The Nativity of Our Lord

He was born into the silence of this world. Because there was no room for him in a proper house the night he was born, the Gospel of Luke reports, he was born of his mother with Joseph nearby out there in the stable with the animals. Probably there was no one interested. That was the silence of that night. Who would care, anyway? Just one more peasant child, and who celebrates or notices or marks the birth of yet another peasant arriving in this world? Have you ever heard a prayer of thanks for the children born in a United Nations refugee camp? The children of peasants are always born into silence. Continue Reading »

Christmas and the Humbling of the Wise Men

It might seem that everything that could be said, has been said, about the shepherds, the wise men and the Christ Child. But that’s one of the marvels of Scripture: The unfolding history of the Church draws out of the inspired Word of God allegories and images previously unrecognized. Thus the familiar Christmas story and its well-known cast of characters shed light on a year in which the Church has been roiled by contention between today’s shepherds and today’s Magi: between those who, today, hear angels singing, and those whose experience of the faith has been thoroughly “demythologized” and intellectualized. Continue Reading »

The Joyful Mystery of Christmas

A recent Pew study has found that instead of being at war with Christmas, Americans love it. Three-quarters of Americans believe that Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary, and that angels appeared to shepherds to tell them that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. Over 80 percent of Americans believe Luke’s account that Jesus was laid in a manger. The study found that about 65 percent believed in all the historical aspects of the Nativity—about the same percentage who will attend church this Christmas. Continue Reading »

Christmas in Harvard Square

Christmas in Harvard Square is the first recording of the St. Paul’s Choir school, the only Catholic boys’ choir school in America. Led by Mr. John Robinson, a former assistant from Canterbury Cathedral, the boys take their music and their faith seriously. Continue Reading »

Keeping the Mass in Christmas

In Maryland, the Montgomery County School board has stripped Christmas, as well as all religious holidays, from the school calendar. The vacation days are still there, but under new names that make no religious reference. In Piedmont, Alabama, the Freedom from Religion Foundation pressured the small southern town to drop its “Keep Christ in Christmas” parade on grounds that it was unconstitutional. The bottom line: Christians need to stop alienating their secular neighbors and celebrate something more inclusive. The war on Christmas is real. Continue Reading »

Christmas Wars in France

I used to think that the annual Christmas Wars were strictly an American thing, like corn dogs and attorneys’ contingency fees. Only in America, I thought, do people seriously argue about whether to allow Christmas trees in public parks or to permit public school choirs to sing “Silent Night” at holiday concerts. The issues become more and more bizarre. This year, a Maryland school district decided to remove even a reference to “Christmas” in the school calendar–as though the reference amounted to religious oppression and removal would make people forget what holiday comes round every 25th of December. Continue Reading »