"During the season of Christmas in many art galleries, in countless homes and churches, and on myriad Christmas cards, there will be scenes picturing the Madonna and Child. There is a sense in which the Madonna and Child experience is not the exclusive possession of any faith or any race. This is not to gainsay, to underestimate, or to speak irreverently of the far-reaching significance of the Madonna in Christianity, particularly in Roman Catholicism. But it is to point out the fact that the Madonna and Child both in art and religion is a recognition of the universality of the experience of motherhood as an expression of the creative and redemptive principle of life. It affirms the constancy of the idea that life is dynamic and alive that death as the final consummation of life is an illusion.
"The limitless resources of life are at the disposal of the creative impulse that fulfills itself most intimately and profoundly in the experience of the birth of a child. Here the mother becomes one with the moving energy of existence in the experience of birth there is neither time, nor space, nor individuality, nor private personal existence she is absorbed in a vast creative moment upon which the continuity of the race is dependent. The experience itself knows no race, no culture, no language it is the trysting place of woman and the Eternal.
"The Madonna and Child in Christianity is profoundly rooted in this background of universality. Specifically, it dramatizes the birth of a Jewish baby, under unique circumstances, calling attention to a destiny in which the whole human race is involved. For many to whom he is the Savior of mankind, no claim as to his origin is too great or too lofty. Here is the culmination of a vast expectancy and the fulfillment of a desperate need. Through the ages the message of him whose coming is celebrated at Christmastime says again and again through artists, through liturgy, through music, through the written and spoken word, through great devotion and heroic sacrifice, that the destiny of man on earth is a good and common destiny that however dark the moment or the days may be, the redemptive impulse of God is ever present in human life.
"But there is something more. The Madonna and Child conception suggests that the growing edge of human life, the hope of every generation, is in the birth of the child. The stirring of the child in the womb is the perennial sign of man's attack on bigotry, blindness, prejudice, greed, hate, and all the host of diseases that make of man's life a nightmare and a holocaust.
"The Birth of the Child in China, Japan, the Philippines, Russia, India, America, and all over the world, is the breathless moment like the stillness of absolute motion, when something new, fresh, whole, may be ushered into the nations that will be the rallying point for the whole human race to move in solid phalanx into the city of God, into the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth.
from The Mood of Christmas