Today, Christmas is celebrated without Christ in many quarters.
Christmas is the season when God became man in the form of a child, and yet, unhappily, in how many homes, because Christ is uninvited, children, too, are no longer welcome. Christmas, like Emmanuel, means "God with us." If we celebrate Christmas without God, we have lost its meaning. If we refuse an inn to God's children as the fruit of marriage, we repeat the sad tale of Bethlehem that refused an inn to Mary and Joseph and the Child.
Christmas means Christ's Mass. But the Protestant revolt has denied the true sacrifice of the Mass. It has uprooted His altar and replaced it with a pulpit. There are some who profess to be ministers of Christ and yet deny His divinity.
The Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament has been removed from their altars and the voice of man has usurped his place. the pivot and focal point of the Protestant Church is not the altar but the pulpit. Man's presence has replaced god's presence; private interpretation has taken the place of God's authority.
Christ is sacrificed in the Mass and the Mass is Christ present with us. Take away the tabernacle of God and, since nature abhors a vacuum, the pulpit of man is ushered in to replace it. Remove the Mass, where Christ is offered and adored, and the result is that man is dehumanized whereas he should be super-naturalized. Man exalts himself instead of humbling himself and adoring God. Without God man is not even himself. He is dehumanized. He is less than man. For man, as God made him, is just a little less than the angels.
Christmas today, for the average worldling, means feasting and food -- a holiday, with tinsel and tree, and an exchange of gifts. it is externalized and made pagan in its concept.
It should mean attendance at Mass -- at Christ's Mass on Christmas day. it should be a day of great dignity, of rejoicing as evidenced in a temperate use of food and drink and a meeting of loved ones under the star and spirit of Bethlehem. it should mean not so much a receiving as a giving to Christ's poor in imitation of God who gave Himself to the poor in the greatest of all gifts -- His only-begotten Son.
This book is written with the hope and intention of bringing to our minds the thoughts of Advent that we may think and pray with Mary who brought Christ to us. Advent, like Lent, is a time of preparation in thought and deed for a great event. Certainly if a king or a cardinal were to come to our home as a guest we would prepare for the advent. Should we not prepare, then, for the great King of the universe during these days? His Advent or "coming" into our hearts depends so much on how we pray and meditate during these preparatory days to Christmas.
In thinking of Christmas we always conjure up in our mind's eye the happy days of childhood, the memory of our parents who may have passed onto God's Judgment, and of our early home -- all these are most joyous recollections. Certainly Advent should not be observed in a lugubrious or melancholy manner. Penance is a joy when it is performed for God. When imposed upon us for a selfish motive it is a drudgery.
These Advent days, then, can be most joyful, our recollection of former years can be most happy if we dedicate them to God. In simple terms, we can be happiest when all things are in harmony and in their proper place. This is the definition of health. This is the understanding of peace -- the "tranquility of order." It is our aim here to put Christ back into Christmas -- to enjoy the godliness of having Christ's Mass at Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you! May Christ and His Mother bless you by their presence because of your goodness in giving to them your will and understanding during these Advent days.
|Christmas Mass -- Clarence Ganon, 1908|