Today, let us meditate on a selection from “The Liturgical Year” by Dom Prosper Gueranger, OSB:
Glorious day, indeed, is this of the Birth of the Savior! It had been looked forward to by the human race for four thousand years. The Church had prepared for it by the four weeks of her Advent, a Season which has ever a charm about it. Nature, too, longs for this day, on which the Sun begins its yearly victory over the dreary reign of wintry darkness. A Holy Doctor of the Syrian Church, St. Ephrem, has written the most admirable words on the beauty and fruitful virtue of this mysterious day. Let us borrow some of these from him and say them with his enthusiasm. “Grant, O Lord! that we may now celebrate this the Day of thy birth, which this Solemnity brings to us. The Day is like thyself it is the friend of mankind. It comes to us in its regular course, visiting us each year. It grows old with the old; it is young and fresh with little children. We remember when we were young, how it came and passed away; and here it is again, faithful as ever in its welcome visit. It knows that nature could not do without it; here again like to thee, it comes in search of our allen race. The whole earth thirsts after Thy Birthday O Jesus! It stands, as it were, between the past and the future, commanding all ages, as thou dost. And since we behold thy past Birthday in the present Feast, make the two resemble each other in this also that thy Birthday brought Peace between heaven and earth, where the infinitely High God descended to this low earth; so may this solemnity signify and give us Peace… And truly, if every day of the year be rich in Thy gifts, how much more ought not this to overflow with them?”
It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, if this day, which, we may say, is an important one, even to God himself, has been made a privileged one above those of the rest of the year. We have already seen that the old pagan world paid homage to it, and thus, in their own way, were carrying out the design of God. The Holy Doctors, and the Church herself in her Liturgy, allude continually to the material Sun being the symbol of him who is called the Sun of Justice. There is a peculiar sacredness to Christmas Day when it falls on a Sunday (as it did this year)…as it was on that day of the week that God began the Creation and said:
Let there be light! and on the same also, did our Lord rise from the tomb. St. Sophronius of Jerusalem has beautifully treated this mystery in his first homily for Christmas Day.