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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Urbi et Orbi: Christmas, 2010

From his Christmas Address Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World), Pope Benedict XVI:

“The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space.”

What beauty. Creation reaches its culmination when Jesus was formed in the womb, not at birth. Pope Benedict understands that creation of the human person is complete at fertilization, when in the zygotic stage a whole and complete human, in form and function, exists at the single-celled stage.

Creation is complete.

From that point on, the human person is engaged in its development, a process that exists on a continuum until death, and beyond.

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Gentle Night

Midnight. Burning the advent wreath down with the Christ Candle lit in the center. Listening to boys air choirs sing the psalms as we wrap presents and get the children ready for bed. They’re too excited to sleep, though that’s coming fast.

It’s the best part of Christmas for me. Looking at the Nativity set, and contemplating the Holy Family. How did sleep come to them that night? What did they make of the great Theophany, when Heaven opened onto earth and the angels sang? The great comfort, the fulfillment of the promise, but how? The Messiah born in a barn?

As I contemplate the Nativity, I contemplate the figures not there; those who refused a very pregnant Mary about to give birth. Why? What hardness of heart existed in that time, in that place, that a woman about to deliver was not welcomed in from the cold to a safe place, if only for the night? Where was compassion, empathy?

It wasn’t that there was no room in the inn. There was no room in people’s hearts. So the couple were shown the barn, and amidst the filth and odor, the indignity of all indignities, God came into the world as an untouchable. And as I contemplate the hardness of hearts then and now, I also see how far we have come.

I think of my son, and how in my own childhood, autistic children like him were sent away to institutions. Untouchables.

I think of the boys in his Boy Scout Troop who embrace him as is, and others like him. They’re growing up with special needs children in their classes, on their sports teams, in their neighborhoods, in their families. This has been made possible because the community of parents with autistic children have been militant. Because those who came before Joseph have demanded innovations in therapies, and plenty of services, the fields of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special education have grown by leaps and bounds.

So has Joseph.

It’s not a miracle. We as a society just decided to do it.

We say “yes”, and God provides.

Just like a young couple so very long ago. They said “yes”, and were gifted with gold, frankincense, and myrrh for their long journey to Egypt.

My son has taught me more than I ever imagined about Divine Providence. All that God requires is a “yes.”

He makes the rest happen.

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From today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings

Reading

A Sermon of Pope Saint Leo the Great

Christian, remember your dignity

Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.

And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.

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“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”

~Sigrid Undset

Merry Christmas to all here at Coming Home. May your lives be filled with Peace, and your homes with Love. Thank you all for dropping in, for reading, commenting, and for the care you show for one another. I hope Santa is good to all! Last year my stocking was filled with charcoal for committing repeated heresy by teasing the children with the claim that I am the one true Santa.

I’m on track for more of the same this year!

God Bless,

Gerry

The Hex Sign

Double Trinity Tulips

The stylized tulip with its three petals is a dominate feature in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. It is referred to as the Trinity Tulip and it symbolizes the Trinity as well as faith, hope and charity. The heart in this sign (as well as other Pennsylvania German folk art) is not the heart of sentimental “Victorian” valentines. Rather, it is religious in its representation of the heart of God, the source of all love and hope for a future life. The colors in this heart are used to give them additional meaning. Red symbolizes strong emotion and blue is used to indicate strength, especially spiritual strength. The white background symbolizes purity and the solid black circle represents unity in Christ.

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I was a little boy who listened to this broadcast live, and have never failed to be moved by it.

Merry Christmas!

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Mary, Did you Know…?

Bouguereau, Song of the Angels

Mary was put through quite a bit. The apparition of an angel who tells her that she is to be mother of the Messiah.

Her elderly cousin Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and her declaration that the babe of Mary’s womb is the Messiah.

Elizabeth’s husband, a priest, struck mute by an angel in the Temple.

The virgin birth, and Joseph wanting to divorce her quietly, until he had his apparition.

The great Theophany when Heaven opened and the angels sang.

The visits from the shepherds, sent by angels.

The visit from the Magi.

The declaration by Simeon in the Temple.

The murderous rage of Herod.

The flight into Egypt.

The Gospels tell us that Mary pondered all of these things in her heart…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFPHIK9ann8&playnext=1&list=PLE857E6241F18BC2A&index=8

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Christmas has become increasingly a quiet and reflective Holy Day for me, held in dynamic tension with Santa Claus and the children. This hymn, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, best approaches the meaning of the day, the tone, the solemnity that is beyond earthly description in contemplating God becoming one with us in our humanity. Without a doubt, my favorite of the Christmas hymns. From Wikkepedia:

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion based on the verses taken from Habakkuk 2:20

“Let all the earth keep silence before Him”

taken from one of the books of the 12 minor prophets of Bible. The original was composed in Greek as a Cherubic Hymn for the Offertory of the Divine Liturgy of St James in the fourth Century AD, with local Churches adopting arrangements in Syriac. In modern times, the Ralph Vaughan Williams arrangement of a translation from the Greek by Gerard Moultrie to the tune of Picardy, a French medieval folk melody, popularized the hymn among Christian congregations that worship liturgically.”

Enjoy, and God’s Blessings this last week of Advent.

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