Thursday, December 17, 2009


Here is the good thing about the secularization of Christmas: It has provided an outstanding opportunity to grow in the faith. There is almost always a secular bent or at least a non-Christian strain somewhere in the world where Christianity is striving to take hold and thus a certain amount of risk in proclaiming one’s faith or having the faith influence society. But for those who are serious Christian Catholics this simply provides the chance to practice the faith more fundamentally. “Blessed are you . . .” and all that.

Despite what we might say the secularization of Christmas in the United States is not an insidious underground movement. It is quite out in the open and any attempt at changing Christmas or minimizing it (thus far) has been pretty much throwing up new (and often tacky) wallpaper on old established walls. Despite what you are trying to cover up there is little doubt in anybody’s mind that the old wall is just under the paper.

Consider even the name – which makes it amazing that non-Catholic’s would even use it. Christmas! It comes to us from the term “Christ’s Mass Day.” Christ. Mass. What more could we want in a title? Therefore conversation about faith can come up with little consternation. We need not apologize for bringing Christ up at CHRISTmas, in our cards, in our greetings, in our decorations, etc. . . He is the bulldozer in the basement. What an opportunity!

So here is the opportunity to grow in the faith during this season. The first and by far the most important is to personally prepare and celebrate it in such a way that is in keeping with your Christian dignity. If the meaning of Christ’s Mass Day is lost on us it is nobody’s fault but our own.

Getting out and about is difficult during this season because everybody is out and about. Be the one that is kind a driver, be the one that extra nice to the cashier, be the one that retains a smile (it will make you feel better.)

Don’t yell at the store clerk who wishes you a “Season’s Greetings.” They may not like it any better than you (or they may be Jewish, etc . . .) They are paid to say it. Their livelihood may depend upon it. Instead send a kind note to the store manager. Anger has never won anybody over to Christianity. What wins people over is, “I want to be like that.”

A friend of mine became a Unitarian Universalist minister. I was never sure whether I should offer him a Merry Christmas or not. So I asked him. He said, “I consider it as it is intended that you wish me the best of what you are celebrating and I will do likewise.” That seemed fair. (Of course he doesn’t worship the devil or anything so it works out.) So when wished a Season’s Greetings or a Happy Holidays, simply smile and say, “And a Merry Christmas to you.” If they are a gracious person they will accept it.


Gina said...

Personally I draw the line at "Holiday Tree". Seriously---what other "holiday" is celebrated by dragging a pine tree into the middle of your living room and decorating it?

Anonymous said...

When in the check-out line, I try to pay attention to the transaction process and just before it would be appropriate for the clerk to say "Happy Holidays," I preempt him/her with "I hope you have a Merry Christmas." They tend to respond with something like, "Same to you." They are probably glad not to have to say "Happy Holidays." With 85% of the US identifying themselves as Christian (even if only culturally), you have an 85% chance of not offending someone. (No person of good will would be offended by a greeting from another faith or culture. I might be at a loss as to how to respond to "Happy Kwanzaa" but I wouldn't be offended.)

Cracked Pot said...

I have stopped decrying the fact that Christmas items start appearing way too early. Christ is proclaimed in Christmas lights as the Light of the world. He is proclaimed as Gift of the Father in in every commercial display. He is proclaimed as the Word of God in every Christmas song (even the secular ones). So, let us rejoice that we have at least 5 or 6 weeks before Christmas Day for the world to be reminded of "the Reason for the season."

Anonymous said...

Ah, well, if anyone wishes me "Happy Holidays" I'm not going to just grunt as usual, "othanxutoo" -- I'm going to inform them that every day is a holiday somewhere, and thus, I very specifically wish them a Merry Christmas!

No, I won't --I'm not cantankerous (yet); I'll just try not to hesitate at something so bland. So far, though, salesfolks who aren't over-harried have been excited about Christmas --I hear all about what Boyfriend or Mama or Brother-in-law is getting for Christmas. :-) I love it! Selecting a gift for someone is not the Reason for the Season, I know, but it's giving, it's visible love, it's a unity (with me) that wasn't there before, and I love how a face lights up with hope of giving someone else joy. People are basically God's in their heart, even if they can't say so.