VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org).- The preacher of the Pontifical Household is urging the faithful to follow the example of Mary and give birth to Christ this Christmas. Not physically, of course, but spiritually.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa reflected today on giving birth to Christ in one's heart during his third and last Advent sermon this year at the Vatican in the presence of Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia. The talks centered around the theme: "When the Fullness of Time Had Come, God Sent his Son, Born of a Woman: Going With St. Paul to Meet the Christ Who Comes."
"We are mothers of Christ when we carry him in our heart and in our body by divine love and with a pure and sincere conscience," Father Cantalamessa said, quoting St. Francis of Assisi. "We give birth to him through holy works, which should shine forth as an example for others.
"How holy and dear, pleasant, humble, peaceful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have such a brother and such a son, our Lord Jesus Christ!"
"The saint is telling us that we conceive Christ when we love him with a sincere heart and with rectitude of conscience, and we give birth to him when we accomplish holy deeds that manifest him to the world," the preacher explained.
"For St. Bonaventure," he continued, "the soul conceives Jesus when, dissatisfied with the life he is living, prompted by holy inspirations and inflamed by holy ardor, he resolutely tears himself away from his old habits and defects, is in a way made spiritually fertile by the grace of the Holy Spirit and conceives the project of a new life. Christ has been conceived!"
"Once conceived, the blessed Son of God will be born in the heart so long as this soul, after having made a right discernment, asked for appropriate advice and called upon God for help, puts his holy plan immediately into practice and begins to realize that which had been ripening in him but which he had always put off for fear of being incapable of succeeding in it," the preacher added.
Father Cantalamessa warned, however, that "this project of a new life must translate itself, without delay, into something concrete, into a change, possibly even external and visible, in our life and in our habits."
"If the plan is not put into action," he explained, "Jesus is conceived, but he is not born. It will become one of the many spiritual abortions."
"If you decide to change your lifestyle and enter into the category of the poor and humble, who, like Mary, only seek the grace of God, without worrying about pleasing men, then, St. Bonaventure writes, you must arm yourself with courage, because you will need it," the preacher concluded.
He then offered the example of the Mother of God, suggested "to bring this new drive to our spiritual life: to truly conceive and give birth to Jesus in us this Christmas. "