It's Still Christmastime!

An Anchoress Word Cloud via Wordle

The Reading from Vespers, December 27:

God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, thereby condemning sin in the flesh, so that the just demands of the law might be fulfilled in us who live, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.
– Romans 8:3-4

If you need a little shot in the arm
to keep the mind of Christmas going, Pope Benedict XVI spoke a truly beautiful homily at midnight mass, which many are only just getting to read:

God dwells on high, yet he stoops down to us! God is infinitely great, and far, far above us. This is our first experience of him. The distance seems infinite. The Creator of the universe, the one who guides all things, is very far from us: or so he seems at the beginning. But then comes the surprising realization: The One who has no equal, who “is seated on high”, looks down upon us. He stoops down. He sees us, and he sees me. God’s looking down is much more than simply seeing from above. God’s looking is active. The fact that he sees me, that he looks at me, transforms me and the world around me. The Psalm tells us this in the following verse: “He raises the poor from the dust.” In looking down, he raises me up, he takes me gently by the hand and helps me to rise from depths towards the heights. “God stoops down”. This is a prophetic word. That night in Bethlehem, it took on a completely new meaning. God’s stooping down became real in a way previously inconceivable. He stoops down: he himself comes down as a child to the lowly stable, the symbol of all humanity’s neediness and forsakenness. God truly comes down. He becomes a child and puts himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child. The Creator who holds all things in his hands, on whom we all depend, makes himself small and in need of human love. God is in the stable. In the Old Testament the Temple was considered almost as God’s footstool; the sacred ark was the place in which he was mysteriously present in the midst of men and women. Above the temple, hidden, stood the cloud of God’s glory. Now it stands above the stable. God is in the cloud of the poverty of a homeless child: an impenetrable cloud, and yet a cloud of glory!

You’ll want to read it all

And this is a lovely homily offered by a Dominican Novice to her monastic sisters.

Advent is over, but Christmas – it is only just begun!

Christmas Customs in one community

Feeding body and soul in the Bronx

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Shannon McCatholic

    I just love that homily. I just received a hearty shot of criticism for our apparent life failure (We have 5 kids ages 11 and down, we live in a small house which has lots of unfinished projects and chaos. My husband has a steady, but low paying job–though it has health/dental insurance for all of us. We never have any savings, as every penny we have goes into basic needs and activities for the kids). My response was that the Cross and Christmas both look like absolute, total failure in the eyes of the world. We could make more money and have a super-organised home, but we’ve chosen to foster our relationships with one another instead. The Holy Father’s homily brought me to tears, reminding me that the poverty of Christmas is precisely where hope lies. God’s salvific work begins and ends looking like total failure, and so I am reminded that that focusing on the people in our lives and fostering love is the measure by which we must measure, rather than whether or not our home could appear in Southern Living.

    Merry Christmas! Here’s to failure!

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  • Aunty Franny

    Thanks, you helped fill in part of a wonderful story my dear friend Hans just sent me from Rome!!! Here is what happened at BXVI’s midnight mass:
    I spend Christmas Eve mass with the Holy Father. While I went alone (most of my friends are back in the US or somewhere in Europe), the evening turned out to be a work of the Holy Spirit. I sat next to a group of three women, an English mother and her two daughters. As it turned out, it was their first time to Rome even though they all lived in Europe. We were all seated on the left side of the basilica tucked away in a little corner with a large pillar blocking our view of the High Altar. The women were getting anxious, I noticed, as they could not see anything. So I whispered to the youngest daughter that the seats we have will be the best ones in the ‘house’, but not until the end of the mass. “Why”, she asked. That’s when I explained to her that to our right was the Nativity scene where Pope Benedict will come to place the infant Jesus and pray momentarily. And because the area will be blocked off, I told her that we will have a clear view of the entire ceremony. She was overjoyed, but her mother seemed doubtful. In fact, there were several times during mass when she kept indicating a desire to move closer, at least where they could see the altar. So the moment came at the end of the mass. The Holy Father came inches away from us, paused in front of the Nativity scene, prayed a bit, and retreated back passing in front of us again. When I turned to look at the family I noticed that the mother was in tears. From what I could tell, she was absolutely moved by the whole experience and was partly in disbelief that she and her daughters encountered the Holy Father – on Christmas Eve! – in such close proximity. With tears still rolling on her cheeks, she thanked me for telling them about it. I can only imagine how special that must have been for them. And to think that I almost didn’t go to the mass dreading the long lines and hours of waiting.

    I’ll bet our Holy Father never knew what his presence meant to my friend Hans and his seatmates.

    Peace and Christmas Joy!!!