Dear Holy Angels!
"Christmas will always be as long as we . . . stand heart to heart and hand in hand." These words of the great author of children's books, Dr. Seuss, resonate with us in a particular way this year. 2020 has been the year when everything on the planet was different from what it had been in living memory. Christmas will be no exception. Everywhere people are wondering: What will our Christmas be?
It is perhaps an opportune time to dust off our old copy of Dr. Seuss's 1957 classic, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
We will remember the Grinch as a grouchy creature who hates Christmas and, like an insidious virus, tries his best to destroy it. He manages to take away all the worldly trappings, the decorations, festive foods, Christmas trees, presents, etc. and imagines that by doing so he is getting rid of Christmas. Expecting the people to wake up on Christmas morning to bitter disappointment and tears, he is shocked to hear them break out into a joyous Christmas carol instead.
Suddenly it dawns on him that "maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more" than just presents and feasting and external things. This stunning revelation causes his heart to grow three sizes, he brings back all he had stolen, and the Grinch himself joins in the celebration of Christmas.
There will always be Grinches and viruses trying to destroy our Christmas, destroy our peace, destroy our happiness. But the Grinch discovered he could only take away the trappings; the spirit was only strengthened by his deed, and Christmas was more meaningful than ever before. For the people found Christmas in one another.
When our hearts open to the breaking hearts of others around us, there is Christmas.
When we extend our hand in generous giving to those whose hands are empty, there is Christmas.
When we open our eyes and finally recognize the Child of Bethlehem in all those faces around us, there is Christmas.
Christmas does not consist of pomp and lights and colorful things; Christmas came in the abject poverty of a filthy, cold, dark stable, whose nothingness brought Everything to the world.
Christmas Day will always be,
just as long as we have we!
Welcome Christmas while we stand,
heart to heart, and hand in hand!
May this true Christmas be always ours!
December 6, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!
On the morning of St. Nicholas Day, December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. This was the time of World War I, and one of the ships was carrying huge amounts of explosives. An enormous deadly explosion resulted, killing thousands of people in Halifax and creating both a tsunami and fires which destroyed large parts of the city, leaving the people homeless in the bitterly cold winter. It was an indescribable catastrophe, remembered with horror to this day. But help poured in, and much of it came from Boston, Massachusetts. As a result, the city began to be rebuilt.
When the terrible pandemic of the Spanish Flu struck in 1918, Nova Scotia sent a team of doctors to Boston in gratitude for the assistance received from Boston after the Halifax Explosion. In December 1918 Halifax sent a Christmas tree, which was installed in the Boston Common. This became a tradition that is still going on each Christmas. To this day, each year the lighting of the Halifax tree in Boston signals the start of Boston's Christmas festivities. It is an annual reminder of the catastrophe of 1917 and the worldwide pandemic of 1918. But much more than that, it is a beautiful reminder of the brotherly love that sustained people during their darkest times. It is a reminder of what Christmas means.
This has been a challenging year for all of us, for each individual, for each family, and for our parish family. It is thanks to your extraordinary generosity that we have been able to survive this new global pandemic, so reminiscent of the one of a hundred years ago. You have come through in unbelievable ways. Our Christmas tree is lit for you, in deep gratitude for all you have been doing, in proud commemoration of the amazing solidarity our Holy Angels have been showing. Few parishes have experienced this to the extent that we have.
Many people choose to make a year-end gift to their parish, to take advantage of the tax benefits. It is not too late for this. December 31 is just around the corner. Please consult your tax professional regarding the tax consequences associated with any donation you would like to make. You may wish to take advantage of our online giving program; simply click on "Online Giving."
The 1918 pandemic has been mirrored this year in a haunting manner. But the 1917 Explosion has returned in quite an extraordinary manner: in an unprecedented explosion of brotherly love and solidarity. Our Christmas tree is lit for you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! And may God bless you in every way!
Fr. Kevin Rettig
A Prayer for Christmas
O, Divine Child, as we celebrate Your wondrous birth, we ask You to watch over us in these difficult times of sickness and death.
Be near to all who are suffering in the pandemic; be near to the families of the sick, the grieving families, those who care for the sick, nurses, doctors, first responders and others who risk their lives each day.
Comfort the dying and lead them safely home to the eternal Bethlehem.
In this holy season help us to be selfless as You are selfless, to put others' safety and welfare above our own desires; teach us that sometimes the way to show true, unselfish love is to stay apart from one another, as difficult as that may be.
May Your holy Mother, who cradled You in her arms that first Christmas night, cradle us too, lift us up, and hold us close to You.