Usually in this column, thoughts are offered on a spiritual topic with some “tips” to help your family incorporate a particular practice or devotion into your regular routines. This month will be a little different.
As we approach our celebration of the Birth of our Lord Jesus, you are in- vited as a family to look beyond the ordinary trappings of the season — lights, trees, gifts and even the manger scene — and consider more deeply what this “unique and altogether singular event” (Catechism of the Catholic Church) means for us.
The dignity and sanctity of life is a central doctrine of our Catholic faith. This teaching is integrally connected to what we celebrate at Christmas. The Church refers to the birth of Jesus as the Incarnation. What does this unusual and mysterious word mean? The Second Vatican Council put it plainly: “The Son of God … worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us.” God, the divine One, the perfect unity of the Trinity, the Creator of all things, chose to enter fully into our human existence, becoming one with us to re- store our relationship with him and reaffirm our dignity being made in his image. Archbishop Paul Etienne of Seattle said it well:
The Solemnity of the Birth of our Savior teaches us the origins and makeup of human dignity. Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, which means, we are created for holiness. To be created in the image and likeness of God is to be created for love. The dignity of the human person means sharing in the Divine life, sharing in holiness and love. In the plan of God, this dignity is achieved through His Son, Jesus. Our human dignity is realized by the love of God, which raises our human nature to the Divine nature; to Divine life and love.
What greater gift can we receive than this? It is a gift that is renewed each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, which is the Sacrament of his Presence. This Christmas, let us recall our sharing in the great dignity in which we are created.
Let us be mindful that it is through the Incarnation that life receives its integral and eternal value. Let us all, regardless of age or ability, share the gift of Divine life we have been given by reflecting it in our own lives.
And here is one “tip” to help your family participate in the miracle of the Incarnation. When you set up your Nativity in your home, as you place the images of the shepherds and Wise Men, add pictures of your own family members. We are all called to stand at the manger in worship, awe and adoration. Adding pictures of yourselves at the stable will remind you that the light and grace shining from the “newborn King” is meant to fall on you, too.
May you all have a blessed and merry Christmas.
Mark Russoniello, D.Min, is the parish catechetical leader at the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine.
Faith at Home is a monthly column coordinated by the Diocese of Trenton’s Departments of Catechesis, Evangelization and Family Life, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. For additional Faith at Home resources, visit dioceseoftrenton.org/faith-at-home.