Friday, December 21, 2007

Hawaii's Bishop's Christmas Message

Agnus Dei

From the Hawaii Catholic Herald
Happy Holidays!

There is so much controversy these days about this simple greeting, because it seems to make Christmas little more than a secular holiday. Few would deny the holiday’s historical roots in Christianity, but there is a prevailing attitude that the holiday has “matured” into a day for believer and non-believer alike. Christ is no longer the center of the observance for many.

While it would be easy for us to rail against this contemporary bow to secularism, we might also be challenged to scrutinize our own attitudes about our faith and ask if we ourselves have not planted the seeds of the separation of Christ from Christmas. Is our faith in Jesus simply belief in a historical person who lived an exemplary life, who died a sacrificial death, and who left us a legacy of teachings to guide us in life’s journey? Or do we also truly believe that Christ IS risen, that he is alive now, and that, even though he has ascended into heaven, he comes physically to earth as the living bread come down from heaven in the Eucharist? Do we go to the Eucharist simply out of obligation or tradition, or do we go to encounter the Lord of our lives? Do we view the Eucharist only as a series of rituals, or as an encounter with a living person whose love can transform us? Do we truly believe that the little Babe laid in a feeding box in Bethlehem, whose birth stirs up so much joy in us, is the same Jesus who is laid on the altar to feed his sheep today? Can we be filled with the wonder and awe of those down-to-earth shepherds who witnessed heaven singing to celebrate the joy of God-become-man? When we go to Mass do we find the experience dull or dreary unless the choir or the homilist brightens it up for us, or do we go with stars in our own eyes, stars that guide us to adore the King of heaven and earth? When we leave after having received the Eucharist, do we grasp the incredible wonder that the same Jesus who was carried in the womb of the Virgin until she brought him forth to the world is carried in us so that we can bring him forth in today’s world?

Yes, we should prefer “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” because it is more expressive of the truth we are celebrating. But “Merry Christmas” will only regain its meaning if we live the reality and not just the words. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The same Word takes flesh in us today, so that he can continue to touch the hearts of believer and non-believer alike. Can you see the star? Can you hear the angels singing?

Merry Christmas!
Mahalo Bishop Silva, for reminding us, your flock, of the true meaning of Christmas.


Easter A. said...

Hi Esther dear,
Thank you for posting this. I don't know where the latest copy is of HCH so it is good to read it here.:-)

I love our bishop! After his Masses that I've attended, I fall in line right out front of the cathedral to give him a hug and kiss and I always say, "We love you, Bishop!" He always replies, "Thank you," with a warm and gentle smile.:-)

Marie said...

I posted a comment on another blog about this 'happy holidays,' PC lunacy.

If we take Christ out of Christmas then whom and what are we celebrating? Why a holiday at all? Do we have a happy holiday to celebrate happiness? What about those who do not feel particularly happy. Should we then have a sadness day so we can be 'inclusive'?

See, the madness of it all?

When you remove Christ from CHRISTmas you are then left to celebrate a fat man in a red suit. Totally senseless!

Good topic TY Esther:)

Peace, JOY & MERRY CHRITMAS to you & your lovely family:)

Marie xoxoxoox

Divine Mercy said...

i wont say anything other than Merry Christmas. i fi say happy holidays, its right after i say, Merry Christmas!

Esther said...

Easter, I hadn't read it until my friend Jim emailed me his letter to Bishop Silva commending him on it. Okay, you are the only one I know who could get away with hugging and kissing our bishop. I just concentrate on being able to kiss his ring :-)

So true Marie and I feel the same way but if you consider that Happy Holiday evolved from Happy Holy-Day (Like Fr. Daren pointed out) then it's forgivable :-)

That's great DM!