On the Meaning of Christmas - translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at the general audience last Wednesday, held in Paul VI Hall:
Let us return to the question: "Why did God become man?" St. Irenaeus writes: "The word has become the dispenser of the Father's glory for the usefulness of men.... The glory of God is the living man -- 'vivens homo' -- and the life of man consists in the vision of God" ("Adv. Haer," IV, 20.5.7).
God's glory is manifested, therefore, in the salvation of man, whom God has so loved "who gave him," as John's Gospel affirms, "his only Son so that he who believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). So love is the ultimate reason for Christ's incarnation.
Eloquent in this respect is the reflection of the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who wrote: God "is not, in the first place, absolute power, but absolute love whose sovereignty is not manifested in keeping for himself what belongs to him, but in its abandonment" ("Mysterium Paschale," 1,14).
. . . Let us now invoke together the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph for every family, especially for those in difficulty. May they be supported so that they will be able to resist the disintegrating impulses of a certain contemporary culture which undermines the very basis of the family institution. May they may help Christian families throughout the world to be the living image of the love of God.
Benedict on the Human Person - translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before reciting the midday Angelus with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square:
At present there is much talk about human rights, but it is often forgotten that they need a stable -- not relative or debatable -- foundation. And this can only be the person's dignity. Respect for this dignity begins with the recognition and protection of the person's right to freely live and profess his religion.
We address our prayer with confidence to the Holy Mother of God, so that sacred respect for every human person and rejection of war and violence will be developed in consciences. Help us, Mary, you who gave Jesus to the world, to receive from him the gift of peace and to be sincere and courageous builders of peace.