Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas at Greccio

Pax et bonum! Peace and all good!
May the peace and love and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you this Christmas and every day of your lives. We offer this little story about St. Francis at Greccio—from the Major Legend of St. Francis-- for your reflection and meditation. The tradition of the crèche (or crib) originates with St. Francis and is uniquely Franciscan contribution to the celebration of Christmas. Know that we, your Franciscan brothers, are keeping you in our prayers at this most sacred time as you continue to discern God’s will for you in your hearts and in your lives. Merry Christmas!

“It happened, three years prior to his death, that he (Francis) decided to celebrate at the town of Greccio the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus with the greatest possible solemnity, in order to arouse devotion. So that this would not be considered a type of novelty, he petitioned for and obtained permission from the Supreme Pontiff.
"He had a manger prepared, hay carried in and an ox and an ass led to the spot. The brethren are summoned, the people arrive, the forest amplifies with their cries, and that venerable night is rendered brilliant and solemn by a multitude of bright lights and by resonant and harmonious hymns of praise. The man of God stands before the manger, filled with piety, bathed in tears, and overcome with joy.
"A solemn Mass is celebrated over the manger, with Francis, a levite of Christ, chanting the holy Gospel. Then he preaches to the people standing around him about the birth of the poor King, whom, whenever he means to call him, he called in his tender love, the Babe from Bethlehem.
"A certain virtuous and truthful knight, Sir John of Greccio, who had abandoned worldly military activity out of love of Christ and had become an intimate friend of the man of God, claimed that he saw a beautiful little child asleep in that manger whom the blessed father Francis embraced in both of his arms and seemed to wake it from sleep.
"Not only does the holiness of the witness make credible the vision of the devout knight, but also the truth it expresses proves its validity and the subsequent miracles confirm it. For Francis's example, when considered by the world, is capable of arousing the hearts of those who are sluggish in the faith of Christ.
The hay from the crib was kept by the people and miraculously cured sick animals and drove away different kinds of pestilence. Thus God glorified his servant in every way and demonstrated the efficacy of his holy prayer by the evident signs of wonderful miracles.”

Some questions for reflection:
As I come to this year’s celebration of Christmas, where do I find the Christ Child in my life? ? How is Christ offering himself to me today? Is there anything that inhibits or impedes me from accepting Him? What do I have to give to Him? How can I best find Him in myself? How can I best minister to Him in my brothers and sisters, in our Church? In our world? Without taking on any extra, additional activity, how can I enter more deeply into the meaning of Christmas in my life? (Thanks to Friar Larry Dunphy, ofm).