Spirituality for Today – Winter 2016/2017 – Volume 21, Issue 3


Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a man praying in front of a large cross.

Over the course of this editorial I shall turn to a renowned man of prose and one of poetry to say what my limitations might obscure. The celebration of the birth of Christ ignites thoughts of past, present, and future regarding our personal being and of our relationship to the gift of that Divine Being. From the Mary of the Annunciation to the Visitation to the night of the Nativity, we appreciate the connectedness between God and man. Jesus reveals the link between the Creator and the created and how salvation occurs within the interplay of these two. The young virgin of Nazareth had to possess a strong desire to be a person of exceptional faith and to be open to developing a special link with God. The Mary of the Magnificat proclaimed her readiness to become the Mary of the Nativity. If we are to use this wondrous season as an expression of our readiness to enter the manger, we have to be prepared to encounter the "God become man" as a people who seek our personhoods to become more Godlike.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen used the two planks of the Cross to remind us of the two aspects of our spiritual lives, vertical and horizontal – God and neighbor. The Nativity of Jesus points out that double bonding as well. Emmanuel comes for those with waiting, welcoming arms and equally for those who could not care less – for whom he is anything but the reason for the season. A bonus check, a holiday from work, some brightness in a dreary winter – these are reasons enough to celebrate, um, "the holidays." Ah, but with a humility, not a smugness, our believing hearts burst with "Oh, there's more, so much more." God's desire to connect with us – happily – is not contingent on our interest in reciprocating.

Father Chet Artysiewicz
President – Glenmary Challenge
The Christmas Connection, Glenmary Challenge, Winter 2015

A divide exists between those who "get it" about Christmas and those who do not. Allow me to introduce my man of prose, G. K. Chesterton, with words most appropriate, "The world will never starve for wonders, only for want of wonder." If the vague or prosaic interpretation of the "holidays" suffice for a secular world, they have been disconnected from the love and salvation that remains ever present to them. I cannot conceive of a more barren landscape within which to exist. As Fr. Artysiewicz indicated, happily and hopefully, God does not turn his back, does not break the connectedness between even his wayward people and himself. Perhaps, we who feel connected might be instruments of awakening and invitation to those who "pass by" the stable.

Back to those ponderings about the past and the present and the future of our lives which Christmas and its mysteries evoke within us. No doubt, memories can transform and transfix us for a time and can contribute to the present experience of Christ's Birth. This form of connection may be recognized as the traditions that both adorn and fuse the current Christmas celebration with those of the past. One cannot underestimate the significance and the power of the accumulative memory of all that has constituted the personal history of Christmas in one's life. We, however, must grow in our connectedness with the Nativity as the encounter with our Savior. I now turn to my poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for assistance, "In wonder all philosophy began; in wonder it ends. But the first wonder is the offspring of ignorance; the last is the parent of adoration."

To be connected with the wonder of the Birth of Christ is filled with the grace of childhood amazement and inquisitiveness that evolves within each of us into awe and adoration. Our earthly definitions of past, of present, and of future exists on a mortal plane, but all that is Christmas connects us to the eternal love of the One whom the angels beckon us to approach in whom to rejoice.