Several years ago when I was much heavier, a friend of mine got me a tee-shirt with the following writing: “I am not fat, I am just fluffy.” It certainly got a lot of chuckles. It also pointed out our great desire to be nice. Another friend, Fr Mark, said to me on a different occasion, “Britto, you are not fat. You are gravitationally challenged.” That is an obvious nod to our culture’s attempt at political correctness.
Many of us have decried our society’s repeated attempts to rein in speech and expression under the guise of political correctness. Such attempts reach an unhealthy level when they do not permit us to practice our faith. Especially during this time of the year, we hear reports of controversies from different parts of the country surrounding the celebration of Christmas. People say that we do not want to offend anyone and so we must be “careful” about how we celebrate. I feel that this is the tyranny of the minority. As Catholics we should not be afraid to proclaim what we truly commemorate – the birth of our Savior and not merely a holiday.
I am making a bold request this Christmas. Put Christ back into Christmas. We are only four days away from the nativity of Our Lord. Let us call it what it is. It is Christmas, the birth of Christ. I enjoy as much as anyone else all the trappings of this time – the presents, the decorations, the food, the mood, and the music – but I don’t want to lose sight of the heart of it all. So I invite each and every one of you to put Christ back into Christmas. And here are a few suggestions.
First of all, do not wish anyone “Season’s greetings” or “Happy holidays.” Make sure that every Christmas card you write makes a clear reference to the birth of Jesus, our Savior. If you can, find cards that feature the nativity scene in some way. We do not want to be in anyone’s face. However, we can tell the world that we are celebrating the most significant birth in the history of humanity.
Second, help your family to get in touch with the Christmas story. If possible, set up a nativity scene in your home. Particularly little children will be fascinated by it. If you do not have a crèche at home, bring them to our church where we have more than one. Recount the story of Christmas to your children. Tell them what Mary and Joseph were feeling as they trekked to Bethlehem. Make them understand the anguish of a mother who had to see her divine Son come into the world in a stable. Fill them with wonder as you talk about the angels and the shepherds, the three Wise Men and the star in the East.
Third, gather the family together as you read the gospel accounts of Christ’s birth. Only two gospels – Matthew and Luke – provide us the infancy narrative. It won’t take you even twenty minutes to read each gospel story. Read them prayerfully and meditate on the tremendous love of our God Who sent His Only Son to us. “God so loved the world that He sent His Only Son so that those who believe in Him will be given the power to become the children of God” (John 3:16).
Fourth, do not forget the Christmas carols. I know that the radio waves are flush with Christmas songs. Most of them make no reference to the reason for the season. Listen to the traditional carols such as Silent Night, Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem and O, come all ye faithful. They will transport you into the first Christmas night and you will be touched by the magic of our Savior’s birth. Nothing helps us to get into the spirit of this time more than the traditional carols.
Finally and most importantly, make attending Christmas Mass a priority. How can we celebrate the birth of the Lord if we do not give thanks by offering the Eucharist? What is Christmas? It is the celebration of the Blessed Mother giving God’s Son to the world. Let us honor that event by celebrating the Eucharist wherein God offers His Son to His people once again.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle – the shopping, the guests, the travel and the cooking – please set aside time to pray as individuals and as families. It is even more important to prepare our hearts than to decorate our living rooms. May Christ be born once again – not in a stable, but in our hearts and in our homes! Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!
My sincerest wishes for a prayerful conclusion to the Advent season.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...