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Father Muench Says...

My favorite Christmas story

Dec. 21, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas – you and your families will be remembered in my Christmas Masses. Also, I want to send my blessing to you all for a Happy New Year.

Today’s column will be my Christmas card to you. I want to thank you for being part of my family of readers. I am grateful for you all. I do want you to know that I think of you each week as I prepare to write for the paper. You are always in my prayers.

Today I want to share with you again my Advent and Christmas story. It was the most exciting day in my life and comes to mind for me every year at this Christmas time. I know you have heard the story before. I repeat it often. Please forgive me, but here we go again.

It was 25 years ago this year. Susan, my nephew Paul’s wife, had invited me to the birth of their second child as the time of the birth was approaching. At that time, I was pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Ticonderoga. It was going to be a bit of a drive to get there, but I was ready.

I do remember the day. As I returned from a call to the house, my secretary, Diane, met me at the door and said, “You better get moving! Something is happening in Syracuse!” So, I did get moving. I was not going to miss this. I did arrive in plenty of time. They had not left for the hospital yet.

I learned a great deal that night. I was so thrilled with the wonder of God’s creation. I also realized that the mother is the one who is always in charge. So, after a while, Susan announced it was time, and we headed to St. Joseph’s Hospital. I remembered as they were checking in, I overheard one of the nurses saying, “My God, they have brought their priest.” I did let them know that I was a relative.

Then, as I remember, we took a walk down the hall, then Susan said, it was time. The nurses began to get things organized and the doctor arrived. I remember that one of the nurses came over to stand with me. She said she was there to explain everything to me. I think that she was there to make certain that I didn’t do anything out of order.

I do remember I was nervous. I am often asked what prayers I said during the birth. I must confess to you that I didn’t say any prayers at all. I was too absorbed with all that was happening. I did offer a prayer of gratitude after, and when I was allowed to hold this newborn infant, his name is Will, I offered a prayer of blessing.

I must tell you that one of the things I discovered was the pain of childbirth. I had certainly heard about it, but that night I realized what is meant by the pain of childbirth. Susan had to exert and work; there was truly pain. I must tell you that I was so impressed in that moment. I realized that my own mother had to suffer for me. My prayer is a prayer of gratitude. My mother loved me so much that she accepted that pain to bring me into this world.

I also want you to know how impressed I was with the love that was in that room – the love of a mother and the love of a father as he supported his wife as well as he could. The love that I could recognize in the care of that doctor and the nurses.

Then the baby was taken care of, and Susan was settled in a room. So, Paul and I headed on home. We did stop on the way for a cup of coffee in a diner. I do remember the conversation. It was filled with hopes and dreams and talk of how the family would change with a new addition.

So, that is my story. I have only told it a thousand times. I continue to thank God for that day and that experience. It was truly the most exciting day of my life. I remember well being so close to God, the Creator.

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