Let’s not lose the great and mighty wonder of Christmas
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2018 - 12:00am

The world seems to have forgotten what Christmas is all about. The world’s business has dragged us away from that silent night, holy night. Even before the November All Saints’ Day, the radio is calling out “You better watch out, you better not cry… Santa Clause is coming to town.”

The struggle with our ‘bilmoko’ kids

Triggered by media commercials and trips to the mall, which should never have replaced a green botanical park in every municipality, parents are struggling with gusto ko nito or bili mo ako (shortened to bilmoko or I like this and that) whimpering and nagging of children. I simplified gift giving for children by collecting books for different age groups throughout the year in book fairs and sales.

I used to get puzzled by a children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Now I know. The “grinches” are men who are inventing their own Christmas, replacing the carols with disco pop songs, making residents forget to hang the traditional parol (star-shaped paper lantern) but instead inflame their front porches with dozens of firefly lights and cluttering the department stores and sidewalk baratilyo (bargains) with colorful but useless nonsense. What is worse is that the “grinches” make us dangerously fill our stomach with too much goodies, thus we often forget that it is our heart that need to be filled up with our Savior’s love. The Holy Babe Himself embraced poverty and simplicity from His human birth to His death on the cross.

It came upon the midnight clear

Let’s get back to the great and mighty wonder of Christmas. Let’s learn again to wonder… it’s Christmas caroling time. When reverently sang, the carols easily trigger the sense of holy wonder.

If you don’t have a belen (Christmas crèche) be sure to have a large Holy Baby Jesus in His manger cradle in the center of your living room. Gather the family around Him and sing with photocopied classic carols. A sing-along Christmas CD will be of great help. Do this nightly if possible, before or after dinner! This should last ‘til the January feast of the Three Kings. Imagine Joseph accompanying His wife blessed Mary, heavy with the Child, riding a donkey on their way to Bethlehem. “O little town of Bethlehem how still we see Thee lie! Above Thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by…” Then the host of angels inviting the shepherds to visit the newly born Child. “It came upon a midnight Clear… the glorious song of old. From angels bending near the earth, to touch the harps of gold. Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from heaven’s all gracious King…” (Alternate this with “O Holy Night.”)

On Christmas Eve, just before the media noche, the family could pause in reverence and recall our Lord’s stepping down on earth with the immortal song Silent Night. This should be followed by the sweet song of “Away in a Manger …” no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

Besides the songs of the shepherds and the Three Kings are the songs of the faithful in adoration of the Savior: “The First Noel,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful), and “Joy to the World.” Intersperse this with group carols like the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly, Fa Lala, Lala, Lala.”

St. Francis’ living belen

The most ideal would be what St. Francis did – the living “belen” with the townspeople of Assisi, Italy. Organizing one for the children of my old Paco Christian Family Movement (CFM) unit was a joyful and unforgettable experience especially when I made Bunny Hernandez, the most naughty and frisky child among the group, play the sneaky little devil in the otherwise solemn manger. I hope Bunny, who is today looking after the family business, is recreating the lovely experiences with his own children, nephews and nieces.

‘Quiet Talks with the Master’ through Christmas poems

In the moments of meditations quiet talks are held with the Master of men. 

It is in this regard that I have decided to share with you two Christmas poems by two Ateneo scholars that have made me pause and reflect much longer than I do with many other poems. Max, my husband was a senior high school student when he wrote poems from grade school to college while the other by the famous Jesuit historian, Father Horacio de la Costa S.J.

How Awesome is Thy Holy Name (Maximo V. Soliven)

How awesome is the Holy Name and secret Face of God. The Lord of all creation, the moulder of the sod. For all the mighty kings must bend in fear before His rod. How tender is the little face that from a manger smiled. A God come down from heaven to the lap of a Virgin mild. That I might hold Him in my arms, that I might call Him Child.

Viewing Christmas, Standing on Your Head  (Fr. Horacio dela Costa SJ)

This is the night when the shepherds wake to songs of angels, when the earth has a star for a satellite, when wise men go on a fool’s errand bringing gifts to a Prince they have not seen in a country they do not know. This is the night when one small donkey bears on his back the weight of the world’s desire, and an ox plays host to the Lord of Heaven.

This is the night when we are told to seek our King not in a palace but a stable, and although we have stood here year after year, as our fathers before us, the wonder has not faded nor will it ever fade. The wonder of that moment that we push open the little door, and entering find in the arms of a Mother who is a Virgin, a Baby who is God.

This column is shorter than usual for it is you who must extend it as you do your Christmas reflection. Then we need not lose the great and mighty wonder of Christmas.



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