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2015 Christmas Message From
The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi

Christmas Blessings

Dear Friends of The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi:

The Christmas season once again beckons us to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ with a heart filled with joy and gratitude. As devotees of St. Francis, we follow his lead in pondering the awesome gift of the Incarnation. God condescends to enter our world and embrace our humanity.

Poverty, because the Lord makes himself poor for our sake by being born a babe;

The Cross, because this is the reason the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men: so that He could die in our stead;

The Eucharist, for under the appearance of bread and wine, the Lord continues to sustain us and abide in us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity;

The Blessed Virgin Mary who was His first tabernacle and who gave Him birth.

"Emmanuel, God among us." The simple imagery of the Nativity profoundly and simply speaks to the awesome gift of Divine love made flesh, that gift that enflamed the heart of St. Francis to glorify and serve his Lord in all creation.

Often when St. Francis meditated on Mary's role in giving birth to the Christ child, he yearned that each of his brothers would likewise open their hearts fully to the direction of the Spirit and give "birth" to Christ - presenting the Prince of Peace to a hungry world.

My sisters and brothers, even today, the striking witness of St. Francis beckons us to be bold in allowing Jesus to be born again in each of our lives, each of our homes, each of our workplaces, and each of our communities. "Through him, with him, and in him": transformation in Christ has the light of the gospel arise from our presence in the world. With a grateful, generous heart, let us share with our neighbor the awesome gift that is Emmanuel.

It is only when we can appreciate Christ's self-giving Incarnation that we can begin to understand the meaning of "it is in giving that we receive."

Know that you and yours will be remembered in the Holy Masses offered in The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi during this most joyous season.

Pax et Bonum,
Rev. John De La Riva, OFM Cap., Rector