During this holy season wherin we celebrate the Birth of Jesus, we become extremely "gift-conscious." Gifts are given, gifts are received. Whether one gives or receives, the net result is always an experience of joy. There can be more or less joy depending on many things such as, the value of the gift, the degree of love behind the giving or receiving of the gift, the sacrifice entailed, and the like.
What joy there is within the Heart of God as He pours gifts upon all of His children on earth. There are greater and lesser gifts, but any one gift from Him is greater than the greatest gift that anyone on earth can give. The very gift of life that each person on earth receives is in itself greater than all the man-made gifts put together. What joy should there be in the heart of each one of us for the fact that God has given each one of us LIFE!
Life is indeed one of God's greatest gifts to us, but is not thee super gift. What could be greater? Asssuredly, it must be the Gift of Jesus for the Gift of Jesus is indeedone of God's greatest gifts, and it could even be considered as one of His choice Super Gifts. Included in this choice Super Gift are included so many other gifts such as Mary, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Holy Father and the like. Even the Gift of the Holy Spirit is included in the Super Gift of Jesus for it was Jesus explicitly Who gave us His Spirit.
How could there possibly be any greater gift than the Super Gifts of Jesus and the Spirit? There is the super, colossal gift from God given to some to be able to RECEIVE the Super Gift of Jesus and the Spirit. Being given the Gifts of Jesus and the Spirit is one thing; to be able to receive Them is another. To be able to receive these Super Gifts needs for God's Love to to engage in super, colossal giving.
There are a number of super, colossal gifts contained within the Divine Heart of God. (Note, dear reader, that we should not forget that even God the Father has a Heart. We sometimes forget this when we consider Him to be the God of Justice.) We cannot, within the scope of this Christmas message, consider them all, or even a few others. I would like to consider one, however, which I think is one of the choicest super, colossal gifts, that of the gift of making it possible for each one of us to put ourselves willingly and joyfully UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
You may ask, "What's so special about this particular super, colossal gift?" Just stop for a moment to consider. If I receive this very special super, colossal gift, look at what it does for me. I am able to make use of the very Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude and Reverence. I am able to grow in all virtues, especially in the Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. I am able, under His influence, to be a channel of grace to others. I am able to be a conduit of healing from Him to others. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit I can patiently carry all the crosses on my shoulder, in fact, I can make use of them in joining them with the suffering of Jesus for the souls in Purgatory, for the conversion of sinners, and for the atonement of sin in the world. The list is almost endless; a list far greater than any material wish-list anyone could draw up.
It is the Spirit Who reminds us of all the things that Jesus taught and still teaches through His Church. One of these is that we are able to ask God and if we ask, we will receive. What is it that we will receive? Still other gifts. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit we will be prompted just what to ask for and that prompting will not include requests for less best gifts.
Let me offer you a special "holiday hint" and a short cut for your Christmas spiritual "wish list." If you would like to receive this very special super, colossal gift, go to Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Sincerely, from the depth of your heart, ask her to help you to ask for this gift. She will respond to you most quickly. She knows that time is short, and knows well how important it is in these troubled times for you to be directly and completely under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
We know what it is to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, television, bad companions and the like. Why waste time with any of these if we have an opportunity to put ourselves under the influence of the Holy Spirit? No matter what, as human beings, we find a need to be under influence. Why not opt for the best!?! There is nothing better in all of live than to live each moment of the day and night under the loving influence of the Holy Spirit.
I wish you all a blessed, super, colossal Spirit-filled Christmas and a New Year that will dawn for you full of His Loving Influence.
Time fleets and no man can stop its flight.
Itís hard to believe it is Christmas already!
One thing I do believe is that with all of my heart, I wish you and yours a holy and grace-filled Christmas Season and New Year!
I have a little holy card which reads: ďTRUST ME! I HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL. (signed) Jesus.Ē
The little Baby Jesus does have the whole world in His little Hands. He looks at you lovingly, raises His little arms to you in hopes you will hold Him close to your heart. You would be the better for it, for we cannot desire the God-head, we cannot reach for Him, we cannot hold Him close without His blessing us beyond our understanding on this earth.
