I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as we come to the end of this Advent Season. 2011 was a very eventful year at Call To Holiness as it marked the beginning of this blog and has brought me great joy and new insights into my Catholic Faith. I was amazed to see many people and places this past year including trips to Hawaii, Kansas, Florida, Maryland, D.C., and many parts of Virginia, and I was excited to share my travel experiences with you and get your feedback. The Christmas Season I want to share with you many of the treasures that are on the internet. Following is a thoughtful Christmas message from the Friars at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
I want to turn our attention to “The reason for the season”–The birth of Jesus Christ. Our Catholic Church has many traditions, and I like that our Eastern and Orthodox brothers and sisters celebrate Saint Nicholas well before Christmas so that the focus is on Jesus and not Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus). Many of our Christmas traditions and symbols come from Saint Nicholas and other Christian traditions. The St. Nicholas Center offers a great website with more information.
Our Western Culture seems to celebrate Christmas too early and end it too early. I always see decorations start to go up after Halloween and then are brought down the day after Christmas. What happened to celebrating Advent and the 12 days of Christmas up to January 6th on the Epiphany when the Three Kings travelled bearing gifts for Christ the King? Now Catholics are requested to celebrate until the Feast of The Baptism of Jesus on January 8th. There is much beauty and traditions in celebrating the entire season of Christmas for 15 days. Father Robert Barron offers great insights into the prologue of the Gospel of John relating to Christmas:
Kathleen Carroll narrates a reflection on the season of Christmas from a Catholic perspective:
The Feast of the Epiphany is marked on January 6th when the three kings from the East came bearing gifts. This should be recognized by all Christians as the time when Jesus’ reign on Earth was opened up to all peoples and not just the Jewish people. The Star of Bethlehem’s appearance with the angels announces the message to lowly shepherds and mighty kings that Jesus is here for all who will listen and follow.
One of the gifts that was given to Jesus is currently endangered here on Earth. Frankincense is the aromatic incense used by many religions that is produced from the resin of the Boswellia tree. This tree is being overused and its habitat is being reduced, and predictions are that there will not be enough in coming years without good conservation. It is a reminder to us that the earth is a creation of God that needs care and nurturing. I pray that the wonderful gift from God can be preserved for future generations. The BBC offers a good report entitled Frankincense tree facing uncertain future.
There is a great documentary about The Star of Bethlehem that shows through modern astronomy science that it was a REAL event. I encourage you to watch the trailer below and check out this wonderful DVD, or look at list on website of live presentations.
If you need any great ideas for your Christmas Feast or other upcoming feasts this year–please check out Catholic Cuisine.
Luckily God has a sense of humor. I would like to share a video from 1968 that was made by Monty Pyton’s Terry Gilliam to celebrate Christmas:
Finally, I would like to share some great Christmas music videos:
O, Tannenbaum, from A Charlie Brown Christmas
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Kings College Choir)
A Classical Christmas Medley (instrumental)
Silent Night — The Priests
Great message and music from Fr. James Martin and The Roches:
In Closing, I would like to add the blog written by my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, titled, In The Incarnation We Are Touched by God