February 10, 2020
Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
The previous line comes from the novena to Saint Andrew, which is piously prayed fifteen times a day by many Catholics from November 30th (the feast of Saint Andrew) until Christmas. I’ve adopted the practice myself since entering seminary five years ago, but until this pilgrimage, I generally disregarded the line about “piercing cold” as something that probably wasn’t all that accurate. After all, Bethlehem is relatively close to both the Arabian and Egyptian deserts, so I naturally assumed that the local climate would be consistently hot and arid.
However, after spending some time in Bethlehem and now Nazareth as well, I’m awestruck by how consistently cold I am here. Many days see the highs only reaching the 40s or 50s, and since the buildings are generally made of stone and don’t have insulation, I find myself continually grateful that I packed a warm sweatshirt.
The world into which Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, was born was not only cold physically but had also grown cold spiritually. Sin is a cold, dead, wretched thing, and because of the disobedience of our first parents, we are all born into it and left with an inordinate predisposition to remain in it. But through the radiant warmth of Jesus Christ, the true light of the world, we are given the possibility of freedom from the utter coldness of sin and death. As Christ displayed perfect humility and love by entering into the cold, dead world of human sin and evil, and offered us new life in Him through the Paschal mystery of His Cross, Death, and Resurrection, let us through the Grace of the Holy Spirit imitate these glorious virtues of His, so as to enter into eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
Diocese of Wichita