From a reader:
From a beloved priest, almost 90 years old, almost blind, who has served missions in rural Kentucky and Arkansas all his life. He is only semi-retired and will on occasion happily celebrate the 1962 Mass when needed. An amateur apiarist, he lives alone in a bee-loud glade in the Ozarks:
To those Who Love Christmas:
During the long election season we heard much about change. Actually, most of us don’t really like change. We usually sit in the same chair, park in the same parking spot (if available), are upset when our schedules are interrupted, get into a daily routine, etc. And often, change is for the worse, not the better.
But we do welcome change when it is for the better – so we welcome it when a tooth stops hurting, a friend drops in, a rainy day is succeeded by a sunny one, etc.
Most of us have set traditions for the Christmas season – the Christmas tree, the Christmas Carols, the Christmas dinner, to whom we give gifts. We tend to keep Christmas much the same way each year. Yet Christmas is all about change – change for the better.
The Lord Jesus came to lift us from our despondency, to gladden our hearts, make clear the goal of life. Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the face of God, as Pope Benedict says. He came not only to show us why God created us, but also to lead us to the Eternal Home He made for us. He puts an entirely new face on everything. He shows us that God loves us and works constantly to draw us to Himself. As Scripture says, “See, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5). No wonder we sing, “Joy to the World” at Christmas time. All our hopes, all our joys, all our peace rest in Jesus. So we celebrate His birth with exceedingly great joy, for He was born to help us change from the old to the new:
From Greed to Generosity,
From Selfishness to Love for Others,
From Thoughtlessness to Thoughtfulness,
From Despair to Hope,
From Inner Confusion to Peace,
From Despondency to Joy,
From Fear to Trust in God,
From Ingratitude to Gratitude
From being Earthbound to being full of Desire for Heaven
We must–we absolutely must–celebrate Christmas. In her Liturgy, Holy Church teaches us how to do this – How to prepare for it (Advent), How to celebrate it in the three Christmas Masses and in the Christmas Feasts of the Holy Innocents, the Holy Family, Mary Mother of God, the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord.
Whatever you may be suffering, whatever your disappointments, whatever the state of your health, whatever the state of your prayer life, let the peace, joy, and hope of Christmas fill you through and through. If something has happened to alienate you from Jesus, use the season to make it right with Him. He loves you and is waiting for you.
May the Lord Jesus fill you with deep consolation.
In the Lord Jesus, Fr. Venantius Preske, Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas