Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At the beginning of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI said, “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him. If we allow Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.”
The experience of beauty transcends time and space and points us to the very experience of God. Adoring the Christ Child, we are drawn by the beauty of what we see in front of us to the God we cannot see, but whom we experience if we allow ourselves to follow the path along which beauty will lead us. Jesus is the standard for all that is beautiful. St. Augustine wrote of “Beauty ever ancient ever new,” who makes the human spirit restless until it rests in God forever. Our experiences of created beauty fill us with joy and excitement. Yet, they never fill our capacity for the experience of what is beautiful. We are left empty again, and our search continues. We are disturbed by wanting something more, something which we do not seem able to reach, and that nothing less than God can satisfy.
Christianity begins with a relationship barely understood but beautifully attractive and ends with that relationship fulfilled. The beauty of Jesus Christ — this dynamic, inviting, perfect, transcendent Christ — disturbs us, for we cannot fit him into our present way of life or our usual categories of understanding. He changes us, converts us, empties us, sends us to places and situations unknown. He leaves us always wanting more, because he is always more. He invites us to silence, as he would have us listen. The contemplation of Christ in our lives forms us for speaking about him to others, for we will be unable to resist sharing the beauty we have found in Christ.
May the beauty of Christ fill your heart with love and your life with joy. You will be remembered in my Christmas Masses and prayers. God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago