December 24, 2017
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
As I write, we are drawing near to the beautiful feast of Christ’s birth and the end of the calendar year, 2017. Many of you will not read this until after Christmas Day. But, Christmas is more than a day, so I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a very blessed Christmas Season.
As the year draws to a close, I am remembering with gratitude the countless ordinary and extraordinary ways that the Lord has blessed our archdiocese this year.
For example, I had the privilege of ordaining 22 new deacons for ministry throughout our archdiocese! After much careful planning, we have had a successful launch of One Church, Many Disciples, the first ever archdiocesan campaign that will help secure a promising future for the Church in central and western Oklahoma.
But, the most memorable blessing, of course, was the glorious beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother, priest and martyr. In Blessed Stanley, the Lord has given us a very special intercessor to accompany us as we live out our call to holiness and missionary discipleship. Remembering God’s abundant blessings of the past strengthens hope for the future. God is not finished blessing us!
This time of year is marked by celebrations and festivities that we share with family, friends and loved ones. It is an especially rich time of year to celebrate with fellow believers.
The liturgical celebrations of the Christmas Season help us gaze more deeply into the wonder and mystery of God-with-us. The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day), the Feast of the Holy Family (Dec. 31), the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God (Jan. 1), the Epiphany of the Lord (Jan. 7) and the Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 8) unfold for us the mystery of God’s mercy-made-flesh so that we might savor more deeply its meaning for our lives and our world.
The saints whose memorials and feasts we observe during the Christmas season offer a vision of the splendor of holiness to which we all are called: Saint Stephen, the First Martyr (Dec. 26); Saint John the Evangelist (Dec. 27); and The Holy Innocents (Dec. 28) are just a few of the wonderful saints whose feasts form a beautiful constellation of heavenly glory surrounding the radiant Star of Bethlehem!
Our secular culture will already have grown weary of the “holiday season” by the time the presents are unwrapped and the after-Christmas sales have run their courses. For those who recognize the true meaning of Christmas, however, the Christmas Season is just beginning! It unwraps and reveals its gifts throughout the sequence of beautiful feasts still to come!
On Christmas Day, as on every Sunday of the year, I offer Mass for your intentions. Let us pray that our Christmas celebrations will renew in each of us a profound experience of the joy of the Gospel and a deep desire to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more intensely and follow him more faithfully.
I pray that 2018 will be a year filled with abundant blessings for each of you, for your loved ones and for our archdiocese. I am grateful for the privilege of serving as your archbishop. May Jesus, the Prince of Peace, bring his gift of peace to our suffering world in the New Year before us. God is with us.