Merry Christmas!

12-25-2022Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the Grace, Mercy, and Peace of Our Lord be with you and your family during this Christmas season! If you are new to St. Bernadette parish or just visiting, welcome home. If you have been away, welcome back! If you are a parishioner, welcome to one day closer to the Kingdom of God. I pray that during our busy lives, the Christmas celebration may find room for Our Lord in your hearts. Our merciful Lord desires to be with you. Your relationship with Our Lord can bring you joy that only He can give.

One December, in the year 1223, Francis of Assisi had traveled to the little village of Greccio to pray. High up, on the mountain, St. Francis had a hermit's cave. How St. Francis loved this quiet spot. He could be alone with God.

Toward evening, St. Francis heard music being played in the village below. Villagers sang old, joy-filled songs, Christmas was just a few days away. The Son of God, Jesus, would return to earth, a baby, little and poor, to be held in the arms of Mary, his m ther. The songs sang of this great event, the birth of Christ.

So full of joy himself, St. Francis had an idea. He wanted to do something to recall the memory of the little Child who was born in Bethlehem. He wanted to let people see with their our eyes how Jesus lay in a manger, with cows and donkeys standing by, the baby laying upon the hay where he had been placed.

Remember, when St. Francis of Assisi lived, there were no photographs, no movies, no television, no video games, no cell phone, no photocopiers, no fax machines. The printing press had not yet been invented and books were rare. Books had to be copied by hand, almost nobody could read. At that time, no greeting cards arrived in the mail, showing Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus. Constructing a real-life picture seemed a good idea to St. Francis. So, thanks to St. Francis we have the crèche… the nativity scene.

A manger is another name for an animal's feed box. Hay was put into the feed box, as it would be for the animals to eat. Cows and donkeys were placed around the manger. Horses and mules were brought close by. Surrounding this manger, just as in Bethlehem, was to be a stable, a barn, where animals were kept. At last, all was complete. The crèche at Greccio looked like a new Bethlehem. The baby Jesus would be placed in the manger at Midnight Mass.

St. Francis was very happy. St. Francis’ idea also gives us something to think about. How great would it be if you and I prepared a crib in our hearts, ready to welcome Christ into our lives? In a sense, each of us is invited to give birth to Christ by how we live our lives. We are to empty our hearts of anger or hatred, and live by faith, hope, and love. We are to obey God's commandments; we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Each of us is to open a door in our hearts and let the Christ child come in.

In his prayer, St. Francis prayed as Jesus prayed. He prayed. “Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring light; and where there is sadness, let me sow joy.

St. Francis said: “Let me be the one who consoles and understands and loves.” Francis knew: "It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

If you are new to the area or have been away from the Church for a while, I am glad you are here! You will find many opportunities to make our parish your spiritual home. If you have questions about our parish, do not hesitate to call or email us. We are r eady to serve alongside you to build up the Kingdom of God!

I am hopeful that this will be a quiet week. Our office will be closed next week so that our staff can spend some time with family and friends. If you are traveling this week, do so safely. Make sure to include Christ in your week. During Christmas, praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are a wonderful way to pass the time as your travel in the car… not only are you able to commune with Jesus through Mary but you may experience peace and quiet for 15 minutes! Win-win! May God bless us all this Christmas Season!