Tag Archives: Advent

December 25th – the most accurate date to celebrate Our Lord’s birth

Image result for nativity of our lord

 

Good Christians know full well of the annual reminders popping up before the Christmas Season concerning the date of Our Lord’s Birth.  According to “historians” and other supposedly distinguished “experts”, the day of Our Lord’s Birth was almost certainly not December 25 and to determine an exact date is impossible.  Sometimes this statement can be made with a great anti-Catholic malice; other times it may seem to sound like a light-hearted, passing remark.  No matter the tone, all of these remarks do a great disservice to the Church.  For at the root of this matter is the fact that this position is used to undermine the Church and the Birth of Our Lord.  Many anti-Catholic persons started circulating this rumor while claiming that this date had origins in a pagan holiday.  Thus, the Catholic Church simply wished to substitute this holiday for the commemoration of Our Lord’s Birth and perhaps even paganized “early” Christianity.  Also, even a lighter tone would seem to hint at a certain stupidity of the Church for choosing December 25 as a fixed date, as if they were proclaiming that that was the exact day!  Although Catholics might not be necessarily required to accept an exact date for our Savior’s Birth, Dr. Marian Horvat does an excellent job in explaining how, based on Scripture, December 25 is indeed the most precise date that can be assigned to the Birth of our Savior.  Even in more trivial arguments, it would seem that the anti-Catholics have again no basis for their dishonest claims!

http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/e031rp_PaganOrigins.html     

Christmas Was Never a Pagan Holiday

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D..

Around this time of year we are bombarded with anti-Catholic propaganda questioning the blessed day of Christ’s birth as December 25. This date, we arrogantly are told, was originally a pagan holiday. The Early Church “chose” it to “Christianize” a Roman feast of the Sun. According to this theory, the Christmas date was only established in the 4th century, when we have the first evidence of the Nativity being celebrated in Rome in 336. The conclusion: The origins of Christmas are pagan, and we do not really know the date the Savior of mankind was born.

Let us not be too quickly impressed with these lies whose aim is solely to diminish the homage we pay Our Lord Jesus Christ and to denigrate the Catholic Church. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the thesis of the pagan origins of Christmas that is a myth without historical substance.

No ancient Roman festivals on December 25

The notion that Christmas had pagan origins began to spread in the 17th century with the English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, who hated all Catholic things. The Puritans hated Catholicism so much that they revolted against the so-called Anglican church because, even with their heresies, they considered it still too similar to the Catholic Church.

Puritans against Christmas
A colonial Puritan governor stops the merrymaking of Christmas festivities (1883)

They abhorred the feast days and in particular, they detested the Christmas feast with its joyous ceremonies, celebrations and customs. Since the Bible gave no specific date of Christ’s birth, the Puritans argued that it was a sinful contrivance of the Roman Catholic Church that should be abolished.

Later, Protestant preachers like the German Paul Ernst Jablonski tried to demonstrate in pseudo-scholarly works that December 25was actually a pagan Roman feast, and that Christmas was yet another instance of how the medieval Catholic Church ‘paganized’ and corrupted ‘pure’ early Christianity. (1)

Around the same time, the Jesuit Jean Hardouin with his eccentric theory of universal forgery that put in doubt every historical source known, backed the Puritans on their theory of Christmas having pagan origins. But his research was largely discredited given his absurd affirmations. For example, he maintained all the Church Councils that took place before Trent were fictitious and almost all the classical texts of ancient Greece and Rome were false, made by monks in the 13th century. Such assertions are blatantly absurd, given the countless source documents demonstrating the opposite.

The two principal claims for Christmas having pagan origins pretend that the early Church chose December 25 in order to divert Catholics from Roman pagan festival days. The first claim pretends that it replaced the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia, a time of feasting and raucous merry-making held in December in honor of the pagan god Saturn.

Now, the Saturnalia festival always ended on December 23 at the latest. Why would the Catholic Church, to diverge the attention of her faithful from a pagan celebration, choose a date two days after that party had already ended and whoever wanted had already overindulged? It makes no sense. No serious scholar believes this claim.

