Benedict’s Theme: Build Christ’s Kingdom of Light Through Mary
It doesn’t take a genius to forecast Pope Benedict’s most important theme for 2008. In his first address of the new year, he emphasized the need for the Church to find a fuller understanding of her mystery in the person of the Mother of God so that Christians can replace the contemporary darkness with Christ’s kingdom of truth and light.
Benedict struck his theme in the first Vespers service at St. Peter’s basilica for the Solemnity of the Mother of God (that is, the eve of the Solemnity, or New Year’s eve). He referred to “the dark evil of modern Western society” caused by a “deficit of hope and trust in life,” affirming that this darkness can be dispelled only by faith that “Christ is our dependable hope”. In responding to the darkness, the Pontiff urged Catholics to remember “the woman by whom the Son of God entered the world,” the Virgin Mary, who “represents the Church’s most authentic image: the person in whom the ecclesial community must continually discover the authentic meaning of its own vocation and mystery.”
He developed the same theme in his first Wednesday audience on January 2nd, encouraging the faithful to entrust 2008 to Mary “that she may guide our steps in this new period of time the Lord has given us to live.” Referring to the previous day’s Solemnity, Benedict explained that the Council of Ephesus had confirmed Mary’s title as “Mother of God” in 431 “to safeguard the full humanity of Jesus” while at the same time affirming that Jesus unites two natures, human and divine, in one Person. He observed that the Council was followed by a “veritable explosion of Marian devotion”. Hoping for the same result in our own day, he urged Christians to engage the new year by asking Mary to “help us to be true friends of her Son and courageous architects of his Kingdom in the world: a Kingdom of light and truth.”
Catholics seeking a New Year’s resolution can stop searching. This one will last not only for a year but for a lifetime: Extending Christ's kingdom through Mary until it illuminates the world.
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