Give Jesus your heart this Christmas Day, especially when you receive Him in Holy Communion. Itís the present He wants from you, and nothing would please Him more. Receive Him with a pure heart and one that desires to belong to Him above all else.
Letís forget the problems of the world for the next few days and consider that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the Beginning and End, the answer to EVERYTHING.
You are in my heart and prayers. And as share these words from on a Christmas card with you:
I look forward to 1999 and hope, that by "GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER" each Friday, somehow, someway, by God's Grace, I'll be able to touch your heart and, in some small way, help you on your journey toward everlasting Peace! Merry Christmas,everyone. God bless you. Peace!
As Spiritual Director for this apostolate, I wrote my last Christmas message in the final print issue of A CALL TO PEACE last year. For well over a year since All Saints Day in 1997, those tuning in to the Catholic-Internet Network have been able to keep up Monday to Friday with the DAILY CATHOLIC, the only and first ever regular Catholic publication on the net.
Christmas, my dear friends, is really the Feast of LOVE INCARNATE. Jesus came to give us His love, and He showed the depth of that love by becoming like us in all things but sin. We need to really meditate on this point. God was born of a woman, our Blessed Mother Mary. He did not suddenly appear out of nowhere. He accepted a fully human nature, inseparably united to His Divine nature. And thus, like the rest of us, He was born into this world. This is not just a story or a myth! This is reality! Pope John Paul II stressed the importance of this fact when he said: "It is necessary to recover the truth about Christmas in the authenticity of historical fact and in the fullness of the meaning it bears. The historical fact is that at a given moment in history, in a certain area of the earth, there was born, of a humble woman of the race of David, the Messiah announced by the Prophets: Jesus Christ the Lord."
The Pope then explains that this historical fact causes all of history to fall into place. The meaning is that, with the coming of Christ, the whole of human history found its outlet, its explanation, its dignity; God came to meet us in Christ in order that we might have access to Him.
Christmas is a great birthday celebration for all of us are members of God's family. Jesus said: "Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day and follow in My footsteps." Jesus wants us to become like Him in all things. He is our Exemplar, our Model. As He lived, so we should live.
Terrence Cardinal Cook once wrote: "At Christmas the doors of God's Mercy and Love are open to us. We enter and rejoice in the presence of the Lord among us." This Christmas let us truly offer God fitting worship with hearts overflowing with love, His love.
A friend of mine sent me a Christmas greeting. I would like to share this greeting with everyone who here in the DAILY CATHOLIC. The message reads as follows: "I am wishing you this day a Blessed Christmas. I wish to send you these gifts which are beyond price...and will out-last time and bridge all space. I wish you laughter and pure joy, a merry, hearty and clear conscience and love which thinks no evil, is not easily provoked and seeks not its own. I wish for you the fragrance of flowers, the sweet association of holly and mistletoe and fir, the memory of deep woods of peaceful hills and of the mantling snow which guards the sleep of all God's creatures. I wish that the spirit of Christmas time may draw you into deeper companionship with Him Who has given you the greatest gift possible, the Gift of Himself...the gift that only a God-man can give."
Please continue to pray for the spiritual success of this most wonderful apostolate of MIR-A-CALL Center and the DAILY CATHOLIC. Tell your friends about this magnificent ministry which has literally reached hundreds of thousands of people. May God bless you abundantly this Christmas and all through the coming year of 1999. This is my HOPE, my WISH, my PRAYER for you!
As this holy time of the year when we await the blessed birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I am praying that for all of us we will concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas.
There is a prayer that my mother taught me when I was very young, a prayer that I would like to share with you. This prayer is one of hope, and that is my petition for all of you as we approach Christmas.
It is a prayer of praise, or adoration, of acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God. It acknowledges that we are to be as He was and is, a Just but Merciful God, who knows our every need and desire. We petition Him to help us, and we ask that, above all else, our soul may be a worthy manger for the Infant Jesus, Prince of Peace, to reign supreme in us not only on Christmas Day, but every day until we are with Him in Heaven.