Christmas established before the pagan Sun festival

The second claim is that the Catholic Church established Christmas on December 25 to replace a solar feast invented by Emperor Aurelian in 274 AD, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birth of the Unconquered Sun).

The fact that Christmas entered the world calendar (the accepted Roman calendar) in 354 – which was after the establishment of the pagan feast – does not necessarily mean the Church chose that day to replace the pagan holiday. Two principal reasons concur with this conclusion:

Pagan Sun God Roman festival
Aurelian instituted the sun festival to bolster a dying Roman Empire

First, one must not simply assume that the early Christians only began to celebrate Christmas in the 4th century. Until the Edict of Milan was published in 313, Catholics were persecuted and met in catacombs. Hence, there was no public festivity. But they celebrated Christmas among themselves before that Edict, as hymns and prayers of the first Christians confirm (2).

Second, this claim is based on unsound assumptions. As scholar Thomas Talley points out in his book The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Emperor Aurelian inaugurated the festival of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun trying to give new life – a rebirth – to a dying Roman Empire. It is much more likely, he argues, that the Emperor’s action was a response to the growing popularity and strength of the Catholic religion, which was celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25, rather than the other way around. (3)

There is no evidence that Aurelian’s celebration preceded the feast of Christmas, and more reason to believe that establishing this festival day – which never won popular support and soon died out – was an effort to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Catholics.

Dates based on the Scriptures

But let us leave the realm of conjecture and return to historical records. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that, even though the Christmas date was not made official until 354, clearly it was established long before Aurelian instituted his pagan feastday.

The conception of St. John the Baptist is the historical anchor to know the date of Christmas, based on the detailed and careful calculations on dates made by first Fathers of the Church.

Visitation
The date of St. Elizabeth’s conception sets the base for knowing Christ’s birth

The early tractatus De solstitiia records the tradition of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Zachariah in the High Temple when he was serving as high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lk 1:8). This placed the conception of St. John the Baptist during the feast of Tabernacles in late September, as the Archangel Gabriel said (Lk 1:28) and his birth nine months later at the time of the summer solstice. (4)

Since the Gospel of Luke states that the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary in the sixth month after John’s conception (Lk 1:26), this placed the conception of Christ at about the time of the spring equinox, that is, at the time of the Jewish Passover, in late March. His birth would thus be in late December at the time of the winter solstice.

That these dates, based on Tradition and Scripture, are trustworthy is confirmed by recent evidence taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose authors were very concerned about calendar dates, essential for establishing when the Torah feasts should be celebrated. The data found in the Scrolls make it possible to know the Temple’s rotating assignment of priests during Old Testament times and show definitely that Zachariah served as a Temple priest in September, thus confirming the tradition of the Early Church. (5)

The Catholic Church determined March 25 as the date of Our Lord’s Conception long before Aurelian decided to make his solar feast. For example, around 221 AD, Sexto Julio Africano wrote the Chronographiai in which he affirmed that the Annunciation was March 25. (6) Once the date of the Incarnation was established, it was a simple matter of adding nine months to arrive at the date of Our Lord’s birth – December 25. This date would not be made official until the late fourth century, but it was established long before Aurelian and Constantine. It had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

We can be certain that the first Catholic apologists and Fathers of the Church, who lived very close to the time of the Apostles, were fully aware of the dates associated with the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They had all the calendar sources at hand and they would not allow any untruth to be introduced in the Catholic liturgy. The date of Christ’s birth was transmitted by them as being December 25, a Sunday.

Addressing the verse of Luke 2:7, Fr Cornelius a Lapide comments on the architecture of this choice: “Christ was born Sunday, because this was the first day of the world. … Christ was born on Sunday night, in keeping with the order of His marvels, so that the day on which He said Let there be light, and there was light, was the same day on which, at night, the light shone in darkness for the upright of heart, that is, the sun of justice, Christ the Lord.” (7)

1. Thomas Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 88.
2 Daniel-Rops, Prières des Premiers Chrétiens, Paris: Fayard, 1952, pp. 125-127, 228-229
3. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, pp. 88-91.
4. The tract is entitled ‘De solstitiia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis domini nostri iesu Christi et iohannis baptista,’ in Ibid., p. 93-94. Talley also provides other historical documents of early Church writers showing that the dates of the Conception and Death of Our Lord had been established very early.
5. Shemaryahu Talmon, Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a top Scroll scholar, published an in-depth study of the Temple’s rotating assignment of priests in 1958 and the Qumran scrolls to see the assignment during New Testament times. Martin K Barrack, “It Comes from Pagans,” Second Exodus online
6. Ibid.
7. Cornelius a Lapide, Commentaria in Scripturam Sanctam, Paris: Vives 1877, Luke 2:7, vol 16, p. 57.

