It is a privilege to write a column each week for this newspaper, but it is a challenge, too. The first rule is not to repeat yourself. It is a tough rule — we, humans, really don’t have much to say. It is hard to be original 50 times a year. On the other hand, sometimes I am happy to repeat myself.
Once again, I have been moved by the generosity of our readers. The Bright Christmas Campaign has received more than $70,000 as I write this column, and we are counting on your generosity to reach our goal of $110,000 this year. There is still time to donate! Send your check today if you haven’t done so already.
I have often wondered why the Bright Christmas Campaign is always a success. I think it’s because we all are more humane around Christmas. The innocence and fragility of the Holy Child wake up “our better angels.” Christmas is the time when we remember our childhood, past Christmases with grandparents or parents who may no longer be with us.
Also, Christmas is the birth of our faith in two different ways. Historically, our Christian faith was born on Christmas Day. The reason for our hope is the child born in a stable.
And on a personal level, Christmas is the origin of our faith. Most of us don’t remember our baptism. Our first recollections of being Christian are usually associated with Christmas. The Christmas tree, the family dinner, the Nativity scene and the toys under the tree were our first catechism. As toddlers, most of us learned our first Bible stories and the mystery of the Incarnation from the wonderful experience of Christmas.
Think about how important those early experiences were for your Catholic faith later when you became a teenager and adult. The seed of the faith that flourished later in life was planted during the Christmases of our childhood.
When you donate money to the Bright Christmas Campaign, you are allowing underprivileged children to have that experience. You are helping to evangelize them. And you are helping to evangelize their families, too. Your generosity is an example of what it means to be Christian: helping people when they are having a difficult time. Thank you for showing them the true face of Christ.
During the last seven years, the Bright Christmas Campaign has received and distributed $904,325. If we reach our goal for this year, we will have a grand total of one million dollars for the last eight years! Imagine how many smiles and how much hope you have brought to children in Brooklyn and Queens. But also imagine the pain and anxiety that you have helped so many underprivileged youth in our diocese overcome.
We all know the Gospel passage: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me.”
And that’s what you have done for many years through the Bright Christmas Campaign. Thank you and Happy New Year to all our readers!