It is a lovely, cool December evening in Rome, the eve of Christmas. Cold, but not bitter cold. And still clear, not raining. Pope Francis will soon celebrate the birth of Jesus, 2013 years ago, above the tomb of Peter, in the great basilica.


It is a quiet evening… a “silent” night…


The other day at morning Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the beauty and dignity of silence. “Only silence guards the mystery of the journey that a person walks with God,” he said.


Silence speaks what words cannot express.


Pope Francis meets Pope Benedict


Silence stands guard around the mystery of the journey a person walks with God. What we might wish to communicate about this journey, we cannot communicate. Words fail. Yet this silence is full of something. It is full of what we feel when we lean over the crib of a child, who lies sleeping, and see the skin, almost translucent, flushed slightly with life, and the nostrils moving as the infant breathes…


In the events we recall this night, an infant who could be looked upon, by his parents first, then by shepherds, then by wise men, was, in the very flesh of his stupendous frailty, bearing (being) the fullness of the meaning (logos) of the universe, which is the deepest possible reality of all that may be…


God is greater than any thought we can have, so we are left with no alternative but this: silence. Pope Francis said, may the Lord give us “the grace to love the silence.” So even the grace that enables us to love the silence comes from Him, incarnate Logos. In this sense, it is in fact a “reason,” a “word,” that grants the grace to embrace, to love, that silence, which goes far beyond language (the vehicle of reason), containing no words at all, transcending words…


And this is the gift I wish for you this Christmas.


“May the Lord give all of us the grace to love the silence,” Pope Francis said, “to seek Him, and to have a heart that is guarded by the cloud of silence.” Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis left the Domus Santa Marta at about 5 p.m., and went to visit Emeritus Pope Francis in his monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

The two men prayed together, and then spoke together privately for about 30 minutes.


There is no need to say more about this meeting. There is moving video footage of the meeting, a meeting of brothers, which you can find here. (There is a brief Italian commercial at the outset, which ends after a few seconds.) Merry Christmas to all, and may it be now, and in time to come, a celebration filled with the most profound silence, and peace.


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