Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Despite many historians' attempts to link the Christmas tree to an ancient pagan practice, it is completely Christian in origin. The origin of the Christmas tree begins in the year 723. St. Boniface was blessed to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to areas of modern Germany and parts of the Netherlands. As he was evangelizing the pagans, St. Boniface discovered that every winter, uninformed folks from the village of Geismar gathered around a huge old oak tree known as the "Thunder Oak". The tree was dedicated to the god Thor. This annual winter event of worship centered on sacrificing a human, usually a small child, to the pagan god. St. Boniface's zeal for serving Our Lord and saving innocent children from being slaughtered, impelled him to help others to know the love of God in the person of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Boniface came up with a plan to convert the entire village by destroying the Thunder Oak. This is the very tree that the pagans believed the God of Boniface could not destroy.
As the story goes, St. Boniface and his companions interrupted the annual pagan event. With his bishops' staff (crozier) in hand, St. Boniface approached the pagan crowd, who had surrounded the base of the Thunder Oak, saying to his group, "Here is the Thunder Oak, and here the cross of Christ shall break the hammer of the false god, Thor."
With a small child laid out for the sacrifice, the executioner raised his hammer high. But on the downswing, St. Boniface extended his crozier to block the blow, miraculously breaking the great stone hammer and saving the child's life. St. Boniface picked up an axe n earby and, as legend has it, t ook one mighty s wing at the oak ,when a great gust of wind arose t hrough the forest and felled th e tree, roots and all. It lie on the forest floor, broken in four pieces. Though afterwards Boniface had a chapel built from the wood, our story takes us to what stood immediately beyond the ruins of the mighty tree. Impressed by the destruction of the oak tree and Boniface's preaching, the Germans were baptized.
The "Apostle of Germany" continued to preach to the astounded Germanic peoples, who were in disbelief that this slayer of Thor's Thunder Oak had not been struck down by their god. Boniface looked beyond where the oak lay, pointing to a small, unassuming fir tree, saying:
This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.
And so, the Germans began a new tradition that night, one that stretches to the present day. By bringing a fir into their homes, decorating it with candles and ornaments, and celebrating the birth of a Savior, the Apostle of Germany and his flock gave us what we now know as the Christmas tree.
Stir up Thy might, we pray Thee, O Lord, and come; rescue us through Thy great strength so that salvation, which has been hindered b y our sins, may be hastened by the grace of Thy gentle mercy.
The Mass schedule for December 24th/25th is straightforward. The Christmas Masses for December 24th will be at 5:00pm, 5:15pm, 8:00pm and 11pm and then on Christmas Day, December 25th Masses are at 8:00am and 10:00am. Please pray for the priests and all the other Mass ministers! I hope you will come and pray Holy Mass with us! If you are traveling, then may your journey be filled with laughter and love.
Fr. Don Kline, V.F.