Filed under: Christmas
The Virgin and St. Joseph Refused Shelter in Bethlehem Jan Massys 1558
We want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As many of you know this is the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict spoke eloquently this Christmas Eve asking us to find time for Jesus in the room of our hearts and minds. Here is the what he said:
“Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him,”
“The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the ‘God hypothesis’ becomes superfluous,” he said. “There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God.”
I know when I read this it struck me as so true. Our world is structured in such a way that it seems to squeeze Christ out of our lives. There was no room for Christ at the Inn in Bethlehem 2000 years ago – let us resolve anew to open our hearts and minds to make room for Him in this Year of Faith.
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Pro-life
Our Lady of Hope, is renowned for her beauty. The image is from the second half of the 16th century but later restorations (one by Castillo Lastrucci), added to it‘s beauty and unmistakable Sevillian style. The Virgin wears a green coat with sterling silver lining, highlighting her magnificent crown. All year – except Advent – Mary holds the infant Jesus with her left hand and arm.
Below the statue (see above photos), in front of the basket appears an oval “O” iconographic detail of the Unborn Christ Child (reminiscent of the Advent “O” antiphons).
During Advent, the oval with the Unborn Christ is placed upon the Virgin, in front of her womb. (The infant Jesus is taken down from Mary’s left hand during Advent and placed in an ornate casing.) See photos below.
Then, on Christmas day the unborn Christ oval is returned to its place below the statue and the infant Jesus returned to Mary’s hand. These rituals give a unique charm to this statue and the Incarnation event.
Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Unborn Jesus
Over the last number of years, we have found over 100 images of Christ in Mary’s womb from around the world. Recently, we discovered that 2 of these images are part of an Advent Tradition that surprised us. The St. Phillip Neri Institute in Berlin has a wonderful statue that a friend of theirs carved for them. It is a copy of a miraculous statue of “Maria Gravida” that is in the Church of Maria Hilf Assumptio in Malta, Austria. This miraculous statue dates from around the 1400’s.
Below are a few views of the statue of Maria Gravida at St. Phillip Neri Institute in Germany
During Advent this Maria Gravida statue is placed on a pedestal in front of a blue curtain – behind the curtain is a Nativity scene. At Midnight on Christmas eve, the statue of Mary Pregnant is taken off the pedestal and the Nativity scene is unveiled.
We have also discovered a similar tradition for the statue of Our Lady of Divine Hope in the Iglesia de San Martín Sevilla in Spain which we will highlight in a future post.
Filed under: Christmas
WHAT DO I SEE IN THE CHRISTMAS MANGER?
When I kneel down and gaze upon Bethlehem’s Manger what do I see?
I see the Word of God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jn 1:1 The Word is a Presence; a Revelatory Presence. We all listen, He speaks to me.
I see Life – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jn 1:4 Life as ‘Source’; the Divine Life in union with human life – a New Creation offering Eternal Life.
I see Light – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” Jn 1:5,9 A light ‘that enlightens’. And what speaks to the conscience and heart of a person more, and enlightens more, than the innocent mystery of a baby?
I see Power – “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…” Jn 1:12 John Paul II said that from the moment of the Incarnation, Creation “is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation” (DV #52).
I see humble Flesh – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jn 1:14 When we recall this mystery in the recitation of the Creed, we bow or kneel: “…and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” One with us.
I see the fullness of God – “…full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” Jn 1:14 In this newborn baby we see the salvation of the world; a truth revealed and accomplished through grace, for our good, and to the glory of God!
I see Grace – “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” Jn 1:16 Grace like gentle life-giving rain, Grace like a river of living water, grace upon grace like an overflowing fountain; blessing human hearts with faith, hope and love.
All of this in the humble newborn baby lying here in His Manger; the fullness of the Incarnation – Divine redemptive powers issuing forth from His face, from His heart, from His tiny clenched fists as they open to the world!
“…. if someone intends to build a house or a palace he must first consider whether it is to be a lodging for a vine dresser or peasant or if it is for a lord, since obviously he would use entirely different plans depending on the rank of the person who is to live there. Now the Eternal Father did just that when He built this world. He intended to create it for the Incarnation of His Son, the Eternal Word. The end or goal of His work was thus its beginning, for Divine Wisdom had foreseen from all eternity that His Word would assume our nature in coming to earth.” St. Francis DeSales Sermon for Christmas Midnight Mass
O My God, please bless us as we contemplate the newborn Baby Jesus, all holy, full of innocence, the Son of God. May we realize on this Christmas day, the absolute dignity of each human person who is “fearfully and wonderfully made” in Your “image and likeness”.
“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49
An exciting piece of news is coming out of England. An advertising group called Church Ads is starting a campaign that will lead up to Christmas called Baby Scan Jesus. It is an ultra-sound picture of Unborn Jesus with the words, ‘He’s on His way: Christmas starts with Christ’.
Here are some links about this ad campaign:
This baby from England gives a thumbs up to this ad: