Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Welcome to the Real Meaning of Christmas

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Welcome to the Real Meaning of Christmas

Article excerpt

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Those who knew Benedictine Fr. Godfrey Diekmann (1908-2002) will forgive his Teutonic exuberance regarding the centrality of the Incarnation. His friend, colleague and biographer, Sacred Heart Sr. Kathleen Hughes, tells the story of a dinner conversation in the student dining room at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., where Godfrey got worked up about the key to Christian theology and life: "He startled and silenced a good number of tables around us when he shouted, 'It's not the Resurrection, dammit! It's the Incarnation!' Then, as students slipped away, he continued, 'But we don't believe it. We don't believe we are invited to become the very life of God!'"

Diekmann's lifelong passion, inspired by his mentor, Virgil Michel, founder of the American pastoral liturgical movement as forerunner to the I Second Vatican Council, was to unfold the startling implications of what he called "the Gospel of divine life." Salvation is first revealed not in Christ's death on the cross or his resurrection, Diekmann believed, but in his conception and birth. Christmas, not Easter, is the moment of salvation. God's entry into time and history as human revealed human destiny for all of us. Our existence is an invitation to friendship with God; our future is life with God. For Christians, baptism articulates this transformation, but the potential is universal, anthropological. To be human is to be offered divine life. What Jesus had D in essence we are given as gift. The Word is made flesh, and from that moment, nature is being perfected by grace toward life in God. …

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