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Father Muench Says...

My Christmas story: the story of William

Dec. 24, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

My Christmas story never changes.  I have told it so often yet, I never get tired of it.  When I think of the Birth of Christ each year, I think of the day I was at William’s birth.  It was truly the most exciting day of my life.  It was 17 year ago, but seems like yesterday.

I was so pleased when Susan and Paul, my niece and nephew, invited me to be with them at the birth of their second child.  I was then at St. Mary’s, Ticonderoga, and when I received the call that something was happening in Syracuse, I took right off. I probably set a new record in getting there but I wasn’t going to miss this day.

I got there before they had left for the hospital.  As it turned out, I was to be their only escort that night as the grandparents were not able to be there.  We sat around for a while and finally, Susan said it was time.  I noticed during the evening that definitely the mother was always in charge.

Off we went to St. Joseph’s Hospital  and they checked in.  I did overhear one of the nurses commenting to another – “Why they’ve brought their own priest.”  I did let her know that I was simply a spectator.

Susan decided to take a walk and then announced it was time.  The doctor and nurses got busy preparing everything.  I was parked over to the side – a nurse did come over to stand by me.  She said she would guide me through what was happening.  Actually, I was certain she wanted to make certain I didn’t do anything outrageous.  I was so caught up in the moment – I simply didn’t move at all.

All sorts of activity began to happen but there was a real spirit of love that filled that room.  I was truly transformed watching this young woman with her husband at her side bringing this child into the world.  I must admit I don’t remember any of the details as I was so absorbed in all that was happening.

Someone asked me if I was saying prayers and I must admit that I was so absorbed that I didn’t think of any prayers to say.  I just watched.  I think God knew I was trusting him to take care that good things were happening.

After the baby was born and the nurses did all they were to do, I was allowed to hold this child now a tall high school senior.  At that time, I did remember to offer a blessing and prayer for his future.  I remember well that it was a special moment listening to this little heart beating and feeling the deep breaths as this child joined us in this world. It was a special moment for me – as I think back it was an exciting moment in this priest’s life.

After Susan was settled in a room, Paul and I headed home.  It was a good time for a late night cup of coffee at one of those all night places.  This became a fascinating time for me – listening and talking about hopes and dreams.

So each year as I repaper to celebrate Christmas, the Birth of the Savior, I remember and celebrate William’s birth.  I remember well holding that new born baby almost in the palm of my hand.  As I think of the Christ Child, I recall that Jesus came to this world to be our Lord and Savior – to save this human race – was as tiny at his birth as this new born baby that I held that night of William’s birth.  Jesus came to experience being part of our human race, even experience that vulnerable moment of being a tiny new born.

Christmas is a more meaningful experience for me because I was allowed to be with Susan and Paul that night.  I understand so much more the Incarnation of Our Lord.  Truly the amazing moment of birth – a child coming into the joy and peace and love of a family.

So, this is my Christmas story.  I have told it over and over again but it always seems new to me.  It give me that feeling I know so much more of what that first Christmas was like. My sincere wishes to you all – and to your families – for a Happy and Peaceful Christmas. As you remember the Birth of the Christ Child may your family be filled with the peace and joy that Jesus brought to our world.

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