Once again, Bishop Robert J. Baker is encouraging Catholics to celebrate their faith with the Christ Candle of Hope during the Christmas season.
Christmas is the celebration of the breaking through history of the greatest event of all time — the birth of the Son of God into our world, who was victorious over all the forces of evil, past, present, and future.
Can we not enable the force of good that Christ brought into this world by his birth to impact our lives in our own day and time — this Christmas?
Hope is the virtue that enables us to experience now the reign of Christ. Hope unites past, present, and future by bringing Christ’s activity to bear on the present moment.
I, as your bishop, invite our clergy, religious, and laity to join together again this Christmas season in a symbolic gesture of hope in the face of all the temptations to negativity and hopelessness.
As we have done in the past, can we use again in our churches this Christmas season the Christ Candle that is often lit during Christmas Mass? It may or may not be situated in the center of the Advent wreath with its four Advent candles that had previously been lit each Sunday of Advent. The Christ Candle can be brought up during the Offertory procession after the homily, Creed, and Prayers of the Faithful.
The celebrant of the Christmas Mass may have in his homily comments about concrete ways of doing something positive this Christmas in one’s life to counter the negativity in the world. As the Christ Candle is being brought to a position in the sanctuary and placed, possibly in the center of the Advent wreath, a prayer can be offered; an invitation is made to all in the congregation to commit toward doing something constructive, some random act of kindness, as soon as possible; and finally the Christ Candle is lit as a symbol of our prayer and constructive action, a Christmas symbol of hope, that is envisioned as bringing a little light into the darkness of the world in which we live.
People are then invited to have their own Christ Candle of Hope in their homes to be lit at their main Christmas dinner, after the opening prayer and after everyone in the household has a chance to think about doing one positive, constructive action to better the world in which we live during the Christmas season. Families might consider continuing to light the Christ Candle at their main dinner and offering the prayer below during the twelve days of Christmas, or even longer, until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the liturgical end of the Christmas season.
This Christmas season — in your church, in your home — offer up a prayer; make a commitment; light a candle of hope for the church, for the world.
The following is a possible prayer to be used before lighting the Christ Candle:
God our loving Father,
You sent your Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to counter all the forces of evil: sin, suffering, and death, and to overcome evil with the force of good, hatred with the power of love, your great love for us in Jesus.
Help us never to curse the darkness, but to join with you in bringing your light into this world, the light that is your Son, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem.
Help us to be instruments of your light and love by doing one special act of kindness or being your special instrument of reconciliation this Christmas season.
May the Christ Candle we light symbolize our desire to bring light into a world of darkness and hope into a world of despair. We ask this through Christ our Lord.