May your New Year be filled with blessings and gifts of God's great love. You are in my prayers.
THE LOVE OF GOD MANIFEST
At the beginning of his catechesis the Holy Father explained that "the Church's liturgical year did not initially develop on the basis of Christ's birth but on that of faith in His resurrection. Hence, the most ancient feast of Christianity is not Christmas but Easter. The resurrection of Christ is what founded the Christian faith, underpinned the announcement of the Gospel and brought the Church into being".
"The first person to make the clear affirmation that Jesus was born on 25 December was Hippolytus of Rome in his commentary on the Book of Daniel, written around the year 204", said the Pope.
"In the Christian world, the feast of Christmas assumed a distinct form in the fourth century when it took the place of the Roman feast of the 'Sol invictus', the sun unconquered. This highlighted the fact that the birth of Christ is the victory of the true light over the darkness of evil and sin. Yet the particular and intense spiritual atmosphere that now surrounds Christmas developed during the Middle Ages, thanks to St. Francis of Assisi who was profoundly enamoured of Jesus the man, of the God-with-us".
"This particular devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation was the origin of the famous Christmas celebration in Greccio. ... St. Francis with his nativity scene highlighted the defenceless love, humility and goodness of God, Who in the Incarnation of the Word shows Himself to mankind in order to teach them a new way to live and love".
"In that Child", the Holy Father added, "God-Love becomes manifest: God comes unarmed and powerless, because He does not intend to conquer, so to say, from the outside; rather, He intends to be accepted by man in freedom. God becomes a defenceless child to overcome man's pride, violence and thirst for possession. In Jesus, God assumed this poor and disarming condition in order to triumph over us with love and lead us to our true identity".
"His being a Child likewise indicates to us that we can meet God and enjoy His presence", the Pope concluded. "People who have not understood the mystery of Christmas have not understood the decisive element of Christian existence: that those who do not accept Jesus with the heart of a child cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. This is what St. Francis wished to tell the Christian world of his time and of all times, even unto today".
Twitter for Evangelization
and ten nuns who tweet plus three
Hopetweets (Sr Sharon Anne) Crabbimystic (Sr Mary Lea) PaulineNYC (Margie Skeels, Pauline Cooperator)
That areopagus, which was then the cultural center of the learned people of Athens, today - as my venerated predecessor John Paul II said – "it can be taken as a symbol of the new sectors in which the Gospel must be proclaimed." (Redemptoris Missio , 37). In fact, the reference to that event is a pressing invitation to learn to interpret the "Areopagus" of today, where the great challenges of evangelization are confronted. You intend to analyze this issue realistically, taking into account the many social changes that have occurred, with a realism sustained by the spirit of faith that sees history in the light of the Gospel, and with the certainty that St. Paul had in the presence of the risen Christ. Comforting for us are the words that Jesus spoke in Corinth: "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you" (Acts 18:9-10). The Servant of God Paul VI said that it is not only about preaching the Gospel, “but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation."(Teachings XIII, , 1448).
We must look at the "new Areopagus" in this spirit, some of them in the current globalization, have become common, while others are specific to certain continents, as was seen in the recent Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The Church's missionary activity should therefore be geared towards these nerve centers of society of the third millennium. Nor can we underestimate the influence of a widespread culture of relativism, for the most part lacking in values, which enters the sanctuary of the family, infiltrates in education and other areas of society and contaminates them, manipulating consciences, especially those youth. At the same time, however, despite these pitfalls, the Church knows that the Holy Spirit is always in action. New doors are opened to the Gospel and the yearning for an authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal begins spreading throughout the world. As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to show the true face of Christ, the Lord of history and the one Redeemer of man. This requires that every Christian community and the Church as a whole offer a witness of fidelity to Christ, patiently building up the unity willed by Him, and prayed for by all His disciples. The unity of Christians will, in fact, make it easier to evangelize and to face the cultural, social and religious challenges of our time.
In this missionary venture, we can look to the apostle Paul, imitating his "style" of life and his same apostolic "spirit" totally focused on Christ. With such complete adherence to the Lord, Christians will be more likely to transmit to future generations the legacy of faith, transforming even difficulties into opportunities for evangelization. In my recent Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I wanted to emphasize that the economic and social development of contemporary society needs to regain the attention to spiritual life and a "a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace... Christians long for the entire human family to call upon God as “Our Father!” (no.79).
I invoke upon you and upon those who take part in this Plenary Assembly, God's help and the protection of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and I cordially send my blessing to everyone.
From the Vatican, November 2009. BENEDICT XVI PP
(Agenzia Fides 16/11/2009)
(c) Drawing of Paul, Sr. Elaine Penrice, fsp
"God does not buy a new iPhone or get a new app (mobile application). His communication platform is the human person," he said.
The explosion of electronic communication, he continued, is merely a reflection of the yearning in the human heart to have what Jesus offers—a connection to love.
"The Lord Jesus Christ is tapping on the homepage of your heart," he said. "He wants to text the truth of God's mercy on your soul. Jesus is the word, the ultimate Facebook of God, and invites you to be his friend."
"Jesus does not Twitter," the bishop said. "Rather he humbled himself so that he could meet you, connect with you and serve you in charity and in truth. He is the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the way, the truth and the life."