Every year there is a way the holiday sneaks up on us as if by surprise. All of a sudden, there is almost a theatrical change of scenery wherever one goes, with Christmas trees and colorful ornaments of every kind, dancing Santa with his sack full of gifts, and bright Christmas lights to complete the backdrop. Music too matches the beauty of the visual display while seasonal aroma and flavor from homemade goods fill our dining tables with a delectable blend of traditional family meals. All theses delightful treats of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste help to bring the best of treasured holiday memories spent with family and loved ones while also hoping to create new ones. As the Christmas carol says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
At the Shrine of St. Anthony, the Home of the Companions, we are surely blessed to celebrate the season with profound reflection on the meaning of the Lord's birth-of the Word made flesh, of God becoming human. Here at the Shrine, we learn from St. Anthony that Christ wants to entrust himself into our hands and arms. The iconic image of St. Anthony holding the Child Jesus came from an account of his close friend, Tito Borghese, who once saw the saint rapt in ecstasy tenderly holding and caressing the blessed infant in his arms. This story reveals to us of God's own desire to be held in our arms, and for us to care for him-that's how Christmas happened! Isn't that what we do in Holy Communion when with open hands we lovingly receive Christ in the Eucharist? But isn't that what we also do when we've cared for him under his disguised appearance in a homeless person whom we've fed or clothed on a particularly freezing winter night, or when we have selflessly spent time with him in someone grief-stricken and alone for the holiday, or when we have reconciled with him by extending forgiveness to someone who had hurt us? We think there are countless ways the Baby Jesus wants to be loved and embraced, and we can look at the examples of St. Anthony for inspiration.
As the Season of Christmas draws upon us, we humbly offer our gratitude to all of you, our Companions, for your particular way of embracing the Holy Infant. The many ways you have supported our ministry is a testament of your love for God that goes beyond well-wishes to actual and concrete responses of providing the needs of everyone who comes here. May you find in all the good that you do what St. Anthony himself found placed in his arms-Christ Jesus!
"Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:4-7
Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent! It is the Sunday that is marked by the color rose. Rose gives us encouragement to rejoice! We rejoice because Jesus is near! ... See MoreSee Less
O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. – Amen.