by Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
I am writing to tell you about something that has been on my mind for several weeks. It has bubbled up within me, percolating up and down my brain and saturating my thoughts. Like coffee grounds in a coffeemaker, flowing in and out of my daily life, it strengthened quietly within my inmost soul almost – but not quite – imperceptibly. Somehow, somewhere, something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I tried, but wasn’t sure what it was. That is, until today. Today, it clicked. The idea finally coalesced into something I could grapple with, take apart and analyze.
It has to do with the question you once wrote, “Is there a Santa Claus?” and a movie that was made about that question and its answer. That is why I am writing to you about Christmas. It seems to me, and to a lot of other people also, that something is happening to Christmas.
O Christmas, where did you go? Who or what took you away from us? And when exactly did you leave? How did we not notice it? How did we not miss you?
Perhaps it is because I am a Carmelite Sister who lives a simple and prayerful life of service that I find myself experiencing such a profound emptiness, an absence, an incompleteness; yes, a deep sadness within me as I think more deeply about the way our society is celebrating Christmas. For, you see, wherever I look, there is no Infant. I miss Him so! Truly, I do.
Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, are dressed in holiday style. We walk in a winter wonderland. Rudolph is still making history and Santa Claus is still coming to town.
But, where is the Infant?
I am writing this letter to assure you and all the other children (and grown-ups, too). Yes, Virginia, there is an Infant. For over two thousand years, each Christmas we have remembered Him, the tiny Baby born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. St. Francis of Assisi began our tradition of setting up a crèche, a nativity scene, based on the story of His wondrous birth, that we may keep alive the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a time of joy, of hope, indeed. But that joy doesn’t flow from the tree, Rudolph, or the winter wonderland. They are all secondary, as fun and as good as they truly are.
Yes, Virginia, there is an Infant. He is Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Christmas is HIS birthday. Come, let us adore Him.
Editor’s Note: Christmas does not end, rather, it begins on December 25th.
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