Christmas can be a magical time for some, but a painful time for others who struggle with loneliness.
Bishop Frank Caggiano, who recently was installed as the head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, shared his thoughts of the season with Hersam Acorn Newspapers.
“As a man of faith, Christmas is all about the tangible reality of God’s love sent into the world,” Caggiano said.
“As Christians, we believe that God entered the world in a human life — in Jesus,” he said. “God’s love is all around us, but this was a moment in time were you could actually touch it, it was concrete — real.”
The bishop said God’s willingness to shed His glory and enter into human life, with all the “tears, suffering, betrayal — all the hurts of life — is a remarkable testimony of God’s love.”
That love is why Christmas is so family-focused, he said, because family is “where we first learn we are loved.”
“Family is when children first learn how special they are, how their parents will still love them, even if they make mistakes,” Caggiano said. “It’s the power of love — a beautiful time of year.”
Reaching out to others
What about those who are alone this time of year?
“It is difficult, but those who find themselves alone need to realize God still profoundly loves them,” Caggiano said. “They cannot touch Him, but He is still present to them and to us.”
He said it is the “real challenge” of those with friends and family around them to reach out to those who find themselves alone.
“Christmas is not just a time for receiving, it’s a time for giving,” Caggiano said. “Unfortunately for many, it has been reduced to material gifts — but the most important gift we can give is our presence.
“We should be with other people,” he continued. “They should not feel alone. There are enough of us to go around.”
Caggiano said if we consider Christmas to be a “festival of love,” it is time for us to “put our money where our mouth is. Reach out to people — let them know they are special, wanted and not forgotten.
“This,” he said, “is why Christmas is not just one day of the year, it’s the spirit that should last throughout the year.”
A universal message
Caggiano will celebrate a Christmas Eve Mass in Bridgeport and a Christmas day Mass in New Canaan. The Brooklyn native then will celebrate Christmas back at home in New York with his family at the home of his recently married niece.
While Christmas refers to a particular historical event — the birth of Jesus — that has profound implications for people of faith, Caggiano said he believes Christmas has a “universal message that resonates with non-believers — with everyone.
“Anyone who thinks love is worth living for, worth sacrificing for, and worth sharing with others — anyone of good will has a home in Christmas,” he said.
Susan Shultz is editor of the Darien Times, another Hersam Acorn Newspapers publication.