“The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem. The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation.” Francis combined love for Christ’s crib, Christ’s cross, and the Eucharist in a way that attracted even people whose faith was lukewarm. Christmas is celebrated year-round at Greccio. The crib that Francis made there emphasized the great love and humility of the Son of God in becoming one of us so that we might share divine life. Amid the rush to prepare for Christmas, take time to thank God for the tremendous gift of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.”

—from the book Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi

**

“If we approach with faith, we too will see Jesus … for the Eucharistic table takes the place of the crib. Here the Body of the Lord is present, wrapped not in swaddling clothes but in the rays of the Holy Spirit.”

— St. John Chrysostom

**

“‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased’ (Lk 2:12-14). According to the evangelist, the angels ‘said’ this. But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present. And so, from that moment, the angels’ song of praise has never gone silent. It continues down the centuries in constantly new forms and it resounds ever anew at the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is only natural that simple believers would then hear the shepherds singing too, and to this day they join in their caroling on the Holy Night, proclaiming in song the great joy that, from then until the end of time, is bestowed on all people.”

— Pope Benedict XVI