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Christmas Blessings from FRESHImage

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The team at FRESHImage prays that you and your family have a very blessed and peaceful Christmas!

Today is the Day for which we have been preparing for which the human family had been waiting in anticipation since the Fall of our first parents. From the moment we grasped at the fruit of that tree of good and evil we have been waiting for God to reach out to us once more, calling out to Him for mercy, calling out to Him in repentance.

Over the past four weeks the Church has blessed us once again with an opportunity to enter into these centuries of anticipation. And we have striven to place ourselves in touch with this sense of anticipation in many ways over the past month. We have made great use of the Advent Wreath sacramental, praying with this great symbol of the season each Sunday, and attending to its symbolism closely. These practices enabled us to place the virtues of repentance, religion and reverence: the first turning our attention back to our God, the second binding us ever closer to Him, and the third giving us the ability to imitate His Mother, Mary, by making us attentive to His preparatory work within us and around us. We continued to put the virtue of reverence into practice in meditating on the great “O Antiphons” of the Advent Season, training our sight and our hearts to both recognize Our Savior when He appeared and make room within so that He might abide with us as Emmanuel.

All of this preparation brought us to this moment. While the rest of the world has celebrated for a month, we awaited the one thing necessary, the one thing worth celebrating, the presence of our God with us. To the people of Christ’s time, the idea of God becoming one of us was unthinkable because God was so pure, so far above us that to even have contact with us would somehow sully his divinity. Such is the god of the philosophers, but not the God of Christianity. In our time people scoff at the very same idea for another reason entirely, seeing it as nothing more than mere myth, the man we worship as God Incarnate, they say, was no more than a great teacher and moral exemplar. Such is the mind of the age, but it is not the mind of Christians.

For Christians the birth of the Infant lying in the manger is what makes life worth living, the One Who gives life purpose. Centuries before us, among us today, and, if God will it, for centuries to come, the world lay pining in sin and error as the beautiful Christmas hymn “O Holy Night” reminds us. But the grace that we as Christians have been given is to have our hearts awakened by the Love which looks down upon us this day by looking up at us from a humble manger. To paraphrase Hans Urs von Balthasar, just as the repeated smile of a mother gazing over the railing of the infant’s crib eventually awakens a responding smile from the child, today God smiles upon us, warming our hearts with the appearance of the Face of Mercy, and our souls for the first time, feel their true worth. And just as the infant’s smile marks the beginning of an acknowledged relationship, today marks a new beginning for us, a new beginning as sons and daughters of the Most High God, for today, the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, drawing us into the very family of God.

With great joy the Church enters into a Season of great celebration this day! One day will not suffice to celebrate the Incarnation of our God. So, despite what you may see your neighbors doing, now is precisely not the time to drag your Christmas Tree out to the curb! For our celebrating has just begun. In fact, our celebrating will go on for just over two weeks from today. The Octave of the Christmas Season will culminate in the Solemnity of Our Lady, the Mother of God, and then will continue for another week before concluding with the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism. And between now and then, we have much to celebrate. We will celebrate the feasts of the Holy Family and the Holy Innocents and Epiphany all before then. So, please, join the Church for this great Season of Celebration with great vigor. For by entering into these celebrations we take our first steps, as it were, as sons and daughters of God.

This is precisely what the Solemn Blessing for today asks of Our God. There, we here the priest beseech God to make the coming of His Son effective in our lives, to allow the Divine Exchange made possible by the Incarnation to take place in us:

May the God of infinite goodness, who by the Incarnation of his Son has driven darkness from the world and by that glorious Birth has illumined this most holy day, drive far from you the darkness of vice and illumine your hearts with the light of virtue (Solemn Blessing for The Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul Daily Missal, 933).

Over the past four weeks we have made the preparations for this day, now let us beg of God the grace to be taken up into the Divine Exchange of God becoming man, so that men might become partakers of the Divine Nature.

Your servant in Christ,

Tony

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