Your Christmas Sermon Notes (Fr. Z’s included)

Was there a good point or two that you heard in the sermon for your Christmas Mass?  Let us know!

Here is one Christmas sermon that I heard… well… heard and also personally delivered.

Merry Christmas!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iPadre says:

    From the Offertory Chant at Midnight Mass: “Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad before the face of the Lord for he cometh.”

    Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and those blest to be present for the first Christmas looked into the face of God and He looked back at them. Our who life is about seeking His face. We go to Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and He comes to us. We look into His face and long to see Him face to face in the Kingdom.

  2. mamajen says:

    I remember thinking it was very good at the time, but I’m afraid subsequent baby antics erased my memory.

  3. Marie Teresa says:

    During the Nicene Creed at the words of the Incarnation, we knelt!

    It’s the first time in 6 years that I haven’t been the lone person kneeling.

    After using Christmas songs at Mass throughout Advent and substituting “Angels we have heard on high,” for the Gloria and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” for the Psalmody … well, when the priest instructed us ahead of time and then slowed just a bit to give everyone time to kneel – it was a joyous moment!

  4. NancyP says:

    Two Masses, two entirely different homilies. First one…parents were encouraged to pass the truths of our faith to their children (if it’s easy to believe in Santa, it is just as easy to believe in the true miracle of Christmas), we were all reminded that we need to strive for sainthood if we want to get to Heaven, and we were also reminded that regular attendance at Mass, reception of Holy Communion and prayer were the ways to show God that we love Him and respond to His call in our lives. (Amen!)

    Second one…beautiful poetry quotations within the homily…reflections on Christ’s birth and its significance now, in our own lives, not just as an historic event that happened long ago. (Interestingly, one of the poems, by Robert Frost, was read by the poet at JFK’s inauguration.) And then…a singing lesson! Monsignor had us all sing a short song, in a four-part round. He said he thought we’d remember the song rather than the rest of the homily, but that did not happen for me (even though I am a musician/singer at church). The poetry resonated, because the words and sounds reflected the starkness of winter and the amazing joy of Christ’s birth.

  5. albinus1 says:

    We had our “Midnight Mass,” EF, at 8 p.m. (the Mass at Midnight is NO).

    Father remarked that it was providential that “there was no room at the inn.” If there had been room at the inn, he said, the birth of Jesus might not have been much of a story. But because Joseph and Mary were sent to a stable and Jesus was born there, the angels were able to announce the place of His birth and the shepherds and Magi were able to come find Him and adore Him.

    So, things that look like setback on our lives might actually be part of God’s plan for us, to lead us to something greater that He has in mind for us.

  6. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    It’s not so much what you give as why.

    We live in a world which expects always to get, instead of to give.

  7. Mike says:

    NO Mass at Dawn (8:30): The shepherds’ wonder and rejoicing marked a genuine encounter with the Christ Whom we all should seek — and upon finding Whom we may expect to respond with similar amazement and praise. Implication: the Incarnation isn’t about what I expect to get; it’s about what I really receive and share.

  8. albinus1 says:

    Slightly off-topic (sorry!), but one of my Christmas presents from my wife was the St. Edmund Campion Missal and Hymnal (2nd ed.). As I was leafing through it, I noticed that the Celebrant in the Mass illustrations is Fr. James Fryar, FSSP — the priest who married us!

  9. Matt8006 says:

    Our priest told us the story about a non-baptized man of no religion. This man was completely disillusioned with life and saw no real meaning in it. His heart was hardened. As this man was driving around town on Christmas Eve he saw many cars turning into a parking lot of a church and for some reason he felt the urge to follow them. He parked his car and then walked nervously into the church. The man’s life changed forever! For the first time in his life he experienced true peace and joy. He experienced true love. Indeed, he witnessed the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He had never before experienced a Catholic Mass. Our Lord’s Sacred Heart broke open this man’s hardened heart with His grace and mercy. Our Lord offered this man the gift of Himself, and the man accepted. He welcomed the Baby of Bethlehem into his heart. He allowed the God-man into his heart. This was 13 years ago. This man is now Catholic. This man is now our priest.

    Our priest declared himself a a sinner in need of Our Lord’s mercy and as a confessor he is always in need of frequent visits to the Sacrament of Confession.

    Our priest invited those who have been away from the Church and the Sacraments to return to the open and merciful arms of Our Lord and Holy Mother Church through the Sacrament of Confession.

