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!
Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and Vicar Provincial of St. Anne Catholic Church (Columbus, GA), Fr. Emanuel "Manny" Vasconcellos, OFM Conv. and the St. Anne Church’s High School Youth Group represent one of many ministries and friars in our province in attendance at the 2019 National March for Life, in Washington, DC. Look through our page and see photos and articles shared by many of our ministries, including FAN, St. Francis High School, Elon University Campus Ministry and many more. www.facebook.com/SPCSVikings/?tn-str=k*F... See MoreSee Less
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.” – St. Francis of Assisi ... See MoreSee Less