Friday, December 10, 2010

Second Friday of Advent

Christmas and Children

any years ago a little girl wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper.  The letter was among many received daily, but it got immediate attention and inspired a beautiful reply.  So worthy and beautiful, indeed, that each year on Christmas Eve the New York Sun reprints this letter of the editor to the little Virginia who has grown with the years.

The little girl, in seems, had believed in Santa Claus for a long time, and her firm belief was being shaken by some of her cold and less imaginative companions.  The editor's reply is a classic, "Virginia, your little friends are wrong.  they have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe unless they see.  they think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little.  In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge. yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause,"  the editor continues.  "He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.  Alas, how dreary would be the world if there were no Virginias.  There would be no childlike faith, then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.  We would have no enjoyment except in sense and sight.  The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished...

The most real things in the world are those that  neither children nor men can see.  Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unse4en and unseeable in the world...  Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, and romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.  Is it all real?  Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding."

The editor's lines live on, not because he proved anything about childhood's Santa, but because he conveyed so well the spirit of Christmas.

Children enjoy Christmas most of all because they are carefree and mostly because they are innocent.  This world does take its toll of even the most sacrosanct.  It dims the luster of our first fervor.  We need acts of faith, hope, and charity to carry us on.  Yet at Christmas time we come back closer to the joys of childhood because we come back to the infant Babe of Bethlehem whom Mary brings to us.

A priest was walking along the busy and thronged thoroughfare of Forty-second street in New York City as crowds were milling to and fro, when his eye caught sight of a man with a large placard suspended across his chest reading,"atheist."  The priest passed very close to him.  In fact, as he passed he looked directly into his eyes.  The man said: "Father, here it is," holding aloft a paper, "written guarantees there's no life hereafter."  the priest with a kindly look passed on and thought to himself -- a man speaking so courteously and addressing him as Father could hardly be an atheist.  He remembered him at Mass as he spoke the words of consecration of the Host that God might bring the joy of Christmas faith to this man's strange and lonely heart -- that he might be a child again, a child of God.

May our hearts be such this Christmas Day.   Though the nations may be feverishly rearming and testing new weapons, may we this Christmas sway thankfully, " Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will."


Little Jesus, with hearts full of faith and childlike simplicity we come today to pray for all those hearts which, like the inn of Bethlehem, refuse to open and receive You.  Come into our hearts, Jesus, inflame them with Your love and make of them an eternal dwelling place for Your glory and our peace.

This beautiful image of Baby Jesus was painted by gifted artist, Simon Dewey.
This print and others can be purchased here.

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