It is the morn
Fourth and last
The birds outside
Are singing carols
Above the frost
Below the blue,
Their midnight moment nigh.
Then beasts will speak
In whispers low,
When Emmanuel did come,
How they could talk
And pray an hour ...
While man was struck quite dumb.
-- Hilary “Long-Skirts” Flannery
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When I was a boy growing up in Ohio, the town where I lived would put up decorations along the main drag, like every other town. They all said "Seasons Greetings." Not "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." It wouldn't have occurred to me that Christmas was being downplayed. Not in a town settled in 1787 by Methodists, who still pretty much ran the place nearly two centuries later, and not in a town where Santa Claus rode a fire truck through the streets of town on the Sunday before Christmas, handing out bags of treats to all the children.
But times have changed, or at least we think they have. In a nation where people are free to worship as they choose, an increasing number come to our shores who choose to worship as non-Christians. It comes as no surprise that Christmas has a different meaning to them, if any at all. A couple of years ago, there was a face-off of holiday billboards on each end of the Lincoln Tunnel into New York City, with an atheist billboard on the New Jersey side and a Catholic billboard on the New York side. They interviewed some clown who ostensibly was speaking on behalf of "Reason": "Christians don't own the season."
What does that mean, to "own" a time of the year? There is sufficient evidence over two millennia, that this time of year has been associated almost exclusively with the Christian holiday known as Christmas, which certainly didn't get its name from an atheist. Come to think of it, why WOULD an atheist want to own the season? It's a lot of semantic trickery, really, and for all the noise people like this make, there was little public outcry, in the form of not giving gifts on or about the 25th of this month.
Which means the atheists threw their money away on something that will change nothing. The season is not the season of Reason, and there is a reason.
While the actual birth date of Christ remains a matter of debate among scholars and historians alike, the season itself, from time immemorial, and among people who had yet to hear the Gospel, has been associated with the passing from darkness to light, inasmuch as there was celebration at or near the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Over two millennia, Mother Church has taken that which was good in itself from many cultures, and has elevated such customs to convey the message of Christ. And so we have Christmas trees out of Germany, decorated with lights and ornaments, and lighted star-shaped lanterns in the Ukraine, carried on poles to light the way for singing carols.
As Christmas celebrates the coming of the Prince of Peace, so peace has often reigned on this occasion in the midst of war. An example from modern history would be the Christmas Truce of 1914, when British and German soldiers, on the night before Christmas, declared a spontaneous truce and met one another in No Man's Land, singing carols, exchanging coffee and cigarettes, sharing family photos, and even playing a game of soccer. It was not the only such occasion, and commanders from both sides made attempts to prevent it. And yet, there were men from both sides who befriended one another, even after "the war to end all wars."
The Faith upon which the Incarnation is built, and the Church founded by Him to spread that message, have always been under siege, and the blood of Her martyrs has been the seed-bed of an ever-growing harvest. Witness the occurrence in November of last year, at a shopping mall food court in Ontario, in Excruciatingly-Politically-Correct Canada. This wouldn't happen for Eid-ah-Adha, the Islamic "festival of sacrifice," or for Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya, the Islamic New Year. No one will pull a stunt like this for a fabricated (and, unbeknownst to many, anti-Christian) holiday like Kwanzaa. And as this is written, NORAD is not monitoring the skies for Hanukkah Harry.
The threat to Christmas has been greatly exaggerated, O ye of little faith!
To be Christian, or more specifically, to be Catholic, is to believe that our Savior, the God-Made-Man, took the form of a slave, triumphed over Death, and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He, and He alone, is King. At the end of the day, at the end of Time itself, every nation shall yield, every knee shall bend down, and every tongue shall proclaim, that All the billboards in the world to the contrary will not change that.
And so ...
As this is published, this writer is packing for the trip to Ohio on the day after Christmas. But first, one final tribute, as preparations are also underway to celebrate the "Christ-Mass" at the Church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia, where yours truly is First Master of Ceremonies for a Solemn High Mass at the stroke of twelve. “Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virginae!” “Rejoice! Christ is born of Mary the Virgin.”
Now, quit your damn bellyaching and crack open that eggnog already!
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A special thanks to Alphabet Photography of Niagara Falls, Ontario, for thumbing their noses at the Human Rights Commission and orchestrating a "hate crime" disguised as a flash mob, eh? Special thanks to Robert Cooper and Chorus Niagara, The Welland Seaway Mall, and Fagan Media Group.