Pre-Christmas Reflection

«May Our Spirits Open to the True Spiritual Light»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at today’s general audience. The Pope dedicated the address to the mystery of Christmas.

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Today’s audience takes place in an atmosphere of joy and longing expectation of the now imminent Christmas festivity. The Lord Jesus is coming! We repeat these days in prayer, preparing our hearts to experience the joy of the Redeemer’s birth. In particular, in this last week of Advent, the liturgy accompanies and supports our interior journey with repeated invitations to receive the Savior, recognizing him in the humble Child lying in a manger.

This is the mystery of Christmas, which we can understand better through so many symbols. Among these symbols is that of light, which is one of the richest in spiritual meaning and on which I would like to reflect briefly.

The feast of Christmas coincides, in our hemisphere, with the time of the year in which the sun ends its descending parabola and begins the phase in which the time of daylight increases gradually, according to the successive course of the seasons. This helps us to understand better the subject of light that prevails over darkness. It is a symbol that evokes a reality that affects man’s inner being: I am referring to the light of good that overcomes evil, of love that overcomes hatred, of life that conquers death.

Christmas makes us think of this interior light, of the divine light that presents to us again the proclamation of the definitive victory of the love of God over sin and death. For this reason, in the novena of holy Christmas that we are now living, there are many and significant references to light.

We were also reminded of it by the antiphon sung at the beginning of our meeting. The Savior awaited by the nations is greeted as the Rising Sun, the star that indicates the way and the guide of people, wayfarers amid the darkness and dangers of the world toward the salvation promised by God and realized in Jesus Christ.

In preparing to celebrate the birth of the Savior with joy in our families and ecclesial communities — while a certain modern and consumer culture tries to make the Christian symbols of the celebration of Christmas disappear — let us assume the commitment to understand the value of the Christmas traditions, which are part of the patrimony of our faith and our culture, in order to transmit them to the new generations.

In particular, on seeing the streets and squares of our cities adorned with glittering lights, let us remember that these lights evoke another light, invisible to our eyes, but not to our hearts. Contemplating them, when lighting the candles of churches or the Nativity and Christmas tree lights in our homes, may our spirits open to the true spiritual light brought to all men and women of good will. The God with us, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary is the Star of our lives!

«Rising Sun, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, illuminate those who lie in darkness and in the shadows of death.» On assuming this invocation of today’s liturgy, let us pray to the Lord to hasten his glorious coming among us, among all those who are suffering, as only in him can they find the answer to the authentic expectations of the human heart.

May this Star of light that never sets, communicate to us the strength to follow always the path of truth, justice and love! Let us live intensely these days that precede Christmas together with Mary, the Virgin of silence and listening. May she, who was totally enveloped by the light of the Holy Spirit, help us to understand and to live fully the mystery of Christ’s Christmas.

With these sentiments, exhorting you to keep alive the interior wonder in the fervent expectation of the now close celebration of the birth of the Lord, with joy I wish all of you here present, your families, your communities, and your loved ones a holy and happy Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all!

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father read the following summary in English:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s audience takes place in an atmosphere of great joy as we await the celebration of our Lord’s birth. Among the many symbols that help us to understand Christmas, light is of particular spiritual significance.

Indeed, today’s «O» antiphon refers to the Rising Sun, the splendor of eternal light, who comes to enlighten us, guiding us to the salvation promised by God and realized in Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to celebrate the Savior’s birth let us keep our Christian traditions to the fore. Let the lights of our streets and the candles of our churches remind us that God is with us, born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary; he is the light of our lives and of the world! With Mary let us, in awe, await his coming!

I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today. May your stay in Rome, during this most special of seasons, be a time of uplifting spiritual joy. I wish you, and your loved ones at home, a happy and holy Christmas!

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