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Archbishop Gänswein’s Christmas Reflections

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

December 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) - Today, Archbishop Georg Gänswein – the personal secretary of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and the Prefect of the Papal Household – published a Christmas reflection in Germany that LifeSiteNews wishes to present in it’s full English translation. Gänswein goes back to the roots of our Christian Faith which is based on the Annunciation and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. “Christ's Birth is the reference point per se of our history,” he says and points out that “every atheist will automatically date his letters with the year 2018.” The birth of Christ has formed Western “culture, art, and music,” the German prelate explains. But it is more than that. Christian civilization has built such good societies, he says, that refugees in distress “flee to Europe, and not, for example, to China.”

In contrast to these blessings coming to the world through Christ, Archbishop Gänswein also shows some negative examples and counterpoints; first he speaks about the “'annus horribilis' as the year in which China succeeded for the first time with the generation of a 'designer baby,'” but then he proceeds to describe the fear of Muslim terrorism in Europe. “By way of contrast,” the prelate explains, “'Allahu akbar!' is the call to prayer of the Islamic world. That means in German [here in English]: “God is the Greatest!” Here, we would like to join in. But from the mouth of terrorists, it [this call] has become in the meantime a terrifying call in our cities – as it just again happened in front of the Cathedral of Strasbourg.”

In light of these developments, the German archbishop reminds us that we are to listen to the “little whimpering of the Christ-Child in the creche” who is “is whispering the opposite into our ears: 'God is the Smallest!'” That world, as built by Christ, wishes to be “defended by our witness, often against enemies that seem all-powerful.”

Full text as published by Archbishop Georg Gänswein:

The year 2018 will one day perhaps enter history as an “annus horribilis,” as the year in which China succeeded for the first time with the generation of a “designer baby,” thereby decisively interfering in God's Order of Creation.

Nevertheless, on Christmas Eve, every atheist will automatically date his letters with the year 2018, with which the years are counted from that day on which, in Bethlehem, the Creator of Heaven and Earth came into the world as an infant. Christ's Birth is the reference point per se of our history.

What God has there done to Himself is an unfathomable miracle, and it is nevertheless – together with the Annunciation of that birth spoken by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary – the kernel of our Gospels. The King of the Universe has entered into our nature. A greater act of love is not imaginable. That is why, up to today, this is unfortunately also seen by many, and in many religions, as a provocative imposition.

Worldwide, the persecution of Christians is not understandable without this challenge in our minds. Nevertheless, no birth has ever changed the world as much as the birth of the Holy Infant in Bethlehem. And no birth has made the world more beautiful and more human than this miracle in the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Redeemer of the world grew. All the beauty of Rome and of Freiburg is due to this one act of love, as also is the whole cosmos of the culture, art, and music of the West.

One cannot understand this, it can only be marvelled at, and best so with the eyes of children. Christmas invites us to do just that, as does no other feast anywhere in this world. For me personally, it is also the remembrance of those days when we, for the first time, stood under the tree adorned with candles, in front of the crèche, with hearts beating and with that deep inner trust in our father and our mother who had given us all these things – as a beginning of all those additional gifts which they had prepared for us.

And this is how we have to picture Christmas in its entirety: as God's opening to a world and to a life filled with gifts which we could never have dreamed of or imagined. Here, for the first time, we learned what it means that we are created in His Likeness, as the Bible has described it in its history of Creation. Here, we saw this likeness in all of its radical nature: in a helpless newborn Child!

He who wishes to see what has made Europe beautiful and great and lovable, and what the “C” in her last Christian political parties means, has to look therefore into this crèche. He who wishes to understand why millions of people in their distress set out and flee to Europe, and not, for example, to China, has to look upon this Child, to whom we owe the most important foundation of our western world, which thus has been formed in such a different manner, with its social welfare systems, with its will for freedom, and with its constitutions enshrining inviolable human dignity.

By way of contrast, “Allahu akbar!” is the call to prayer of the Islamic world. That means in German [here in English]: “God is the Greatest!” Here, we would like to join in. But from the mouth of terrorists, it [this call] has become in the meantime a terrifying call in our cities – as just again happened in front of the Cathedral of Strasbourg. But the little whimpering of the Christ-Child in the crèche is whispering the opposite into our ears: “God is the Smallest!” He Himself has wished it to be so. This unfathomable humility of the Greatest has been inscribed in the most precious way into that world which we love and which wants to be defended by our witness, often against enemies that seem all-powerful.

A joyful, peaceful, and grace-filled Christmas.

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