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December 24, 2004

Behold the Child

by Thomas A. Droleskey

[The breaking news of the past few days would warrant careful commentaries if we were not on the cusp of Christmas Day and the Christmas season. There will be time after the break of the new year to comment on such things as the proposal being floated by the Holy See to eliminate the need for miracles for the canonization of saints and Pope John Paul II’s recent praise of circus and amusement park workers for their contributions to the development of “authentically human values.” Although even contemplating a commentary on such things produces weariness, it is nevertheless important to provide a permanent record for those who will be chronicling the events of these our days long after our mortal remains have been buried in the dirt of this earth.

[Our attention now, however, must be on the proper preparation for the commemoration of the Nativity of Our Lord as a humble Babe in Bethlehem. We must always look beyond the controversies and the crises of any given moment in Church history in order to keep our focus on the salvation of our own immortal souls. We know as Catholics that our salvation is not assured, that we could indeed lose our salvation by the commission of one un-repented mortal sin. We must always keep focused on the fact that we could be called to the moment of our Particular Judgments at any time, which should be enough to give each of us cause to keep on our knees in prayer and keep us as regular visitors to the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the confessional.

[Furthermore, we must remember that the supernatural virtue of Charity requires us to pray for the conversion of all men to the true Faith. The precepts of Charity require us also to forgive those who have offended us in any way, those who misunderstand us, those with whom we have had disagreements, those from whom we might be estranged at this point in time. The disagreements and disputes, for example, that exist in the community of Catholics devoted to the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass as normative in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church must never detour us from praying fervently for those with whom with disagree and/or those who may not particularly like us and our own approaches to the crisis in the Church. Please God He sends us the grace to die in a state of sanctifying grace, we will be united for all eternity by the time of the General Judgment of the Dead on the Last Day with all of the souls of the just, including those with whom we had disagreements in this vale of tears during this dark night of the Church’s history. We must never let any disagreement or quarrel, some of which are unavoidable and even necessary at times, prevent us from praying for the good of others, starting with the Pope himself and all of the Church’s bishops. We want the joy of the Christmas season to be experienced by all Catholics as a preparation for a participation in the unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.

[The precepts of Charity apply also to our friends and relatives who do not see the harm of the Novus Ordo and who believe that those of us who seek out the glories of Tradition in venues necessitated by the genuine State of Emergency that exists in the Church are schismatic and disloyal. We want them to embrace Tradition fully and without compromise with any of the errors of concilarism, recognizing, however, that many of us were very slow to accept the words and admonitions offered to us by longtime traditional Catholics. God works in His time with each of us. We must invite others to the fullness of Tradition, leaving it ultimately to Our Lady to shower her devoted children who are ignorant of and/or hostile to the glories of Tradition with the graces that will help them to seek out the offering of Holy Mass that is about the honor and glory of God, not about ourselves and our ability to make the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary a plaything upon which we can place our own idiosyncratic stamp. We are not better than anyone else. If we think that our own embrace of Tradition makes us somehow superior then we become terribly prideful and thus ugly witnesses to the glories that the devil wishes to continue to hide from the lion’s share of Catholics worldwide.

[With this proviso, I offer a brief reflection on Christmas and the Christmas season. May each of you and your families have a blessed Christmas and a very holy new year of Our Lord, 2005.]

There is a Child who beckons us this season. He beckons us to meditate upon the mystery of His Incarnation in His Blessed Mother’s virginal and immaculate womb. He beckons us to call to mind the nine months He spent in the tabernacle of His Mother’s womb, assuming the Sacred Humanity with which He would pay back the blood-debt we owed His Heavenly Father as a result of our sins. He beckons us to become child-like, that is, totally submissive to the will of His Father as He was in His fearful agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He beckons us to see His own image in every person, especially in the unborn for whom He sanctified the womb through His own period of gestation. He beckons us to spend time with Him in His Real Presence under the Eucharistic species. He beckons us to remember that we are called to spend all eternity with Him in Heaven if we choose to do so by cooperating with the graces He makes available to us for our salvation through Holy Mother Church.

The birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem occurred once in time. Our own spiritual re-birth in the baptismal font occurred once in time. However, we are called at all times to a spiritual regeneration in Christ, especially, God forbid, if we are in need of sacramental absolution for any mortal sins that we may have committed. We are called to make room for Him in the “inns of our hearts” by receiving Him worthily in Holy Communion. We are called to announce the glad tidings of His Incarnation and Nativity by the way we think, by the way we speak, by the way we treat others, by the way we forgive others, by the way we attempt to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Yes, we are called to give birth to Our Lord in the midst of this pagan world by bearing a courageous witness to Him no matter what may befall us. And we are called most especially to be totally consecrated to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, understanding that we must go to her Divine Son through her just as He came into the world through her.

Mankind did not deserve the gift of Our Lord’s Incarnation and Nativity. It did not deserve the gift of His redemptive act on the wood of the Holy Cross. It does not deserve all of the gifts He bestows on us by the working of the Holy Ghost through the Church. A gift is simply that, a gift, something that is gratuitous, unmerited, unearned. There is nothing any of us can do or say which can merit the gift that was given to us in the first Christmas, a gift we began to share in fully when we were incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ in the baptismal font. There is nothing any of us can do or say which can merit the gift of the sacraments, given to us freely by Our Lord in an act of pure love to help effect the salvation of our immortal souls.

Our Lord was born for us in Bethlehem in order to die for us on Calvary. He came into this world with nothing. He would leave with nothing. Born in the wood of the manger, He died on the wood of the Cross, which has become our own manger, so to speak, from which we are fed with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. Born in anonymity to die in ignominy. Born amidst the stench of barn animals to die atop the stench of dried blood on Mount Calvary. Rejected by the world when He was born, despised by the world when He died. Our Lady gave birth to Him painlessly in Bethlehem. She gave birth to us as the adopted sons and daughters of God as she watched her Divine Son suffer and die on the wood of the Holy Cross.

What return can we make for all that has been given to us so gratuitously? Very simply, the gift of our entire being to Our Lord and His Holy Church. We do not take our next breath unless the Father wills us to do so. Everything we have, save for sin and its bitter aftereffects, comes from the Blessed Trinity. The little Child born for us of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem beckons us to see life itself as a gift, and the gift of the true faith as the only thing that makes any life truly meaningful. He wants us to use the gifts of life and of faith to offer ourselves up in the sight of the Blessed Trinity in a manner that befits our dignity as redeemed creatures.

The Christmas season starts on Christmas Day. Liturgically, Christmas Day lasts an octave, eight days. The Christmas season lasts forty days, ending on the Feast of Candlemas, February 2 (although the practical reality of this year is that the Christmas season becomes more subdued after Seputagesima Sunday, which falls on January 23, 2005). We can perform a valuable service to the great unwashed masses by wishing them a “Blessed Christmas”on each of the eight days of this solemnity. We must not be timid about invoking the Holy Name of Our Blessed Lord during the Christmas season, nor be timid about planting seeds to help people see the world more clearly through the eyes of the true faith.

Included in the Christmas Octave are several tremendous celebrations, including the feasts of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, St. John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, and the Circumcision of Our Lord. These feasts are integral parts of the liturgy of the Christmas season, and every Catholic family should celebrate them with joy and reflection.

The Church calls our attention to the fact that Our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem was meant to effect our own re-birth to eternal life, something that is signified by St. Stephen's eagerness to lay down his physical life in defense of Our Lord. We must be equally ready to die to self in order to realize the gift of eternal life, praying fervently for the conversion of those who persecute the Church from without and for the conversion of those who pervert the perennial teaching and tradition of the Church from within. Saint Stephen’s prayers from eternity gained the conversion of his chief persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Paul. We must pray for those who have shown themselves to be enemies of the Cross of Christ and for those who think they are the friends of the Divine Redeemer while undermining the Deposit of Faith He entrusted solely to the true Church.

