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Editorial | It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ

We’re hearing and reading a lot this year about families that rushed out early to get a live Christmas tree, either from a lot or a tree farm.

With more time on their hands because of COVID-19 cancellations of many events, people are returning to their roots — family traditions of yore.

Advent is a season of waiting and hope, for growing closer to Jesus. 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 return to family traditions due to the pandemic is a welcome development, but can be enhanced by knowing the Christian components of those traditions, celebrating them and passing them along to future generations. An article in this week’s Living Our Faith section of the Review details the traditions and ways to highlight them.

The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are popular symbols of the season and a tradition in many Christian homes. It also is 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.

Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter. It celebrates God becoming flesh, a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us.

Through the years, Christmas has become a busy time, with commercial aspects overtaking the religious. Now is a time to get back to its roots, to take a little time to reflect and reestablish our faith focus. Preparations begin so early, but when the anticipated event arrives, it never satisfies for very long.

Begin to reflect upon how you can give of yourself in the new year, embracing others in love and charity, practicing civility and refusing to allow our differences to overshadow our human dignity.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI once said that the fact that Christian joy remains despite sorrow and struggle can be seen in the life of St. Teresa of Kolkata, who had long periods of feeling that God had abandoned her but she continued to smile and to take God’s love to the poor and dying.

“Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who place themselves at the service of the small and the poor. In those who love that way, God takes up residence and the soul rejoices,” he said.

Those are welcome words indeed with the apprehension that comes along with these pandemic-filled days.

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