A Christmas Reflection
By Father Rollie Hautz
In the 1980s I was pastor of Glenmary's Holy Redeemer mission in Spencer, W.Va. One of the parishioners was very active in the parish and was also a leader in the Boy Scouts. She came to me on Christmas Eve and asked if her Boy Scouts could place luminaries along the sidewalk in front of the parish in order to earn a merit badge. Obviously, I said yes.
Each luminary consisted of a 10-hour candle in a safe container, placed inside a white paper bag 10 inches high. On each side of the sidewalk leading from my house to the church, the luminaries were placed about 10 feet apart. From the road to the front door, they were placed about five feet apart. Just as they finished lighting all the luminaries, the Almighty pulled some big switch in heaven and a beautiful snow began to fall. There was no wind, and the flakes were all very large. Amazingly, all that snow did not extinguish a single luminary.
Because of the weather conditions, the crowd for midnight Mass was not as large as usual. But those who braved the elements received a special treat. As we began to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Light of the World, all those luminaries—shining through the snow—were a beautiful symbolic reminder of Jesus, who came as a light shining in the darkness. That Christmas night was a scene I will never forget.
"A Christmas without light is not Christmas. So let there be light in our souls, in our hearts; let there be forgiveness of others; and that there not be hatred, for that is darkness. Let there be the light of Jesus, which is so beautiful."
—Pope Francis, Dec. 7, 2014
Editor's Note: Father Rollie recently celebrated 60 years as a Glenmary priest. Although he is now a Glenmary senior member, he still actively seeks ways to contribute to the missionary society, such as sharing this Christmas reflection from his time as a pastor in West Virginia. Men discerning a mission vocation can ask themselves how they might be lights in the darkness of Mission Land, USA. Recognizing that we are called to be missionaries, we allow the Almighty to work through us. As we share our light with the people of the missions, we can bring Christ's presence to areas of the United States where there is no Catholic presence.