Newsletter, December 23, 2021
In November 1954, Perry Como recorded and RCA released the popular Christmas song, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”. By now you have heard it on your car radio and in shopping malls thousands of times this year alone!
If you listen closely to the lyrics of this song, you’ll find that they offer a simple and enduring truth: when the time comes to celebrate certain moments and seasons in our lives, we want to be home. Home usually means our family as well as our town and country. We want to be with the familiar, the comfortable, that place we know, and especially with those who know us, accept us, and love us.
The celebration of Christmas, perhaps more than any other occasion, draws us home. My own childhood memories of Christmas at our home on Percival Street in Dorchester include a flood of images of a big Christmas tree and gifts, along with parents, kids and, of course, a dog in the middle of it all. With all of that comes the gift of being together, sharing, feeling safe, and being happy. Because it’s so familiar, we can all too often fail to appreciate the gift of family. The very source of our lives and those who formed and cared for us are so much a part of us, that we can overlook our family when counting our blessings.
Today is the feast of the Holy Family, always celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. On this feast day, the Church invites us to see in the family of Joseph, Mary, and the Child Jesus the simple beauty and truth that the Son of God was born into a human family – just like yours or mine. This celebration can help each of us to recall how precious the gift of family can be. Though human and fallible, our family, nonetheless, is uniquely ours. Sadly, hurts, mistakes or whatever, can fracture family unity and cause enormous pain and damage. It’s so astonishing to see how deep and serious the consequences of the breakup of a family can be. Regardless of the circumstances, the reality is that if one member is separated, every member suffers.
The Grace of these days holds the possibility for everyone to act in ways that can strengthen the family. If there is too much distance between you and another in the family, if there are hurts that have lingered too long or anything else that has damaged your family relationships, why not seize this day and extend an olive branch? Why wait? What benefit could there be in delaying?
Let’s take the time to reflect and ask ourselves: “what can I do today to strengthen my family?” What is it that a family member might need that I could give that would bring
us closer together? Let’s not delay because we are looking for the precisely correct moment. More often than not, the right time never comes!
In all ways, this is a day to be grateful for the gift of our families – imperfect as they may be! This is the day to see that family is often diminished by the popular culture in both subtle and aggressive ways. Let us choose not to be complacent for our own sakes. We, our Parish, our community, our city, our nation, and our world are only as strong as the family unit.
On this day, we remember that Jesus, Himself, belonged to a human family and in that we find hope. In this Christmas season, as the canned Christmas music fades away, let us be grateful in every possible way for our families and pray for the grace to heal what is broken and strengthen whatever may be weak, for our sake and the sake of our world.
PRAYER TO THE HOLY FAMILY
JESUS, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth.
MARY, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys.
JOSEPH, Foster-father of Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety.
HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you. Amen.
Prayer Before Christmas Dinner
God of all gifts, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us this day. We are grateful each of those who are gathered around this table. We ask you to bless us and our food and to bless those we love who are not with us today. In our gratitude and love, we remember your humble birth into our lives and pray for those who are without enough to eat. We remember the stable in which you were born and pray for those who have no place to live. We remember your challenging message of caring and giving, and we pray for peace in families and nations throughout the world. We bless you and give you thanks in your Spirit who brings our hearts to life this Christmas Day and forever. Amen.
Prayer For Those Who Have Lost A Loved One
God of compassion, there is such a hole in my heart! Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only the emptiness and loss of someone so beloved. While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one with me. I bring my sorrows to you, Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet. In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness. Yes, you can. You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it at this minute, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness and loving me. Dearest lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak. Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn’t say. Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet.
Poem: “Christmas blessing”
by Joyce Rupp