We do not know what the days and the months ahead hold for the world. But God knows, and He will be there for us, if we but allow ourselves to behave in the manner of the shepherds and the wisemen, who came and gave to Him their hearts. That's what Christmas is...giving God our hearts, and then repeating this act each and every day with a conscious act of our will.
If we do this, then the coming days and year will cause us no fear, but rather hope, for God will never abandon us, even to the end of the world. Rejoice and be glad, for the Son of God, our Savior, is born to us!
At this time of year, allow me to reminisce, for memories always come wafting back in the corners of this tired cranium. Some of the earliest recollections are at old Saint Olaf's church in downtown Minneapolis where, at the tender age of three or four I would clutch my mom and dad's hands, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I wondered in awe at the manger scene and listened to the echoing sounds of "Silent Night" and other appropriate Christmas hymns that would resound through this three story chamber that, unfortunately, burned down in the early fifties. It was replaced years later by a modern edifice that defies description, but I will never forget those first Christmases at that rickety old church. Santa Claus really didn't enrapture me until I was in kindergarten, but those early years the baby Christ-child and the beautiful Blessed Mother surely did. Looking back I can't thank my parents enough for weaning me on Catholicism and the traditions of the Church and Christmas.
For years it would become a family ritual to take the trolley downtown. First we were treated to a ham sandwich and Coke at the old Woolworths that we called the "five and dime store." Then we'd bundle up and trek up Nicolett Avenue past the decorated department store windows of Dayton's, Donaldson's, and a few other stores I can't remember to ogle the magnificent, animated window displays that emanated the old-world splendor of Christmas. Shivering we would make our way back the other side of the Street past Power's and down to St. Olaf's in time for midnight Mass. As tired as I was it was something I looked forward to for days and, according to my parents, struggled to stay awake through it all. I remember bringing coins to the crib as a birthday gift for the Baby Jesus and feeling all warm inside that He was going to be okay because I'd given Him some money to keep Him warm and cozy. One year my dad, who's still alive and kicking at 84 in Minneapolis, pulled me in a special sled two miles downtown, making sure I was warm and cozy like the infant Savior. I couldn't relate to that back then, but it strikes me now how similar the circumstances. My mom and dad braved the cold and elements to make sure I was protected just as Joseph and Mary withstood the cold-hearted treatment of the inn-keepers at Bethlehem and gladly accepted the meagre accommodations of the stable. Little did anyone in that tiny town of Bethlehem know the importance of the night and it was left to the angels to signal His coming to the lowliest of shepherds. I had parents who signaled the importance of that night to me right from the start and, because of those traditions, they have stuck with me for nigh over a half century.
A tear comes to my heart when I think back on those simple times and the state of the perceptions of Christmas today. Back then, because of my Irish-Scandinavian roots, Santa Claus was "Father Christmas" or "Saint Nick" who complimented the reason for the season. Today he takes center-stage with nary a thought for Whose birthday it truly is. Madison Avenue has usurped the quaint and atmospheric Nicolet Avenues and Main streets of yore. My loving angel Cyndi and I have our own particular special memories of Christmases past to remind us of those great times and why this time of year is so special in retrospect, but we want so much to share those traditions with our sons and others but they can't fathom what an "old-fashioned" Christmas is like. Gone are the grandparents and families so close. That's sad for it is a part of a person that never leaves and always reminds one of the love Christ came to spread.
Our hope and prayer for all of you this Christmas is to recapture those "Catholic memories" of yesteryear and strive to imbue this generation with a true sense of Hope and Love for all through knowledge of our Catholic Faith. That is why we continue with this "labor of love" - the DAILY CATHOLIC. That is why we persist in swimming upstream against a tide of worldly opinion. Many things have changed over the decades since those "innocent late forties and fifties" but the Roman Catholic Church is still the same solid Rock - all because that little Infant grew up and gave to Peter the Keys of the Kingdom. He came to save all mankind and He did so through the vehicle we know as His One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That is a tradition we can never let go. Please, whatever you do, keep that in mind this Christmas and all through the final year of this millennium as we wait in anxious Hope and Joy for the Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.