Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Protestant Hangups About Christmas: A hard thing for converts to Catholicism to shake.

Despite their denials, there really is a Santa Clause.
Converts from Protestantism are not the only ones who have trouble with traditional, non-liturgical, popular-pious customs that have come down to us from a variety of European traditions:  Many Catholics who have been deeply influenced by American Evangelical Protestant prejudice, are often just as narrow-minded and rigid.  Especially when it comes to devotions to the saints and the Blessed Virgin -and/or holiday celebrations connected to such.  It always gets worse during the holiday season.  For your instruction, I composed a few Bible-banger rules that smack of Protestantism, Calvinism, Amish/Hutteriteism, Pentecostalism, Steubenvilleism, and so on.  I'm sorry - I can't stand Protestant stuff and the contaminating effects it has had on Catholicism.  Anyway. 
Bible banger rules:

  • Don't celebrate anything in Advent.
  • Do not put up Christmas decor or lights before Christmas eve.
  • You don't have to fast or abstain on Christmas Eve - even if it falls on a Friday.
  • Never say, Happy Holidays - ever!  In Advent wish someone a holy Advent.
  • No Christmas before Christmas.
  • Santa is evil - he's a witch.
  • St. Nicholas is not Santa.
  • Our Lady gave birth to the Infant Jesus just like every other woman gives birth.
  • You must be able to put up Nativity scenes in public places such as the front lawn of the White House.
  • Secular businesses and government agencies must wish everyone a Merry Christmas - even during Advent.
  • Oh! Oh!  If you must have a Santa he can only be adoring the Infant Jesus in the manger.

Art:  Miracle of St. Nicholas.  The saint is depicted rescuing sailors at sea.  Such iconography of the saint contributed to the legend that Santa (saint) flies through the air.  It's a very Catholic theme, connected with mystical charismata (gifts) such as levitation, bilocation, and so on.  Similarly, in the Acts of the Apostles, the apostle Philip was caught up by the Spirit and carried to the Ethiopian to instruct and give him baptism.  One might explain to children how nothing is impossible for God, and that St. Nicholas is a wonderworker who obtains graces (gifts) from God.   Be creative - have a drink - be totally Catholic.
Happy Holidays!


  1. +JMJ+

    Tread carefully, Terry! Remember what happened when I wrote about the Protestant hang ups of converts last year?

    But LOL at "Santa is evil--he's a witch"!

  2. I know - I specifically had you in mind - you are my muse! LOL!

  3. +JMJ+

    There's something about the holiday season (Ooooh! I used the H-word!!!) that gets me like this. Even my Punk Catholic thoughts have been coming faster and thicker these days. I'm actually blogging some of them.

    I blame Santa 'coz a witch.

  4. Well, we've often talked about the problems many converts have (as well as many who are influenced by the Protestantism of our culture) on Vox Nova. It's an issue of grave concern -- I always like to give my test of "do you find anything objectionable to the Akathist to the Theotokos" to people -- if they do, we have a problem. Of course there are many other things as well -- for example, Jansenist influence on Western Catholics also has a way of dismissing the joy which Catholics the world over had for these feasts.

  5. Spot on, Terry...

    Just one of the reasons I avoid most (but certainly not all) "Catholic" blogs. Most just make me roll my eyes and think, "get a life."

    P.S. What did Henry just say?

  6. Henry - that is perfect - I never thought of the Akathist as an orthodoxy test before now.

    Adrienne - Henry agrees with us.

  7. "Adrienne - Henry agrees with us"

    - and so does that simpleton from Kansas. :)

  8. Here's an adorable picture of the Pope in a Santa type hat. It is from 2005 and I think it was just before Christmas(!) ;-) Pope Picture

  9. I think that the word that encompasses "Protestantism, Calvinism, Amish/Hutteriteism, Pentecostalism, Steubenvilleism" is fundamentalism. And, yes, as unnatural as it sounds, Catholics are heavily influenced by Protestant fundamentalism both in a religious sense as well as a political one.

    Whatever happened to Catholic social teaching? Why do we ignore our own social disciplines?

    Sorry for going off on a tangent.

  10. Henry, yes, there are certainly some killjoy schools of thought in the Catholic tradition.
    And Tom, I think you are right that what we are objecting to is properly called fundamentalism. Many Protestants wouldn't appreciate being lumped in with it.

  11. This reminds me of website I ran across decrying all kinds of things mortally sinful because St. Jean Vianney said they were. That's not how moral theology works, but sadly, lots of Catholics think that way. (and St. Jean Vianney himself "lightened up" after reading Alphonsus Liguori)

    At the same time, I found an awesome book on the Curé de Ars that I'm going to buy, by Fr. William Rutler. The man was not a seething Puritan but a joyful and loving man who suffered for the precious souls in his parish. He also had his own struggles with Jansenism.

