|What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man, I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart?
(From Christina Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter)
|St. Francis, we know, was a great lover of Christmas!
We know he was interceding for us – obtaining many Christmas graces.
When I think of that first Christmas, I am struck by the littleness of the greatest event of history. In the town of Bethlehem, in a stable, surrounded by farm animals (living near a dairy farm, we have an inkling what this entails!), Our Savior was born of the Virgin Mary. Good St. Joseph begged for lodging but there was no room at the inn. The swaddling clothes, the star, the angels’ Gloria, the announcement to the humble shepherds…each detail blows my mind!
I am struck as well by all that must have been passing through Our Lady’s heart. I wonder if she thought of the angel’s gentle invitation and her own response of love…“YES, Be It Done As You Have Said…” And the Word was made flesh.
|The Christmas Gospel is proclaimed during Matins|
This was our first Christmas in the new Chapel. Our very dear friend and spiritual father, Fr. Fred Adamson, celebrated the Mass at Night. Knowing that the winding, dark, rough dirt roads leading to our remote desert dwelling pose some travel inconvenience, we did not expect more than a handful of people at the Christmas Eve Night Mass. As we prayed Matins before Mass, I kept hearing the chapel doors open…again and again. Shortly before Mass began, I snuck a peak behind me…and was quite floored to see a beautiful crowd of people. This was witnessed again as Mass began and we sang Adeste Fideles…and a CHORUS of voices joined in on the refrain: Venite adoremus, O Come, Let Us Adore Him…
With our Chapel filled with people, I cannot help but believe that Our Lady allowed me to share a bit of her own surprise when the shepherds appeared at the entrance of the little cave that housed the Redeemer of the world. They had come to adore her Newborn Son.
|My Lord and My God|
For some reason memories of the past 7 years flooded my mind on that beautiful night. I thought of when we received, from the Lord, that gentle invitation to begin a new foundation of PCPAs in Phoenix, AZ. I thought of our questions and of our eventual response of love. I also thought of how easy it would have been to NOT say “YES”. I thought of how easy it would have been to turn back at any given point in the journey. The uncertainty, the struggles, the colossal planning, and bills, and our own poverty – yes, there were times that beginning this foundation seemed next to impossible. There were times that building Our Lady of Solitude seemed way too big…with us being way too small.
And yet, here we are – Christmas 2011 – with a beautiful new Chapel filled with people…welcoming into our midst the Babe of Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve, Tonopah felt like another Bethlehem, the lights on the dome of our Chapel like the Star that settled above the crib, and our congregation like the shepherds that came to adore.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is the classic Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life. I believe it was the message of this movie that I experienced this Christmas Eve. It’s a message that we all need to take to heart, whether we are beginning a new Foundation, or a new family, or just living out our little life in a little way. Our YES makes a difference. Our YES echoes the great YES of Our Lady at the Annunciation. Our YES to God brings Him anew to the Bethlehem of our souls through grace.
The Sisters and I wish you all a very Merry and Wonderful Christmas…