‘The joy of Christmas is contagious’

Archbishop Aquila sends message to faithful and non-believers

Archbishop Aquila

A group of atheists recently bought a billboard in Times Square and asked the provocative question: Who needs Christ at Christmas? They answered their own question with a one-word answer—nobody.

That is an interesting take on the holy day that is named, quite aptly, after Christ himself.

According to the billboard, Christmas can now be about anything you want it to be. For example, they suggested, it can simply be about family, friends, presents, parties and hot chocolate.

Christians obviously do not agree with this, but the atheists bring an important point to the forefront of the public debate. In recent years Christmas has been accompanied by a “war on Christmas,” which is rather strange: What does the world have to fear from the belief that God so loved humanity that he became a child and dwelt among us?

Just this month, in an exclusive interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis spoke with laser-like precision on the essence of Christmas. “It is the encounter with Jesus,” he said.

“God has always sought out his people, led them, looked after them and promised to always be close to them,” he continued. “This is a beautiful thing. Christmas is God’s meeting with his people.”

The appeal of the message of Christmas, even to non-believers, is present all around us. The encounter of Christ with his people sparks an incredible outpouring of joy, of consolation, of generosity and of hope. This can be quite contagious.

The parties, the presents, the gatherings with friends and family, and yes, even the hot chocolate, are wonderful demonstrations of this joy that dwells in our hearts. Nobody throws a party when they are fearful of the future. We don’t give presents if there is no movement of joy and love in our hearts.

These wonderful aspects of Christmas don’t define the holy day, but rather they are a part of Christmas because we know that God is with us and for us; there is reason to rejoice.

We Christians have a great responsibility to let everyone know that Christmas is about the infinite mercy of God, especially because this reality is what unleashes the deepest joy anyone could experience. And for those who don’t share the Christian belief, everyone should be at peace celebrating even the concept that there is hope in such a love.

To Christians, I encourage you to remember, as Pope Francis reminded us in the aforementioned interview, that “Christmas is joy, religious joy, God’s joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” We must be witnesses of such joy, and we must contemplate the great mystery of God, who came to dwell among us.

“With Christ,” he writes in “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), “joy is constantly born anew.”

The Pope used the word joy in his letter more than 50 times, underlining the absolute centrality of joy in the life of a Christian. He invites Christians to “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus to Christ.” He urges us to listen intently to God’s voice in our hearts, and to experience the “quiet joy of his love.”

To non-Christians, I urge you to take another look at Christmas. Look at it again with fresh eyes. Look at what we celebrate: let the eyes of your souls go past the presents, the trees, the fat Santa and red-nosed Rudolph, and stop at the center of the manger. Listen to the everlasting message of love and peace, and you will know what Christmas is all about, the God who loves you eternally even if you do not wish to receive that love. It’s a message that benefits us all.

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L.
Archbishop of Denver

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver will celebrate two Christmas Masses at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan St, Denver, CO 80203: Midnight Mass, beginning at 12 a.m. (a Live Stream feed is available here); and 10:30 a.m. Mass on Christmas Day.

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By Deacon Jim Parrilli

The Catholic Foundation invites you to experience the joy of giving now and beyond your lifetime.

When you choose to give, you choose to love and that creates profound joy. The Catholic Foundation is here to help you consider making gifts that will keep giving… gifts that will support the Kingdom of God.

In the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he reminds us, “So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”

The Archdiocese of Denver established The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado in 1998 to be legally separate and distinct from the archdiocese, with the intent and sole purpose of supporting our Catholic community financially for generations to come.

The Catholic Foundation gathers and grows assets to ensure that a strong, vibrant, and faithful Catholic community will always be right there at your parish and throughout the entire archdiocese.

What does this have to do with your end-of-year charitable gifting? Gifting into The Catholic Foundation gives you the ease and flexibility of opportunities that no other institution can match.

The Catholic Foundation facilitates giving to the Church using funds and opportunities, such as Donor Advised Funds and Planned Gifts from Your Estate. They accept stocks, insurance policies, IRAs, real estate and nearly any viable asset to promote the Gospel message, transform lives and give glory to God.

When you give through The Catholic Foundation, you can designate support to a specific Catholic entity, like parishes, schools, ministries, seminaries, or other charitable causes. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you will partner with a company that adheres to Catholic teachings, honors faith-based priorities, and upholds the standards of Morally-Responsible Investment Policy in accord with the USCCB.

Matthew 19:29 says: “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”

Each one of us is different with different circumstances, backgrounds, and financial responsibilities. And it is up to us to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Popular asset vehicles that The Catholic Foundation clients consider include:
• Bequest: Simply include language in your Will to specify a gift to be made – either as a dollar amount or a percentage of assets.
• Special Gifts: Leave charitable gifts of real estate, stocks, bonds or other assets.
• Trust or Annuity: Create a Trust or Annuity to provide lifetime income for you or a loved one and then pass remaining assets to charity.
• Life Insurance: If you are maintaining coverage that you or your family no longer need, just change the beneficiary – or gift the paid-up policy now.
• Retirement Plan Assets, IRA: You may indicate a charitable organization as the beneficiary of your retirement account. Call if you want to hear how to avoid taxes on your IRA.

Another way to support Catholic causes is through a Donor Advised Account. Here’s how it works:
• Start your account at The Catholic Foundation with a simple agreement that can be completed in minutes.
• Add assets to your account as an individual, family or corporation – or transfer assets from another foundation or donor advised fund.
• Recommend charitable gift distributions to Catholic parishes, schools, seminaries, apostolates or other nonprofit organizations.
• Receive special tax advantages and an immediate charitable tax deduction for each contribution to your account.

Prudent planning starts with just a conversation. Please call 303-468-9885 and ask for Lisa, Jean or Deacon Steve to discuss the many investment options available to support what matters most to you or visit them at thecatholicfoundation.com.