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Pope Benedict's Christmas 05 Reflections

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LIGHT OF CHRISTMAS, A SYMBOL OF GOOD THAT CONQUERS EVIL

VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2005 (VIS) - "The light of Christmas" was the theme of Benedict XVI's special catechesis in today's pre-Christmas general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people.

"Today's audience is taking place in a climate of joyful and eager expectation as we await the imminent Christmas festivities," said the Pope, adding that many symbols help us to understand the mystery of Christmas, "among them that of the light, which is one of the richest in spiritual significance."

He went on: "Christmas in our hemisphere coincides with the days in which the sun completes its descendent cycle and the period of daylight gradually begins to lengthen. ... This helps us to a better understanding of the subject of light overcoming shadow; a symbol evoking a truth that touches the most intimate part of man: the light of goodness that overcomes evil, ... of life that overcomes death. Christmas - which re-presents us with the announcement of the definitive victory of God's love over sin and death - causes us to think of this interior light, this divine light. ... As we prepare to celebrate with joy the birth of the Savior in our families and our ecclesial communities, a certain form of modern consumer culture tends to remove Christian symbols from the Christmas celebration. Let everyone, then, seek to understand the value of the Christmas traditions, which are part of the heritage of our faith and our culture."

"In particular, when we see streets and squares adorned by dazzling lights, let us remember that these lights call us to another light, one invisible to the eyes but not to the heart. As we admire them, as we light the candles in church or the lights on the nativity scene or the Christmas tree in our homes, let our souls open to the true spiritual light, which was brought to all men and women of good will."

The Pope concluded his catechesis by calling on the faithful to "maintain their interior wonder" as they celebrate the birth of the Savior, and wishing everyone "a happy and holy Christmas."

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REFLECTION, SOBRIETY AND JOY CHARACTERIZE CHRISTMAS

VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2005 (VIS) - Preparation for Christmas was the central theme of Benedict XVI's reflections before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"In today's consumer society," said the Pope, "this season unfortunately suffers from the 'contamination' of commercialism that risks changing its true spirit, characterized by reflection, sobriety and a joy that does not come from outside, but from within. It is, therefore, providential that the entrance door to Christmas" should be "the feast of the mother of Jesus who brings us to know, love and adore the Son of God, made man. Allow her, therefore, to accompany us ... with sincerity of heart and openness of spirit to recognize in the Child of Bethlehem the Son of God, Who came to earth for our redemption."

"Immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, many families begin to prepare their nativity scenes, as if to relive, together with Mary, those days filled with trepidation which preceded the birth of Jesus. Bringing the nativity scene into the home can be a simple but efficacious way to present and transmit the faith to children ... A nativity scene can help us understand the true secret of Christmas, because it speaks of the humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, Who 'though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor'."

To conclude, the Holy Father blessed, according to tradition, the figures of the Child Jesus brought by the children of Rome to St. Peter's Square to place in their own nativity scenes. "With this gesture I invoke the help of the Lord so that all Christian families may prepare to celebrate with faith the forthcoming Christmas celebrations."

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