Pope Francis told young adults and teens participating in a Christmas songwriting contest to hold onto the hope, beauty, and love present in the season which celebrates Christ’s birth.
“I am happy to meet you, now at the doors of Advent, the period which every year introduces us to Christmas and its Mystery,” the pope said Nov. 22.
“This year too its lights will be subdued due to the consequences of the pandemic, which still weighs on our time,” he noted. “All the more reason we are called to examine ourselves and not to lose hope.”
“The feast of the Birth of Christ does not clash with the trial we are experiencing, because it is the feast of compassion, of tenderness par excellence. Its beauty is humble and full of human warmth,” Francis told the contestants and its organizers.
He added: “I like to repeat the words of Saint Paul VI: ‘This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to fall into despair.’ What kind of beauty? Not the false one made up of appearance and earthly wealth, which is empty and generates emptiness. No.”
“But that [beauty] of a God who became flesh, that of faces, of stories; that of the creatures who form our common home and who – as St. Francis teaches us – participate in the praise of the Most High,” he said.
Pope Francis addressed participants of the Christmas song competition and others involved in its organization, including its creators, the Pontifical Gravissimum Educationis Foundation and the non-profit Missioni Don Bosco, in a hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
The Pontifical Gravissimum Educationis Foundation was founded by Pope Francis in 2015. The foundation’s website says the Christmas Concert wants to enrich the repertoire of Christmas songs and carols known all over the world “through the creativity of young people, inviting them to produce new songs inspired by Christmas and its values: life, love, peace, light.”
The contest, which was open to young people ages 16-35, is divided into the categories of lyrics, music, and interpretation. The three best songs, as chosen by a jury, will be performed at the 29th edition of the Christmas Concert in the Vatican, a benefit for Scholas Occurrentes and Missioni Don Bosco.
The Dec. 16 concert will have a live audience after last year’s show was taped without spectators due to coronavirus restrictions.
The concert, which features international music artists, will air on Italian TV on Christmas Eve.
Pope Francis said “the beauty of Christmas shines through in the sharing of small gestures of concrete love. It is not alienating, is not superficial, is not evasive; on the contrary, it widens the heart, opens it to give freely – you artists know – opens it to the gift of self, and can also generate cultural, social and educational dynamics.”