(steps up on soapbox) Perhaps I've been living under a rock these past few years, but the other day was the first time I ever heard the words Holiday Tree. Holiday Tree. Really? Listen, I completely understand our culture's habit of wishing people a Happy Holiday. Even though I celebrate Christmas, and want to remind folks the real reason for the season, I get why people may not want to assume others share the same views. So they default to the now politically correct Happy Holiday. I get it. But reaching into Christmas tradition and removing the word it is based on is not only insane, but ignorant as well. And I know trees have nothing to do with the religious part of Christmas - but a line has been breached and there is no telling where it will stop. What is next? Nativity scenes will be replaced by a nondescript brick building and labeled Holiday scenes? Ok, ok. Maybe I am overreacting just a bit. But each year it feels like Christmas becomes less and less about Christ and more and more about everything else. In fact, sometimes I wonder if people would even remember Him if they didn't have to mention His name every time they said Christ-mas. Maybe that is why the Holiday Tree thing bothers me so much. Anyway, to be fair each of us is free to act and worship as we choose. That was God's second greatest gift to us. But hopefully you won't blame me if I tell the world enough is enough. It is time to stop diluting our holiday Holy Day. God Bless you. (steps off soapbox)
As many of you probably know, St. Francis is credited with creating the first Nativity Scene during a Christmas Eve Mass. In 1223, he staged a live recreation of Luke's account in Greccio, Italy, to help tell the story of our Savior - and to remind people that their focus at Christmas should be on the birth of Christ, not the materialism of the world. (It is said that that scene was so blessed, that when the cattle ate the hay St. Francis used as a prop, they were cured of all their diseases!) The other day I came across St. Bonaventure's version of that wondrous event and was moved by the following line: "The Man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant in joy..." And that got me thinking ... how many times do I stand before a Nativity scene with that much emotion? Do I treat each scene that I encounter with the reverence Christ's birth deserves? Or do I treat them as just another Christmas decoration? I pray that, during this Advent season, all of us feel the same awe and joy that St. Francis did that night. God Bless you.