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Bishop Daniel Felton: Keep the Spirit of Christmas as a way of life

At the beginning of this month of February we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This feast day officially brings an end to Christmastide. Yes, in February, not December! It is a feast day that reminds us that in the end, the Spirit of Christmas is not so much about a day or a season as it is about a way of life every day of our life. Wow! Many of us might find ourselves thinking that it is hard enough for me to live the Spirit of Christmas on Christmas Day, much less every day of my life. How can I embrace the love, life, mercy, hope, and joy of Christmas as a way life?

Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News

Jesus himself reminds us as He preaches from the scroll of Isaiah that the Spirit of God is upon us, that we have been anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor, to liberate the captive, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free the oppressed. Those are the challenges that are placed before us as disciples of the Lord. But remember, it all starts with the Spirit and anointing of God upon us and within us. Living the Spirit of Christmas every day has little to do with us and everything to do with what God wants to do in and through us with the help of His grace not only on Christmas Day, but every day.

Another way to live the Spirit of Christmas year-round is by performing corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. How mindful we are of these works in the days leading up to Christmas Day, and then how quickly we forget these works for the 11 months thereafter. The corporal works of mercy invite us to live the Spirit of Christmas as a way of life everyday of our life.

Finally, there are the beatitudes. In the days leading up to Christmas we are called to check our Scrooge-like attitudes at the manger. Christmas is a season for reconciliation, mercy, peace, and patience. And then along comes January, and how quickly we slip back to our old Scrooge-like attitudes. That is why Jesus gave us the be-attitudes: live life with an attitude of being poor in spirit, comforting, meek, righteous, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers every day as a way of life.

I also want to give a shout out to our Catholic schools as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Catholic schools are essential to the mission of our diocese to help all people to encounter and follow Jesus Christ. May God bless our administrators, teachers, staff, benefactors, and parishioners who support the children and young adults in our Catholic schools throughout the diocese.

I pray that our Catholic schools will be Schools of Discipleship, where our families and students learn how to live the preaching of Jesus given to us from Isaiah, to perform corporal works of mercy and to embrace the attitudes of the beatitudes not just on a Christmas Day, but every day as a way of life!

Merry Christmas ….

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.