A message for Christmas from Archbishop Kurtz

Christmas season artwork: Holy Family on flight into Egypt

A detail of a stained-glass window from St. Edward’s Church in Seattle shows Jesus, Mary and Joseph on their flight into Egypt. The feast of the Nativity of Christ, a holy day of obligation, is celebrated Dec. 25. The feast of the Holy Family is marked Dec. 29.

May God bless all during this holy season of Advent and Christmas! 

Archbishop Kurtz

Archbishop Kurtz

In his early days as Holy Father, Pope Francis has certainly captured the spirit of Advent and Christmas, as he calls the Church — in both word and action — to heal wounds and warm hearts. The coming and presence of the Lord Jesus our Savior that we celebrate during this holy time is the source of this warmth and healing, and so we are called to draw close to the Lord Jesus and invite those distant to join with us.

As we approach its end, it is helpful to recall the special grace of the season of Advent. This is captured very well in a brief paragraph from Norm 39 of the Roman Missal:   

“Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmastime, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a time of devout and expectant delight.” (The Third Edition of the Roman Missal, “Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar,” #39)

What a wonderful phrase: “devout and expectant delight.”  

The readings at daily Mass during the first week of Advent emphasized Christ’s coming at the end of time while recalling that he is already in our midst sacramentally. Thus, we are filled with expectation that the experience of Jesus in word, sacrament and in our encounters with others — while still imperfect — gives us a taste of what is to come. As followers of Jesus, we yearn for his full presence, and this is what we celebrate at every Mass.

As the weeks of Advent progress, the Scriptural readings focused more on preparing for the coming solemnity of Christmas. We are called to be filled with devotion and expectation, much as a child counting down the days until Christmas packages appear miraculously under the tree. While all of the shopping and advertising and preparation for Christmas can overwhelm and exhaust us, a gentle and serene recalling of the reason for the season, the birth of our Savior Jesus, brings us back to that devout and expectant delight that Advent is meant to be for us. It is a time for waiting, for conversion and for hope. 

It is a time for waiting and remembering the salvation story of our faith, particularly that first Christmas in the manger in Bethlehem.

It is a time for conversion as we hear the strong voice of John the Baptist beckoning us to repent and to turn from sin for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

It is a time for joyful hope that with Mary, our mother, we seek the gift of joy that our faith and trust in Jesus alone can give. 

I pray that the devout and expectant joy of Advent contributes to a wonderful and blessed Christmas for you and your loved ones. Whether you are close to the Lord Jesus and his Church or feel distant because of fear or hurt, I welcome you and invite you to your home, the Church. For more information about Christmas Masses, go to www.archlou.org/christmas-masses.

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