The Christmas Tree

12-12-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus!

Despite many historians' attempts to link the Christmas tree to an ancient pagan practice, it is Christian in origin. As the story goes, St. Boniface and his companions interrupted an event where there was to be the sacrifice of a child. With his bishops’ staff (crozier) in hand, 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, Boniface extended his crozier to block the blow, miraculously breaking the great stone hammer and saving the child’s life. Boniface picked up an axe nearby and, as legend has it, took one mighty swing at the oak when a great gust of wind arose through the forest and felled the 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.

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 Christchild; 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.

According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the solemnity of Epiphany. The Christmas tree may be blessed on or before Christmas during a celebration of the word of God. The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing. The blessing of the Christmas tree maybe blessed by a parent or another family member.


When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung. After the singing, the minister says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All make the sign of the cross and reply: Amen.

A lay minister greets those present in the following words:

Let us glorify Christ our light, who brings salvation and peace into our midst, now and forever. In the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing.

My brothers and sisters, amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds. With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its lights guide us to the perfect light.

Reading of the the Word of God

A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the apostle Paul to Titus His own compassion saved us. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

R. Christ comes to enlighten us.

Psalm 96
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Sing to the LORD, bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day. R.

Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods. R.

For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty go before him; praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary. R.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts; worship the LORD in holy attire. R.

Tremble before him, all the earth; say among the nations: The LORD is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity. R.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. R.

He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. R.

As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.


The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says: Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this sign of our faith in the Lord. All Respond: Lord, give light to our hearts.

Minister: That the Church may always reflect the joy of Jesus Christ who enlightens our hearts, let us pray to the Lord.
All Respond: Lord, give light to our hearts.

Minister: That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on which Christ accomplished our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
All Respond: Lord, give light to our hearts.

Minister: That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let us pray to the Lord.
All Respond: Lord, give light to our hearts.

Minister: That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the world, let us pray to the Lord.
All Respond: Lord, give light to our hearts.

After the intercessions the minister, in the following or similar words, invites all present to sing or say the Lord's Prayer.

With confident faith let us pray as Christ taught us:
All: Our Father …

Prayer of Blessing

A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures. We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. All Respond: Amen.

The candles or lights of the tree are then illuminated.

During the illumination of the tree all sing: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Concluding Rite

A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying: May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now and for ever. R. Amen.