John Huss (Jan Hus) was a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation. He was a Czech university professor whose extensive writings earned him the ire of the Roman Catholic Church. He was excommunicated, condemned and executed for his teachings against the papacy and Roman Catholic errors. On July 6, 1415 he was burned at the stake while singing, “Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me.” His ashes were scattered in the Rhine river.
Two years before his death, Hus wrote the following Christmas letter to his church in Prague while he was under the ban from the Roman Church. Many of its expressions reflect the desires of my own heart for my family, church and friends.
Have a blessed Christmas!
To the Praguers
25 December 1413
Albeit I am now separated from you so far that it perhaps is not fitting that I preach much to you, nevertheless, the love that I have for you urges me that I say at least a few brief words to your love.
Lo! dearly beloved; as it were an angel today said to the shepherds: “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” And suddenly a multitude of angels cried aloud, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Rejoice that today the infinitely Great is born a child, that there may be glory to God in the highest.
Rejoice, because today is born the Reconciler, in order to reconcile man with God and angel, that there may be glory to God in the highest.
Rejoice, because today One was born to cleanse sinners from their sin, to deliver them from the power of the Devil, and to save them from eternal perdition, and bring them into eternal joy, that there may be glory to God in the highest.
Rejoice with a great joy that today a King is born to us, to dispense the fullness of the heavenly kingdom; a Bishop, to grant eternal benediction; the Father of the future age, in order to keep us a His children with Himself forever.
A loving Brother is born to us, a wise Master, a safe Leader, a just Judge, in order that there may be glory to God in the highest.
Rejoice, you wicked, because the God-priest was born, who grants to every penitent absolution from all sins, that there may be glory to God in the highest.
Rejoice, because today the bread of angels, namely, God, became food for men, to refresh the hungry with His glorious body, that they may have peace on earth.
Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal men may live in eternity.
Rejoice, because the rich Lord of the Universe lies in a manger as poor, that He may enrich us needy ones.
Rejoice dearly beloved, that what the prophets prophesied is fulfilled, that there may be glory to God in the highest.
O, dearly beloved, should there be but little rejoicing over these things? Nay, a mighty joy! Because a Redeemer is born to us, to free us from all misery, a Saviour of sinners, a Ruler of all His faithful; there is born a Comforter of the sorrowful, and given us the Son of God, that there be to us great joy, to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.
May the God born to us this day deign to grant us that good will, peace, along with joy! Amen.