Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon
Eleven days ago, the Church celebrated the memory of the sixteenth century Spanish saint, John of the Cross, Juan de Yepes – probably the greatest Christian mystical writer of the last thousand years, a man who worked not only for the reform and simplification of the monastic life of his time but also for the purification of the inner life of Christians from fantasy, self-indulgence and easy answers. Those who've heard of him will most likely associate him with the phrase that he introduced into Christian thinking about the hard times in discipleship – 'the dark night of the soul'. He is a ruthless analyst of the ways in which we prevent ourselves from opening up to the true joy that God wants to give us by settling for something less than the real thing and confusing the truth and grace of God with whatever makes us feel good or comfortable. He is a disturbing and difficult writer; not, you'd imagine, a man to go to for Christmas good cheer.
But it was St John who left us, in some of his poems, one of the most breathtakingly imaginative visions ever of the nature of Christmas joy, and who, in doing this, put his own analyses of the struggles and doubts of the life of prayer and witness firmly into an eternal context. He is recognised as one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language; and part of his genius is to use the rhythms and conventions of popular romantic poetry and folksong to convey the biblical story of the love affair between God and creation. Read it all HERE.
Pope Benedict's Christmas Message
"God Finds a Space, Even If It Means Entering Through the Stable"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's homily today at Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,"The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Lk 2:6f.). These words touch our hearts every time we hear them. This was the moment that the angel had foretold at Nazareth: "you will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High" (Lk 1:31). This was the moment that Israel had been awaiting for centuries, through many dark hours - the moment that all mankind was somehow awaiting, in terms as yet ill-defined: when God would take care of us, when he would step outside his concealment, when the world would be saved and God would renew all things. Read it all HERE.
Archbishop of York, Christmas Sermon