Jesus was born at a time of great persecution and social upheaval. Born in the raw poverty of a stable, Jesus’s birth frees us from the darkness of sin, slavery, and hopelessness. On Christmas Eve in Ireland, a candle is placed in the window as a sign of light to the Holy Family that there is room at the inn of our hearts for the birth of Our Lord.

There are millions throughout the world today who are persecuted for their faith and many who are slaves to darkness, sin, and bondage. Let us remember all those persecuted for their faith as we light our candles this year and ask what we need to be “freed” from ourselves?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.