In 1947, a French Catholic novelist named George Bernanos wrote a rather daring text entitled “Will Christmas take place?” He began by writing, “We can very well imagine men asking themselves the morning of the 26th of December, ‘But, tell me, wasn’t yesterday Christmas?’ – ‘Christmas?’ – ‘Not at all, today is the 26th and the feast of Saint Stephen. It’s actually the name of my uncle.’–‘My goodness! There’s been a misunderstanding. We should call the scholars from the Observatory.’ But the scholars of all the observatories in the world would make their calculations in vain because no one would ever recover the 24 hours that mysteriously disappeared. (…) What will a day dedicated for two millennia, not only to the most august mysteries of our faith, but also to the eternal childhood that, in every generation, overflows through our misery with its irresistible tide of love and purity, do in a world like this?"
Love and purity! Two terms rarely heard, yet they immerse us in the profound reality of the mystery of the Nativity, where God made Himself one of us. If joy is dear and familiar to us in these days, let us not forget this love is first and foremost that of God who rejoices from all eternity to be our companion on the journey. We participate in this love to the extent that we welcome the gift that God gives us.
As for the purity that comes with this love, it cannot be separated from the reality of the Incarnation which is expressed in “eternal childhood.” This purity is not something that solely covers our imperfections or denies the reality of our human weakness, but it is a purity that keeps nothing for itself. It is a purity that rejoices in self-gift, in the image of Mary, the Immaculate one.
Fr. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., former Superior General, wrote in a meditation on the faith of Christmas: “During this joyful and holy time, we recognize God’s great desire to live among us. Guided by Divine Providence, we live our vocation as Holy Cross religious and we strive to make the sufferings of our neighbor our own by serving them in humility and generosity.”
Love and purity are truly the gift that God makes to each generation, every year at Christmas time. While the world has never seemed as incertain, faced with the many challenges familiar to us all, Christmas is a time for us to renew our dedication to contemplating the Infant Child who loves and blesses us. So, rest assured, the 25th of December will certainly take place! It will be more than just a simple commemoration of the past because it is first and foremost a daily event. Let us not deny ourselves this love and purity so freely offered.
A Holy and Merry Christmas to all!
Fr. Romuald Fresnais, C.S.C., a member of the Mother Province in France, professed Final Vows in 2006 and was ordained a priest the following year. After 16 years of ministry as chaplain at the Middle School and High School of Notre Dame d’Orveau (Nyoiseau) as well as at Saint Michel de Picpus (Paris), he is now a professor of French at Holy Cross High School in Le Mans. He also assists in celebrating Sunday Masses in parishes in the west of Le Mans.