Posted by: fvbcdm | January 14, 2012

Feast of Saint William of Bourges (10 Jan 2012)

Recently one of our friars said something that I had never thought of before, but which I find interesting and important. He pointed out that during Lent and the Easter season, we use in our churches, schools, and homes symbols of Our Lord’s suffering and resurrection, particularly the crucifix and the Easter candle.   And they remain on display all year long.  But during the Christmas season, we often put up a crib scene in church, school, and home, but then at the end of the Christmas time, we take it down and put it away until next year.

That brings to mind the fact that the great Saint Teresa of Avila, the reformer of Carmelite life and spirituality, specified in her rule for her nuns that in every one of their convents, there should be a crib set up all year long so that the Sisters could go there often to adore the infant Christ and venerate his blessed Mother.   During my years in the Navy, I visited a number of Carmelite monasteries of nuns on the west coast of our country: in San Diego, Carmel, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Reno.  And it was in one or several of them that I learned of the special devotion of the Carmelite nuns to the birth of the Divine Word.  And yet, we know that it was not Saint Teresa who originated our devotion to the Christmas crib, but rather Saint Francis of Assisi who first came up with the idea.  He went to the Holy Land and visited a number of the places associated with the life of Our Lord.  And he realized that many Christians would never be able to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, so he would try to bring those holy places to them.  Thus we have the Franciscan devotion to the crib at Christmas, to the way of the cross in practically every one of our churches and chapels all year long, and in Washington, D.C., we have the Franciscan shrine of the Holy Places where we can see facsimiles of a number of the holy places in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem to give us a clearer idea of what they look like and how inspiring they can be in our spiritual life.

It might be a very worthwhile idea to have in the home of each of us not only a crucifix but also a crib scene, either in the form of a picture or a three-dimensional representation of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  Then, especially when there are small children in that home or who frequently come there, their attention could be called to these religious articles and their meaning for us in terms of how much God loves us.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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