Thursday, March 12, 2015

3. The Christmas tree

3. The Christmas tree

Angela’s joy

Today Angela is very happy. Her mother told her that in a little while Christina would be coming home. Christina is her older sister who is studying at university.
Angela loves her so much that when she found out that she was leaving to study far away, she was upset for a month.
Christina adores her little sister and cares for her as a mother would, in every way.
Angela, in return, respects her as a big sister but also as a most trusted friend. All that is in her heart she shares with her sister Christina. They are close sisters which makes their mother, Sophia, happy for her daughters.
From the moment she heard that her sister was coming home, Angela immediately ran to pick the prettiest flowers from the garden to give to her.  Next she went to little Joseph, who had just woken up, and told him that Christina was coming home and that he must get ready quickly.

It was as if the entire house was holding a festival. Mother Sofia had made a special meal and Christina’s favourite cake. Their father had gone to the train station to get his daughter. 
He loves this daughter very much and calls her “lily of my heart”. He is calmed by the simple and kind ways she behaves towards all people.
Christina’s words are always sweet; he has never heard her speak badly of any person.
Even if someone behaves badly or indecently towards her, she doesn’t judge or speak ill of him.
She always has a kind word to say about everyone. When she made mistakes as a child, she quickly apologized and tried to correct her mistakes. 
She has great love and respect towards her parents. She believes they have helped her in her successes; besides her own efforts, the blessings of her sweet mother and dear father.
Her heart is like a flower garden full of the fragrance of virtue. 
She loves and cherishes her beloved God like a baby adores his mother and father. In everything she does, she asks for his blessing and help in order to achieve it. 
Rightly so, both her mother, Sofia, and her father, Vangelis, love and cherish their eldest daughter, Christina. 
-Mother!  Mother!  They’re here!  Little Angela shouted joyously.
Father’s car could be seen from afar and the children jumped for joy. When she heard them shouting, mother Sofia ran out of the house to greet her sweet Christina.
When the car stopped, they all ran to hug her and cover her with their kisses.
The aroma of joy sweetly spread to embrace this blessed family and everyone’s love at that moment made a picture of unique beauty which only the most talented artist could have painted.
Soon they were all round the table with the wonderful food. After saying their prayer to thank the good God and asking Him to bless their food, they sat to eat the delicious treats prepared by their sweet mother.

The Christmas tree

After dinner, Christina had a surprise for them. She had brought with her from the capital a few boxes with pretty Christmas wrapping. 
When Father brought them into the house, little Angela opened them one by one. 
Each time she opened one, everyone took pleasure in her cries of joy. In these were brand new, big, coloured lights with which they would decorate their Christmas tree.
Christina was very happy watching the excitement of her little sister. She thought this time not to only bring Angela’s favourite chocolates, but also something that would make this Christmas different from others. So she bought all these beautiful decorations to make the most beautiful Christmas tree ever.
Seeing all these beautiful decorations, their father promised that tomorrow he would go and buy the biggest, prettiest fir tree to decorate with Christina’s colourful lights.
Quickly the next day arrived and in the afternoon, after work, father brought home a beautiful fir tree. They put it up in the middle of the living room and together they started decorating it with the colourful decorations. 
When they finished, they stood speechlessly looking at its beauty.
The lights twinkled in rhythm and the light from the coloured bulbs created a fantastic picture. 
The sweet melody of the Christmas songs brought by Christina, flooded the atmosphere giving a festive note to the entire house.
Angela sat with her little brother Joseph near the Christmas tree admiring it. This time it was very different and very beautiful. 
Joseph clapped his hands with joy. 
Christina, standing on a ladder, put on the last decorations and some snow. 
-Wow! How lovely it is!
Angela repeated excitedly. Really mother, what does the Christmas tree that we decorate symbolize? 