St. John the Evangelist, the one beloved by Our Lord, was the gospel writer who wrote about the Incarnation in profound theological terms. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us.” The Prologue to Saint John’s Gospel is read at the conclusion of most every Traditional Latin Mass during the course of the liturgical year, reminding us that the Incarnation of the Word as flesh in Our Lady’s virginal and immaculate womb is central to all of human history. No one can ignore the Incarnation and expect to be considered a serious Catholic who is interested in subordinating all things in the world without exception to the Social Reign of Christ the King. No political program or philosophy that is indifferent to the Incarnation can advance the cause of the common good, which perforce must be linked to man’s eternal destiny.

The inclusion of the Prologue to Saint John’s Gospel at the end of the Traditional Latin Mass reminds us also that the Mass is incarnational, that the Word Who became flesh in Our Lady’s womb becomes flesh once more under the appearance of bread and wine at the moment these elements of
the earth are consecrated by an alter Christus into His very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In like manner, you see, we are called to make Our Lord incarnate in every aspect of our daily lives.

Saint John the Beloved stood by the foot of the Cross with Our Blessed Mother, who was given to him to be his mother. As he represented us, who had betrayed and abandoned Our Lord by means of our sins, the gift of Our Lady to St. John as his mother has always been understood by the Church as the gift of her to us as well. The woman who gave birth to Our Lord painlessly in Bethlehem also gave birth to us as adopted sons and daughters of God on Good Friday, albeit in great pain and lamentation. St. John was there to comfort her. We have the opportunity to be with Our Lady and Saint John the Beloved every time we assist at Holy Mass, making up for the fact that our sins had put us on the wrong side of the Cross on the first Good Friday.

The Holy Innocents were slaughtered as a result of King Herod the Great’s jealousy of the newborn King of Kings, Our infant Lord. How tragically ironic, therefore, that a new slaughter of the innocents is taking place in our own country on a daily basis, to say nothing of the world-at-large. Little unborn babies, with whom Our Lord is in total solidarity, are slaughtered under cover of law. At least the mothers of the Holy Innocents grieved their slaughtered babies; we are witnessing the spectacle of mothers who actually pay to have their children slaughtered. Calling upon the intercession of the Holy Innocents will help us to remain steadfast in our battle for life, which begins and ends with our desire to give all people an understanding of the primacy of eternal life over physical life. There can be no legal or cultural respect for innocent physical life unless such life is seen as a representation of Our Lord Himself, who has given each person an immortal soul which He desires with Him for all eternity in Heaven. And how many Herods are there within the Church who are willing to abort Tradition and Truth in order to appear open to the world, thus inviting the adversary into their very bosoms? We must pray for the conversion of all of the Herods in the world today, whether they are found in the government or in the highest reaches of Holy Mother Church.

As disciples of Our Lord who belong to the true Church founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, each of us is called to be an ambassador of joy at all times, but especially so during the Christmas season. For while there are great problems which beset both the Church and the world, there is nothing that is beyond our capacity to endure by means of the graces won for us by Our Lord on the Holy Cross. There is nothing that anyone can say about us—or do to us—which is the equal of what just one of our venial sins did to Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity.

Therefore, the joy of the Christmas season is meant to be reflected in how we carry ourselves in the midst of the world. For if people can see that we are joyful, especially in times of personal difficulty, then they might be prompted to cooperate with the grace of God themselves. They might be prompted to understand that there is no joy in this passing world which is everlasting. Seeing our joy and enthusiasm for carrying the crosses sent our way, others might come to understand the little Child who was born for us in Bethlehem beckons them to follow the Way of the Cross to the joy of eternal life.

May I take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a blessed Christmas and a very holy New Year of Our Lord, 2005. I greatly appreciate your support for Christ or Chaos and for Christ the King College, and I want to assure you of my prayers for each of you and your intentions on a daily basis when we are at Holy Mass and before the Most Blessed Sacrament in prayer.

Trusting in Our Lady and imploring the intercession of the head of the Holy Family, Saint Joseph, may we never lose heart in our efforts to restore all things in Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen. Our God is with us. Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel, to you has come Emmanuel.

Viva Cristo Rey!






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