Hello dear friends
Well, I think ‘the madness’ in my world has subsided since I last wrote on my blog (tessross.wordpress.com/my-world-has-gone-mad/). Unless you call rushing around preparing for Christmas ‘madness?’ The things we subject ourselves to, makes me wonder sometime as I run around trying to get things done.
It’s at times like this that I have to remind myself of ‘the reason for the season’ and focus on the birth of the Christ-child. It’s the only reason that we have Christmas at all. It all began folks with the birth of Jesus. And now the whole world has embraced Christmas and its gift giving and its festivities … as if they (and department stores) thought of the idea in the first place!
A friend told me she asked her five-year old grandchild if she knew what Christmas was about. The child had no idea except that presents came. My friend was sad because no one had ever told her grandchild (who lives in another state) how it all began. Of course, Grandma rectified this immediately … to suit a five-year old that is. This is happening more and more today.
Now, about the things that make up Christmas, I think it is time I shared a little bit of knowledge I gained last night when I was trying to sleep. The idea of the crib with the baby Jesus in it, came from St. Francis in the 12th Century.
No wonder I couldn’t sleep finding out ‘stuff’ that I love to know. So dear friends, I have done a little research and come up with this website and will share here an edited version of what I heard in the wee small hours of the morn. This is how it all happened:
“Christmas was 15 days away. Francis was staying at a hermitage at Fonte Columbo. He had just come from Rome—the last time, for he would die in three years—where the pope had approved his Rule.
How to celebrate Christmas? He remembered his visit to the Holy Land, to Bethlehem.
Why not? A kind of replica of the manger there. There was a cave, in Greccio Italy…
He had a good friend, Giovanni (John) Vellita, whom he had met on one of his preaching tours. John was a military man, lord of Greccio, just two miles away.
Francis, with the assurance of friendship, sent word: “If you want to celebrate the Feast of the Lord at Greccio, hurry and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to recall to memory the little child who was born in Bethlehem. I want to set before our bodily eyes the hardships of his infant needs, how he lay in the manger, how with an ox and ass standing by he lay upon the hay.”
John began immediately. People prepared torches and candles to light up the night. The manger was prepared in the cave, and the ox and ass brought in. When Francis came to the friars’ hermitage, he was delighted.
The great evening arrived. People began to come in procession, carrying their torches and candles. The woods rang with their song. They were rediscovering the joy of childhood.
Today, in Greccio, one can still see the stone—perhaps three feet high and two feet wide—on which the hay was placed. It has a brownish gray top and bottom, with a band of gray in the center. The top has a rough, shallow, V-shaped indentation. Here the carved image of the baby was laid. There were no figures of Joseph and Mary, just the two animals.
As the villagers and friars crowded around, a priest began the Mass. Francis gave the sermon. His biographer, Thomas of Celano, Francis’ contemporary, writes: “The saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness.
He sang the Gospel in a sonorous voice, a clear and sonorous voice, inviting all to the highest rewards. Then he preached to the people standing about and spoke charming words concerning the birth of the poor King, and the little town of Bethlehem….When he spoke the name ‘Child of Bethlehem’ or ‘Jesus,’ his tongue licked his lips, relishing and savoring with pleased palate the sweetness of the words.”
The accounts do not say whether the child was a living baby or a carved figure. It was probably the latter, for it is recorded that at least one of the observers “saw the infant come alive.”http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Christmas/Crib.asp
And that is how, dear friends, the tradition of the crib came to be … and later the figures of Mary and Joseph were added including the tree.
So as we go about our preparations for Christmas Day on the 25th December, let us all think on these things and remember ‘the reason for the season.’