    So, I guess my point is that any religious fervor that is not driven by love for God and fellow man is simply sick, not holy. The funny thing is that those are the Catholics who are most quick to say all Protestants are going to hell. Weeeell, then ....

  12. Santa is an anagram of Satan, you know...

  13. Larry, Larry, Larry. I'm laughing so hard right now.

  14. I love everything you said but.... (you know there has to be a "BUT"). I am one of those "Converts from Protestantism" convert from Protestantism and yes, I am a Franciscan friar, but no, I am not Steubenvillist.

  15. Maybe someone can answer a question; a lot of people have a problem with Steubenville, what exactly is is that they object to? I don't know much about it, but I have met some kids who went to school there. They seem like pretty traditional Catholics. The criticism comes from both right and left. Not trying to be contentious, just trying to become more informed.

  16. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Living in a very Protestant area and coming from a family that's half Protestant, I don't know if I can join you in blaming Prots and converts for this - the reason being that Christmas is *all* some Protestants celebrate. Lutherans do celebrate Advent , of course, because they invented the Advent wreath and other high church mainline Prots do as well, but not evangelicals. They're all about Christmas. In my area, the evangelical churches have been doing their Christmas programs since December 1.

    No, it's just the fascist liturgists, that's all.

    And Melody? People don't like Steubenville for a lot of reasons. Libs don't like them because they're orthodox. Trads don't like them because they're charismatic and insufficiently Trad.


  17. +JMJ+

    I know who Joe is! ;-)

    Her writing style has improved.

    And at least she doesn't attack Terry any longer. It must be the effect of Santa's magic.

  18. I just do not like protestant spirituality and practice, especially as it has contaminated Catholicism. Protestant people are very nice however.

  19. @Terry Nelson

    Here is a poem written by Left-Footer, I'm sure he would appreciaite your comments over on his Catholic Blog of the same name


    Saint Nicholas was my kind of Saint,
    If sometimes short of temper.
    Though pacifism was not his bent;
    He was fidelis semper.

    When Arius denied his Lord's
    Divinity, Nick felt sore;
    Decided acts speak more than words,
    Felled Arius to the floor.

    His kind of knock-down plagologue*
    Is now not to our taste.
    We value courteous dialogue
    Above such wordless haste.

    And yet there is a time, one feels
    To strike and not to speak.
    When Reason with Unreason deals,
    It's reason which is weak.

    For who can mould a brain of mud
    With philosophic lore?
    Better to thump the stupid crud.
    His place is on the floor.

    Note: Plagologue = arguing or reasoning with blows. This word does not appear in any dictionary. It is Left-Footer's own coinage, being derived from Latin 'plagus' = a blow, 'plagosus' = full of blows, violent, cognate with Greek 'plegein = to beat, and logos = reason.

  20. Steubenvillist.


    My husband is hanging Christmas lights and our little tree has been up for quite some time. In the real world, some of us work Christmas Eve from 1PM to 9PM and I'd loooove to see my husband doing all this with the kids "helping" on the night before Christmas.

    Adrienne's first comment? Exactly my thoughts.
    Begone, killjoys.

  21. It always amazes me how so many Protestant denominations who have Luther to thank for their existence, will deny many aspects of original Lutheranism - which are aspects that initially began as a continuation of or replication of Catholic practices.

    Luther was wrong, of course. But what he started in the very beginning was very "Catholic." Compare traditional Lutheranism today with a southern Baptist or Assembly of God Christmas observance and they are worlds apart.

  22. Charlotte - the churches in Tübingen (SW Germany), one of the original hotbeds of Lutheranism before Reformed Protestantism existed, all look Catholic, especially since the Catholic churches in Germany are mostly "Spirit of V2 Churches".

    I guess it's the same with High Church Anglicanism.

  23. Mercury, that's interesting. My paternal grandfather came from Denmark. One of my nephews spent time there as an exchange student; and took some pictures of the area Grandpa's family lived in. There was a pre-reformation era church which still looked much as it did back in the day; with a crucifix which resembled the San Damiano one. It is still in use as a Lutheran church.

  24. Lutheran churches can be pretty Catholic - it all depends on how much Reformed theology they absorbed. Nowadays, though, they are infected with the same modernist rejection of art and beauty as we are.

    I remember one of the most "Catholic" churches I had ever seen was a beautiful Episcopal church in New Orleans - rood screen and statues and everything. I myself grew up with an octagonal-shaped Catholic church with felt banners and ugly carpet-looking tapestries, but Katrina took care of it (in devastated St. Bernard Parish [county, for you foreigners]).


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