Mother Sophia, enjoying her young daughter’s excitement, went near her and explained the beautiful symbolism of the tree.
-The tree we decorate, my dear girl, symbolizes each of our souls.
-And the decorations we put on it?
-These symbolize the different virtues which should decorate our souls. These virtues should shine upon each child who loves God.
-Mother, I love our good God with all my heart.
-I know baby. And He adores you and is happy every time you say you love Him.
-If I were in heaven, I would never leave His arms.  Mother, if I were always in His arms, would the other angels be jealous?
-No my baby. There is no jealousy, slyness or evil anywhere in heaven. There, only love, joy, peace and happiness reign. 
-How I wish the same were true here on earth.
-That depends on us, if we want to live with love and peace.
-Why don’t we have peace on earth, mother? Why do people always fight, are jealous and do bad things?
-Because they don’t want to live according to the rules of our good Lord.
-Why don’t they, mother? What makes people not want to live as God wants?
I listened to my sister Christina when she studied history and was learning about wars. She told me that millions of people were killed in wars. Why mother is there so much evil?
-Whoever strays from God easily does bad deeds that upset our Creator.  When one is in God’s arms, he is enlightened by the Holy Spirit and does only what is good and liked by our heavenly Father. 
But when he strays from God, the devil finds the opportunity to darken man’s thoughts with deceitfulness so he does only bad things.
-Mother, I want only to be in God’s embrace so that the Holy Spirit enlightens me to do only good and please God.
-You will be in our beloved God’s embrace when you love Him with all your heart and trust Him with all the power of your soul.
The Holy Spirit will flood you with joy and happiness so Satan can’t easily drive you to bad thoughts and deeds.
-Then, I will pray every day to God and have trust in Him, as I have in you, and do His will so that the evil Satan will never touch my thoughts with badness or deceitfulness.
-Well done my sweet baby. This is what God asks of all people.

The star on the treetop

At that moment, Christina placed on the top of the tree a big, beautiful star which she had brought with the other decorations. It had a light inside and shone brightly.
-Angela, do you see that beautiful star that Christina put on the top of the tree?
-I see it mother.
-This star symbolizes the star that led the three wise men to come from the Far East to the small village of Bethlehem to pay homage to baby Christ.
For us Christians, it also symbolizes the light of the Holy Spirit which, like a star, guides us to God’s embrace.
So, as that star in the sky led the wise men to Christ, so does the Holy Spirit, like a bright star, shine upon and guide every Christian soul to the saviour of the world, who is our sweet Christ.
-Mother, I want it to lead me to little Jesus so I can tell Him how much I love and adore Him.
-I too, my daughter, ask of the good God every day to cover you with the grace of the Holy Spirit so that you will love Him with all your heart and soul. You must love our good God as you adore your dear father and me.
 -I want to love Him as you and father do. I want to trust Him with all my heart and do as He wishes, so I will always be in His embrace.
-Bravo, my child! You make me very happy when I feel that the little girl whom God gave me wants to be like the angels in heaven who adore Him with their love and glorify Him with their dedication.
When you see our Christmas tree, remember that it symbolizes your soul and for it to be beautiful, you must decorate it with the decorations of virtue.
Don’t ever sadden God with bad thoughts and deeds and try not to sadden the Holy Spirit, so that it never leaves you. Mostly, don’t let Satan speak badly of God to you.
-What could he say, mother, so I can be careful?
-What he said to the first humans created which led them to error and sin; that God doesn’t love us and that we can do anything in this life, even bad things, without fearing anything.
Because of his devilish attempt to make us stray from God, Lucifer, apart from Satan, is also called the devil and those who follow him in evil, are called devils.
-And how does the evil devil fight man?
-Like with the first created human, Angela.
First he puts bad thoughts to infect his mind.
Then, after making him do the bad deed he thought of, he infects his soul.
This is how Satan tries to win a soul and, if it doesn’t repent, to lead it to the dark kingdom of absolute unhappiness called hell.
-Why don’t people understand the bad that the devil wants to do to them and they follow him?
-Because, by not trusting God, they remove the Holy Spirit from their souls which enlightens them to see the truth and they are misled by Satan’s lies.
Then the devil rules over them and they do what he wants. In this way, man can do great evil in the world without conscience or shame. 
Now do you understand why there is so much bad in the world and wars in which millions of people are killed?
-Yes, mother and it upsets me that with Adam and Eve’s mistake in Paradise, now people suffer.
-Not only people but all God’s creations.
-Why all creations mother?
-Because, after this tragic human error, all creation, which until then loved and bowed down to man, rebelled. While all animals in the beginning were friends with man, some of them became his enemy.
Man started killing some animals in order to survive. The earth rebelled, and the trees did not easily produce fruit for man. In general, all God’s creations weren’t friendly towards man. Sometimes they even behaved in a hostile way to the ungrateful humans.
-Wow mother, I could never imagine how much bad happens when we don’t trust our good God.
-No one can imagine the bad he does to his soul when he doesn’t trust God and goes towards the slyness of Satan. He will soon realize how bad it is to leave God’s embrace and enter Satan’s.
Could you ever imagine yourself far from your father’s and my embrace? Is there anyone else on earth who loves you as much as we do?
-No mother. Just the thought that you won’t be near me frightens me so.  Only in your arms do I feel so very happy.
-This is exactly how the first human created felt in God’s embrace. He was very happy.
The Holy Spirit enlightened his mind and heart and gave his soul joy, peace and serenity. When he lost it though, only sadness, grief and worry reigned in it.
-Wasn’t God saddened about what happened to man so He would help him?
-Of course He was. And so much that He decided immediately to find a way to help him.
Because the badness was so great though, God decided to send to earth His only Son, to save man and free him from Satan’s claws.
-That’s why our little Jesus was born, mother?
-Yes, my child, the Son of God came to earth to be born as a man, to live among us as a man, to teach us the will of our Holy Father and finally to sacrifice himself for us so that we as people can enter the  heavenly kingdom of God.

