Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Holidays! The Pope Inaugurates the Christmas Season...



Except for those people more Catholic than the Pope I guess.
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The Holy Father launched the holiday season in Rome with his visit to the Colonna dell'Immacolata near the Spanish Steps in Rome, to place a wreath in the Virgin's hands on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  (A fireman usually does it, while the Pope prays.)
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ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI has inaugurated the Christmas season in Rome with his traditional visit to the posh Spanish Steps neighborhood to pray before a statue of Mary.  Throngs of shoppers, tourists and Romans alike jammed the rain-slicked cobblestones around the piazza to catch a glimpse of Benedict as he marked the Catholic Church's feast of the Immaculate Conception. - Source
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Don't mention Christmas...
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I'm sure liturgical purists will say that is not what was going on, but evidently Romans see it another way.  Indeed, the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict has said that immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception it has been a firmly rooted tradition that many families set up their crib, "as if to relive with Mary those days full of trepidation that preceded the birth of Jesus."
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Of course the actual Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve, but until then, many holidays are celebrated throughout Advent - as a friend pointed out in one of his posts.  Hence my personal opinion: until Christmas, it seems fitting to use the greeting, Happy Holidays from Thanksgiving on.  When Christmas arrives, Merry Christmas, or the British Happy Christmas is appropriate through Epiphany... or Candlemas if you are really a Christmas freak.  [BTW - I put out my Christmas lights and decorations on St. Nicholas' Day.  St. Nicholas is the real Santa for those of you not too tarnished by American Evangelical Protestantism, Calvinism, or even Mormonism for that matter.]
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But some insist Christmas can wait?
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Interestingly, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City has written his first pastoral letter urging Catholic to avoid Christmas celebrations, decorating, parties, and all the other fun holiday stuff during Advent.
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Utah’s Catholic bishop is putting the brakes on Christmas.

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In his first pastoral letter to Utah’s 300,000 Catholics since becoming their shepherd in 2007, Bishop John C. Wester asks that members hold off celebrating Christmas until the season actually begins Dec. 24.
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Catholics, Wester says, ought not have early parties in their homes or churches, light up their trees or decorate their schools with more than simple wreaths and boughs of green.
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Instead, the bishop writes, Catholics should remain faithful to Advent, a four-week season that began Sunday and focuses on prayer, reflection and the joyful expectation both of Christ’s birth and his return at the end of time.
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“I know it is an enormous challenge,” Wester writes, “to remain faithful to the Advent season when we are surrounded by a society which, while claiming to be Christian, does not take the time to reflect and prepare as the church calls us to do.” - Source
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Isn't that something?
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Happy Holidays!
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Photo:  The Christmas tree is up in St. Peter's Square already.  I know!

12 comments:

  1. I decorated my rectory (Christmas tree, lights, etc.) last Dec. 1. We will decorate our church on Dec. 22.
    I will celebrate the 9-day Novena Masses called the "Simbang Gabi" (a Filipino tradition) w/ white vestment and Christmas decorated chapel/church.

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  2. Bah Humbug! ;-p

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  3. Well today is the feast of St Lucy, so everyone should have some lights up and lit!! At least light some candles this day!

    I put mine up early this year -- i was able to do it in a t-shirt and jeans, it was so mild, and so it's the first time I put lights up according to my original design from two years ago (when we first moved here). The last two years i started closer to Christmas, and had to settle for the bare minimum -- it was too doggone cold.

    Lots of Holy Days, holidays, in early December, each signaling the beginning of The Holiday Season to various parts of the world: St Francis Xavier's day(India), St Nick's Day (Germany, Russia), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Italy), Feast of OL Guadalupe (Mexico), St Lucy's Day (Sweden)...which ones did I miss?

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  4. I put up my tree and (indoor) lights yesterday. Just spent a pleasant half hour basking in their glow with a cat on my lap. The bishop can put his lights up when he wants to; mine go up on or near Gaudete Sunday.

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  5. My tree will go up next weekend...

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  6. I so love the Holy Father - he is so real, so down to earth. He makes Christmas for me.

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  7. I'm such a procrastinator - I never took down my tree from last Christmas1!!

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  8. elisabeta10:10 PM

    I read about someone who hated to take down their tree, so after Candlemas, they decorated it for St. Valentine's Day, then Lent and Easter, etc., all the way through the following Christmas, and then took it down. Of course, there were no needles left on the tree. BTW, I accidentally misspelled St. Cecilia. Sorry. I make lots of mistakes like that.

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  9. +JMJ+

    The Bishop of Utah, aye? That reminds me that the Mormons in Manila (yes, we have them, too) put their creche up in front of their temple last week.

    Do I have a point? No . . .

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  10. Enbrethieliel - I didn't realize Mormons are in your country. How sad - I feel so bad when I hear things like that - Everyone should be Catholic in your country. (I know they are not of course.) I always feel sad when I hear that Italians are non-Catholic as well.

    Mormons believe weird stuff though.

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  11. +JMJ+

    Yes, all Filipinos should be Catholic--even if only the sort of Catholic who form birth control advocacy groups with names like "Excommunicate Me" (You think I'm kidding?). But I feel as if I'm railing against inevitable entropy.

    When I hear someone from a country that was once richly Catholic and is now mostly secularised say something like, "Well, at least the Philippines is still going strong," I remember when Japan was bombing the Philippines during WWII and radio reports were optimistic as long as the announcers could end with, "Corregidor still stands!"

    Well, Corregidor fell . . . and then we had the Bataan Death March . . . I was at Corregidor a few months ago and couldn't believe how beautiful it was, ruins and all. I consider it the best kept secret in the Philippines, because more foreign tourists than Filipinos seem to visit. We locals don't seem to care. I would like to get married there someday. A Catholic ceremony, of course.

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  12. Yeah, that all reminds me of this: Why did Europeans decide that AFTER all that crap happened in WW2 was the best time to abandon God? Why are there still Europeans who deny that evil exists, and that Satan is real? What more proof could they ever need?

    At least Americans abandoned God cause we were fat and rich and happy after the war. That makes sense in a human nature sort of way.

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