December 24, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – For me, every Christmas is an experience of a mystical time that confirms our mission more than any other. It affirms the universal gifts of family, children and true love for all of mankind. For that, I, and millions, if not billions of others, are ever so grateful.
It is hard to understand how everyone in the world cannot also be so moved by this phenomenon of Christmas that goes to the core of every person’s existence.
Yes, Christmas is also a time of stress and especially painful memories or loneliness for many. But even that pain and loneliness affirm the value of family because of the loss of what we all know in our soul is an essential part of being fully human.
That pain comes in some persons lives, perhaps more now than in past generations, because of death, divorce, various tragic errors in judgment, a cruelly anti-life and anti-family culture of which many are victims, or just plain bad breaks in life.
We all want so much to have that ideal, eternally significant experience of family loving and being loved at Christmas. We ache so much for it because the Christ child and the circumstances of His birth powerfully projects the truth of the ultimate relationships that our hearts and souls were made to crave and to seek. The family is an earthly preparation and image of that ultimate eternal relationship with the Trinity.
Pope Benedict’s recent Christmas statements have been awesome in this regard. He went right to the heart of what our human nature is and how it is catastrophically threatened by developments in the culture today.
Read these statement from his Christmas message to the Roman Curia :
- … the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human.
- …only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.
- The defence of the family is about defending man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.
And in my own life, I have been enormously blessed with a wife and children and now grandchildren that cause me to marvel at God’s generosity and mercy. There have certainly been times of hardship and great distress, and they will continue to occur from time to time, but that is expected in everyone’s life.
When I see the beautiful, utterly perfect Christ Child in the manger – the bringer and being of ultimate peace, I also see the crucified Christ who has taught us that every moment in life, for every person, has its significance and purpose for personal redemption. So, we should be thankful for it all.
This past July 1st, Bonnie and I celebrated our 40th anniversary of married life and all eight children were able to be present. Wow, how time flies! I was grateful beyond all words, especially given a realization of my personal failings. And yet, God has been good to us, giving us just what we have needed and not more, which likely would not have been good for us.
I took the occasion to finally give my wonderful wife a proper engagement ring which was way beyond our finances when we were first engaged. It still is, but what the heck, it was about time, and I finally had a bit of savings to exchange for a ring.
She was thrilled and all the children were delighted. So, I got on my knee and proposed again by putting the new ring on. So in the accompanying photo you see the reaction of my fiancé/wife to my gift of forever love.
Family, marriage, children or commitment to extended family or to a religious vocation (a commitment to a different type of family and spouse) are all great treasures beyond measure – that help us to be and to feel truly human more than anything else.
They are ideals that we strive for. As long as we strive for them, we are fully human, regardless of the outcomes we experience. In such striving we are actually seeking the ultimate outcome of the perfect love that is in Jesus Christ and His Holy Family. That is our eternal destiny and our eternal family life.
God Bless you all and thank you for whatever trust and support that you have given us. You too, are very much part of our family of love for the ultimate truth of what it means to be human.