Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why Pope Benedict Will One Day be Recognized as a Doctor of the Church

This is an excerpt from a Christmas homily that Pope Benedict gave almost 30 years ago. I found it in an obscure book titled "Dogma and Preaching" which is a collection compiled in the mid 1980's of some of Fr./Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's homilies.

This excerpt brilliantly and succinctly sums up so much of what the Church says to the world during this Christmas season. The excerpt combines real world wisdom with the best that psychology has to offer the world. I hope it brings a bit of holiday joy to you and your loved-ones this Christmas Eve!

"Today it is practically obligatory for a theologian or preacher to direct more or less withering criticism at the way we celebrate Christmas and to compare the placid comfort of our festivities with the hard reality of the first Christmas. Christmas - they tell us - has been commercialized beyond redemption; it has degenerated into a meaningless commercial bustle. Its piety has been sentimentalized; the celebration of the unfathomable mystery of God's Incarnation has turned into a cheap romantic melodrama that is focused on a pretty, curly-haired baby, accompanied by a bit of fantasy about the family and much emphasis on bourgeois self-satisfaction. In fact, in most instances all that survives of religion is a breath of sentimentality; people find it comforting once a year, on this night when all the lights blaze out, to be touched by a feeling that stirs reveries of childhood and an idealized time now long past.

The criticism is undoubtedly justified in large measure. It has not, however, perhaps been sufficiently observant of the fact that behind the facade of commercialism and sentimentality the desire for something great and primal has not wholly disappeared, and even that the sentimentality acts as a screen behind which a profound and pure feeling lurks, too shy to reveal itself to the gaze of others."