  10. Pnkn says:

    The Nuncio knocked one out of the ballpark last night.
    Not a breath nor cough nor sneeze during a long homily …..
    Jesus comes to and is one of the marginalized (etc.)…..
    Jesus comes into a family, what Mary and Joseph are to Jesus,…..
    how all of this is a huge contrast to the world around us (nearly graphic details) today,
    what our response needs to be and how we are shown the way.
    I hope EWTN/the Nuncio’s office publishes the homily.

  11. My homily was about angels; a bit of exegesis, and then a discussion of how angels almost always say, “Do not be afraid”: so why are we afraid? Because God is holy and we are not; because we might think heaven means losing something essentially human; and because angels are alien to us. And so: the incarnation.

    Gosh, it took me seven or eight minutes to say it at Mass–only about 30 seconds here!

  12. The main point of the homily I heard is that the people, animals, and objects in the creche prefigure Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. The wood of the manger, for example, prefigures the wood of the cross. The beginning of the story gives us clues to the end of the story.

  13. Uxixu says:

    Pastor at NO Midnight Mass brought up about how now that we’re celebrating the birth of Our Lord and the Word made Flesh could really say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Wishing you a Merry Christmas,” (in the anticipation of His arrival) and the trend to abbreviate down to where the original intent and meaning of the custom is lost. He had mostly been saying “Happy Advent” up until now.

  14. timfout says:

    That every Mass is a Christmas wherein God gives us his greatest gift – his only begotten Son. There is nothing we can do to earn this gift of God.

  15. frsbr says:

    Christmas Eve: Matthew’s genealogy 1) gives witness to Christ’s human nature; 2) shows that God can use imperfect instruments (like us!) to accomplish his design; 3) illustrates how God accompanies us and never gives up on us (from Pope Francis).

    Midnight: The shepherds tended the flocks destined for sacrifice in the Temple. Luke’s mention of them reinforces the historicity of the Gospel (this is NOT just a nice story) and supports the legitimacy of the traditional date for Christmas (again, this is a real event). Their presence at the Nativity harken to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

    Christmas Day: God becomes small so that we will not be afraid of him and so that we will find it easy to approach him (from a homily of Benedict XVI). Echoed in the Holy Eucharist.

    Since there are three sets of readings, I always try to give three distinct homilies, although some years this isn’t possible.

    BTW, I’ve heard almost five hours of confessions between yesterday and today, including being available during Mass. The solution to the “crisis” of confession is for priests to hear confessions. Simple.

  16. Wiktor says:

    Angels. Their perfect hierarchy and how a similar hierarchy can be found in Mass, especially EF.

  17. Bea says:

    I heard the tail end of it. (tuned in late) but I heard him say “we are all Roman Catholics”.
    I, too, hope that I can somewhere find his whole homily.

    First time I’ve heard from “higher-ups” that we are Roman Catholics.
    Not Liberals, Conservatives, Traditionals, etc. but plain “Roman Catholics”

    At our parish, I couldn’t hear the whole sermon (bad acoustics) but our priest did say.
    Christmas/Christ is NOT an illusion, NOT an ideal, but a reality, a reality that we must accept and live if we are to find peace and joy in our lives.

    Outside, our pastor was standing there giving away free copies of a book “Rediscovering Catholicism” written by Matthew Kelly, a convert (or a revert) can’t remember which.
    We talked to him a little bit. He figured this is the only time fallen away Catholics will show up for Mass and hoped to reach them through this book.

  18. Mike says:

    Sadly, at my parish there were no confessions being heard on the 24th. However, on a good note, our pastor had us kneel during the appropriate moment in the Creed.

  19. Priam1184 says:

    A reflection on the prologue to St. John’s Gospel and what it means that God became man in the Incarnation. Father then reflected on Benedict XVI’s Christmas message in 2010 where the pope emeritus said that the only way it was possible for God to become man was Love, and that God is Love. Not the warm and fuzzy kind of love but the Love that would die on the Cross to redeem us.

  20. Priam1184 says:

    @Matt8006 That is a great story!

  21. Netmilsmom says:

    I worked the Nativity Play and missed the Homily in my own parish so we went to another today.
    Father said understanding the book of John was difficult for him as a Seminarian. He worked hard to understand and now he passes that knowledge onto us.
    And he likes Christmas cookies (note to self, drop off cookies at the Rectory)

  22. Arele says:

    That for most of the world, Christmas ends now, and the lights and decorations go back up on the shelf (along with the Veg-o-matic). But that we need to keep Christ present with us throughout the rest of the year.