The Manger

Christina quietly followed this conversation between her mother and little Angela.
So as not to distract her sister with the tree decorating, she quietly sat in a chair and listened with interest to the wise words of her mother. 
Meanwhile, the car horn’s tooting outside the house made Angela jump up with joy and run to the gate outside the house.
Her beloved father had returned with the shopping and she ran to greet him. 
Her father first gave her a kiss on the cheek and then he gave his little queen a large bar of chocolate which he removed from one of the bags.
Little Joseph had fallen asleep during his mother’s story. Christina ran to the car to bring in the rest of the bags her father had brought from the town.
Angela helped her older sister arrange the things. Among them was a large box with Christmas wrapping. 
-Father, what is this? Should we open it? Asked Christina.
-Yes, open it and decorate our tree with this too.
Christina guessed what it could be and gave her sister the joy of opening it.
Curiously, Angela started opening the mysterious box. Soon cries of joy were heard throughout the house. Even Joseph woke up startled by his sister’s shouting. 
-What a beautiful manger, Angela repeated joyously over and over.
Christina carefully took the manger and placed it under the tree. It was a large cave and in the center was a small manger with the newborn Christ in it.
Near the manger were a few animals keeping their creator company. 
On top of the cave a bright star showed the three wise men who arrived in      Bethlehem where the great King was who would save the world from its sins.
For Him they had traveled from the depths of the east, to see and worship Him.
They had brought him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. 
Around the cave were shepherds and little children holding small lambs.
Several angels over the cave showed the shepherds the saviour who was born in the manger.
The manger their father had bought was so beautiful and real that they thought they were seeing the cave of Bethlehem.
Angela continued to admire it. Seeing the small shepherds near the newborn Christ, she wished she herself had been there. 
-How I wish I were there, mother. I could hug Him as I hug my brother, Joseph. Mother, would Mary let me hold Him?
-Of course, my child. That’s why He came to earth, so we could all love Him as His sweet mother did.
As she embraced Him with love and support, so we can also warmly embrace Him with all our love. 
-if I were there, I would kiss Him and tell Him I love Him with all my heart.
-And now you can tell Him that you love Him and that you will never stop loving Him with all your heart as long as you live.
Then Angela felt a sweet beat in her heart for little Jesus and joined her hands together and whispered a prayer.
-I love You little Jesus.  We love You with all our hearts, me, Joseph, Christina, father and mother. I’m not there by the manger to give you hugs and kisses, but from afar I give you two kisses on each cheek from me, Joseph, Christina, father and mother.
Sophia was touched by Angela’s impromptu prayer and took her small treasure in her arms and filled her with motherly caresses and kisses.

