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December 2023 Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The papal encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) by Pope Benedict XVI was completed on December 25, 2005 the first Christmas of his pontificate. To finish this reflection of God being Love on the feast of the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord, a universal celebration of God taking on our flesh and Love itself coming to dwell on earth is no mere coincidence. God being Love, is the ultimate gift, freely given. “Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). Our response then is to freely give the gift of love to our neighbors while permitting Love to penetrate our hearts.

When you freely share the gifts given to you or partner with Catholic Charities, know that “we look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity” (Deus Caritas Est, 30). Each person possesses this dignity because it was freely given to us by the Holy Trinity when “God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

We should be aware that all our “practical activity will always be insufficient unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ… I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift” (Deus Caritas Est, 34). Let us pray for the grace to give freely of ourselves and remember that all is a gift this Christmas season.

Prayer: Act of Love

O Lord God, I love you above all things and I love my neighbor for your sake because you are the highest, infinite and perfect good, worthy of all my love. In this love I intend to live and die. Amen.

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