This Christmas, come in true worship and stand before the light of the Risen Star
Catholics in love with the Child who is the risen Star understand that true worship is contained in the Liturgy of the Mass. Christians who participate in the Eucharistic celebration are already united "with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all" (see CCC No. 1326).
The depth of meaning in Christmas is as infinite as God Incarnate himself. Enter into that meaning with mind and heart, worship the Father in 'Spirit and truth' (see Jn 4:23).
After a closer look at the survey's findings, president of LifeWay Research Ed Stetzer stated that the celebration of Christmas "typically revolves around family, and that Christ-centered elements are not as common. For many in our culture, the season is disconnected from the reason. For many of those, family is the reason for the season."
Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay, noted the apparent disconnect between the real meaning of Christmas and its celebration as a holiday: "Americans give Jesus a head nod at Christmas but spend most of the season pleasing their eyes, ears and taste buds with decorations, music and meals. Many celebrate Christmas the way most have celebrated Halloween - the fun traditions without sharing the religious significance."
According to the survey, 47 percent of Americans reported that their household typically attends church services as a part of the Christmas holiday.
Christmas: A Time To Purify Our Minds And Lives
If one were to ask Christians in America what they understood the true meaning of Christmas to be, nearly every one of them would respond, "It's about the birth of Jesus Christ." The birth of God Incarnate, God come among us in the flesh, is an event of infinite proportion. All the words used throughout Christian history in describing this pivotal event fall far short of the sublime wonder of it all. Nevertheless, the above survey results are hardly a surprise in this age of militant secularization: The anti-Christian stratagem that labors to erase the true meaning of Christmas, replace it with a merely festive and impoverished notion of "happy holidays," and encourage every sort of consumerism, has indeed made its inroads into the manner in which many celebrate the Christ Child's birth.
During his final general audience before Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful that Christmas is a time for renewal and purification: "In the night of the world, let us still allow ourselves to be surprised and illuminated by this coming, by the Star which, rising in the East, has inundated the universe with joy. Let us purify our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with this coming -- thoughts, words, attitudes and actions -- spurring ourselves on to do good and to help bring peace and justice to our world for all men and women, and thus to walk towards the Lord."
In one sense, purifying our minds and lives of thoughts, words, attitudes and actions that contrast with Christ's coming can and should be taken to mean ridding ourselves of all sin -- the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation first comes to mind. Yet in another sense, it can be taken to mean filling a void that exists both interiorly and exteriorly as a result of improper attitudes. This void is something which is lacking, it is a negative aspect of one's life that is not merely unfulfilling or incomplete, but rather is something opposed to holiness, which can block the way along the path of light, and is, therefore, spiritually harmful.
Within the Pope's statement that we ought to purify our minds and lives, and thus walk toward the Lord, is found the key which unlocks the doorway to a wholly new, fully Christian, human existence of freedom and love -- it is a doorway into a "new world" with God, a place in which the old is burned away as a mote of dust before the heat of the Son, allowing the new to shine forth in radiant splendor.
Christmas: A Time To Worship In Spirit And Truth
The obvious question is, "What is this 'something' that can be lacking?" To answer this highly important question, it is necessary to begin by moving to a point in time about three decades after the Christ Child laid in the manger:
Under a piercing noonday sun, tired from a long journey, Jesus sat down at Jacob's well. A Samaritan woman, carrying her jar, come forward to draw up some water. Jesus silently watched her for a moment, and then said plainly and openly, "Give me a drink." Astonished that a Jew should ask such a question, the woman responded, "How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" Jesus said, "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
The woman wanted to know more about this water: "Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where ...
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