Christmas Card 2022

Dear Salutation,

Saint Francis of Assisi and his brothers, gathered with the people of Greccio, and
walked in solemn procession. St. Bonaventure, in his biography of St. Francis,
writes that the Saint was motivated to recreate the nativity scene to “excite the
inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the infant Jesus with great
devotion.” It was an emotional, joyous, and reverent occasion:

Francis of Assisi sent heralds; Giovanni Velita, his wife Alticama and the people
of the village of Greccio, throughout the region to summon the people. That holy,
silent Christmas night of 1223, the people processed toward the cave. St. Francis,
full of excitement, speaks about God becoming flesh and resting in a manger. He
is moved by that divine poverty and the tenderness of Jesus for us: he takes the
baby and kisses him, dances with him on his lap. Whether it was a miracle or the
devotion of the people, the ancient chronicle says that the baby that Francesco
tenderly tightened to his chest was alive and that a beautiful baby actually slept in
the straws of the manger that night.

This scene, which took place almost 800 years ago, is repeated today on the five
continents in cribs of all sorts of styles and sizes, inviting us to contemplate Jesus
Christ. Since then, communities from around the world have taken part in this
important tradition, often incorporating local customs that remind us that Christ
was born for the entire human family. Reflecting on the nativity scene can be a
meaningful way for families to gather in prayer.

Please join our retired friars and all Franciscans in enthusiastic prayer this
Christmas Season, that we be passionate heralds: to bring forth light, to defy the
claims of darkness in our world, to bring forth joy and song to drown out the
claims of sadness, to proclaim the spirit of generosity to defy the claims of want, to
be instruments of peace to defy the claims of war.

May we be light and peace to others, Christmas Day and everyday.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

May the Lord give you peace!

Fr. Jim Gannon, OFM
Provincial Minister


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