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St. Alphonsus Liguori - Are You Preparing for Christmas in Your Heart?

"The Jews solemnized a day called by them dies ignis, the day of fire with which Nehemias consumed the sacrifice, upon his return with his countrymen from the captivity of Babylon. Even so, and indeed with more reason, should Christmas day be called the day of fire, on which a God came as a little child to cast the fire of love into the hearts of men. 'I came to cast fire on the earth.' So spoke Jesus Christ, and truly so it was . . .

It is a custom with many Christians to anticipate the arrival of Christmas . . . by fitting up in their homes a crib to represent the birth of Jesus Christ; but there are few who think of preparing their hearts, so that the infant Jesus may be born in them . . . Among those few, however, we would be reckoned, in order that we too may be made worthy to burn with that happy flame which gives contentment to souls on this earth, and bliss in heaven. Let us consider . . . how the Eternal Word had no other end in becoming man than to inflame us with his divine love. Let us ask light of Jesus Christ and of his most holy mother, and so let us begin."

- St. Alphonsus Liguori


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Mary's virginal motherhood in God's plan

"The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.

Mary's' virginity manifests God's absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. 'He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed .... He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.'

Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: 'The first man was from earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.' From his conception, Christ's humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God 'gives him the Spirit without measure.' From 'his fullness' as the head of redeemed humanity 'we have all received, grace upon grace."

- Catechism of the Catholic Church 502-504

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Joy is the True Gift of Christmas

"With the angel’s greeting to Mary - 'kaire' in the Greek, which means ‘be joyful’ - the New Testament begins," he said. "We could say that the first word of the New Testament is ‘be joyful,’ ‘be happy,’ in other words, ‘joy.’ This is the true meaning of Christmas: God is near us, so near that He became a child."

The Holy Father then highlighted how "we realize that today’s world, where God is absent, is dominated by fear, by uncertainty." Nonetheless, "the words ‘be joyful because God is with you and with us,’ truly open a new time."

"Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money. We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, a little help, forgiveness. And the joy we give will certainly come back to us.…Let us pray that this presence of the liberating joy of God shines forth in our lives."

- Pope Benedict XVI commenting on the scene of the Annunciation, as recounted in the Gospel of St. Luke, during his homily for the fourth Sunday of Advent in 2006.

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