The Gospel Truth

The First Coming | December 23, 2010

For most Americans, Christmas is the best of seasons.

Over the centuries, the celebration of Christmas has evolved to meet the changing fashions of the American people.  For most of us Christmas is a joyous time of peace, hope, love and family life.

Over the last generation Christmas seems has suffered an identity crisis.

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Going through an identity crisis

Its celebration has declined into something more akin to a secular feast where the Prince of Peace has been replaced with a mosaic of secular hymns, colorful wrapping paper with reindeer and snowmen and tall pine trees, festooned with twinkling lights, tinsel and dangling figures of Elvis, Tinkerbell and Snoopy.

Elvis Hallmark Keepsake Ornament

Not central to Christmas meaning

Most American Catholics have bifurcated their celebration of Christmas.

Many send religious cards and stamps to their religious friends, but just holiday greetings to those who might be offended by any mention of Christ.

They will go to a Mass, followed by a festive dinner with all the trimmings and the exchange of gifts and good cheer but never give another thought to what Christmas really means.

The Christmas season has also been dragged into the heated arena of political correctness.

Christ’s seasonal recognition is an affront to some people who have hidden behind the false rubric of separation of church and state.

To them the mere mention of Christ’s name or the appearance of His crèche on government property constitutes an establishment of religion.

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A battlefield in the culture wars

In a similar fashion, Americans have been subtly conditioned to say Happy Holidays, instead of the traditional Merry Christmas.

I would not be surprised to read some day that some Christ rejecters have petitioned the courts to disallow the religious Christmas stamps I buy each year as a violation of the First Amendment.

I seriously doubt that any of these people have stopped to consider what the real meaning of Christmas is.

I recently picked up a reprint of the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s 1955 classic, The True Meaning of Christmas.

In just a few illustrated pages Bishop Sheen captured just what so many of us have been missing from our Christmas attitude these past few generations.

Captures the real meaning

Sheen points out that God did not come to teach us how to be nice people but to lead us to a spiritual perfection that could only happen when we had given our Fiat to the crucifixion of a life of sin.

Just like plants or animals are raised to a higher state when they are consumed, God sent his only Son down to earth to raise man to a participation in a much higher life— and the Word was man flesh and dwells among us (John 1:14).

It was also in God’s plan that Jesus’ Incarnation would atone for sin and allow the Holy Spirit to lead man to a higher life.

As 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 reminds us did you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

On another level, Christmas is not just another historical event, like the Battle of Waterloo or the Great Depression.

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Christmas means more than this

To the contrary, Christmas signaled the coming of the Lord of History that was announced hundreds of years before.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Christ’s nativity intimately bound the Old and New Testaments together, presaging the new unity of God’s intimate relationship with mankind.

God’s involvement with the world was also a universal invitation for all people and for all time.

While our secular celebrations are not offensive to God, they distract us from Christmas’ true meaning.

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Not offensive

Catholics should return to the original message and use it to overcome secular society’s desperate attempt to supplant the salvific meaning of Jesus’ birthday.

Editor’s note: A recent column in the New York Times by Russ Douthat goes a long way in underscoring my points about the lost meaning of Christmas.

Last Sunday he opined that there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled.

Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism.

And the once-a-year churchgoers crowding the pews beside them are a reminder of how many Americans regard religion as just another form of midwinter entertainment, wedged in between “The Nutcracker” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

For New Years: Go See a Play!  My play!

First Run Theatre is producing my A Moment of Grace on the stage at DeSmet High School in Creve Coeur in mid January of 2011. (14th, 15th, 16th (M), 21st, 22nd and 23rd (M).  It is paired with a shorter play, Don’t Stop Believing by Courtney Kennedy.  Anna Blair is directing both plays!  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors.


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1 Comment »

  1. Thank you BB, some of us really needed to be reminded of his first Coming.
    Merry Christmas Bill to you and your family.

    Comment by Jim — December 24, 2010 @ 1:31 am


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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