Monday, December 22, 2008




"With Christmas near at hand we are invited to fix our gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried within her virginal womb for nine months:

the mystery of God made human.

This is the first cardinal point of redemption.

The second is the death and resurrection of Jesus

and these two inseparable points reveal a single divine plan:

to save humanity and its history,

taking them up entirely by completely taking on all the evils that oppress them".

"This mystery of salvation also has a historical dimension, a cosmic dimension:

Christ is the sun of grace who with His light: 'transfigures and ignites the universe that awaits Him.

The very placement of Christmas is tied to the winter solstice,

when the days in the Northern hemisphere start to become longer.

Regarding this, perhaps not everyone knows that St. Peter's Square is also a meridian:

the great obelisk projects its shadow along a line that runs along the pavement toward the fountain under this window, and in these days the shadow is the longest of the entire year.

This reminds us of the role of astronomy in marking the hours of prayer. For example, the Angelus is prayed in the morning, at noon, and in the evening".

"The fact that the winter solstice takes place today, 21 December, at this very hour,

affords me the opportunity of greeting those who are participating in the initiatives of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, called to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first observations with the telescope. Among my predecessors ... there have been practicioners of this science, including Sylvester II, who taught it, Gregory XIII to whom we owe our calendar, and St. Pius X, who knew how to build sundials. If the heavens, in the beautiful words of the psalmist, 'tell of the glory of God', the laws of nature, which many scientists have studied over the years giving us an ever-better understanding of them, are a great incentive to contemplate the works of the Lord with gratitude".


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