After all the preparations of the season – the cooking and baking and wrapping and shopping and hosting and decorating and cleaning, Christmas is upon us! What a joyful day! And not only a joyful day but an entire liturgical season – the Christmas Season – in which to enjoy the great gift of the birth of the Redeemer. While so much of our society moves on from Christmas on December 26th, we have many wonderful feasts to celebrate which keeps the beauty of Christmas front and center during the cold winter days. In fact, the Church’s traditional celebration of Christmastide goes all the way until February 2nd and the feast that is known as Candlemas. So I encourage you to keep your decorations up and the tree alight as long as you can in celebration of this great and marvelous feast, when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” I thought I would include some words from St. Alphonsus Liguori on this great day and season of rejoicing, from his Discourse for Christmas Night:
“Arise, all ye nobles and peasants; Mary invites all, rich and poor, just and sinners, to enter the cave of Bethlehem, to adore and to kiss the feet of her new-born Son. Go in, then, all ye devout souls; go and see the Creator of heaven and earth on a little hay, under the form of a little Infant; but so beautiful that he sheds all around rays of light. Now that he is born and is lying on the straw, the cave is no longer horrible, but it is become a paradise. Let us enter; let us not be afraid.
Let every soul, then, enter. Behold and see that tender Infant, who is weeping as he lies in the manger on that miserable straw. See how beautiful he is; look at the light when he sends forth, and the love which he breathes; those eyes send out arrows which wound the hearts that desire him; the very stable, the very straw, cry out, says St. Bernard, and tell you to love him who loves you; to love God, who is infinite love; and who came down from heaven, and made himself a little child, and became poor, to make you understand the love he bears you, and to gain your love by his sufferings.
Now then, O all ye devout souls, does Jesus invite you to come and kiss his feet this night. The shepherds who came to visit him in the stable of Bethlehem brought their gifts; you must also bring your gifts. What will you bring him? Listen to me; the most acceptable present you can bring him is that of a contrite and loving hart.”
On behalf of myself and Fr. Behling and the entire parish staff, a joyful and blessed Christmas to you!