  23. Kyle says:

    Heard an interesting point that when the innkeeper(s) told Mary and Joseph that they had no room, what they were unknowingly saying was “I’m sorry God, we have no room for you.” The priest mentioned how often our modern society says the same thing.

  24. moconnor says:

    A fine FSSP priest said “ineffable.” I was so grateful to able to go (and chant at) an FSSP parish in GA at Midnight.

  25. jpkvmi says:

    From Fr. Edward at the London Oratory (Midnight).
    God must have been British, as he came into this existence in the most understated manner possible.

  26. e.davison49 says:

    Father, thank you for the Christmas homily!

  27. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    “Father: you read the wrong Gospel today. Where are the shepherds and the angels and the baby in the manger and all that?

    No. I might have made some mistakes tonight, but that Gospel reading wasn’t one of them. The Church insists, in this Mass, of the spiritual reality: Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word-made-flesh, the God-made-man.”

    (At Communion, after the appointed antiphon, the choir sang “Puer natus in Bethlehem”, with all 13 verses, insisting on the same point.)

  28. daniwcca says:

    At Mass, Father was surmising that Jesus comes to us as a child because he wants to be held by us. I thought that was lovely. Then I stumbled upon this gem of a quote from Pope Benedict, which encapsulated everything Fr. Eugene was saying. Merry Christmas !

    “The beauty of the Gospel touches our hearts,
    a beauty that is the splendor or truth.
    It astonishes us, again and again, that God makes himself a child…
    so that we may love him,
    so that we may dare to love him,
    and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms.”
    –Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Homily, Midnight Mass, 2012

  29. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Our priest reflected on the Incarnation, “the Word (logos) was made flesh”. He went into the Greek of “logos”, which, he said, also had the connotation of “reason, idea, thought” and which thus could assure us that Christianity and science were not intrinsically contradictory, but rather that the Gospel of Saint John placed the mind, (Word, reason) in the beginning before all else.

    I found it rather a good homily, since it went in a more philosophical direction, which me likes. :)

  30. avatquevale says:

    We were instructed. (before Mass began) to kneel at words of the Incarnation. Our Church (in one of the pagen Scandinavian countries) normally celebrates Mass according to the NO. On Christmas Day, the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo were sung in Greek/Latin. And contrary to the custom, at the Credo, the priest stood facing East and the cross. Everyone fell silent to kneel.

    The theme of the homily was based on John’s Gospel, and riffed to “And the Word was made flesh, and moved into the neighborhood”

  31. avatquevale says:

    oops. pagAn. not pagEn. (see previous)

  32. JonPatrick says:

    Christmas Eve, the boys went off to the NO Midnight Mass where they reported back the homily was on how we sometimes get Christmas presents that we don’t appreciate at first, in the same way when Jesus comes we don’t appreciate the gift we have been given right away.

    Us oldsters then attended the Noon EF “Puer Natus” Mass of the day. The homily there was about the incarnation and how Christ as God humbled himself to be one of us, not just a person but a baby. He was willing to become flesh because he had created flesh so it was good. I was thinking last night about the whole Manichean flesh-is-evil thing and how the incarnation is about as radical a declaration there is that the flesh is good.

  33. Palladio says:

    the necessity of embracing and witnessing Christ every day in our lives, of which Christmas is one special, fundamental expression

    BIG QUESTION for you, Fr. Z, and for anybody in a position to answer: by the grace of God, a priest friend wishes to learn the EF! He lives about 20 miles from Philadelphia: could I have suggestions as to where he might learn to celebrate the Mass of the Saints? [Mater Ecclesiae across the Delaware over in NJ. Contact Fr. Pasley. Rabbit hole CLOSED.]

  34. frjim4321 says:

    Used the Dawn readings this year and related key aspects of the Pauline theology as found in the second pastoral letter to journeys, obstructions, challenges and the importance of holding fast to the deposit of faith we have received as incumbent upon us by virtue of the bath we have received despite false messages that today are not unlike those that were prevalent in Crete. Our personal shipwrecks, imprisonments, illnesses, suffering need not detract from the passion with which we share the Good News as did Paul in his day/time.

    Not so much on Christmas as the anniversary of the birth of the divine infant in 6 – 4 BCE but more on the importance of Jesus Christ being born anew in each of us today and each day…

  35. Claves:

    FWIW, in the Ordinary Form, the priest can use the same set of readings for more than one Mass. This can be helpful if he otherwise feels the need to prepare more than one homily, which is daunting.

