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Christmas

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity the Lord, the Birth of Jesus Christ, and the First Day in the Octave of Christmas. Throughout Advent the Church longed ardently for the coming of our Savior. Today she celebrates His birth with unrestrained joy. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." The Son of God became man to give us a share in that divine life which is eternally His in the Blessed Trinity. Christmas time begins on December 24 with the first Vespers of the feast and ends on the feast of the Baptism of Christ. White vestments reappear in our churches as a sign of joy.

The Roman Martyrology commemorates St. Anastasia of Sirmium (d. 304). St. Anastasia is commemorated in the second Mass of Christmas at Dawn (the Station Church is the Roman church named after her) and the first eucharistic prayer. Nothing much is known factually about St. Anastasia except that she was she was martyred in the persecution of the emperor Diocletian, and that this happened at the city of Sirmium which one of the imperial capitals of the later Roman Empire, now Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia.

The Christmas feast is a festival full of joy. The Eternal Word has become Man and dwells among us. The longings of the patriarchs and prophets are fulfilled. With the shepherds we hurry to the manger and adore the Incarnate Son of God, who for us and for our salvation descended upon earth. The purpose of the Christmas feast is beautifully expressed in the Preface of the Nativity: "For by the mystery of the Word made flesh the light of Thy glory hath shone anew upon the eyes of our mind; so that while we acknowledge Him a God seen by men, we may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen."

About Christmas
During the Christmas season there is an extensive exchange of greetings and good wishes among friends. These greetings are a reminder of those "good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people, for this day is born to you a Savior Who is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:11). They are a reminder, too, that all blessings and graces come to us from Christ: "Hath He not also with Him given us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

Typically there is also an exchange of gifts. This custom should recall to us that on this day God Himself gave to us the greatest of all gifts, His beloved Son: "God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son" (John 3: 16).

The Christmas tree, of which the first-known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. It symbolizes the great family tree of Christ which through David and Jesse has its roots in Abraham, the father of the chosen race. It is often laden with gifts to remind us that Christmas brought us the priceless gifts of grace and of eternal life. It is frequently adorned with lights that recall to us that Christ is the Light of the world enlightening those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Though not entirely unknown before, the custom of the Christmas Crib or Creche was adopted by St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio, Italy, on Christmas 1225. It is a concrete and vivid way of representing to ourselves the Incarnation and birth of Christ. It depicts in a striking manner the virtues of the newborn Savior, especially His humility, poverty, and charity.

Catholic Culture offers these links to help you experience the joy of Christmas by keeping a spiritual focus on the season.

Throughout this wonderful time there will always be much hustle and bustle, shopping and baking and gift giving. But we hope you will refer to the Catholic Culture calendar often for ideas and spiritual nuggets to increase your Christmas joy.

Let us try to celebrate Christmas with the innocence and humility of children always keeping in mind the wonderful birth of the Christ Child

 

 

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     Wednesday     7:30 am   English
     Friday     7:30 am   English
     Saturday     4:00 pm    English
          6:00 pm   Spanish
     Sunday     9:00 am   Spanish
        11:00 am   English
        12:30 pm   Spanish

The Strangers We Meet

Painting in the vestibule of St. Leo's

The work of the late Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ, “The Strangers We Meet” depicts Christ breaking bread at Emmaus. Instead of more traditional representations, it depicts Christt as a man of African descent, sitting with people of various ages and from various ethnic heritages. All the models were St. Leo parishioners.

“Fr. Jim captured spiritual life in his works, revealing the sacredness in everyday people and everyday actions,“ says Fr. Josephh Folzenlogen, SJ, who lived and worked with the priest painter at Claver Jesuit Ministries in South Cumminsville (OH). “Jim’s paintings were mirrors in which people could see their own beauty.”

Models for the 2004 painting were Timaya Smith (the child in the foreground), Amy Egan, Darnell Edwards, Ivy Peppers, and Rick Nohle.

“Since Jim used people from the parishes and neighborhoods where he worked as his models, the paintings were not just images,” says Fr. Joe. “They were connections with people he loved. Those people were also his children.”

St. Leo parishioner Stephanie Sepate describes the painting as “a beautiful remembrance of purpose” in every life.

“In the upper left of our painting is the figure of the angel by the tomb of the Risen Lord, and the women running to share the news,” she says. “What a beautiful remembrance of purpose in each of our lives — we are not really strangers to each other but we are all one universal family in our life’s journey.”

Fr. Jim Hasse, whose paintings appeared in several publications and are held in private collections, including the art museum at St. Louis University, died in 2011. Most of his paintings are of biblical subjects and feature African-American people he worked with. To see several galleries of his works with associated reflections, click here.

A New Life

Michelangelo sculpted the Pietà in 1498–1499,    taking less than two years to complete. His depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion on the rock of Golgatha is one of the most famous pieces of sculpture known by so many across the world.

Showing the "religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son", Michelangelo did not want his version of the Pietà to represent death, but rather a representation of the communion between man and God through Christ’s gift of life.

For the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Vatican loaned the Pietà for installation in the Vatican pavilion. A conveyor belt moved people, who stood in line for hours, past the sculpture. It is housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.

Several decades ago, St. Leo was gifted with a beautiful representation of the Pietà in memory of the Schuchart Family. Over the years, the wear and tear, fragments of the more fragile areas of the statue cracked or missing, and chipping paint called a friend of the parish to totally refurbish our Pietà. To repaint it with its former colors would have shown the flaws; it was decided to paint it all one color, especially in keeping with the make-up of our parish—all one people. After months and months of prayerful restoration, our Pietà finally came home, quite appropriately, the day before Ash Wednesday.

As we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we are grateful for Michelangelo’s reminder of the ultimate gift in our midst. The St. Leo Pietà has been given a new life; let us all celebrate a season of renewal in our own lives as Lent ends and as we rejoice in the hope and joy of Easter’s Alleluias!

- Stephanie Sepate


Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

 

Bivuye kwa Padiri:  
Desemba 25, 2022
(African translation)

Padre . . .
25 de diciembre de 2022

My Borthers and Sisters, 

All of us, at one time or another, have imagined this compelling scene: As the moon rose to light their path, a young couple, perhaps a very young couple, are journeying far from home to find a place of safety to await the birth of their first child. Both the dark night and their fears surround them, but Mary and Joseph bravely venture forth, with Mary riding on a donkey and her husband walking beside her. With Mary in some distress, they stop in a town called Bethlehem, where this child, this wondrous child, so long awaited, is born in a lowly stable amid the sights and sounds of its sparse setting. It’s not what one would have expected as the proper atmosphere for the birth of the Savior of the world, but it was the perfect location for God to send His son—to change hearts and lives, as Jesus did while on earth and until He comes again.

Yes, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, is God’s most extraordinary gift to the world  and in whom the great covenant between God and His people was and is fulfilled. He brought us out of the darkness and into His light, and if we truly internalize this moment, we realize the significance and power of our faith in his birth, life, death, and resurrection, and through God’s  munificence, our lives can be transformed beyond imagination and toward our ultimate salvation. This little child captures our hope, our promise, and our unlimited capacity for love.

In 1868, American author Phillip Brooks composed a beautiful, yet simple poem to mark the birth of our Lord. His words were later set to music as a carol and have been a part of our Christmas celebration for over 100 years. Today, his words remain especially poignant:

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light,
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep, their watch of wondering love.
Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.

This Christmas season will soon be a lovely memory, but the essence of its meaning can and should remain alive within us. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to shine His light on your lives on this special day and always. Merry Christmas, my dear friends…
Yours in Christ,

Father Rudy