Christmas was so magical for me growing up. My family would all pile into our toaster van on Christmas Eve and head out to the 5:30 PM Mass, oriented to the kids with the children’s nativity play. All through Mass, my mind would be preoccupied with the thought that Santa would hopefully have brought us pajamas while we were out, as he usually did. I couldn’t wait to get home to see! We would arrive home, to find that Santa had already been there, with the (icing sugar) boot marks to prove it, as well as pajamas for all of us kids and a note saying that he would be back later while we were in bed. It was always so exciting to wake in the morning to find that Santa had been there, and I was always so eager to find out what he had brought for me from my list. It was wonderful.
As time went on, I figured it out that the fat bellied, jolly Santa I had come to know did not actually exist as I had thought. Mom’s handwriting, anyone? A sure giveaway. I was disappointed, but it was not like it was a shock. I knew that I would never experience Christmas in the same way, though I wished I could have. I wanted to experience the magic of Christmas that I had known – I did not know how else Christmas could be special again. Yet, I wanted to experience something real, and for Christmas to become magical for me, yet the right reasons. I knew that somehow, Christmas would now only be about the Nativity of Christ, and not about Santa, and that somehow, that would have to be enough for me.
As I kneeled in the pew at Midnight Mass this year before Mass, listening to the Christmas hymns, as well as singing them with the congregation throughout the Mass, I realized how the magic of Christmas is there for me, more than it ever has been, and in a far superior way than Santa could ever offer. All week, I could not wait to go to Midnight Mass as well as the Traditional Latin Mass the next day, and experience the real magic of Christmas. This real magic of Christmas is the glory of the coming of Christ in the flesh. Christmas Mass, especially the Mass in the Extraordinary Form with its breathtaking beauty and reverence, makes Christmas complete for me. It’s my favorite part of Christmas and what I look forward to the most and am the most excited for. Presents are great, and family time is wonderful, but what I want the most is to soak in the beauty and awesomeness of the incarnation through the Mass, and receive our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
What really had made this possible, and in a deeper way year over year, is an increasingly deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. The Christmas season always concludes on January 6 with Epiphany, the arrival of the Kings of the Orient, the Wise Men, to worship the Lord. We learn through the readings that those who went to worship Christ did so with haste. They traveled as quickly as they could, as they did not want to miss out on Christ as they could not be assured that they would still be there when they arrived; that it would not be too late, as they arrived months after his birth. To travel with haste is to travel with “excessive speed or urgency of movement or action.” There is an urgency in our finding Jesus. The time is now for we do not know the day nor the hour when we will die or when the Lord will come again in glory. One of the Priests who celebrates the Latin Mass for the Latin Mass community where I attend is Fr. John Johnson. One of the things he said during a recent homily which has stuck with me was that we need to “find Jesus and stay there.”
In the English translation of the traditional Latin Christmas hymn, Adeste Fideles, it reads:
O come, all ye faithful, Triumphantly sing! Come, see in the manger, The Angels’ dread King! To Bethlehem hasten, With joyful accord, Oh, hasten! oh, hasten! To worship the Lord.
Every year I want to remember the glory of Christmas more in my daily life, throughout the year to come. I desire this because the reality of the Incarnation plays such an important part in really investing in the Mass and prayer when meditating on what Christ has done for me. Yet, this does not happen as I wish that it would. I always find myself connecting the most and being the most grateful for the Incarnation of Christ at Christmas, when this great feast is celebrated with such glory. I believe, however, that we can all learn to better keep the “spirit of Christmas” alive throughout the year with a constantly deepening relationship with Christ, through prayer and the Sacraments.
In the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, we recognize the Incarnation when we pray “He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”. In the Extraordinary form of the Roman rite, we recognize the Incarnation twice in a very particular way. The first is during the Creed when we say in Latin that “He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man”, and during the Last Gospel when it says “and the Word became flesh”. Each time, we are asked to genuflect in honor of such a great gift. A great way to remember and keep the glory and importance of the Incarnation alive in our hearts is at those times, we can say in our hearts, “for me.” I am going to try to do to really enter into this mystery by breaking the routine and reminding myself of the reality that Jesus took on flesh for me personally at those times in the Mass. With such a great gift, I have come to realize that we need to take great care in not letting it become so familiar that we lose touch with it. Another way that I am going to try to enter into the Mystery of the Incarnation is spending more time in personal prayer or at Mass reflecting on the necessity for the Incarnation for our Salvation, on God taking on human flesh for us. Without the Incarnation, we would have no Mass and no Sacraments, and the Gates of Heaven would remain closed. Even if you cannot spend a long time in prayer, I encourage you try to think on this great gift and thank God for it every day, if only for a moment.
I will do everything I can this year to truly hasten to Jesus and stay there and to remember the Incarnation daily. It is my prayer for you all this year that you would do the same. Perhaps you have other practical ways of remembering the Incarnation. Share them in the comments below.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
Posted on December 29, 2014, in Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholic, child, Christian, Christian Life, Christmas, Extraordinary Form, Incarnation and tagged Adeste Fideles, Blessed Virgin Mary, Christmas, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Latin Mass, Latin Mass community, Mass, Midnight Mass, nativity, New Year. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.