Tag Archives: Christmas

Joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation

nativityA Christmas sermon by Saint Augustine of Hippo

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become the son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

The Only Begotten Son of God

virgin-and-child“What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin’s womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth. He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, whom sight and feeling and touch cannot measure, was wrapped in a cradle.”

— St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (300-368 AD)

Our Advent observance

The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.

A Monastery Journey To Christmas
Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB

Holy Innocents

Holy InnocentsThe Christmas Octave has an unique way to keep the memory of Christ and His Way alive with the saints honored in these days: today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. As it is revealed in Scripture, King Herod felt threatened by the birth of the Infant King. He ordered the death of every male child of Bethlehem to preserve his own reign (cf. Matthew 2:16). Mother Church honors the multitude of child-martyrs because of the Presence of Jesus. Our theology teaches us that the infant voices eternally sing triumphant praises to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords: the Light of the World.

Here is a poem, “The Holy Innocents” by Laurence Housman

When Christ was born in Bethlehem,
Fair peace on earth to bring,
In lowly state of love He came
To be the children’s King.

And round Him, then, a holy band
Of children blest was born,
Fair guardians of His throne to stand
Attendant night and morn.

And unto them this grace was giv’n
A Saviour’s name to own,
And die for Him Who out of Heav’n
Had found on earth a throne.

O blessèd babes of Bethlehem,
Who died to save our King,
Ye share the martyrs’ diadem,
And in their anthem sing!

Your lips, on earth that never spake,
Now sound th’eternal word;
And in the courts of love ye make
Your children’s voices heard.

Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Child,
Make Thou our childhood Thine;
That we with Thee the meek and mild
May share the love divine.

Rejoice, O mystical rod of Jesse

“Rejoice, O mystical rod which blossomed the unfading Flower.”
(excerpt from the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos)

Jesse TreeThe genealogy of Jesus is very interesting and impressive for a variety of reasons. The Gospel of Saint Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry back from Joseph to Adam to show His connection to the inception of humanity; the Gospel of Saint Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham –the Father of the Hebrew Nation– and moves forward, linking Him to the kingly line of David. Both strains of lineage demonstrate, therefore, that Jesus is the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies because He is a direct descendent of King David, the rightful heir to be the new “King of Israel.” 

This, too, was prophesied by Isaiah who proclaimed that, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Is. 11:1-2); Jesse is the father of King David.

God fulfills His promise. The icon presented here depicts  mystical “root” often depicts the Virgin Mary in the center of a vine of the historic forefathers presents to the world the blossomed Fruit or Flower, Jesus, seated upon her throne-like lap.

Today, is a time to contemplate the Promise made Flesh in the birth of our Lord and Savior! For it is “Jesus who brought the fire of the Spirit, which takes away the desire for the things that are here, and removes us to another love” (Saint John Chrysostom).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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