As we draw close to Christmas and the Christmas Season, I offer to you my prayers and a special remembrance during all of our beautiful celebrations. It is often the case that the days after Christmas give us the time to pause and reflect on the beautiful reality of the “Word-made-flesh,” the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who, “in the fullness of time,” was sent for our salvation.
Even the best efforts to be more reflective and prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ can get lost in the expectations of how Christmas “should be.” In my last column, I included a selection of a letter from a woman who called it quits: she said, “NO MORE!!!” to all the consumerism and running around. What did she hope for from all this?
“I’m hoping and praying with all of my heart, that things will be different, that there will be a true reason for celebrating once again.”
It sounds a little bit like the theme of the movie, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when Charlie Brown cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Then Linus responds, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. ‘And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid. And the Angel said unto them, “Fear not:” for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the Manger.” And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”’ “‘That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.’”
Can it really be that simple? Absolutely. It all flows from the choices that we make on how we will celebrate the mystery of the “Word Made Flesh.” Light the candles of the Advent wreath and sing an Advent song. Celebrate the beautiful feasts that flow from Christmas Day and let them enhance your celebration. I encourage those who are able to attend the Masses after Christmas, including the Feast of St. Stephen, Dec.26; The Feast of St. John the Apostle, Dec.27; and the Holy Innocents, Dec. 28. Look for those special ways to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, December 25 – January 5, leading up to the Feast of Epiphany. Included in the 12 days of Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 31. Find a nice family activity that everyone can share in and start a new family tradition. What would happen if you held off giving gifts on Christmas Day and offered gifts instead on the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 7), to symbolize the gift-giving of the three kings? Again, the Christmas Season you will experience flows from the choices you make and whether or not the feasts and celebrations of the Church are included. Choose wisely!
NEW YEAR OF LIFE
As we face the New Year, many may say “good riddance” to 2023! Wars have escalated around the world and there is no lack of violence, drugs, and disorder in our nation’s urban areas. Strife and discord seem to abound. Civility in public discourse has pretty much disappeared as we demonize those who think differently from us. This is all the more evidence that we need a Savior, if for nothing else than to save us from ourselves. But Jesus offers us so much more: the fullness of life in this world and the promise of eternal life in the next. Let us follow the example of the Magi and come and adore the newborn king. I remind everyone of the beautiful tradition of visiting the manger scene during the Christmas Season and, where possible, take a piece of straw to put in your wallet or purse so that throughout the coming year, it will remind you of Christmas. Bethlehem means “city of bread.” Let us grow in our love for Jesus in the Eucharist. May our adoration never cease!
“O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
Published in the December 08, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
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