December 17, 2014 – Excerpted from “Put Out Into the Deep,” Bishop DiMarzio’s column in The Tablet:
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Christmas in many ways is one of the most nostalgic periods of time. We have many treasured memories, especially surrounding the celebration of Christmas. Perhaps as we come closer to this Christmas, we can recall these memories.
For me, it was the annual ritual of buying the Christmas tree and decorating it, but most importantly placing the Christmas crèche, or presepio, beneath the tree. I learned from my grandmother that the presepio truly is, in the Italian tradition, a manifestation of Christ to the world. And so the images that were placed in the crèche would represent every possible human and animal form.
And so whatever figurines were in the house … animals, snowmen, Santa Claus, etc., they were all placed in the crèche because it was the point when Christ, the newborn, God-Man, manifested Himself to all of creation. This memory has remained with me all my life. In fact, in the vestibule of our Chancery building, there is a very large Neapolitan presepio that was presented to me by the Italian Trade Commission several years ago. It represents the same type of universal manifestation of Christ in a setting in an Italian village where everyone is going about their normal life … fishing, farming, blacksmithing, cooking … whatever their daily activity is. In the center is Christ, Who enters human history, not completely changing it, but becoming part of it.
Read the full text of the Bishop’s column on The Tablet website.