I have discussed the meaning of the Christmas Tree before. Its origins go back to St. Boniface, who chopped down a giant oak tree that pagans in Germany were worshiping. He proved to them that the Christian God was more powerful than the fake, pagan gods confined to a tree. If the local people needed a tree to facilitate their worship of the one, true God, then they should look to an evergreen tree. Triangular in shape, like an image of the Trinity, the tree points upward to heaven and its evergreen leaves, which are everlasting, represent the eternity of God.
I'm sure most of your Christmas trees are up already in your homes. Traditionally, however, the tree was put up right before Christmas and remained in place until the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.
Your tree may be up, but have you blessed it yet? No, this isn't a ploy to invite myself over to your house for dinner. You don't need a priest to bless it. Anyone in the family can do the blessing. Doing the blessing on Christmas Eve, perhaps before you have your dinner, could be the perfect family activity!
Here's the ritual:
Leader: (Makes the Sign of the Cross). Let us glorify Christ our light, who brings salvation and peace into our midst, now and forever. (All respond: Amen.) My brothers and sisters, amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds. With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its light guide us to the perfect light.
Reading from Sacred Scripture: Ezekiel 17:22-24
Intercessions: Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this sign of our faith in the Lord. Response from all: Lord, give light to our hearts.
-That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on which Christ accomplished our salvation. Let us pray to the Lord. Response...
-That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let us pray to the Lord. Response...
-That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the world, let us pray to the Lord. Response...
Recitation of the Lord's Prayer
Leader: Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Low, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures. We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Everyone makes the sign of the cross while the Leader says: May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now and forever. Amen.
The blessing can conclude with the singing of a verse from "O Come, O Come Emmanuel":
O Come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
On behalf of Fr. Emanuel and Fr. Roger, God bless you and your families. May you have a most blessed Christmas.
Yours in Christ,