Christmas and the Home
G. K. Chesterton, in one of his essays entitled, The Spirit of Christmas, tells of the hustle and bustle, the buying and selling that accompanies this great feast day of the Church's calendar. He distinguishes between the accidental and essential meaning of the feast. It is not against gift making that he cautions, but rather he tells of the danger that one may lose sight of the essential meaning of Christmas and cling only to its external and commercial appeal. He says: "Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home."
Essentially Christmas is the feast day of the home and the child.
We shall celebrate Christmas this year, it is true, by attending holy Mass, by prayers at the crib, and by singing the Christmas carols. But shall we have the true spirit of Christmas? It is true, please God, we shall have Christ with us and our love for His Blessed Mother will be warm, tender, wise, and noble. But any one of us who gives reflection and thought to the world in which we live realizes how far this word is today from the true spirit of Christmas. A world of unrest, threatened by war, means a temporary disrupting of our homes. It means for so many young men and women a temporary postponement of marriage, a delay for home building and the rearing of children. Instead of the sweet innocent play and laughter of children, who give to Christmas its sacred tone and true spirit, we have the roar of motors in the air, the quiet steady smoke of factories throughout the land producing war materials. Off in the distance can be heard the thunder of mighty cannon and the testing of atomic weapons.
Great are the upheavals of war. Among them are the moral dangers to young mean, the lonely hours of young women, the new inducement for women to forget home life and take to industry, the lack of care of the part of parents for children who must be sheltered in nurseries. This can be our world at Christmas, and while we realize these dangers, we must pray for peace and for a victory with justice to all. We cannot be like the melancholy Dane and say, "This time is out of joint, O cursed sprite, that ever I was born to set it right." No, we must pray for the real, true genuine spirit of Christmas - for homes, for children. For Christmas is the season of the home and the child. In these two notes are found its true spirit. He who created the world came into it in the Incarnation and His own received Him not. As Chesterton remarked, He is "homeless at home." The great God of heaven and earth becomes a Babe in order to teach us humility. The omnipotent God came wrapped in the weakness of swaddling bands. He gave to us the blessings of Christmas - of homes and children.
There are houses today with nobody in them because now, as of old, there are men who refuse to admit the Mother and Child. There are hearts today without God in them because they are proud and selfish like the keepers of the inn, and they refuse to admit the Child of heaven, the incarnate One of Bethlehem. There are Catholic souls today who refuse to accept the Babe in the form of the Eucharist because their lives would have to be remodeled and reverted to the lowliness of belief. This devoutly to be wished for transformation would make them humble enough to see their foolish pride and to accept the humble Child.
We pray today for the victory promised through her, the Immaculate One, who will "crush the head of the serpent." We pray for that spiritual victory which will give America the true spirit of Christmas.
O Virgin Mother of the Babe of Bethlehem, we pray you to intercede for America in our behalf and for spiritual victory. In our homes we pray that God may send angels to guide us and to make of them sanctuaries. We pray God, through you, that He give to America a love for the wholesome things of life, to let us see that there can be no nation unless there be homes in whom there is the true spirit of God and of Christmas.