    Every year I think about it; but I end up preparing a homily on the feast, rather than trying to stick too closely to the readings (which is perfectly allowed). It’s been years since I prepared more than one Christmas homily.

  36. Random Friar says:

    Midnight: used an article on St. Augustine’s conception of “Peace” and “Order” and how Christ came to establish His Peace, with Pope Bl. John XXIII’s “Pacem in Terris” to help distinguish God’s vs. man’s peace, the key sentence being the first: “Peace on Earth—which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after—can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.” The Divine Order must be established for there to be truly peace in the world, beginning with home, family, work, nation.

    Mass during the Day: “Low” Christology — focused on St. John’s stress on how Christ was truly human, “whom we have seen, whom we have heard, whom we have touched”, and how His Incarnation lifts us even above the angels.

  37. frjim4321 says:

    A priest I respect a lot and like had a Christmas homily based on a movie (“Frozen”) and as much as I admire this priest I really am not a fan of bringing popular culture into a homily. The scriptures themselves are so rich! If we were more effective in breaking open the Word with the faithful people I don’t think we would have to bring in elements of pop entertainment in and effort to be relevant. Again, this is a really great and hard working priest and I could not hold a candle to him in many ways. But I think we sacrifice a great deal in order to be “cute.” I really don’t think “cute” is what a mass or a homily should be about. The good people, though, really love “cute” and they are really affirming of us when we tug at their heart strings. But why give them a big fluffy bun? What would Clara Peller say?

  38. Mike says:

    A most powerful homily preached/”heard” by you, Father. I cannot thank you enough.

  39. VARoman says:

    Vigil Mass, OF
    Father included some Latin! Very nice surprise. During the Homily, he did a round ‘a bout admonishing of “C & E” Catholics. BUT, he very much focused on the positive and the promises of Christ.

    I was torn. Father was very good but there were guitars, tribal drums and some really odd musical choices. It also felt more like a social gathering than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but I kept focused on the Gospel and the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Hopefully some of the occasional Mass-goers will have heard something they needed and be back again.

    On a very positive note, my 10 year old daughter was struck by the differences between the OF and the EF. She wants to attend more EF.

    God bless you, Father Z!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  40. Supertradmum says:

    frjim4321, thank you for this comment. Not everyone in the congregation will see a modern movie, but all hear the Scriptures.

    As to the sermon, I heard Father Apple at St. Alphonsus TLM speak on the Baby Jesus calling us to make a decision for Christ, for the simplicity of the Gospel message, and to follow Him. Father emphasized the Incarnation as the time that God intervened in the world, just as He does daily at the Sacrifice of the Mass. Very simple, very good.

  41. frjim4321 says:

    STM – – –

    Indeed. I heard the great reviewer Roger Ebert once remark that although his entire life’s work was around cinema a very large percentage of people never see films. I forget the statistic, but the number of people who watch movies, particularly new releases, is very small.

    – – – fjb

  42. Trinitarian Dad says:

    First time at midnight Mass in a while. We usually go to the children’s Christmas Eve Mass in which a beautiful living Nativity is presented by the kids (73 participants this year, not counting the youth choir) before the Mass is actually begun. (No cutesy-wootsie gimmicks, the presentation is always child-like in simplicity, but not childish.)
    In the homily at the Midnight Mass, the homilist invited us all to contemplate how in this one little Baby in the manger is present all the graces and blessings; past-present-future; to be given to all of us. All blessings and graces in the Child of Bethlehem are waiting to come forth. Let us be carried away with adoration for this Child and simply believe in the One that God has sent us. All that was present in Bethlehem is present at the altar for us now in Holy Communion – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

  43. michelekc says:

    At my first Anglican use Mass, Christmas Day:

    The beginning of the Gospel of John reflects the beginning of Genesis; it is another Creation account. God created the Universe with a Word. He gave us humans the ability to choose with words, e.g., Eve’s “no” and Mary’s “yes.” We say “no” to God whenever we decide for ourselves what is good or right.

  44. suedusek says:

    10:30 p.m. Mass: Our priest commented during the homily that Jesus came in the fullness of time to a specific place and to meet a specific need. He reminded us that we are to imitate Christ as we serve others right where we are, on a timely basis, meeting needs as they arise in a particular way. It felt very much like a call to action.

  45. Gratias says:

    At the Ordinary Form midnight 10pm mass the surprise was that they played the organ after years of disuse. Wonderful. The homily was that as babies entice us to pick them up, we should pick up and hold tight to Jesus. At Christmas Extraordinary Form in Camarillo sermon was about chapter 1 of the Gospel of St. John, which is the Christmas reading and read at the close of every the rest of the year. In principio erat Verbum … et Verbum caro factum est.

  46. RafqasRoad says:

    A commenter noted their observations re genuflection at the words of the incarnation in the Nycene creed; Fr. D.F. who gave the Christmas day Mass at the little church 150 Metres down the street from my new address specifically directed the congregants to either genuflect or bow at this point in the Creed…WOW!! Colds and flu prevented me from attending the Christmas eve 10PM mass at the church over the river (the little church down the street from me is only open for Mass on Sundays and Christmas day etc.) my husband was under the weather and unable to drive me (I can’t drive due to vision impairment – use to access PC and the Net) The locals have been very welcoming of me both at the little church and the church over the river. Some of us who attend the little church also attend during weekdays at the church over the river ; confession twice on Sat and always several pews deep with penitents from what I can gather; both Fr.’s who hear confessions are good confesors; on Wed 18 Dec we had a confession service with prayers then all four priests of the parish heard confessions until every last congregant had gone through (I had to duck out after mine due to awaiting a lift home) and we’ve bells and incense; a good, by the book, reverent NO though I pray for an AO and TLM in God’s time. Please also pray for Fr. P.F. and the other two Fr.’s who oversee six parish churches spread out through a very broad (geographical) parish. the hymnity is hauganesque, but with organ and restraint, and some good old hymns regularly sprinkled through the services its not too too bad. Went to Rosary and Mass this morning; very good. Its an excellent parish; oh, and Fr. D.F. sung the Kyrie in greek on Christmas day…very good!! plus there are other vision impaired parishioners who attend so folks know how much help to give and aren’t afraid to come up and say hello. Also, my guide dog and I have learnt the way by bus…a good walk.

    prayers please; that weekday masses apart from Fri that start at 8AM can start just 10-15 minutes later so those of us who catch the first bus to get to church don’t come in late as the bus arrives in the town centre for the church over the river at 8AM and it takes 10 minutes or so to walk to the church from the bus station. Also, please pray that the little church up the street can once again have weekday services; this would make life SO MUCH EASIER for those of us who live near said little church (Sacred Heart) especially those of us who cannot drive. We have four priests for six parish churches…Its a good parish, especially in light of some of the things people who read this blog have to put up with, but they have it inthem to truly strive for even more excellence in the Lord’s strength. Pray for the priests who burn themselves up every day for Christ, taking the blows for Him as they guide our Saviour’s stiff-necked flock.

    Pray also for our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria, Iraq Iran, and South Sudan, pray for priests, and pray for police and other front line servicemen and women who put their lives on the line daily to keep us safe.


    South Coast Catholic.

  47. Pnkn says:

    I have contacted the National Basilica and they are contacting the Nuncio to ask permission to publish his homily (or at least let me read a copy). Otherwise, EWTN and/or Sirius might be a place to go and listen, since they broadcast the Mass on Christmas Eve.

    It was like listening to the best of the current and past two popes all rolled up into one coherent message.

  48. yatzer says:

    In hearing your homily, Fr Z, I remembered how I wanted to say the Rosary on Christmas Eve but the Sorrowful didn’t seem quite right. So I combined the Sorrowful and the Joyful together and thought they had an interesting complementarity, something like in your homily.

  49. MAJ Tony says:

    My mind was in a fog and otherwise preoccupied with choir stuff, but it will be very hard to forget Fr. McCarthy asking for someone to bring up an infant. He got a 10 month old who insisted on playing with the mic. He held up the child on the lectern, and said basically: Imagine being told “This is your God.” You, like most people would probably be dumbfounded but not exactly in awe, because babies aren’t exactly fear-inspiring (my thought: at least not in a “God” sort of way).

  50. AngelGuarded says:

    Wonderful homily on Christmas by our young and very devout associate pastor. He talked about the anticipation of Christmas, how the world waited and we wait for our Savior and now that He has come, God waits for us. He talked about how children wait with such excitement for Christmas and we should have that same excitement because once Christ is born, is in our life, nothing is ever the same. I can’t give it its due, it was beautiful and moved me to tears.

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