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A very merry Christmas to all our readers, viewers and supporters!
For such an important and solemn feast as Our Lord's Nativity, one almost falls silent before the sacred mysteries. I find myself ill-equipped to write a reflection of my own.
It seems appropriate instead to share quotes from Catholics of centuries past. All of those quoted are either saints or on the path to canonization.
Here's my little bouquet of Christmas quotes from Catholic sources.
But because the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, by His very nativity He made an eye-salve to cleanse the eyes of our heart and to enable us to see His majesty by means of His humility. Therefore the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: He healed our eyes, and what follows? And we beheld His glory. His glory can no one see unless healed by the humility of His flesh.
Blessed be that Child, who gladdened Bethlehem today! Blessed be the Babe, who made manhood young again today! Blessed be the Fruit, who lowered Himself to our famished state! Blessed be the Good One, who suddenly enriched our necessitousness and supplied our needs! Blessed He whose tender mercies made Him condescend to visit our infirmities!
We are bound to keep the day of the Lord's Nativity with no slothful nor carnal joy. And we shall each keep it worthily and thoroughly, if we remember of what Body we are members, and to what a Head we are joined, lest anyone as an ill-fitting joint cohere not with the rest of the sacred building. Consider, dearly beloved, and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit thoughtfully bear in mind, who it was that received us into Himself, and that we have received in us: Since, as the Lord Jesus became our flesh by being born, so we also became His body by being reborn.
O Father, in Your Truth (that is to say, in Your Son; humbled, needy and homeless) you have humbled me. He was humbled in the womb of the Virgin, needy in the manger of the sheep and homeless on the wood of the Cross. Nothing so humbles the proud sinner as the humility of Jesus Christ's humanity.
Remember, too, that it is in Bethlehem of Judah that Jesus is born; and be very careful lest you fail to be found there, lest He fail to be received by you. Bethlehem is the house of bread; Judah signifies confession or praise. If, then, you replenish your soul with the food of the Divine Word, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and devoutly receive the Bread which came down from Heaven and which giveth life to the world; if the vessel of your body is made strong and able to hold the new wine by being refreshed and strengthened with His new and glorified Flesh; if, moreover, you live by faith and have no need to weep because you have forgotten to eat your bread, then, indeed, you are become a Bethlehem fitted to receive Our Lord.
Arise, all ye nobles and peasants; Mary invites all, rich and poor, just and sinners, to enter the cave of Bethlehem, to adore and to kiss the feet of her newborn Son. Go in, then, all ye devout souls; go and see the Creator of Heaven and earth on a little hay, under the form of a little Infant; but so beautiful that He sheds all around rays of light. Now that He is born and is lying on the straw, the cave is no longer horrible, but is become a paradise.
Let us at this season approach Him with awe and love, in whom resides all perfection, and from whom we are allowed to gain it. Let us come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let us come to Him to learn our duty and to receive grace to do it.
Servant of God Dom Prosper Guéranger (regarding Midnight Mass):
Midnight comes. The Holy Virgin has been longing for this happy moment. Her heart is suddenly overwhelmed with a delight which is new even to her. She falls into an ecstasy of love. As her Child will one day, in His almighty power, rise through the unmoved barrier of His Sepulchre; so now, as a sunbeam gleaming through purest crystal, He is born, and lies on the ground before her. With arms outstretched to embrace her, and smiling upon her: this is her first sight of her Son, who is Son also of the Eternal Father! She adores, takes Him into her arms, presses Him to her heart, swathes His infant limbs and lays Him down in the manger. Her faithful Joseph unites his adoration with hers; and so, too, do the angels of Heaven, for the royal psalmist had sung this prophecy of their adoring Him on His entrance into the world (Ps. xcvi 7; Heb. i 6). Heaven opens over this spot of earth, which men call a stable; and from it there mount to the Throne of the Eternal Father the first prayer, the first tear, the first sob of this His Son, our Jesus, who thus begins to prepare the world's salvation.
Exiled from the earth, Our Lord is born under the earth, for the stable was in a cave. He was the first caveman of recorded history, and there He shook the earth to its very foundations. Because He's born in a cave, all who wish to see Him must be bent, must stoop; the stoop is the mark of humility. The proud refuse to stoop. Therefore, they miss divinity. Those, however, who are willing to risk bending their egos to go into that cave, find that they are not in a cave at all; but they are in a universe where sits a Babe on His mother's lap, the Babe who made the world.
If you've read all the way to the bottom here, please do remember: Christmas Day is not the end of the Christmas season. It's only the beginning.
The secular "holiday season" differs vastly from the actual holiday of Christmas and the season of Christmastide.
In the Church's calendar, Christmastide goes on until Feb. 2, with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (known in the Anglophonic world as Candlemas, owing to the candle-lit procession). It's worth noting that this is referencing the ceremonial purification ceremony that Jewish women would go through following childbirth, not any purification from sin on Mary's part — after all, Blessed Mary, the ever-virgin, was conceived without sin, was born without sin, lived without sin and was assumed into Heaven without sin.
To close this piece, let me again wish a very merry Christmas to you and yours!