Christmas and Christian unity

As it’s the first night of the year that’s going to be below freezing down here in the balmy South, I for some reason started thinking about Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year, and not just because of getting presents. I think I’ve pinned down what exactly it is that draws me in: it’s the unabashedly traditional nature of the holiday (not in its commercialized form of course).

Growing up in a tiny ultra-Calvinist branch of Protestant Christianity, there was one time of year when symbols reappeared and regained their value: the verdant Advent wreath lit every week by one of the children in the church, the retelling of the same stories but never getting tired of them, the season culminating in a candelight service, vividly showing the entering of the true Light into the world. We even had a huge tree covered in symbolic ornaments. It was a respite from the harsh blandness of the “frozen chosen.” Why was that we couldn’t give up those good Catholic traditions when we threw out the Pope? I think I know why: the good common folk would have marched right back to Rome, because they knew and valued what those time-honored symbols meant.

In order to truly make our Faith our own, we must embrace it with all our soul, mind, body, and strength, and that involves all of our senses, not just those involved in singing, hearing a sermon, or studying Scripture. At Christmas, Christians everywhere regain at least a hint of what I have found and embraced as I come home to the Catholic Faith. Why can’t they see that all year ’round, they can have what they love about Christmas?

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