"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A war on Christmas? Really?

"People disagreeing with you is not an act of aggression."
Yeah Chuck!

I read a great post on the so-called war on Christmas at Sr. Mary Martha's blog.  The subheading for my post is lifted right out of Sister's post.
 There is no war ... The President and the Congress pray publicly on a regular basis.* They actually shouldn't do that, but no one has stormed the halls with machetes to make them stop. Some people have merely complained about it, which is their right as a citizen, not an act of war.
Perhaps you are merely referring to the notion that because abortion and gay marriage (in a growing number of states) are legal, your religious tenets are being trampled.
But they are not. Unless you have been forced to have an abortion or marrying someone of the same sex, your beliefs are safe and sound. The rest is hyperbole. People disagreeing with you is not an act of aggression.

 And, if I may be honest, comes off as a little whiney. What warlike thing has happened? I'm having trouble seeing the gunsmoke through the Christmas lights. - Sr. Mary Martha
I couldn't agree more.

Last week a woman told me
black people can't sing Christmas carols.
That's cold.

The Directory of Public Worship

Some of Catholic bloggers are beginning to resemble characters out of Cromwell's England.  It wouldn't surprise me if a few would be in favor of setting up their own Directory of Public Worship.  Last week one blogger complained about unchristian Christmas music and 'adulterous' holiday songs - too secular without nary a mention of Christ. 

Merry Christmas Terry! - Love, Ray-Ray and Ginger

Photo Christmas cards celebrate the family and help far-flung relatives and friends connect.

Another site complained that Christmas cards, like social media, is now all about us - me - you.  Why?  Photo cards with pictures of family and travels - though they carry a Merry Christmas greeting - evidently they aren't religious enough.  I suppose the emphasis is supposed to be 'Jesus is the reason for the season' - works for me.  But guess what - maybe not for everybody.  So, even if those narcissist Christians send such cards and still go to Mass or church on Christmas, they didn't celebrate according to the rules set down in the Directory of Public Worship. 

Obviously, I'm missing something.  Or maybe we're all missing the something.  Wasn't it Christ himself who made Christmas all about man - that's what the Incarnation is all about, right?  God became man.  A Saviour was born for us.  Us.  He was born for us - in that sense he did indeed make it all about us.  Some people may have a hard time grasping that as easily as the great theologians in Catholic social media do.  Yet many non-religious types know enough to celebrate Christmas, and the majority seem to respect what it stands for.  Some even go to church or Mass on Christmas - albeit the only day of the year they do so.  Some may have sent all about me holiday cards.  Others may be drunk, some may be living in sin, some may be dirty, some may be “barboni” who live in a cardboard box under a bridge.

Not good enough?

Remember when Pope Benedict hosted
Christmas lunch for Rome's poor?

How about this then  Just for laughs, I guess:

Of Nativity Scenes and Vatican Budget Cuts

Over the last years we have learned that the St. Peter’s Square nativity scene has often cost upward of half a million euro. There has been not a little graft involved.

We also know that the Holy See has some money problems.

In the spirit of the new Franciscan renewal of the Curia, I have a suggestion to save money and to empower special groups of the marginalized in the Roman scene.

I propose that groups out there in Rome could be invited to build the crèche each year!
They would put their best efforts into it and the results would be, no doubt, edifying. They should construct the scene according to their own lived-experiences (which is how most modern theologians these days are reinterpreting doctrine… but I digress).

For example:

School-children from the periferia, a poorer outlying area of Rome.
They would create, perhaps, a classroom surrounded by a depressed area such as along the Via Flaminia with lots of old cars parked in the streets and maybe a pack of dogs (“cittadini non umani”) roaming about.  Don’t forget figures from video games.

“Barboni” is the Roman word for bums, street-people, the homeless. They would create a scene based on the cardboard boxes they live in under bridges along the Tiber or on top of grates. Over all, the 1% would be passing them by in their luxury vehicles.

LCWR nuns
This would involve mostly nice apartments, hair salons, and hotel conference centers. There would be an emphasis on walkers and slide-shows depicting their oneness with the cosmic egg in a futuring process of conscience evolution. Over the speakers we would hear recordings of talks by lesbian advocates and proponents of the ordination of women and the transgendered.

Self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagians.
Theirs would be a classic scene, depicting the Baby Jesus being adored by the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, the Magi and lots of shepherds and angels and donkeys and moo-cows, etc. Front and center would be conspicuous gold and lace accoutrement. Gregorian chant plays over the speakers while aroma-therapy gadgets pump expensive incense into the piazza.

Each Roman dicastery of the Curia.
Frankly, by the time the list gets down to them, there won’t be any of those left.

. . .
Because that is so funny and Christmassy at the same time, right?

Color him annoyed.

. . .

Don't be discouraged.  Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

Like I said the other day: The war on Christmas?  It isn't real.  No one can stop Christmas - it already happened and happens now.  It is beyond any one's power to abolish it.  It is a mystery unfolded and unfolding, revealed and revealing - for those who are able to accept it, able to receive it.  Christmas is a gift to be received - and the gift we receive we give as a gift.  Nothing stands in our way except the desire to control and construct the holidays into an idol of our personal preference - an ideal we imagine to suit our taste, with the decree, 'this is how it should be' - only when it disappoints, or someone breaks the rules, we become disgruntled and annoyed.

Every year it becomes clearer to me - and I hope for you:  Christ is already born - he dwells amongst us - now.  He is risen and lives to make intercession for us, and we participate in that, in and through the prayer of the Church.

 Let them eat bûche de Noël. 
* The President led the festivities at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, and amongst other things, he said this:
Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter Him.  But through a life of humility and the ultimate sacrifice, a life guided by faith and kindness towards others, Christ assumed a mighty voice, teaching us lessons of compassion and charity that have lasted more than two millennia.  He ministered to the poor. He embraced the outcast.  He healed the sick.  And in Him we see a living example of scripture that we ought to love others not only through our words, but also through our deeds.  - President Obama



  1. Thanks, Terry. I love this. Merry Christmas!

  2. Merry Christmas Susan!

  3. Good post. ... clearly there have been some successful "war" things, like canceling public school Christmas concerts or Christmas songs from the repertoire... but there's gotta be some balance. The Obama quote is very good.

    But why is santa gonna shoot Mrs. Claus? Sorry, maybe it's Ms. Claus.

    1. That's true.

      Santa is using a stun gun - which explains why she is so stunning.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.