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

November 2014
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06:00 AM
WJMJ will conduct its semiannual radiothon from 6 a.m. Nov. 13 through 1 a.m. Nov. 16 and again from 6 a.m. to midnight Nov. 17. The goal is $115,000 ($105,000 for operations and $10,000 [...]
06:00 PM
Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Cromwell, United States
CROMWELL – Gary L. Krupp, founder and president of the Pave the Way Foundation, will speak at the 2014 Pope St. John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on Nov. 13 at Holy Apostles College and [...]
Date :  November 13, 2014
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06:00 AM
WJMJ will conduct its semiannual radiothon from 6 a.m. Nov. 13 through 1 a.m. Nov. 16 and again from 6 a.m. to midnight Nov. 17. The goal is $115,000 ($105,000 for operations and $10,000 [...]
07:30 PM
Trinity Episcopal Church, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – Concora professional choir will have its annual Bach ClavierFest at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Trinity Episcopal Churhch, 120 Sigourney St., Hartford. It is presented by the [...]
Date :  November 14, 2014
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06:00 AM
WJMJ will conduct its semiannual radiothon from 6 a.m. Nov. 13 through 1 a.m. Nov. 16 and again from 6 a.m. to midnight Nov. 17. The goal is $115,000 ($105,000 for operations and $10,000 [...]
08:00 AM
Mercy High School, Middletown, Middletown, United States
The entrance exam for the class of 2019 will be administered from 8-11:15 a.m. Nov. 15 at Mercy High [...]
08:30 AM
Fairfield Prep, Fairfield, Fairfield, United States
Fairfield Prep, a Jesuit, Catholic college preparatory school for boys in grades nine through 12, will [...]
Date :  November 15, 2014
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06:00 AM
WJMJ will conduct its semiannual radiothon from 6 a.m. Nov. 13 through 1 a.m. Nov. 16 and again from 6 a.m. to midnight Nov. 17. The goal is $115,000 ($105,000 for operations and $10,000 [...]
10:30 AM
Manchester, United States
Assumption School in Manchester will host two open houses for potential students and their families. They [...]
Date :  November 16, 2014
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06:00 AM
WJMJ will conduct its semiannual radiothon from 6 a.m. Nov. 13 through 1 a.m. Nov. 16 and again from 6 a.m. to midnight Nov. 17. The goal is $115,000 ($105,000 for operations and $10,000 [...]
Date :  November 17, 2014
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11:30 AM
Franciscan Urban Center, Hartford, Hartford, United States
The House of Bread, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph and one of the region's largest providers of food and housing for Hartford's poorest citizens, will hold its 29th Hunger Banquet on Wednesday, [...]
Date :  November 19, 2014
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05:30 PM
Manchester, United States
Assumption School in Manchester will host two open houses for potential students and their families. They [...]
06:00 PM
St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield
The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Vocation Office will hold Priesthood Discernment Evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and Dec 18 at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield. They [...]
07:00 PM
St. Timothy Middle School, West Hartford , West Hartford, United States
Open House at St. Timothy Middle School
Date :  November 20, 2014
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03:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – The annual Holly Berry Festival, a juried arts and crafts fair benefitting the Retirement Fund [...]
05:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – There will be a pasta dinner from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 21 at Sacred Heart Academy. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. [...]
07:00 PM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
St. Paul Performing Arts will stage the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Miracle Worker,” Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 at 7 pm and on Nov. 23 at 2 pm at St. Paul Catholic High School Theater, Bristol. [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center will offer a Matt Talbot Women’s Recovery Retreat Nov. 21-23. Women in [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford , West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center willl have a women’s weekend retreat titled "Know Greater Joy" Nov. 21-23. The renewing weekend explores how to [...]
Date :  November 21, 2014
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07:00 PM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
St. Paul Performing Arts will stage the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Miracle Worker,” Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 at 7 pm and on Nov. 23 at 2 pm at St. Paul Catholic High School Theater, Bristol. [...]
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08:00 AM
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel-Hartford, Windsor Locks, United States
An East Coast conference against assisted suicide will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at [...]
08:00 AM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
09:00 AM
St. Joseph's Residence, Enfield, Enfield, United States
St. Joseph’s Residence will have its annual annual Craft Fair and Bake Sale on Saturday, November 22, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the residence, 1365 [...]
09:00 AM
St. Patrick Parish, Farmington, Farmington, United States
 St. Patrick Parish in Farmington will host its 11th annual International Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 22 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 23 in the church hall, located at 110 Main [...]
09:30 AM
Franciscan Life Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
MERIDEN – A living crèche will be just one of the highlights of the annual Franciscan Christmas Fair, to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 22 [...]
10:00 AM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – The annual Holly Berry Festival, a juried arts and crafts fair benefitting the Retirement Fund [...]
10:00 AM
Christ the Redeemer Parish, Milford, Milford, United States
MILFORD – The Ladies Guild of Christ the Redeemer Parish at 325 Oronoque Road will have its annual Christmas bazaar from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 22. There will be many vendors, food, entertainment [...]
10:00 AM
St. Ann Parish, Bristol, Bristol CT, United States
 St. Ann Parish in Bristol will have a craft fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 22. More than 50 tables will have crafts for sale. It also will offer a bake [...]
11:00 AM
Our Lady of the Angels Convent, Enfield, United States
ENFIELD – The Felician Sisters’ annual Pre-Christmas Fair will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 22 at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, 1315 Enfield St., Enfield. Features will include craft [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center will offer a Matt Talbot Women’s Recovery Retreat Nov. 21-23. Women in [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford , West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center willl have a women’s weekend retreat titled "Know Greater Joy" Nov. 21-23. The renewing weekend explores how to [...]
Date :  November 22, 2014
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02:00 PM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
St. Paul Performing Arts will stage the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Miracle Worker,” Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 at 7 pm and on Nov. 23 at 2 pm at St. Paul Catholic High School Theater, Bristol. [...]
08:00 AM
St. Patrick Parish, Farmington, Farmington, United States
 St. Patrick Parish in Farmington will host its 11th annual International Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 22 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 23 in the church hall, located at 110 Main [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center will offer a Matt Talbot Women’s Recovery Retreat Nov. 21-23. Women in [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford , West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center willl have a women’s weekend retreat titled "Know Greater Joy" Nov. 21-23. The renewing weekend explores how to [...]
Date :  November 23, 2014
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10:00 AM
St. Michael Parish Center, Waterbury, Waterbury, United States
Knights of Columbus from several councils in greater Waterbury will distribute coats to children from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 28 at its “Coats for Kids” drive at St. Michael’s Parish [...]
Date :  November 28, 2014
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09:00 AM
St. Gregory CCD Center, Bristol, Bristol, United States
The annual St. Gregory Christmas Craft Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the CCD Center, located at 1043 Stafford Ave. The fair will feature over 40 crafters/vendors, an [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford , West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center willl have a women’s weekend retreat titled "Know Greater Joy" Nov. 21-23. The renewing weekend explores how to [...]
Date :  November 29, 2014
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09:00 AM
St. Gregory CCD Center, Bristol, Bristol, United States
The annual St. Gregory Christmas Craft Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at the CCD Center, located at 1043 Stafford Ave. The fair will feature over 40 crafters/vendors, an [...]
09:30 AM
Polish National Home, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford will hold its annual Szopka Festival from 9:30 [...]
Date :  November 30, 2014

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