~Steven C., “Knight of Tradition”

Our Infant King cometh

Image result for nativity of our lord

As Christmas draws nearer, let us continue to meditate on the birth of our Infant King, who humbled himself to take on our nature and be put to death so that we might have life and have it more abundantly, in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Mankind, rejoice at the greatest act in history, this mystery of the great love of God for man!  The God we serve proved His love for us by rescuing us when we were helpless and lost, by coming into our world to take on our debt so that we might love Him and serve Him.  Remember that the price of our salvation was the death of an innocent God-man.  May we all continue to prepare for His coming by rejecting our sins and thanking the Baby Jesus for His humble birth.

“Therefore, when the time came, dearly beloved, which had been fore-ordained for men’s redemption, there enters these lower parts of the world, the Son of God, descending from His heavenly throne and yet not quitting His Father’s glory, begotten in a new order, by a new nativity. In a new order, because being invisible in His own nature He became visible in ours, and He whom nothing could contain, was content to be contained: abiding before all time He began to be in time: the Lord of all things, He obscured His immeasurable majesty and took on Him the form of a servant: being God, that cannot suffer, He did not disdain to be man that can, and immortal as He is, to subject Himself to the laws of death. And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother’s chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Savior of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.’ The origin is different but the nature like: not by [relations] with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained. Consider here not the condition of her that bore but the will of Him that was born; for He was born Man as He willed and was able. If you inquire into the truth of His nature, you must acknowledge the matter to be human: if you search for the mode of His birth, you must confess the power to be of God.”  ~Pope St. Leo the Great

“The Child that is born of Mary and is couched in the Crib at Bethlehem, raises his feeble voice to the Eternal Father, and calls him, My Father! He turns towards us and calls us My Brethren! We, consequently, when we speak to his Father, may call him Our Father! This is the mystery of adoption, revealed to us by the great event [of Christmas]. All things are changed, both heaven and on earth: God has not only one Son, he has many sons; henceforth we stand before this our God, not merely creatures drawn out of nothing by his power, but children that he fondly loves. Heaven is now not only the throne of his sovereign Majesty; it has become our inheritance in which we are joint-heirs with our brother Jesus, the Son of Mary, Son of Eve, Son of Adam, according to his Human Nature, and (in the unity of Person) Son of God according to his Divine Nature. Let us turn our wondering and loving thoughts first to this sweet Babe, that has brought us all these blessings, and then to the blessings themselves, to the dear inheritance made ours by him. Let your mind be seized with astonishment at creatures having such a destiny! And then let our heart pour out its thanks for the incomprehensible gift!”   ~Dom Gueranger

O come, O come, Emmanuel!  The God-Man, Prince of Peace and Wonder-Counselor cometh!

~Damsel of the Faith

The practice of Advent

2827905

By Dom Gueranger, 1910

If our holy mother the Church spends the time of Advent in this solemn preparation for the threefold coming of Jesus Christ; if, after the example of the prudent virgins, she keeps her lamp lit ready for the coming of the Bridegroom; we, being her members and her children, ought to enter into her spirit, and apply to ourselves this warning of our Saviour: ‘Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands, and ye yourselves be like unto men who wait for their Lord (St. Luke xii. 35, 36. )!’ The Church and we have, in reality, the same hopes. Each one of us is, on the part of God, an object of mercy and care, as is the Church herself. If she is the temple of God, it is because she is built of living stones; if she is the bride, it is because she consists of all the souls which are invited to eternal union with God. If it is written that the Saviour hath purchased the Church with His own Blood (Acts xx. 28. ), may not each one of us say of himself those words of St. Paul, ‘Christ hath loved me, and hath delivered Himself up for me (Gal. ii. 20.)’? Our destiny being the same, then, as that of the Church, we should endeavour during Advent, to enter into the spirit of preparation, which is, as we have seen, that of the Church herself.

