I’ll confess I always find today difficult. It’s the first Monday in Ordinary Time in the liturgical season of the Catholic Church. Ordinary is how we number the days, not a statement about the blandness of days. Mercifully, the church I went to for Mass today still had trees and poinsettias and wreaths; sometimes the churches are stripped bare. One extreme to another. I suspect we all need a little more Christmas.
I know, first-world problems. I’m free to go to church whenever I want, unlike countless persecuted Christians throughout the world.
Yesterday was also the 21st anniversary of the sudden death of my father, Joseph Patrick. I was in my 20s, living back at home, and my mother found my father dead on the kitchen floor as she went down to get ready for Mass. I at least had a little time with him as a young adult — my younger brother and sister did not have that gift. If you’ve lost someone beloved, you know that it does not get better with time — I definitely remember people telling me it does. I guess people say such things because we’re conditioned to want to fix things and so really don’t know what to say. “I’m sorry” doesn’t seem to be enough. “That must hurt so much,” still doesn’t feel sufficient. Sometimes being present and calling long after the muffin baskets aren’t being delivered anymore does more than any one of us could truly ever know. I had the blessing of knowing the love and protection here on earth of a good father for two decades. That’s more than a lot of people get. I still cry sometimes, because I am human. But there is also tremendous gratitude.
On Christmas Day, I kept thinking (I was in quasi-quarantine): People are dying today. Hearts are breaking. Losses are happening. That is why Christmas is so important, the Incarnation of God. It changes everything. A priest friend recently wrote about the Christmas his father died, and how that influenced his and his family’s understanding of what Christmas is.
I’ve been reflecting on all of this as I pray for Eric and Bonnie Kniffin. I know Eric from religious-freedom work and the family over Facebook. The funeral Mass for their son, Michael, was on Friday in Colorado Springs, Colo. Michael had a severe congenital neurological condition, lissencephaly, known as “smooth brain.” By all reports, he brought out the best in everyone and was beloved. His life was hard, but it had tremendous dignity. All our lives do. Remember that when you see someone alone on the street in the cold days and nights of winter. Remember that when abortion is said to be freedom, and throwing away the elderly is supposedly the merciful and dignified thing to do. Love isn’t easy. Love is a sacrifice. That’s the point of Christmas — that God came into the world to die for us and redeem us.
For those unable to join us in person, please join your hearts to ours from where you are.
Livestream begins at 1:20 Mtn w the Rosary (joyful mysteries!) & Divine Mercy Chaplet. Funeral Mass begins at 2.
— Eric N. Kniffin (@ekniffin) January 7, 2022
Keep out a Nativity as long as you want! Be countercultural. Keep it out as a reminder. Keep it out as a nudge to be more tender. Keep it out to remember the source of joy. Keep it out because the vulnerable Christ Child and a crucifix are truer reminders than the candy hearts that are already out at the stores about what love truly is. And keep it as a reminder that there is more than the suffering of the current day. Keep it out and pray that that child comes to the consolation of all those who lost children in the horrific fire in the Bronx this weekend.
And let’s be more honest about the fact that life is hard, and there are countless hidden sufferings that do not make the news, but are real struggles in the people we interact with day in and day out. Remembering that when people are strange or difficult could help us with the kind of daily love that is not captured in Hallmark cards or political mantras misunderstanding the real truth about love and how it can transform hearts, communities, and cultures. Mother Teresa would say: Start with the family. Which is why if you are blessed to have learned something about love there, we have quite the responsibility.
#Christmas #Creche #Put #Joy #National #Review