I hope you had a blessed and happy Christmas Day. It was a beautiful day of faith, joy and hope as we celebrate the Incarnation. St. Leo the Great in his sermon for Christmas from the Fourth Century, writes: “Our Savior, dearly Beloved, was born this day. Let us rejoice. Sadness is not becoming upon the Birth Day of Life Itself, which, now that the fear of death is ended, fills us with gladness, because of our own promised immortality. No one is excluded from sharing in this cheerfulness, for the reason of our joy is common to all men. Our Lord, the Conqueror of sin and death, since there was no one free from servitude, came that He might bring deliverance to all.”
Christmas is always a cheerful season as we rejoice not only that family and friends gather for festivities but that our God gave us His only Son. The Savior was born to save us all from sin and death. So we are not only cheerful because of the merriment of holiday gatherings and gifts but because the Savior of the World was born for us. Yes, we truly rejoice in the mystery of the Incarnation. Every Christmas we celebrate the truth that God became a human being. This belief is so essential that to deny it or to try to explain it away is to cast off a fundamental belief of Catholic Faith. The Solemnity of Christmas invites each of us to pause and reflect on what these words really mean.
It is one thing to simply repeat the words of the Nicene Creed: “…and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” It is quite another to allow these profound words to effect a change in our lives and deepen our knowledge and love of God. It is only faith which allows us, like the shepherds and wisemen of that First Christmas, to make our way through the darkness to the manger. We do so even amidst the many trials and tribulations of life in this fallen world. We, as people of faith, celebrate at Christmas the reality that God is here, present among us, working within us, now.
Ultimately, Christmas contains a promise that what began in that simple stable in Bethlehem is still at work in our own hearts and in the world today. Yes, God’s redeeming love is at work for us and so we rejoice and give thanks! We rejoice in the Incarnation but we also give thanks to the many dedicated folks who make the celebration of Christmas at OLM so joyful and faith-filled. We thank Paul Anderson and our OLM maintenance for the great job of preparing OLM for the Savior’s birth. They deserve our gratitude for all the cleaning, moving of boxes, waxing of floors, setting up trees and stables, and a whole host of other duties done with dedication.
We thank Cecilia Franzone and her group of decorators for their usual superb job of decorating all of OLM for the season! The beauty of Christmas at OLM reflects their devotion and dedication. We are also grateful to all our dedicated sacristans who prepare the linens, sacred vessels, and vestments for Masses. They are a great band of behind the scenes volunteers who deserve praise. We thank too the outstanding corps of OLM Altar Servers for the terrific job in serving Christmas Masses. Their dutiful and reverent service is commendable and we are grateful.
We thank all our Lectors for proclaiming the Word of God with zeal and devotion. The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who assist at Mass and do so with great care and reverence. And we thank our wonderful ushers for a great job and for making our visitors feel welcome to OLM. We also thank Henri St. Louis, our Director of Music, and the OLM Choir for the magnificent job at Christmas. As always the beauty of the music lifted our worship to where it rightly belongs, to the praise and glory of God.
In the name of Fr. Barrow, Fr. Connors, and Deacon Dowd, we offer our thanks for your generous personal gifts, sincere well wishes and assorted tasty treats at Christmas. Your support of our ministry is truly uplifting for each one of us and we are grateful. We thank God for all the blessings that Christmas brought this year. My prayer is that you know the joy and peace of Christmas 2018 both now and throughout the New Year of 2019! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! God Bless.