My first Christmas in the United States came in 1978, and it had a very different feeling to the ones I celebrated in Brazil. I had only arrived in the U.S. in February of 1978, soon after the famous Blizzard of ‘78. It was a very cold winter with everything covered in snow. It was a shock not only of temperature but also of culture.
For someone born and raised in the Southern Hemisphere, my experiences of Christmas, until that point of my life, included warm, summer weather, activities, and images. I grew up in an area where the days are very hot during this time of the year, and the nights get cool and comfortable. I remember Christmas with my family as being so much part of the outdoors, such as going to the Midnight Mass on a warm summer night.
I recall my first Christmas in America as having a different feeling in the midst of cold and snow, long nights, and short days. However, after being in this country for over forty years, I have become accustomed to Christmas being part of winter. Since Christmas is identified so much with cold and snow, especially in New England, we sometimes forget that for the people who live on the other side of the Equator, the atmosphere of Christmas is quite an opposite experience.
Christmas Televised And Livestreamed Masses
Our Diocesan Television Mass for Christmas will air from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on Christmas. I will be the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass.
The Portuguese Channel will air Christmas Mass in Portuguese at 7:30 p.m. on Christmas night. Father Daniel O. Reis, pastor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish in New Bedford, will be celebrant and homilist for the Mass. The Portuguese Channel is carried by most cable systems in the Fall River Diocese.
I know that many of our parishes will also be livestreaming Masses or providing them for viewing over their YouTube channel. Please visit your parish website for the schedule and details.
Christmas is upon us, although seeming a bit different this year. Because of the pandemic, many of us will not celebrate in the ways we typically associate with Christmas—large family gatherings, holiday parties, seasonal concerts, and caroling.
However, I firmly believe that this can be a very special Christmas with less emphasis on the season’s external and social dimensions. Instead, we have an opportunity to focus more on the spiritual aspect—the true meaning of the coming of Christ into our lives and into our world. My prayer and hope for each one of you as you celebrate Christmas this year, however that may look, is that Jesus is truly the “reason for the season.”
This year, maybe more than ever before is a time to remember the blessing of the Octave of Christmas. The Catholic Church does not keep the celebration of Christmas to December 25th only. Christmas is celebrated over eight days, from Christmas Day to January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. What a marvelous opportunity to embrace the joy of the season and allow the Light of Christ to dispel the darkness of the past nine months.
To all of us in the Diocese of Fall River, may the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, fill us with a new peace, one that only He can give. Let us embrace not only His peace but the joy of this season. I believe we will get through all the challenges before us with the Lord’s help. In His presence, in His grace, we’ll reach a unique place this year where we can truly say that Christmas is about Christ.
May the peace, hope, and joy of this season be with us now and remain with us far beyond this Christmas. May these gifts—that only God can bestow upon us—reign in our hearts, in our homes, and in our world. May God bless you and your loved ones, and may you enjoy a healthy, blessed, and joyful Christmas.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Natal! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel!
God bless all of you,
Bishop da Cunha