Christmas Message 2022

Christmas Message 2022

At Christmas we are reminded that it is not our own voices that we should be listening to–we hear those incessantly and they invariably say the same mundane things! Click To Tweet

Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace to Men of Goodwill

Glory and Peace, what wonderful blessings these are!

As the Church formally begins her celebration of the Nativity of our Blessed Lord today and throughout the Christmas Octave and season, we will hear these wonderful realities spoken of repeatedly and with great enthusiasm and joy.

But what is the glory and what is the peace that the angels proclaimed at the birth of the Lord?

We know that these words have been used by different people at different times with radically different meanings.

For the pre-Christian ancients, glory had precious little to do with God. It referred to vain attempts to maximize one’s worldly accomplishments, to heighten one’s reputation so that one might “live on” forever in the memories of those who came behind, to be like the gods.

For many moderns the very notion of glory, of anything truly transcendent, noble and worthy of admiration and praise, is at best quaint, the vestige of an unenlightened pre-technological age. What matters now is the expedient, the practical and the convenient!

And what about peace?

Again, for the ancients, a mere cessation of hostilities was worthy to be celebrated. The Pax Romana, which is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology of the Church and chanted at the beginning of the Midnight Mass of Christmas, was indeed a beneficial gift to humanity. It figured prominently in ushering in the fullness of time which was designated by God as the moment the mystery of the Incarnation would take place.

Even modern, secular man can relate to this peace, for we are all tired of war, especially those who are currently subjected to its horrors and injustices. But this is an an external peace that cannot resolve the turmoil of the heart and soul.

Again we ask, are these the glory and the peace that were heralded by the angels announcing the birth of the Messiah?

Our holy faith teaches us that what was heralded by the hosts of heaven on that first Christmas was something far greater than that which any eye has seen or ear has heard; something much greater than anything that has so much as entered into the hearts of men.

That glory and that peace have their origin and their goal in God!

The glory that the angels proclaimed was the same glory that God manifested on Sinai and whenever He descended to meet the people he had peculiarly chosen to be his own.

The peace announced together with the glad tidings of the Savior’s birth, is the blessing offered by the Divine Shepherd who has always led His sheep to still and restful waters.

That is why we must attune our ears and our hearts to angelic voices as we celebrate Christmas.

Not only can we be distracted by the seasonal gaiety that temporarily brightens our spirits and festoons our halls this time of the year, but even much of our polarized ecclesial banter these days has more in common with worldly understandings of glory and peace that fall far short of the heavenly glory and divine peace of which the angels sang when the Child was born.

At Christmas we are reminded that it is not our own voices that we should be listening to–we hear those incessantly and they invariably say the same mundane things!

At Christmas we are called to hear the voices of the angels, voices that orient us to a transcendent glory, a glory that would again be revealed at the Transfiguration and ultimately by an empty tomb, a glory which barely contained itself, first, in a babe laid in a manger.

At Christmas we are invited to receive a peace which surpasses all understanding, a peace that would be offered to bewildered disciples at the conclusion of the most sacred banquet on the night before He died, a peace definitively offered to frightened disciples huddled in a upper room when he passed through a closed and locked door, a peace which descended to earth that night in Bethlehem when the Holy Child was born.

At Christmas we at Sycamore Trust once again pledge ourselves and consecrate our work to proclaiming the authentic glory and true peace of which the angels sang on the night Notre Dame, Mary our Mother, gave birth to the Prince of Peace!

We thank each one of you for all that you do in supporting our work and sharing in our mission of service and love to our beloved Alma Mater! May the genuine glory and saving peace heralded by the angels at the birth of Our Savior be ever manifested in all that we do!

A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to each of you from Sycamore Trust!

Rev. John Raphael. ’89
Sycamore Trustee

“Preaching of Saint John the Baptist” by Jacob (Jacques) de Gheyn II (1565-1629). Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) in Vienna.
Angles We Have Heard On High, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, Christmas at Ephesus