby the King was in some way taken up into the very mystery of God. At Bethlehem night, these words, which were really more an expression of hope than a present reality, took on new and unexpected meaning. The Child lying in the manger is truly God’s Son. God is not eternal solitude but rather a circle of love and mutual self-giving. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
More soon. Will offer a review of my Midnight Mass....

PHOTO: AFP/Vincenzo Pinto