Christmas Eve: Wonder of the Incarnation

by Sister Julie Ann on December 24, 2008

How does an almost one hundred forty year old Franciscan community celebrate St. Francis’ feast of feasts? The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Christmas Eve Celebration begins inside with carols,  a traditional Christmas crib prayer, Eucharist, social and then moves outside with all of creation.  Be part of the tradition.

Arnaldo Fortini’s words stir a  Wisconsin winter sense of Francis’ wonder of the mystery of the Incarnation:

A thousand torches blaze up in the darkness, joyous moving lights, like the enchanted lights in a festival of fantasy in legends arising from the deeps of a magic forest. And still it is snowing. A whirlwind of flakes dances in the flickering flames of the torches. Great crackling bonfires add their light and voice to the jubilation of flames that shine out on the harsh and lonely mountain. The night, writes Thomas (Thomas Celano who certainly got his information from someone who was there) is ‘lighted up like the day…the people filled with a new joy over the mystery.’ -Francis of Assisi by Arnaldo Fortini, translated by Helen Moak, 1980 edition)

Christmas Eve is ever mysterious and spiritually rich. What are your special memories?

7 thoughts on “Christmas Eve: Wonder of the Incarnation”

  1. It was a joy for me to “see” Christmas eve at the Motherhouse. Our Christmas eve here at St. Raphael Parish, Oshkosh,WI, was filled with 1,300+ people at the 4:00 PM Mass and another 800+ at the 7:00 PM Mass. (I didn’t manage the 10:00 PM Mass!)There was a quiet time after Communion where the church lights were turned off, the lights on the trees in the sanctuary twinkled and a soloist sang a song while the congregation sang Silent Night. It was beautifully harmonized and it “spoke” Christmas so well.

    Many staff members and other volunteers help with the large crowds by greeting, ushering, organizing “lost and found” and offering general hospitality. It is a beautiful Christmas eve celebration in a parish and a fitting expression of Incarnation.

  2. Sister Marie Bernadette says:

    Thank you for sharing the Christmas joys of the Motherhouse with us. It is 80 degrees here in Hawaii and not raining at the present time. Mahalo

  3. Ice, rain, snow, sun, praise the Lord! Christmas holds the mystery of all of creation. May the Spirit of Christmas bring us all peace no matter what the weather! Always good to hear from both of you Sisters!

  4. It was so nice to see the Motherhouse Christmas eve, stables, Infant, Sisters, customs, and familiar surroundings. Thank you for sharing Christmas at home with us here in Nebraska.

  5. Sr. Pam says:

    What a wonderful way to share our Christmas tradition with so many people! One of my parishioners happened to look at it and commented to me what a “hardy” group of women we were to be out on a cold winter night! Of course she smiled and then added, “or should I say crazy?” The best part is that she is now checking our website regularly.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this slide show together so others can share in the beauty of our traditions.

  6. Sister Kay Klackner says:

    I was one of the “hardy” or “crazy” women who participated in the COLD tradition of going to the the outside Christmas crib/cave at 9 pm on Christmas Eve. Each year a group of us from the college wait for “the call” that signals the group at the Motherhouse is ready. Each year I ask myself, “Do I really want to get dressed up in boots, jacket, mittens, scarf, etc. for the short, cold trek to the grotto?” But the specialness and mystique of the night and the mystery of the “God-comes-among-us” prompts me to be there with the group. And it’s worth it!

  7. Sister Rosangela says:

    Wow! How beautiful. Whoever put this together did a great job. Though I’m not one of the hardy ones who goes to the outside grotto, I admire those who do. We have so many beautiful customs, don’t we? I did see the crib in chapel though, and it always brings back happy memories of my early years at the Motherhouse. The crib then was much bigger.

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