And firstly, it is our duty to join with the saints of the old Law in asking for the Messias, and thus pay the debt which the whole human race owes to the divine mercy. In order to fulfil this duty with fervour, let us go back in thought to those four thousand years, represented by the four weeks of Advent, and reflect on the darkness and crime which filled the world before our Saviour’s coming. Let our hearts be filled with lively gratitude towards Him who saved His creature man from death, and who came down from heaven that He might know our miseries by Himself experiencing them, yes, all of them excepting sin. Let us cry to Him with confidence from the depths of our misery; for, notwithstanding His having saved the work of His hands, He still wishes us to beseech Him to save us. Let therefore our desires and our confidence have their free utterance in the ardent supplications of the ancient prophets, which the Church puts on our lips during these days of expectation; let us give our closest attention to the sentiments which they express.

This first duty complied with, we must next turn our minds to the coming which our Saviour wishes to accomplish in our own hearts. It is, as we have seen, a coming full of sweetness and mystery, and a consequence of the first; for the good Shepherd comes not only to visit the flock in general, but He extends His solicitude to each one of the sheep, even to the hundredth which is lost. Now, in order to appreciate the whole of this ineffable mystery, we must remember that, since we can be pleasing to our heavenly Father only inasmuch as He sees within us His Son Jesus Christ, this amiable Saviour deigns to come into each one of us, and transform us, if we will but consent, into Himself, so that henceforth we may live, not we, but He in us. This is, in reality, the one grand aim of the Christian religion, to make man divine through Jesus Christ: it is the task which God has given to His Church to do, and she says to the faithful what St. Paul said to his Galatians: ‘My little children, of whom I am in labour again, until Christ be formed within you (Gal. iv. 19.)!’

But as, on His entering into this world, our divine Saviour first showed Himself under the form of a weak Babe, before attaining the fulness of the age of manhood, and this to the end that nothing might be wanting to His sacrifice, so does He intend to do in us; there is to be a progress in His growth within us. Now, it is at the feast of Christmas that He delights to be born in our souls, and that He pours out over the whole Church a grace of being born, to which, however, not all are faithful.

For this glorious solemnity, as often as it comes round, finds three classes of men. The first, and the smallest number, are those who live, in all its plenitude, the life of Jesus who is within them, and aspire incessantly after the increase of this life. The second class of souls is more numerous; they are living, it is true, because Jesus is in them; but they are sick and weakly, because they care not to grow in this divine life; their charity has become cold (Apoc. ii. 4.)! The rest of men make up the third division, and are they that have no part of this life in them, and are dead; for Christ has said : ‘I am the Life (St. John xiv. 6.).’

Now, during the season of Advent, our Lord knocks at the door of all men’s hearts, at one time so forcibly that they must needs notice Him; at another, so softly that it requires attention to know that Jesus is asking admission. He comes to ask them if they have room for Him, for He wishes to be born in their house. The house indeed is His, for he built it and preserves it; yet He complains that His own refused to receive Him (Ibid. i. 11. ); at least the greater number did. ‘But as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, born not of blood, nor of the flesh, but of God (Ibid. 12, 13.).’

He will be born, then, with more beauty and lustre and might than you have hitherto seen in Him, O ye faithful ones, who hold Him within you as your only treasure, and who have long lived no other life than His, shaping your thoughts and works on the model of His. You will feel the necessity of words to suit and express your love; such words as He delights to hear you speak to Him. You will find them in the holy liturgy.

You, who have had Him within you without knowing Him, and have possessed Him without relishing the sweetness of His presence, open your hearts to welcome Him, this time, with more care and love. He repeats His visit of this year with an untiring tenderness; He has forgotten your past slights; He would ‘that all things be new (Apoc. xxi. 5. ).’ Make room for the divine Infant, for He desires to grow within your soul. The time of His coming is close at hand : let your heart, then, be on the watch; and lest you should slumber when He arrives, watch and pray, yea, sing. The words of the liturgy are intended also for your use : they speak of darkness, which only God can enlighten; of wounds, which only His mercy can heal; of a faintness, which can be braced only by His divine energy.

And you, Christians, for whom the good tidings are as things that are not, because you are dead in sin, lo! He who is very life is coming among you. Yes, whether this death of sin has held you as its slave for long years, or has but freshly inflicted on you the wound which made you its victim, Jesus, your Life, is coming: ‘why, then, will you die? He desireth not the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live (Ezechiel xviii. 31, 32. ).’ The grand feast of His birth will be a day of mercy for the whole world; at least, for all who will give Him admission into their hearts: they will rise to life again in Him, their past life will be destroyed, and where sin abounded, there grace will more abound (Rom. v. 20.).

But, if the tenderness and the attractiveness of this mysterious coming make no impression on you, because your heart is too weighed down to be able to rise to confidence, and because, having so long drunk sin like water, you know not what it is to long with love for the caresses of a Father whom you have slighted–then turn your thoughts to that other coming, which is full of terror, and is to follow the silent one of grace that is now offered. Think within yourselves, how this earth of ours will tremble at the approach of the dread Judge; how the heavens will flee from before His face, and fold up as a book (Apoc. vi. 14. ); how man will wince under His angry look; how the creature will wither away with fear, as the two-edged sword, which comes from the mouth of his Creator (Ibid. i. 16. ), pierces him; and how sinners will cry out, ‘Ye mountains, fall on us! ye rocks, cover us (St. Luke xxiii. 30.)!’ Those unhappy souls who would not know the time of their visitation (Ibid. xix. 44. ), shall then vainly wish to hide themselves from the face of Jesus. They shut their hearts against this Man-God, who, in His excessive love for them, wept over them: therefore, on the day of judgment they will descend alive into those everlasting fires, whose flame devoureth the earth with her increase, and burneth the foundations of the mountains (Deut. xxxii. 22. ). The worm that never dieth (St. Mark ix. 43.), the useless eternal repentance, will gnaw them for ever.

Let those, then, who are not touched by the tidings of the coming of the heavenly Physician and the good Shepherd who giveth His life for His sheep, meditate during Advent on the awful yet certain truth, that so many render the redemption unavailable to themselves by refusing to co-operate in their own salvation. They may treat the Child who is to be born with disdain (Is. ix. 6.); but He is also the mighty God, and do they think they can withstand Him on that day, when He is to come, not to save, as now, but to judge? Would that they knew more of this divine Judge, before whom the very saints tremble! Let these, also, use the liturgy of this season, and they will there learn how much He is to be feared by sinners.

We would not imply by this that only sinners need to fear; no, every Christian ought to fear. Fear, when there is no nobler sentiment with it, makes man a slave; when it accompanies love, it is a feeling which fills the heart of a child who has offended his father, yet seeks for pardon; when, at length, love casteth out fear (St. John iv. 18. ), even then this holy fear will sometimes come, and, like a flash of lightning, pervade the deepest recesses of the soul. It does the soul good. She wakes up afresh to a keener sense of her own misery and of the unmerited mercy of her Redeemer. Let no one, therefore, think that he may safely pass his Advent without taking any share in the holy fear which animates the Church. She, though so beloved by God, prays to Him to give her this fear; and every day, in her Office of Sext, she thus cries out to Him: ‘Pierce my flesh with Thy fear.’ It is, however, to those who are beginning a good life, that this part of the Advent liturgy will be peculiarly serviceable.

It is evident, from what we have said, that Advent is a season specially devoted to the exercises of what is called the purgative life, which is implied in that expression of St. John, so continually repeated by the Church during this holy time: Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Let all, therefore, strive earnestly to make straight the path by which Jesus will enter into their souls. Let the just, agreeably to the teaching of the apostle, forget the things that are behind (Phil. iii. 13.), and labour to acquire fresh merit. Let sinners begin at once and break the chains which now enslave them. Let them give up those bad habits which they have contracted. Let them weaken the flesh, and enter upon the hard work of subjecting it to the spirit. Let them, above all things, pray with the Church. And when our Lord comes, they may hope that He will not pass them by, but that He will enter and dwell within them; for He spoke of all when He said these words: ‘Behold I stand at the gate and knock: if any man shall hear My voice and open to Me the door, I will come in unto him (Apoc. iii. 20).’