In Bethlehem with little Jesus

Time passed quickly and outside it was starting to get dark.
The sun had set and the first stars started to appear in the sky.
In little Angela’s blessed home there was a solemn atmosphere. Everyone sat round the tree and, with the melodies of Christmas songs, their thoughts wandered to the distant Bethlehem.
-Mother, please tell us the beautiful story of the birth of our Christ again.
-The emperor of Rome wanted to know how many people were in his empire so he ordered all citizens to register at their birthplace.
Joseph, who protected our Holy Mother, took the young sixteen year old Mariam to his birthplace, Bethlehem.
They set off on a donkey for their long journey. Often they had to endure bitter cold and difficult pathways.
They had to pass over many mountains to reach Bethlehem. After several days, they finally reached their destination and were very tired. Little Mariam suffered the most since she was pregnant and her time was near.
They tried to find a place to stay but were unsuccessful. All were occupied and not even a tiny room was available.
-Mother, how our good Holy Mother must have suffered, not being able to find a small home to give birth to little Jesus!
-Yes Angela. She suffered from fatigue but mostly because they couldn’t find a place for her to give birth to her child.
Finally, a poor woman and her husband took pity on her and told Joseph they could use the stable they had for their animals, in a cave at the edge of the village. 
Joseph quickly led the donkey with Mariam to the cave where she would soon deliver the King of the world.
When Christ was born, His mother didn’t have warm clothing to wrap Him in, so she put Him in a manger where the animals ate to keep Him warm.
She gathered hay and wrapped her precious Son in her only shawl.
The animals seemed to sense that the baby was cold and gathered around Him warming Him with their breath.
Mother Sophia, with the thought of her dear Lord’s humble birth and His bed, an animals’ manger, burst into tears. 
Angela, deep in her mother’s arms, although young knew why her mother was crying. 
She thought that if she were there, she would give the little Christ her warm coat so He wouldn’t be cold. 
She already considered Him her little brother whom she wanted to hold tightly in her arms.
Mother Sophia adored Christ as the Son of God, but the image of a small child being born made her feel as if He were her child and she wanted to embrace and protect Him. 
Mentally, she was there in Bethlehem in the manger whispering sweet motherly lullabies of love and adoration to the Virgin’s precious Son.
It seemed to her that Christ opened his eyes and smiled at her. She smiled back and took Him in her arms with the love and adoration that only a real mother could.
She couldn’t kiss Him enough and warm Him with the unique passion of a mother’s heart, the most superior love on earth.
Angela’s touch brought her back but her heart remained in Bethlehem, with her beloved infant, hugging Him tight, kissing Him gently, as she did with her little Joseph when she gave birth to him.
Only a mother can love an infant so strongly and unconditionally. 
How I wish to love you my sweet King, newborn Christ, as a mother loves her baby.
Angela leaned on her mother’s breast, sleepily. Tenderly, she carried her to her bed to sleep. She gave her a sweet kiss and wished her: 
-Goodnight, my baby, may Christ and all his angels accompany you.
-Goodnight mother.  Goodnight little Christ.  I love and adore You.