Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrating the birth of Christ

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
 – Matthew 5:14-16
Christmas is only a few days away. For Catholics, the Christmas season of celebration begins on December 25th. The season leading up to Christmas is Advent.

Christmas is the day that Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ. It is a celebration rich in tradition. In the United States it is an official national holiday. It is also officially recognized as a holiday by each of the fifty states. And yet you wouldn't know that from the way that Christmas is treated by the popular media.

In a 2007 survey, 78.4% of Americans identified themselves as Christians. In comparison 1.7% identified themselves as Jewish; 0.7% as Buddhist; 0.6% as Muslim; 1.6% as atheists. About 13% claimed no religious affiliation or refused to answer.

It's true that we live in a multi-cultural society. But American society is not nearly as religiously diverse as one would be led to believe by the more militant secularists. Christians are still a resounding majority of the population. Why shouldn't we be allowed to publicly express our religious beliefs? To do otherwise is to deny reality.

How can a public display of the nativity scene possibly harm others? Why shouldn't Christian citizens be allowed to use public funds to erect such a display?

The intent of the writers of the Constitution is quite clear, which is that there should be no official state religion. This is very different from the barring of any government funds from any religious related purposes, which is the re-interpretation being pushed by the secularists. Religion is a fundamental part of human life. It cannot be completely separated from government without invoking a total ban on religion. And of course, this is the ultimate goal of the militant secularists.

Christ calls us to be "the light of the world". We cannot do this by hiding our faith; rather by sharing it with others.

[Coincidentally, I have begun reading the latest book by Pope Benedict XVI which is titled "Light of the World". We can see how the campaign by the secular media to create a controversy over this book is another attempt to extinguish the light of Christianity.]

Epilogue

Here is an official explanation of the Christmas Day holiday on a US State Dept. website titled "America.gov".
Most Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on December 25. Before the 19th century, many Americans worked on Christmas, but in the industrial era the holiday also began to honor universal values such as home, children and family life, and to incorporate secular customs like exchanging gifts and cards, and the decoration of evergreen trees. Congress proclaimed Christmas a federal holiday in 1870. In 1999, a federal court acknowledged the secular aspects of Christmas in rejecting a claim that the holiday impermissibly endorsed and furthered a particular religious belief.

To some extent, non-Christian holidays celebrated at roughly the same time of year — most prominently the African-American Kwanzaa and the Jewish Hanukkah — blend into a broader “holiday season.”
First notice that Jesus is identified as "Jesus of Nazareth". While this is biblically correct, this term is used  here as a thinly disguised attempt to refuse to recognize the divine nature of Christ and to identify Jesus as a mere historical figure.

Then there is a sort of secular fairy tale about how Americans used to work on Christmas before it was officially declared a holiday by the federal government in 1870. More likely, it was already a state holiday in all the states and the rising centralization of government following the Civil War caused it to be adopted as a federal holiday as well.

There is an overemphasis in the description of Christmas as a secular holiday. Notice that there is no real explanation of the religious significance of Christmas. Finally, there is the attempt to redefine Christmas as the "holiday season" as in "Happy Holidays!"

Aren't there any Christians working at the State Department that can fix this deliberate misinterpretation of Christmas? Even the highly secular Wikipedia manages to come up with this description: "Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament's Messianic prophecy."

4 comments:

  1. Michael,
    I think that the real meaning of Christmas is being overshadow by the tradition of gifts and food, which is nice, but we can not forget why we are celebrating Christmas. In our house we pray the "novena" a gathering of prayers similar to the Rosary.
    This year I haven't done it to be honest, but I will have to do it, after all is the celebration of Christ.

    Great article, there are many thing that I did not know. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ride. I used to get a warm feeling when I would see Santa Claus or reindeer in Christmas decorations. This is fine as part of a family tradition. But when I see this in connection with a TV ad, I see it as part of the larger campaign to transform Christmas from a religious celebration to simply an excuse for buying presents. Even the Christmas tree which used to symbolize for me the very essence of the season, has lost its magic. The Nativity scene truly represents Christmas, but is rarely seen in American culture.

    Praying a novena is a wonderful Catholic tradition. For those that don't know, it is a series of prayers recited over nine days. The nine days recalls the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.

    It usually involves a petition to God. Many times people will ask for a physical need, but it can also be used to ask for a spiritual gift such as humility. Or it can be prayed to petition for others in the Christmas spirit of giving.

    Here is a webpage with many Novenas in English - including a Christmas Novena.
    http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/novena.htm

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for this article - Shockingly stupid that the government should write about the 'origins' of Christmas in this way! AT least they are revealing their true intentions here!

    I have a lot more to write about your next article above (Choice at what price) but I will save it for the New Year. In the meantime, wishing you a very Merry Christmas full of love and happiness, and the same goes for 2011!!

    Marty

    ReplyDelete
  4. Marty, thanks for your heartwarming Christmas greeting. I hope you have a blessed encounter with Christ during the holidays. And I hope that you too will experience a wonderful New Year full of joy and discovery. I look forward to your comments in 2011.

    Peace be with you,
    Michael

    ReplyDelete