DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY    December 17, 1998   vol. 9, no. 244

ECCLESIAL ECHOES

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          The following was provided by the Catholic Dispatch who encourage us to spread it freely to all. The one today deals with the commercialization and secularization of this sacred feast that too many Catholics have been bamboozled into thinking it's all part of what the Church advocates; whereas, in truth, the Church and Sacred Scripture convey an entirely different meaning. In short, it's a brief essay on the real reason for the season.

How many shopping days left?

          Catholics stand by year after year as they watch the Holy Season of Christmas turn into a commercialized season of buying and selling, as things extend more and more into a humanistic holiday of "peace, love, and giving" to our fellow man. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with such charity towards our neighbor. In fact, such charity as this must continue all year round, not just at Christmas time! What is a horrible shame is when such talk of "peace and giving" obscures and replaces the true meaning of Christmas - the celebrated anniversary date of when Our Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth, decreed to be born on earth, to take on human flesh and walk among His creatures; the beginning of His mission of the Redemption of man. Such a great event is this, in the history of mankind, that it has been rightfully chosen as the focal point of history, this year being 1,998 A.D. - Anno Domini, which is in Latin translated as "in the year of Our Lord". Such words were even spelled out in English when the date was written on the Constitution of the United States.

          Catholics must remember that the Catholic New Year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. We must remember that Advent, the four weeks preceding the birth of Christ, is a season of penitential preparation for the coming of Christ. It parallels, in a way, the season of Lent in that all festivity is avoided. Traditionally during Advent, all vestments worn were of purple (except on Gaudete Sunday), and the "Gloria in excelsis" omitted from the Mass. At one time there existed the law of fasting and abstinence during the season. Later this was mitigated to consist only of the three "Ember Days" and Christmas Eve which were days of fasting. In short, the season is one in which the focus is on ourselves, and our special preparedness of soul for the coming of Christ. We are commanded to "love our neighbor as ourselves", and such a teaching implies that we must FIRST love ourselves insofar as our prime responsibility is our own soul and our standing before the Lord. The mind of the Church and her traditional spirit suggests that we still keep this season in some way according to that penitential spirit. Christmas really begins on Christmas Day, the 25th, and extends until the feast of the Purification on February 2nd. This is the time of celebration! Some countries have the laudable practice of giving presents to their children on January 6th, the Epiphany, pretending that such gifts were brought to them by the Three Kings during the night!

          We may rightfully complain that the world is little by little taking Christ out of Christmas and turning it into a commercial season where we feel obligated to spend lots of money to buy gifts for so many people. There is no such obligation, strictly speaking. It is quite unfortunate that such has become the custom. Now Catholics have been so caught up into the practices of the world that they spend most of their Advent time worrying about finishing their Christmas shopping rather than what they are supposed to be concerned with!

          That which helps to turn Christmas into a season of "humanistic cheer" is the statement we are bound to hear: "on earth peace, good will toward men". One may ask, "Doesn't this come from the Bible?". No, it is a mistranslation found in many unauthentic versions of the Bible. The authentic quote from the Gospel of St. Luke (2:14) says, "on earth peace to men of good will." The mistranslation suggests that peace comes to the earth by pleasing our fellow man. The Catholic, and authentic, quote clearly reveals that peace comes to those men who have a "good will". And what does this "good will" consist of; what must we do in order for us to gain peace for ourselves? St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians (6:7) - "With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men". Thus our primary concern should be with pleasing the Lord, and not man. Let us try to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.


December 17, 1998       volume 9, no. 244
ECCLESIAL ECHOES

DAILY CATHOLIC

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