Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

Happy feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph! This Sunday is the fifth day in the octave of Christmas and an inspiring and moving feast day. Liturgically, the last few days since Christmas have been filled with celebrations of many feasts ~ Saint Stephen, the first Martyr on December 26, then Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, then the Holy Innocents, infant martyrs for Christ. The illuminating richness of these octave days focused on the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, flows over into these feast days where we also remember and honor those who followed Christ with everything they had.

Our readings this weekend focus our attention onto the presence and intimacy of God in the lives of every family member and indeed in the lives of all of us. God has structured the family for wellbeing and blessing. Family life demands sacrifice from each and every member and the willingness to give of oneself, that is, to will the good of the other. To will the good of the other is love. This is what God is through and through. He always and only wills the good of the other.

Some might say that this perfect Family, the Holy Family, is too perfect, too idealistic, too other-worldly for our world. Some would like to offer other competing or alternate models of family life. So much confusion reigns in our world, which is broken by both original sin and personal sin.

However, God’s plan and God’s design is made known from the very beginning, in His act of Creation. He made them (us), male and female, in the divine image He created them (us). The marital embrace of husband and wife marked by fidelity, permanence and openness to life is a participation in the very life of God and reveals or makes present God in this world. Surely, we are wounded by original sin but Jesus Christ, the Child at the center of this Holy Family, is the victor over sin. Through Him we have access by grace to the Father to help us fulfill the deepest yearnings of our spirit by surrendering to God’s Will and to His Ways.

The star that led the Magi to Bethlehem, is the Light that is Christ Himself.

When we come to Christ, when we humbly worship Him who is God made flesh, when we surrender to His grace, we find the courage and the strength to become all that God has created us to be. In the words of Saint Paul, we have grace to “Put on … heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.”

May we strive with everything within us to embody and fulfill all of this, encouraged by the example and prayers of the Holy Family! Blessed Sunday and Blessed New Year to each of you and your loved ones!

God bless you, God love you,

Monsignor McCulken

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