Ancient, unwritten protocols for Christmas sermons suggest that preachers emphasize the joyful, childlike dimensions of this great Solemnity rather than the profoundly serious and penetrating aspects of the Incarnation, the key doctrine underlying Christmas, and one of the four fundamental truths of Christian faith. In a sense, Easter is a highly appropriate time for sermonizing on the latter – all of Holy Week, for that matter. Yet the Incarnation – the Son of God’s assumption of human nature through the consent of the Virgin Mary – remains a theme that somehow must be focused upon, year after year, at all the Christmas Masses.
When preaching or writing or even thinking about the Incarnation, one knows from the start that one cannot avoid stuttering; the Mystery is ineffable. Yet try we must.
Recall Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Grotto of the Nativity; he entered the Chamber of the Manger quite alone, barring television cameras, and even a trusted aide. He must be surrounded by absolute silence; the human being is but a creature, albeit the glory of all creation, in the presence of the infinite, almighty Creator. One thinks of Moses before the burning bush, where the very ground is eternally sanctified, and the most noble creature immediately feels the need to remove his or her sandals.
But the key existential lesson of the Incarnation requires special emphasis every Christmas. In other words, what does the Incarnation mean to us, for us? How can it make our lives more meaningful – more tolerable, in a most fundamental way?
This very question was recently addressed by Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa in Madrid’s leading newspaper El Pais. Discussing Pope Benedict XVI’s highly successful visit to Spain earlier this year, Vargas Llosa argued that to men and women still mesmerized by atheism as the only answer to key global problems relating to civilization and personal fulfillment, "the idea of definitive extinction will continue to be intolerable to the ordinary person, who will find in faith that hope of life after death which they have never been able to relinquish."
Thus, the existential message of the Incarnation, as expressed by a literary giant of our contemporary scene.
Vargas Llosa is saying for our 21st century what has been said thousands of times for centuries past – what has been said by sages, philosophers, psychologists and theologians from times immemorial; specifically, that all fears and anxieties can be reduced ultimately to one terrifying ghost, the certainty of death, and with it, the specter of extinction.
The great St. Augustine, who ranks alongside a handful of theological superstars, wrestled with this issue as early as the fourth century in the enduring classic, The City of God, when he wrote: "From the first moment we find ourselves in a mortal body, something happens within us which steadily leads us toward death… Each one of us is nearer death a year hence than a year ago, nearer tomorrow than he was today… Our entire lifetime is… a racing toward death…"
Such is the truth set forth by reason alone or philosophy, and, of course, confirmed through Revelation. It is also a truth which modern empirical psychologists have pondered and attempted to work upon in almost countless theories, several impacting man’s existence in the world today. Thus, Martin Heidegger, whose depressing ideas about Being and Time have thoroughly penetrated modern society, defined man as, simply, "Being-toward-death." (The German reads, Sein zum Tode.) According to Heidegger, the human being (you and I) is simply "thrown" into existence (Geworfenkeit) and in the midst of Dread (Angst) with nothing and no one to come to his help.
This is where Christmas changes the scene for believers such as you and me. Christmas – the Incarnation, the Son of God’s taking on our human nature – is both the key and the light beyond the terrible canyon of death. Christmas introduces the living God and Creator into our very midst with not only the answers but also the spiritual energy to progress forward in a world filled with meaning, since we can be sure that Dread (Angst) cannot overcome us. Christ the Lord has come into our world as our Savior – to gift us with all that we need to find our way in the darkest areas of the tunnel of life, where the light shines without interruption, showing us the way and the destination both.
God-is-with-us! Christmas assures us of this truth, so beautifully encapsulated in the Hebrew word chosen by Isaiah: Emmanuel. He is not simply the Eternal Other but God-in-our-midst. Born at Bethlehem, he lives (present tense indicative) and walks with us, guiding us. And he awaits us now, as our ultimate goal. (All these verbs are present tense indicative!)
This is why Christmas is so meaningful to an adult; it is not simply meant for children. Truly Mozart-like, its joy rests on, and emanates from, the profoundly awesome Mystery of an Incarnate God. Hence, we pray in caroling today, "Fall on your knees … O hear the angel voices, O night divine, O night when Christ was born."

