Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas peace be with you!

25 Dec

At Midnight Mass we prayed this prayer:

“That our Holy Land partnership with Annunciation Church and School in Beit Jala will help replace their despair with hope, their fear with security, and their humiliation with human dignity. We pray to the Lord …”

The Paradox of Christmas

24 Dec

Two thousand years ago

in the small town of Bethlehem

one silent night

loudly proclaimed God’s love for the entire world.


For our all-powerful God came to earth

in the form of a helpless child,

and though many people had waited for his coming

few actually noticed this baby’s arrival,

so much so

that there was no room for him that night

in the world which he had made.


But still he came.


He who was divine became human.

He traded in his heavenly seat

for an earthly manger.

He exchanged robes of splendor

for swaddling clothes.

He left the songs of a multitude of angels

for the praises of a few humble shepherds.

That night

though Jesus left his throne

he became our king:

a king who came not to be served but to serve,

a king whose death would bring us life,

a king whose single sacrifice would serve as the ransom for us all.


So, it’s the paradox of Christmas

that calls you to respond.

Though there are presents still waiting for you to receive

this night is truly about the gift that you have already been given.

the best news in the world (in 8 notes)

23 Dec

The best news is the world is found by playing a simple scale on the piano – with the pauses on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and last notes.

Be sure to play it the “other way” – and don’t forget the pauses.

That he smelled like eternity

22 Dec

What Mary Knew

That he was beautiful,

love’s most holy writ.

That he was the world in small,

and she loved it.


That he had undone death.

That he would be her joy.

That he would grow more beautiful

as he became a boy.


That he was grace in human form

and paradise to hold.

That he smelled like eternity.

That he would not grow old.


That he was heaven’s gift,

dressed in flesh and baby clothes.

That he was wholly beautiful.

What every mother knows.

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell is a professor of English and associate director of the Curran Center for American Studies at Fordham University in New York City. Janet McKenzie, an artist in Vermont, is working on a new project called “African-American Women Celebrated.” © America Magazine  



“Kissing the Face of God” by American painter Morgan Weistling

21 Dec

Where’s the Line to See Jesus?

20 Dec

Look at this …

Now listen to this …

no pickled peppers on “Joy Sunday”

14 Dec

The third candle of the wreath is lighted today. It is rose. Most often we say that it is pink. This week’s color: rose, pink – whatever. It is Gaudete – Rejoice – Sunday!

The most recent official writing of Pope Francis, released November 24, the first that comes directly and solely from his mind and heart, has the Latin title, “Evangelii Gaudium,” which translates “The Joy of the Gospel.” With me find it helpful to ponder the fact he calls it “the joy of the Gospel” and not “Gospel joy.”

Here is a much quoted sentence from that apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis: “One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, ‘sourpusses.’”

pickled peppers 01

At his morning Mass on May 10 Pope Francis talked about the joy that Christians have deep within them from knowing that Jesus is with them and that they are loved by God: “Sometimes these melancholy Christians’ faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life.” Sad Christians hinder the witness and mission of the Church.

pickled peppers 02

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”

it’s (not) looking a lot like …

13 Dec

snow 01

It may snow a lot at Christmas where you and I live, but snow in Bethlehem is rare, anytime of the year.

But this Christmas ….

snow 02

… is not like the rest. 

It is not looking a lot like Bethlehem, but it is looking a lot like Christmas!

snow 03

when we hear snow is coming

7 Dec


What effect might it have, if we were to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our lives, as we do when we hear that snow is coming?

How can this be?

8 Apr

Beit Jala jen holy land 964 (237)

Our sister parish of the Annunciation, located in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), West Bank, Palestine, celebrates her feast day today: the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Here in Milford at St. Andrew we will pray in our evening Mass that, through the intercession and care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and woman of Palestine, God will make good on His every promise to His people in Beit Jala and full their every hope in Him.

On Easter Sunday morning one of our teenagers asked me, “Father, which is the more important day for Christians: Christmas or Easter?” How would you have answered her? She picked Christmas.

On this day, I ask myself, “Which is the more important feast: Christmas or the Annunciation?” I pick the Annunciation. Here is my reasoning. When did God become one of us and one with us? Not when He was born. When He was conceived! The English translation of the Nicene Creed used to be: he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. Now we say: he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. The word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception. The Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb. All of us – you and I and Jesus – were born. But God took on human flesh; God became human; God was incarnate. And the “incarnation” took place at the moment of conception in the womb of Mary, at the moment when Mary accepted God’s will and desire to become human. On Christmas we celebrate His birth among us. On Annunciation we celebrate His incarnation.

For me, the Annunciation feels like Christmas. It takes me back to Beit jala, and seeing that painting over the altar in their Catholic parish church, dedicated to the Annunciation. It takes me back to meeting Deacon Sleiman (Solomon) Hassan in that very church. It will be his ordination to the priesthood in June that will take me back to my next visit to Beit Jala.

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