Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Today at mass we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family. The church was decorated so beautiful. Pointsettas and wreaths everywhere. The nativity scene was beautiful also. And on Christmas Eve Father blessed the manger. I remember in his prayer he said, "may whoever looks upon this nativity scene be blessed."  What an awesome thought. To look upon the place where Jesus was born. To look upon Jesus, Mary and Joseph and remember in our hearts how much God loves us that He sent His son to us to be born in a lowly manger. Now I have worked on farms before. I have slept in a barn before, not too far away from a horse. It is not always a pleasant sight or smell.  But God loved us so much. He sent the message of the birth of His son to the poor shepherds and the rich magi. He is not partial to  anyone's status in this world. He came for all. That is why I chose the song I did to be played on my blog. O Come All Ye Faithful.
As I listened to that song in church this morning and I heard the words, "Come Ye to Bethlehem," I thought when we look upon the manger scene, when we go to Jesus in that place, we are going to Bethlehem.
Here is a beautiful account of the first nativity scene set up by St. Francis:

St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his Life of St. Francis of Assisi tells the story:

''It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an @#!*% to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles." Catholic Education Resource Center

The Christmas season has just begun. I know it is hard because of how everyone does Christmas today. Everything comes down after Christmas Day. I find that sad because it makes me think that it is just about the presents. "Okay, got my presents. Christmas is over."  But that's not right. It has just begun. I try every year to add more ancient traditions to my Christmas season, post presents. This year I am adding the white Christ candle to burn a little everyday until Epiphany and keeping my nativity scene up and decorated until Epiphany. I do try to leave the tree up also but take down some of my Santa Clause decorations a little every day.
Another benefit of celebrating Christmas until Epiphany is the stress of shopping, baking and cleaning are gone. Now is a great time to focus on Jesus.

O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

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Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain