Finding deeper meaning in Christmastime
Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself.
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo greets altar servers at a recent Simbangi Gabi Filipino Christmas Mass at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Houston.
Explore how to make new light of the Christmas season with these columns and articles from the Texas Catholic Herald and more.
- Are there really 12 Days of Christmas?
It's still Christmas! Even though stores have moved on to their "After Christmas" sales and radio stations have stopped playing Christmas music, the Christmas season actually begins on Christmas Day.
But how long does it last? (A lot longer than most people think -- keep those decorations up longer to celebrate the Christmas season!) Read more.
- Singing the meaning of Christmas
When I sat down to write this Christmas column, I was stumped. What could I write about that has not been written before?
Upon reflection, I realize that there are actually two Christmas seasons. The commercial-driven Christmas that ends on Dec. 24 and the Christmas of the Catholic Church, which begins with the vigil Mass on Dec. 24. The first is a season that has been distorted by commercialism, secularism, and relativism.
The latter is a celebration of the birth of our Lord. As I pondered what exactly that means to me, I remember the lyrics of a song performed by Perry Como that I listened to as a child. Read more.
- Welcome the stranger this Christmas
Growing up, my family always decorated for Christmas placing many Nativity sets around the house. I have always loved the various representations of the Holy Family and the celebration of the intimate moment of Christ’s birth.
Because of my family’s tradition, I am drawn toward Nativity sets during the Christmas season. This year, however, as I notice the Holy Family on display, I have a heightened awareness of recent headlines, especially the many people fleeing Central America. In an all-too-similar way, Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled Bethlehem and sought shelter in Egypt... Read more.
- Connecting the Christmas symbols to the coming of Christ the King
The Feast of Christ the King ushered the beginning of the liturgical year. I recall attending Holy Mass on this great feast a few years ago. At this particular parish, the music and choir reflected the beauty of this feast day. There was a full choir with all types of instruments ranging from a horn to a percussion section. Read more.
As humans we are fascinated by stories. A lot of stories encompass certain nostalgia, which is a very powerful emotion. The Christmas season can certainly bring some nostalgia since we all tend to yearn of some past during this time.The wonderful story of Christmas brings some memories, therefore some bittersweet nostalgia. Read more.
- Origins and meaning of the Christmas nativity scene
Christmas nativity scenes are among the most common things associated with the season that we encounter at Christmastime. They are in shopping centers and in front yards. Given their near ubiquity, it may come as a surprise to some that they have been around for “only” about 800 years. Exploring their origin may help us to more profitably engage with them today. Read more.
Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. It is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin "in carne" means "enfleshment"). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief, God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us).
While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him). Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar.
The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him…including the fact that he was born to die for us.
The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. It is also traditional to exchange Christmas gifts with family and friends as a way to honor God the Father's gift of his only son to the world. Having received the gift of Christ, we naturally want to pass that gift along to our loved ones.
Additional resources from the USCCB.
- Blessing of the Home on Epiphany
- Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI's Spiritual Thoughts Series: Christmas
- Infancy Narrative
- Lectio Divina for the Christmas Season
- Liturgical Notes for Christmas
- Narración navideña infantil
- Proclamation of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas
- Announcement of Easter and the Moveable Feasts on Epiphany