Events Calendar

March 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2
06:00 PM
Any Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Hartford
The sacrament of reconciliation, or confession, is being offered from 6-7 p.m. every Monday during Lent at [...]
Date :  March 02, 2015
3
4
05:15 PM
Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, New Haven, United States
Dr. Denys Turner will speak on “A Teacher and Two Students:  Albert, Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart” on from 5:15-6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Hubert Campus Center on the New Haven [...]
07:00 PM
Location to be announced, Connecticut
EnCourage, a support group for those who have a loved-one who experiences same-sex attraction, will meet at 7 p.m. March 4 at a location to be announced. As a part of the Courage Apostolate, [...]
07:00 PM
St. James Church, Rocky Hill, Rocky Hill, United States
ROCKY HILL – Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Suzanne Gross will give a talk titled “End of Life [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 04, 2015
5
04:00 PM
University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, CT, West Hartford, United States
The University of St. Joseph will present the 2015 Munger Lecture, featuring Karen Eifler, co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University [...]
09:00 AM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy will offer an entrance exam for applicants to grades nine and 10 from 9 a.m. to noon March 5 at the academy, 265 Benham St., Hamden. Students who plan to take the test must [...]
Date :  March 05, 2015
6
12:00 AM
2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, Ohio, Columbus, United States
The Dominican Sisters of Peace welcome single, Catholic women, ages 18-45 to this vocation retreat designed to explore consecrated life in the Order of Preachers,the Dominicans. Learn [...]
Date :  March 06, 2015
7
07:00 PM
St. Rita Parish, Hamden, Hamden, United States
St. Rita Parish in Hamden will have its 24th annual Sweetheart Mass and Social by candlelight at 7 p.m. [...]
09:00 AM
St. James Church, Rocky Hill, Rocky Hill, United States
"Stolen Lives: A Gospel Response to Human Trafficking" is the title of a presentation to be given from 9 [...]
10:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library and archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministries have teamed up to sponsor a two-part presentation titled “The Emergence of Black Catholic Women and [...]
Date :  March 07, 2015
8
03:00 PM
Black-Eyed Sally's, Hartford, Hartford, United States
Northwest Catholic High School and Black-Eyed Sally’s will host a fund-raiser from 3-5 p.m. March 8 at Black-Eyed Sally’s, 350 Asylum St., Hartford, for the school’s Trumpets Not [...]
03:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – La Salette Father Gene Barrette will present the last of his three-part series of talks titled “Three Faces of God” at 3 p.m. March 8 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. “Holy Spirit [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Conn., Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, continues with “Into Temptation” at 7 p.m. March 8 at Our Lady of [...]
12:30 PM
St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Catholic Biblical School will have a Celebration of Sacred Scripture from [...]
Date :  March 08, 2015
9
10
11
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 11, 2015
12
13
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 13, 2015
14
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 14, 2015
15
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford CT, Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, continues with “Doubt” at 7 p.m. March 15 at Our Lady of [...]
12:00 AM
Mercy Center, Madison, Madison, United States
Credo Catholic Singles will have a retreat with the theme “You Are I Am = We Are One” March 13-15 at Mercy Center at Madison. It is designed to give singles an [...]
Date :  March 15, 2015
16
07:30 PM
Franciscan Life Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Dr. Thomas Finn, a clinical psychologist on staff at the Franciscan Life Center, will present a two-session educational opportunity for parents with children 13 and under in March. The class, [...]
Date :  March 16, 2015
17
05:30 PM
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, Hartford, Conn., Hartford, United States
The inaugural “St. Pat’s with a Purpose” celebration to benefit Malta House of Care mobile medical clinic will take place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. March 17 at Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, 32 [...]
Date :  March 17, 2015
18
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 18, 2015
19
20
21
10:00 AM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT
The Sacred Heart Academy Alumnae Association will sponsor its annual children’s Easter Party from 10 a.m. to noon March 31 on the academy campus at 265 Benham St., Hamden. The event, which [...]
Date :  March 21, 2015
22
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
La Salette Father Gene Barrette’s presentation of “Celluloid Collars,” a series of four films dealing with priests, concludes with a screening of "Calvary" at 7 p.m. March 22 at Our [...]
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
Date :  March 22, 2015
23
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
07:30 PM
Franciscan Life Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Dr. Thomas Finn, a clinical psychologist on staff at the Franciscan Life Center, will present a two-session educational opportunity for parents with children 13 and under in March. The class, [...]
Date :  March 23, 2015
24
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Milford, Milford, United States
 Jesuit Father Charles Allen will lead a Lenten retreat at St. Ann Church in Milford at 7 p.m. March 22-24. His theme is “Praying Like King David – Behaving Like (and Unlike) King [...]
Date :  March 24, 2015
25
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, East Haven CT, East Haven, United States
The 20th annual solemn novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help will take place at 7 p.m. on nine consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 355 Foxon [...]
Date :  March 25, 2015
26
05:30 PM
Grand Oak Villa, Oakville, CT, Watertown, United States
The St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury will commemorate its 37-year record of continual service to the poor of Greater Waterbury with a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at the Grand Oak [...]
Date :  March 26, 2015
27
28
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, CT, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy is sponsoring a $10,000 cash raffle as part of its annual signature fund-raising event, a live and silent auction, taking place at 5 p.m. March 28. Tickets for the cash [...]
Date :  March 28, 2015
29
07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol CT, Bristol, United States
A tenebrae service, or service of lights, will take place at 7 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29, at St. Ann Church, 215 West St., Bristol. This service will include hymns, music by a contemporary [...]
Date :  March 29, 2015
30
31
09:00 AM
St. Mary School, Milford, Milford, United States
St. Mary School in Milford will have an open house from 9-11 a.m. March 31. Teachers, staff and parents of current and former students will be on hand and students will provide tours. [...]
Date :  March 31, 2015

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