The Nativity

Church of Saint Benedict – Auckland – New Zealand
8 July 2008

The cards for the General Promotion of the Rosary have been distributed by tens of thousands. On the front they show a photograph taken by Brother Louis-Marie Ariño-Durand, OP, and can be used as a simple and evocative sermon. Be they large or small, they are all the same overleaf: you will find the site’s slogan in the three official languages of the Dominican Order, “Pray, preach, live… the Rosary!”

Have you noticed how hard it is to find « real » Christmas cards? In many countries, all reference to Christ’s birth is erased and we end up wishing each other “Happy holidays”… to avoid mentioning Christmas!

It was for this reason that a large card was created for the general Promotion of the Rosary. It is the photograph of a stained glass window found in a church served by Dominican brothers in New Zealand.

This stained glass window, modern, was chosen for various reasons.

In the first place, the representation of the manger is simple and beautiful. The Baby Jesus is in the centre and around him, Joseph and Mary, very present. Obviously the cow and the donkey are not missing, the customary inhabitants of mangers that we so love to see and which never cease to remind us of our childhood Christmases.

So Jesus, in the centre, is the one who illuminates the scene. The light, both gentle and marked emanates from and spreads out around him, like the sun’s light would do. He is the light of the world which came, during that Bethlehem night, into the obscurity of our lives.

Finally, if we are accustomed to Mary’s presence close to her Son, Joseph’s attitude may surprise us. He is sometimes put to one side in Nativity representations, if he is not entirely absent. Here, his attitude and, in particular his gaze, say much about his presence next to the Child.

The Nativity is anything but a complicated mystery.

You just need to get close to the light, to open your eyes and to contemplate.

And there, in the silence of the night, with Mary and Joseph, find the Child, light from light.

Fr. Louis-Marie ARIÑO-DURAND, OP

General Promoter of the Rosary