Earlier this year I was given the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva as my Titular Church in Rome. No one entering the Basilica could not but be inspired by its history and its great beauty. In particular we are reminded of great artists like Fra Angelico, Michaelangelo and Fra Filippo Lippi. There are two features of the Basilica I would like to draw to your attention this Christmastide which are not only beautiful but also significant for our times. In one of the side chapels, Fra Filippo Lippi has depicted the mystery of the Annunciation which helps us see that it is not only a holy event from the past but a reality which is patterned into our lives too. God, through the angel, in his infinite courtesy, proposes. Humanity, through Mary, accepts. It is then that Christ is made real in our world. Another outstanding feature is Christ carrying His Cross, by Michaelangelo. The Risen Christ presenting His Cross to the world reminds us that the glory of God is manifest in the Cross rather than in the empty tomb. The Cross is the most powerful instrument of our salvation. We live in sombre times and we know how much misery, hunger and violence that there is in our world today. 'Why does God permit such things?' people ask. There is no easy answer except in the fact that God in Christ endured pain and suffering and emerged victorious. As we welcome Christ, the Jesus born at Bethlehem, we must remember it was that same Jesus who suffered and died and rose again. Confronting our world today, we adore Jesus born and lying in a manger. We also adore Jesus because by His Cross He has redeemed the world. That is our answer to the world's questions and the reason for our hope. I wish you all the joy and hope of Christmastide. H.E. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor For details of the Cardinal's radio, tv and press appearances over the holidays - visit our listings section.
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