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Issue Date:  December 21, 2007

From the Editor's Desk

Remembering Christmas

As humans, we have an amazing propensity for arranging our lives in cycles. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are just some of the events that come around every year. The bigger the occasion, the greater the likelihood we will commemorate it 25, 50 or 100 years from now. We find it meaningful to remember events of great significance. They cause us to rethink our humanity. Such events include major wars, natural disasters and the births and deaths of prominent people.

And so it is with the Christmas season. What is it we are remembering? It’s not an easy question. We celebrate Christmas as a church, as a society, as families and as individuals. But unlike such celebrations as New Year’s Day, which simply marks the start of a new calendar year, Christmas invokes a wide range of feelings and memories. For the church, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation, the story of a God who cared enough to send an only Son into the world to be one with us. For society, Christmas is often a time to focus on world peace and to reflect on the challenges that face us. As families and as individuals, the Christmas season often stirs our deepest memories of relationships and personal experiences that may be both comforting and disconcerting. We embrace the hope of the Christ Child, who comes into the world, and we long for the fulfillment of our deepest desires. Whatever those desires are, we join them to the image of the newborn infant who rekindles the meaning of who we are as a human family, as brothers and sisters in Christ and as pilgrims on a journey of faith, hope and love.

Christmas, unfortunately, isn’t a joy-filled time for everyone. Holidays can be difficult and lonely for many people. For lack of family and friends or because loved ones are far away or have passed on, Christmas is for some a season to be endured. Yet, paradoxically, the loneliness we may feel and the recognition of our own brokenness as individuals, families, society and as church can emerge as the true meaning of Christmas. We are not meant to be alone, nor are we meant to live lives of desolation. Christmas reminds us that we are one human family and participants in the mystery of creation. The images of Christmas that have come down to us through the ages in art, music, stories and poems remind us of the great hope that was born one dark night in the meekest of settings.

Christmas is about remembering what we truly believe and where we find our consolation. We commemorate an event steeped in religious, social and commercial symbolism. Take away the trappings, Christmas celebrates the love between the Madonna and Child depicted on this issue’s cover. As a global, faith-filled community, we are meant to experience and share this same love.

Memories, however, are not supposed to keep us in the past. They provide the sustenance we need now to accept the challenges of the Word-made-flesh. This Christmas season, may we rekindle our commitment to justice and peace throughout the world. And may we continue to seek the light of Christ as people of hope on a journey toward a world made ever new.

I wish you all a most blessed Christmas season.

-- Sr. Rita Larivee, SSA

National Catholic Reporter, December 21, 2007

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