DAILY CATHOLIC CHRISTMAS-NEW YEAR'S ISSUE December 24, 1999 - January 2, 2000 vol. 10, no. 245
PAT LUDWA'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
To print out entire text of this Christmas-New Year's issue,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
I was told that this is a true story, but I can't verify if it actually
On a French battle field in World War I, German and Allied soldiers huddled behind their trenches hoping to survive just one more day. It was the night of December 24th, and the sounds and smell of death were all around them.
In their cold wet trench, they heard the rattling of machine gun fire as chunks of dirt flew before them. The sharp report of rifle shots, the deafening explosions of artillery shells.
They were wet cold and covered in filth, much of it, their own. Their feet were numb from cold, and bloated from the cold water flowing in the trench. Wanting to move, to stand up and find a warmer, drier place, they held themselves fast for fear that even moving would bring death.
The world was going mad, and death reigned.
Then, softly, almost unnoticed, a single voice was barely heard:
Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht!
Soon, more voices joined it, slowly matching, then overcoming the din of battle.
Alles schlaft, einsam wacht.
Suddenly, their voices were joined by another:
Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy Infant, so tender and mild.
A crescendo of song overcame the noises of war, until the battle slowly ended and only the song remained. Sleep in Heavenly peace, sleep in Heavenly peace.
From the German lines a voice cries out:
Answered by: Merry Christmas
Then a soldier, beyond all reason, raises his head above the trench, and leaving it, walks, unarmed toward the others lines. A soldier from there soon does the same. In the middle of no man's land, they embrace. Soon, they're joined by others. Bread, coffee, tea and chocolate are exchanged. Pictures of families are shown, children are shown and missed. Without speaking the same language, they communicate their hope, their dreams. Brothers in arms form different nations embrace and console each other. As the sun rises over the horizon, they return to their trenches. Soon the battle will begin again, soon, the death will begin again.
But they have received a gift greater than any they ever received or will ever receive. The gift of hope.