On this day Paolo writes: “Christmas Day. At dawn I went to confession with heart-felt contrition and great self-knowledge. Afterwards at holy Communion I was dry as a stump and I remained so nearly all day.”
Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, Today Christians in the U.S. are celebrating the happiness they feel knowing that You are here with all of us. Churches are as full as they can possibly be, the sounds of bells and singing coming from them. Children at home are opening presents with parents and grandparents enjoying seeing their joy and glee. Yes, happiness permeates through our lives, but what about the lonely (for some this is the loneliest time of the year)? What about the homeless: cold, afraid, forgotten? What about the poor, that are hungry and desolate? What can they celebrate? Are they even aware of the day and of Your love for them, my Jesus? Hope, peace and love are signs of the Season! Let’s make sure that today we reach out to those in need of these signs! Let’s share our hope, peace and love out of our comfort zone. Let’s truly join You, my Jesus. Let’s hold You up high, by reflecting Your gifts to us! Let’s be compassionate, loving, kind and generous today and always for You, my God, who does so much for us!
Orlando’s entry: On Christmas Day, instead of experiencing the expected joy, Paolo primarily feels contrition, and celebrates Christmas through the Sacrament of Confession. This Sacrament must have filled him with the Holy Spirit, and yet he goes through the day “as dry as a stump”. I can really relate to this. Every year, sooner or later Christmas Day becomes for me a day where I fight the feelings of emptiness and depression. One reason might be cultural. In my Cuban tradition, December 24th, Christmas Eve, is the big day of celebration; big family reunion, copious eating and drinking (reminds me of Isaiah 25:6 !) and gift-sharing. The 25th is somewhat anti-climactic, especially after mass— what now? I find myself missing the ones I lost, the ones I could not celebrate with due to the COVID. I think of so many people in peril and poverty throughout the world. I grudgingly accept God’s will and realize I have done so little for others throughout the year! Today I meditate on the image of the dry stump, which Paolo uses to refer to himself so many times in the diary. A few years back, on a cold, windy March day in La Mancha, Spain, I stared at a field full of such dead-looking stumps. My host, a shepherd (imagine! ), told me that by July those stumps would turn into lush grapevines, from where some of the best wine in Spain was made. And so, today I thought of Isaiah 11, how from that stump of Jesse “a shoot shall sprout… and from its roots a bud shall blossom” . I felt the sweet consolation of Hope. Indeed, from such a dry stump, through the Spirit of Jesus in the soul of Paolo Daneo , a glorious blossom, a Divine grapevine, would flower: the Congregation of the Passion! Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Berta and Orlando! Thank you for bringing the words of Saint Paul of the Cross to our hearts and homes. And thank you for sharing from yours as well. May God bless you!