From Weedy@21:1/5 to All on Thu Dec 24 23:20:00 2020
Of the royal way of the Holy Cross
5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and will
bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where there shall
be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here. If thou
bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for thyself and greatly
increaseth thy load, and yet thou must bear it. If thou cast
away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another and
perchance a heavier.
--Thomas á Kempis: Book 2, Chapter 12
25 December – The Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Today the Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ, the first day
in the octave of Christmas. Throughout Advent the Church longed
ardently for the coming of our Saviour. Today she celebrates His
birth with unrestrained joy. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt
among us.” The Son of God became man to give us a share in that
divine life which is eternally His in the Blessed Trinity. Christmas
time begins on 24 December with the first Vespers of the feast and
ends on the feast of the Baptism of Christ. White vestments reappear
in our churches as a sign of joy.
The Christmas feast is a festival full of joy. The Eternal Word has
become Man and dwells among us. The longings of the patriarchs and
prophets are fulfilled. With the shepherds we hurry to the manger
and adore the Incarnate Son of God, who for us and for our salvation
descended upon earth. The purpose of the Christmas feast is
beautifully expressed in the Preface of the Nativity: “For by the
mystery of the Word made flesh the light of Thy glory hath shone anew
upon the eyes of our mind; so that while we acknowledge Him a God
seen by men, we may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen.”
Christmas says to us – alone we can’t profoundly change the world to
remedy it. Alone, we can make the world better or worse but we can’t
save it. Christ came therefore, because left to ourselves; we
couldn’t escape the ‘mortal disease’ that has enveloped us from the
first moment of conception in our mother’s womb. This gives us hope,
true hope and true Christian optimism: I can’t do it but He is
there! This is the mystery of grace synthesised in the human figure
of God incarnate.
Christmas Eve and Christmas day are moments of contemplation. We
consider, in many dimensions, the mystery of love that was incarnated
for us. First of all, we contemplate the light and joy, without
forgetting Jesus and Mary’s sorrows and sufferings and the many
difficulties that had surrounded them: the cold, the uncomfortable
place, the dangers… It would be good to accompany these thoughts by
reciting and meditating slowly on the Holy Rosary, preferably in front
of a crib. ‘Blessed grotto of Bethlehem that testified to the
wonders! Who, in this hour would not turn our hearts? Who would
not prefer the opulent palace of the King?’ (Abbot Guéranger, L’Anno Liturgico, Alba 1959 [orig. franc. 1841], I, p122).
Listen to the way that St Bonaventure, the seraphic doctor, invites us
to contemplate this scene in his ‘Meditation on the life of Jesus
Christ’: ‘You have also lingered, bent your knee, adored the Lord
God, venerated His Mother and greeted Joseph, the holy old man, with reverence. Therefore, kiss the feet of the baby Jesus, who lies in
the manger, and pray that the Holy Virgin will allow you to hold Him.
Take Him between your arms, hold Him and see His lovable face, kiss
it with reverence and rejoice with Him. You can do this because He
has come to bring salvation to sinners and He has humbly conversed
with them, finally giving Himself as food’. (cit. in Guéranger, pp 136-137)....
Holy Christmas also reminds us of the mystery of Mary as Mother of
God, mother of the Incarnated Word and mother of His mystical body,
the Church. Christmas encourages us to contemplate Jesus together
with Mary, reflecting on Jesus with ‘His mother’, as recounted many
times in the Gospels. If our faith must be fully evangelical, it can
not neglect a sane and profound devotion to the Mother of God, as she
shows us the easiest way to reach Jesus.
“The One who is seated
on the throne of heaven
is laid in a stable.
A God Who is beyond access
is touched by the hands
of human beings!”
--St John Chrysostom (347-407)
O holy Child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in;
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.