~Damsel of the Faith

Reflections on the Mystery of Advent

Image result for nativity of our lord

When the time came for our Redemption to be accomplished, God took on our nature and and entered this sinful world to redeem it and purchase it with his Blood.  He who the world cannot contain nor understand was born into this world as a little, helpless baby. He who is not constrained by time deigned to be subject to it.  He who is Almighty God and not bound by the laws of death deigned to be put to death.

The greatest event to happen in human history: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory, the humility of God.  God came humble so that we might be exalted and become sons of our Heavenly Father.  This is not to say that God lost his great power and glory.  No, he has two natures, both divine and human.  God took on our nature and was begotten, but he did not take on the original state of sin, that we are all born with. He neither added nor took away from His Majesty by becoming man.

This is what we reflect on during Advent.  We prepare for the Nativity of Our Lord by cleansing our souls of sin and pondering the events and mysteries surrounding the Nativity.  Our Holy Religion has so many mysteries and devotions.  Everything we do is clouded in heavenly mystery, all leading back to the Nativity and Life of Jesus Christ, who was born to save us from death and hell so we could be heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, being at birth true man though He never ceased to be true God, made in Himself the beginning of a new creation, and in the ‘form’ of His birth started the spiritual life of mankind afresh, that to abolish the taint of our birth according to the flesh there might be a possibility of regeneration without our sinful seed for those of whom it is said, ‘Who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ What mind can grasp this mystery, what tongue can express this gracious act? Sinfulness returns to guiltlessness and the old nature becomes new; strangers receive adoption and outsiders enter upon an inheritance. The ungodly begin to be righteous, the miserly benevolent, the incontinent chaste, the earthly heavenly. And whence comes this change, save by the right hand of the Most High? For the Son of God came to ‘destroy the works of the devil,’ and has so united Himself with us and us with Him that the descent of God to man’s estate became the exaltation of man to God’s.” ~Pope St. Leo the Great

“The Child that is born of Mary and is couched in the Crib at Bethlehem, raises his feeble voice to the Eternal Father, and calls him, My Father! He turns towards us and calls us My Brethren! We, consequently, when we speak to his Father, may call him Our Father! This is the mystery of adoption, revealed to us by the great event [of Christmas]. All things are changed, both heaven and on earth: God has not only one Son, he has many sons; henceforth we stand before this our God, not merely creatures drawn out of nothing by his power, but children that he fondly loves. Heaven is now not only the throne of his sovereign Majesty; it has become our inheritance in which we are joint-heirs with our brother Jesus, the Son of Mary, Son of Eve, Son of Adam, according to his Human Nature, and (in the unity of Person) Son of God according to his Divine Nature. Let us turn our wondering and loving thoughts first to this sweet Babe, that has brought us all these blessings, and then to the blessings themselves, to the dear inheritance made ours by him. Let your mind be seized with astonishment at creatures having such a destiny! And then let our heart pour out its thanks for the incomprehensible gift!”   ~Dom Gueranger

Let us thank the sweet Babe for this wonderful gift of Himself, who has come to bring us our Inheritance, the salvation of our souls and crowns in His eternal Kingdoms of Heaven and the Catholic Church.

~Damsel of the Faith

How to prepare for Christmas

Image result for advent

May all of our readers have an edifying Advent in preparation for this Christmas season!  We both look forward to writing many upcoming posts featuring meditations and traditional Advent customs and practices.

As with most everything holy, today’s world has inverted the Advent season.  We now have Christmas decorations advertised in department stores and “holiday” music playing on radios before Thanksgiving, sometimes even immediately after All Hallows Eve.  Thanksgiving Day is unofficially seen as the beginning of the Christmas season, on which after engorging on enormous amounts of food, many Americans will embark on mad shopping sprees in the middle of the night(“Black Friday“), even going so far as to camp in tents and even start fistfights in order to take advantage of the advertised sales.  These “sales” are promoted to the greatest of excesses and vanities in TV, the Internet, newspapers, etc. for the entire rest of the month before Christmas.

