Hello and Christmas blessings to you and yours. I’ve saved my Catholic Mom column till towards the end of Advent and just before Christmas and the New Year. And in fact, a bit of what I want to actually voice over at Catholic Moments for Christmas week is contained here, albeit this will be a bit longer.
So I’d like to share thoughts from two different sources and I hope they can be tied together into a cohesive Christmas sharing for any who might read these words. My intention and my prayer is that we first see Christ in this message. And after Christ that we see our relationship with our spouses and our children. And then after them, that we continue to see our call to relationship with our communities of faith, country and ultimately all mankind.
Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe wrote these words about FALLING IN LOVE (in a quite absolute and final way!): "What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, what you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."
I have probably said that I love Lisa Hendey several dozen times. But that love doesn’t seize my imagination nor does it have anything to do with how I spend most evenings or weekends. So it must be another kind of love that we humans can experience for people we care about.
But this Christmas -- this New Year -- my prayerful hope is that you and I will be open to and then decide to fall in love with Jesus in a way that completely surrenders every waking moment of life. It’s sort of like the love I believe I experienced when I fell for my wife Dee. She was (is) so beautiful, so special, so awesome that I thought about her all the time. Time and life experiences have dulled that although we certainly have had a rebirth in our love affair in recent years.
And what this holiday column is about is a prayer that we have a rebirth in our relationship with Jesus. To have Jesus be the focus of most all of our thoughts and desires -- that’s what this is about. Not just seeing the Babe in the stable manger -- but recognizing that He is -- He completely is the reason for not just the season, but the reason for every breath we take and every step we take towards permanent union with Him.
Emmanuel came out of love for us: unmerited, unfathomable love. And that love is the example we are called to. The late Jean Fox of Madonna House was a great lover. In a column she wrote in 2003 not too long before her death, she wanted to know how we can love more... love better.
Jean picked up the great spiritual classic book POUSTINIA and she found these words:
"To reach the beatific vision, you must reach union with each other. In forming a family, a community of love, you have to accept the cross -- embrace it gloriously and willingly..... You must develop the ability to see the positive in each other.... to see each other’s beauty, to see each other’s talents and to rejoice in them and be glad about them.... This is how the Lord has treated you."
So there it is. The message of the angels: Peace (love) on earth to men and women of good will. It’s what we take into our bodies (our hearts) as we unwrap the love of God found in our Christmas Eucharist.
If there is any flawed or broken relationship in your heart -- perhaps starting with prayer at Christmas Mass or the New Year’s Mass -- and continuing on into 2010, place it in the manger and ask the great love of our lives to teach us to love more. To care more. To do more. To give up more. To share more.
Falling in love and staying in love is the present of the Christ-child. But it’s the only present we have to decide to accept. And want. And it’s the same present that we then give to others.
Love to your and yours. Blessings.
Copyright 2009 Deacon Tom Fox
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!