Speaking to participants in the upcoming ‘Christmas Contest,’ Pope Francis describes Christmas as a time when Christ showers us with His love and warmth, adding that while September may seem early to discuss Christmas, the Christ Child’s birth deserves our attention.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“It seems a bit early to talk about Christmas now, in the middle of September. Important festivities, however, begin to be prepared in advance, and the Birth of Jesus deserves this and more!”
Pope Francis made that affirmation on Saturday during his audience with participants in the upcoming Christmas Contest, a concert organized by the Pontifical Foundation Gravissimum Educationis that aims to “gives a voice to young people by inviting them to create new songs inspired by Christmas and its values.”
The competition is held in the run-up to the Christmas Concert, during which the pieces of the first prize winners will be performed.
The Holy Father recalled how music has the power to draw us closer to the Lord, and how Christmas itself is a time when Christ showers us with His love and looks at us with a child’s ‘innocent tenderness.’
Harmony and creativity in the Lord
“Dear young people, you are composers!” Pope Francis encouraged, acknowledging that composition is a demanding art. Composition, he said, requires, on the one hand, knowledge of music with its rules and language and, on the other, the ability to give voice to the questions, inspirations and desires of the heart.
“It is an art that requires, in two words, harmony and creativity, which go together,” the Pope said, stressing that they are not in contrast.
“The pursuit of harmony, which requires commitment, dedication and constancy, in music as in life,” he explained, “does not humiliate, but liberates the uniqueness of each one, offering the artist the tools to communicate in a way that is comprehensible to others, so as to become a constructive gift for the joy of all.”
The Pope thanked the musicians for their commitment to study the harmonic art of music, which involves effort and many hours of practice, and expressed how music can bring faithful closer to God.
“Music,” the Holy Father highlighted, “does not only tell us about ourselves, but also about the search for God, and sometimes God Himself. And that is good, because the harmony and creativity, which I wanted to tell you about, is first of all found in Him.”
“Music does not only tell us about ourselves, but also about the search for God, and sometimes God himself. And that is good, because the harmony and creativity, which I wanted to tell you about, is first of all found in Him.”
Lord’s innocent tenderness at Christmas
Christmas, the Pope continued, shows harmony and creativity in a special and moving way, “giving us the Lord’s making Himself small for us, His making Himself man to communicate to us the infinite warmth of His divine love. “
“At Christmas, God, the Eternal Word,” Pope Francis reassured, “comes to listen to us and sets to work to make harmony with humanity, while in His astonishing creativity He looks at us through the eyes of a child, astonishing us with His innocent tenderness.”
“At Christmas, God comes to listen to us and works to make harmony with humanity, while in His astonishing creativity, looks at us through the eyes of a child, astonishing us with His innocent tenderness.”
This, the Holy Father noted, does not only happen on 25 December, but every day of the year, recalling a song from his homeland, Argentina, which begins with the words: “Every day is Christmas”.
During the event, the Holy Father greeted the young musicians participating, and all organizing this year’s Contest, and thanked the Dicastery for Culture and Education, Gravissimum Educationis, and the Republic of San Marino for their involvement.
The Pope also thanked those involved in the related “Good News Makes Headlines” project, which during the summer offered young people from other continents internships within the Dicastery for Communication.