Despite all of this commotion about Christmas, however, the true meaning of Christmas is often thoroughly rejected.  The very term “Merry Christmas” is shunned by our “politically correct” society and even sometimes forbidden in certain settings.  The same goes for public Nativity scenes and almost everything including Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Extravagant office parties are held, during which the average employee consumes one or two or several drinks too many.  Half-hearted “holiday” cards will probably emphasize “Winter Greetings” with a picture of a plastic “holiday tree”, complete with menorah ornaments.  On Christmas Eve, a traditional day of fast. the day is treated about as festive as Christmas Day itself.  Many will saunter in to Midnight Mass(or maybe 4PM Vigil Mass) to satisfy their biannual attendance at theNovus Ordo Missae, during which they will most certainly wish to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in their hand.  Come December 26, after a day of supposed merriment, Christmas decorations are taken down, garbage collectors collect everyone’s Christmas trees, Christmas hymns abruptly cease being heard, and all those many unwanted gifts are hastily returned to the store.  “Christmas” is now over.

Good Catholics, we are called to be shining lights amidst this great darkness.  We must put Christ back in Christmas and observe the Advent season faithfully!  While many of our coming posts will explain how to do just that, I will now lay a groundwork of principles upon which our future posts will be based off of:

While Advent is a penitential season, it is true that it does not possess the same spirit as Lent.  However, much festivities should be avoided.  That does not mean that Catholics should be in any way drab.  No, good Catholics should never be this way!  We should be eagerly anticipating the Birth of Our Savior, the one who has come to redeem us!  There are so many traditional customs that are so edifying for families, such as the Advent Wreath and the Jesse Tree.

We may also prepare in a modest manner for Christmas.  It is a misconception that Catholics may not start preparing until Christmas Eve.  Who starts to prepare for a baby only immediately before he is born?  All the more important with the Baby Jesus.  If one waits until December 24, there will be a quite a rush to get everything ready, especially for big families.  A better approach would be to prepare gradually and modestly prepare throughout Advent, picking up the pace a bit as Christmas draws nearer.

If there is concern about the home looking “too much like Christmas”, there are ways to reinforce the Advent spirit.  Much creativity can be put to use!  One idea would be to first decorate the tree in Advent colors and then subsequently switch to ones more suitable for Christmas.Finally, what better way is there to prepare for the coming of Our Savior than to examine and prepare our own hearts and souls?  A good retreat would be most beneficial in this regard.  Let us be ready to welcome our Savior into the world!

~ Steven C, “The Knight of Tradition”

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve
Saint Joseph goes to Bethlehem with His Holy Spouse

by St. Alphonsus de Liguori


Ascendit autem et Joseph . . . ut profittretur
cutit Maria desponsata sibi uxore preegnantt.

“And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary
his espoused wife, who was with child.”–St. Luke, ii. 4.

 

God had decreed that His Son should be born not in the house of Joseph, but in a cavern and stable of beasts, in the poorest and most painful way that a child can be born; and therefore He caused Caesar to publish an edict, by which people were commanded to go and enroll themselves, every one in his own city whence he drew his origin.

When Joseph heard this order, he was much agitated as to whether he should take with him or leave behind the Virgin Mother, as she was now so near childbirth. My spouse and my lady, said he to her, on the one hand, I do not wish to leave you alone; on the other, if I take you with me, I am much afflicted at the thought of all that you will have to suffer during this long journey, and in such severe weather. My poverty will not permit me to conduct you with that comfort which you require. But Mary answers him, and tries to give him courage with these words: My Joseph, do not fear. I will go with you; the Lord will assist us. She knew, both by divine inspiration, and also because she was well versed in the prophecy of Micheas, that the divine Infant was to be born in Bethlehem. She therefore takes the swaddling-clothes, and the other miserable garments already prepared, and departs with Joseph. And Joseph also went up . . . to be enrolled with Mary.

Let us now consider all the devout and holy discourses which these two holy spouses must have held during this journey concerning the mercy, goodness and love of the divine Word, who was shortly to be born, and to appear on the earth for the salvation of men. Let us also consider the praises, the benedictions, the thankgs-givings, the acts of humility and love, which these two illustrious pilgrims uttered on the way. This holy Virgin, so soon to become a mother, certainly suffered much in so long a journey, made in the middle of winter, and over rough roads; but she suffered with peace and with love. She offered to God all these her trials uniting them to those of Jesus, whom she carried in her womb.

