The Curator of Papal Artifacts, Father Richard Kunst
A message on this First Sunday of Advent
Last weekend we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King: the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. It is one of my favorite liturgical feasts because it was established by one of my favorite popes, Pius XI (1922-1939) and because it was written to stave off a growing secularism in society.
And there is no better example of that growing secularism than the crazy commercialism of Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus the Messiah in Christmas, and yet nearly every mention of Him is done away with. It’s like celebrating your child’s or friend’s birthday and telling them about how great the party is going to be but then asking them not to come. It is ridiculous.
You may not know this, but the origin of gift giving at Christmas goes way back in history to a time when it was in imitation of the gift of God’s Son to us. The faithful way of looking at Christmas is to see that Christ is God’s greatest gift and to try to imitate that love by sharing gifts with those who are important to us. So Christmas wasn’t meant to be a way to strengthen the economy, but a way to imitate God. When we look at gift giving apart from this, then we make Christmas something other than what it is.
Gift giving is a great thing, but when we spend money buying things the receiver will never use, then we are wasting money. A practice that is becoming more common is the pooling of money that would otherwise be used on meaningless gifts and instead giving it to a worthy charity.
Something to give some thought to.
Remember the meaning of the origin of gift giving at Christmas. —Father Richard Kunst, Curator
Papal Artifacts celebrates the beginning of the liturgical year 2022.
The Featured Image
Chalice Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s Priesthood
This is a silver chalice belonging to Pope Leo XIII that he both used and gave as a gift to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his priesthood in 1887. It’s all silver with his papal coat of arms engraved on its base.
As precious an item as this is, it really is because it leads back to the Eucharist, having contained the Precious Blood of Christ. It all leads back to Jesus Christ, sacramentally. So as spectacular as the chalice is, what’s more important is what has been inside of it.
So we can look at this and be amazed to think Pope Leo XIII used this, but what’s more amazing is that Christ shed his blood and gave it to us to drink and this vessel has contained it.
Having this chalice is a good way to stay connected to this Pope because as a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, I’m aware he established our Diocese in 1889. So it’s a real good connection to our founding Holy Father.
Pope Leo XIII, until Pope John Paul II, was the second longest reigning pope in history. When elected, he was 68 years old. He actually followed Pius IX, who at present, is the longest reigning pope in history. Pius IX died in 1878. After a very long pontificate, they usually try to elect an older guy, so the pontificate will be for a briefer period of time. But he fooled them! He lived so long that he ended by being the second longest reigning pope in history, (until the reign of Pope St. John Paul II) dying in 1903.