Once again it is my joy and privilege to extend special Christmas greetings and blessings for a New Year full of the peace of the Lord to readers of The DAILY CATHOLIC. The years have been good to me, but over the last decade my eyes have grown dim from macular degeneration. I can barely see things unless they are right in front of me. Reading is very, very difficult unless I the print is enlarged immensely. The good fathers here at the Oblate Retreat Center of Christ the King on Buffalo Lake have provided me with an apparatus that allows me to magnify some things, but its capabilities too, like me, like all of us finite beings, are limited.
Not so for the Spotless Lamb - Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, born unto the Immaculate Virgin Mary some 2000 years ago. The free-from-original-sin womb of our Blessed Lady - the Mother of Holy Mother the Church - had to be the most pure Receptacle -a Tabernacle - Ark of the Covenant - to hold the Spotless Lamb. That is why she was immaculately conceived and why it was possible that she could be conceived of the Holy Ghost as we all believe through the Apostles' Creed, first formulated at the Council of Jerusalem.
Into this finite world came the Infinite One chauffeured by the chorus of angels who first announced to the lowly shepherds "I bring you good tidings of great joy!" How consoling it is to reflect on those words of the angel from the first Christmas. Great joy indeed! As Christians, as Catholics I strongly believe we should extend the spirit of Christmas every day of the year. We could easily subscribe to that famous Gift List that anyone can afford every day of our life. These gifts are: The Gift of Wisdom; The Gift of Understanding; The Gift of Counsel; The Gift of Fortitude; The Gift of Knowledge; The Gift of Piety; The Gift of the Fear of the Lord; all possible through The Gift of Prayer for these Gifts can come only from the Sanctifier, the Holy Ghost. But, as so many consider Christmas a time for receiving gifts we should be open to the graces of these Gifts and, in like Christmas spirit give of ourselves to others in the true Christian mold of striving towards sanctity.
We cannot begin at the ethereal levels. No, we must begin with the simple steps before we can walk, before we can run. Therefore, we can begin with the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity. We can manifest these fruits in giving others the gift of listening, the gift of signs of affection, the gift of a note, the gift of a smile, the gift of a cheerful disposition, the gift of laughter, the gift of tears, the gift of sensitivity, the gift of quiet prayer, the gift of setting an example, the gift of loving and charitable constructive criticism that is never destructive, the gift of a compliment, the gift of letting the next car in, the gift of being patient while waiting in line or in traffic, the gift of taking time for someone else, the gift of helping our neighbor without making a show of it, the gift of helping others know their faith better, and countless other gifts we can give each and every day. The more we strive to do God's will in everything we do, the more these gifts will not only become natural, but the Paraclete will elevate us to a higher level of holiness if we are open to His Gifts.
We may not always feel like giving these gifts, but I would like to share with you a Christmas story that might encourage you to persevere. We all remember the story of how a new star led the wise men from the East to the manger in Bethlehem. Af few days after the Magi found Jesus there was a meeting of all the angels who had been involved in placing the new star in the sky, which had been named "the Star of Bethlehem." The angels gathered to discuss what should be done with the star, now that it had fulfilled its purpose. It was no longer needed. What to do with it? There was endless discussion among the angels, with first one proposal and then another. Finally, one little cherub, who had stood vigil with Mary throught her life and a front row position in the stable, spoke up: "Why not break it into billions of little pieces and God will place one tiny piece in the eye of each conceived child?" They all agreed on such a wonderful, fruitful suggestion.
With that in mind, our task is to look for that piece of star in every person's eye. It is truly there if only we look for it. Christmas is a time to glory and revel in the Birth of Christ. Let us sing with the angels, adore with the shepherds, give with the Magi, and silently, through the union of the Mystical Body of Christ, turn the stable of our existence into a glorious receptacle to welcome and worship the New Born Son, Jesus Christ - the Spotless Lamb.
My prayer for each and everyone of you is as follows: "God of time and of eternity, with Christmas joy we praise you for the blessings of the year gone by and for the New Year we will begin. Your Son comes among us to bring glad tidings to the poor of spirit and to proclaim a year acceptable in Your sight. Knit us in harmony, love and the Truth. Fill this new year with mercy and compassion, with prosperity and accord as You see fit, as we join the angels in proclaiming Your praise: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!"