Oh, let us unite ourselves also, and let us accompany Mary and Joseph in the journey of our life; and, with them, let us accompany the King of Heaven, Who is born in a cave, and makes His first appearance in the world as an infant, but as the poorest and most forsaken infant that ever was born amongst men. And let us beseech Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that, through the merits of the pains which they suffered in this journey, they would accompany us in the journey that we are making to eternity. Oh, blessed shall we be if, in life and in death, we keep company with these three great personages, and are always accompanied by them!

Affections and Prayers

My beloved Redeemer, I know that in this journey Thou wast accompanied by hosts of angels from heaven; but on this earth who was there that bore Thee company? Thou hadst but Joseph and Mary who carried Thee with her. Refuse not, O my Jesus! that I also accompany Thee. Miserable ungrateful sinner that I have been, I now see the injuries I have done Thee; Thou didst come down from heaven to make Thyself my companion on earth, and I by my frequent offences have ungratefully abandoned Thee!

When I remember, O my Savior! that for the sake of my own cursed inclinations I have often separated myself from Thee and renounced Thy friendship, I could wish to die of sorrow. But Thou didst come into the world to forgive me: therefore forgive me now, I beseech Thee, for I repent with all my soul of having so often turned my back upon Thee and forsaken Thee. I purpose and hope, through Thy grace, nevermore to leave or separate myself from Thee, O my only love! My soul has become enamoured of Thee, O my amiable Infant God! I love Thee, my sweet Saviour; and snce Thou hast come upon earth to save me and to dispense to me Thy graces, I ask this one only grace of Thee, permit me not to be ever again separated from Thee. Unite me, bind me to Thyself, enchain me with the sweet cords of Thy holy love.

O my Redeemer and my God, who will then have the heart to leave Thee, and to live without Thee, deprived of Thy grace?” Most holy Mary, I come to accompany thee in this journey; and thou, O my Mother, cease not to accompany me in the journey that I am making to eternity. Do thou assist me always, but especially when I shall find myself at the end of my life, and near that moment on which will depend either my remaining always with thee to love Jesus in paradise, or my being forever separated from thee and hating Jesus in hell. My Queen, save me by thy intercession; and may my salvation be to love thee and Jesus forever, in time and in eternity. Thou art my hope; I hope everything from thee.

_____________________________________

Christmas Eve Prayer
from the Liturgical Year, 1910

O Divine Infant! we, too, must needs join our voices with those of the Angels, and sing with them: Glory be to God! and Peace to men! We cannot restrain our tears at hearing this history of Thy Birth. We have followed Thee in Thy journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; we have kept close to Mary and Joseph on the whole journey; we have kept sleepless watch during this holy Night, waiting Thy coming. Praise be to Thee, sweetest Jesus, for Thy mercy! and love from all hearts, for Thy tender love of us! Our eyes are riveted on that dear Crib, for our Salvation is there; and there we recognise Thee as the Messias foretold in those sublime Prophecies, which Thy Spouse the Church has been repeating to us, in her solemn prayers of this Night. Thou art the Mighty God — the Prince of Peace — the Spouse of our souls — our Peace — our Saviour — our Bread of Life. And now, what shall we offer thee? A good Will?

Ah! dear Lord! Thou must form it within us; Thou must increase it, if Thou hast already given it; that thus, we may become Thy Brethren by grace, as we already are by the human nature Thou hast assumed. But, O Incarnate Word! this Mystery of Thy becoming Man, works within us a still higher grace: — it makes us, as Thy Apostle tells us, partakers of that divine nature, which is inseparable with Thee in the midst of all Thy humiliations. Thou hast made us less than the Angels, in the scale of creation; but, in Thy Incarnation, Thou hast made us Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Thine own divine Self! Never permit us, through our own weaknesses and sins, to degenerate from this wonderful gift, whereby Thy Incarnation exalted us, and oh! dear Jesus, to what a height! Amen

O Emmanuel!

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.”  ~Isaiah 7:14

“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  ~Matthew 1:23