Mass on New Year’s

El Greco Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus
El Greco, “Adoration of the Holy Name”

To start the new year of by going to Mass! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name! To start the new year off by going to Mass in honor of our Lady on the day when Jesus received His Holy Name, and celebrating the Octave as an act of rebellion against the idea that Christmas is over!

This is what Catholics do.

Rebelled against the dreary idea that Christmas ends when Walmart says it ends. I visited a Walmart bright and early this past Saturday morning, the 26th, to buy my nephews some light sabers. Walmart already had Valentine’s candy out in the seasonal aisles.

That’s ok. They had moved on from Christmas. So I got a life-size talking Yoda at half price!

My point is: We rebel. We say Christmas doesn’t end until Holy Mother Church says so. Which means we still have another eight days of loving baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph. WalMart thinks it’s time for Valentine’s Day, and the wise men haven’t even arrived yet from the East. Please!

…“God saves.” How do you say that in Hebrew? Come on people. This is a really easy one. How do you say “God saves” in Hebrew? The Lord shed the first drop of His Precious Blood on Jan. 1, beneath the knife of circumcision, as He received His name. God saves.

…We can’t love and honor the son without loving and honoring the mother.

Can we make a deal for 2016? That we Catholics will stop apologizing to Protestants for honoring our Lady. Ever since Vatican II, we have fallen all over ourselves… “We don’t worship Mary! We’re not Mariolaters! We’re just like you!”

How about saying—in a friendly way, of course—“Can’t understand why anyone who loves the Lord Jesus wouldn’t love His Mother also, and honor her, and carry her rosary and pray it daily.”

And we start the new year off with Mass. Someday, Mass will never end. Not that it will become oppressively boring ad infinitum. But we will, please God, have entered the heavenly liturgy. We will gaze with rapture upon the infinite glory. Until then, while we continue to make our pilgrim way, it’s a good thing to start each new year off right.

A Torch for the Ignorant

“One is coming after me who will baptize not just with water, but with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

Who said that? I guess the Lord Jesus could have announced Himself, well enough, if He wanted to. He could have said, “Check it out, people! Son of God in the house!” But we know that (if we might put it this way): That’s not His style.

El Greco NativityChrist gave John the Baptist the mission of heralding His coming. He gave the Church that mission, too. He gave the mission to each of us. Announcing, proclaiming: The Christ has come! The God-man, the Redeemer, the key of all knowledge, and the everlasting mountain of true happiness—He has come to us! He is Jesus, Son of Mary, born in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus.

Now, we know that our beloved Knights of Columbus have an admirable ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ campaign. And I, for one, love wishing people a Merry Christmas. Even if they’re wearing a yarmulke, or phylacteries, or a Sikh turban, or a burka.

But, at the same time, we have to face facts. It’s not as if our culture has just momentarily forgotten about Jesus and the true, glorious mystery of Christmas. It’s not like everyone will suddenly wake up from the nightmare of Black Fridays, and Santa Clause dispatching teams of Mercedes, and Wal-Mart ads insisting that you can have as many wise men as you want! It’s not like the Western world will snap out of this nonsense and remember Jesus and His peace and His good news for the poor. Then everyone will sing Silent Night in unison.

We might think that the President of the United States, or the head of the UN, or the President of the European Union, or someone like that, ought to issue an official apology to Christ. It would say something like, “Dear Son of God, on behalf of all the members of this confused, self-centered modern culture, we want to tell you that we are really sorry for turning your birthday into a joke. Thank God, we have now remembered that you are the Light of the World and the Prince of Peace. We promise to be quiet now, and to pray from now until December 25, with fasting and penance, so that we can welcome you properly when you come.”

We might think that the CEO’s of all the Fortune 500 companies should issue their own statement, declaring that Christmas really is not about money. And all the cable channels and radio stations would announce their plan to give us some peace and knock off all the schmaltzy music and cheesy commercials.

cant-wait-for-christmas1But the facts do not support the idea that any of this is going to happen. The facts are starker and simpler.

As Christians in the USA in 2014, we do not face a culture in willful denial of the reality of Christmas. No, we face widespread ignorance of the reality of Christmas. The world is not intentionally ignoring the Person Whose birthday it is. The Western world of AD 2014 really just doesn’t know who He is.

After all, how is it that we know? How do we know that Jesus is the reason for the season? Everyone else thinks that ‘The Holidays’ means: Extra under-compensated work, so that the rich get richer and everyone else goes deeper and deeper into debt. How is it that we know different? How do we know that this time of year actually means true and profound joy?

We know what Christmas really means because generous souls before us found a way to build up the Church and give us a home in Her. We know Jesus, and the light of God’s holy incarnation, because we belong to the great family called the Catholic Church.

There was a time when some people claimed they could have their own personal Jesus, without the Church. But, of course, all those people got the faith they had in the first place from the Church. And they are all pretty much dead of old age now anyway.

There was a time when it took courage to “take on” the “established Church,” pointing out things like: even popes sometimes commit sins! True enough. But the Church, fundamentally, is the Mother from whom we receive Jesus. And it’s not like the world is made up of the people who receive Jesus from good priests and bishops and the people who receive Him from bad priests and bishops. The world is made up of people who, like us, have blessedly received the Good News of salvation from the Church. And people who haven’t.

Jesus Christ Himself, the real Person, Who the Blessed Virgin held in her womb, ready to give birth, 2,014 years ago—He is the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most liberating, the most hopeful, the most thoroughly ravishing thing ever. He is the true and everlasting God, and the source and strength of all human goodness. We find Him in the Church, which He Himself founded, so that everyone could know Him and find salvation and true life in Him.

These are not just pretty theories, or the personal opinions of preachers and adherents. These are the facts of God’s plan. Christ is the source of joy for all mankind.

Mankind is not willfully ignoring all this, and choosing to watch commercials and play video games instead. Mankind is wasting its time with a lot of nonsense these days because, actually, without Jesus, mankind tends to become cruelly boring.

Now, are we going to curse the darkness, when we have matches in our pocket? When we have a torch in our pocket? 2,014 years ago, only a few people knew about Jesus Christ. They pretty much all died in a blaze of glory, spending everything they had to share the Good News of His coming. Let’s do that, too.

December Decision

We face a choice. We have to make a decision.

In the malls, the “holiday” music has already been tinkling through the speakers for a week or two. Pretty soon we will be called upon to clink our glasses with Andre. Or to sit on Santa’s lap. Or to swipe Visa and MasterCard 24/7, until the stores close at midnight on December 24.

I do not claim to understand how “Black Friday” got it’s name. But something dark and terrible and menacing has indeed overtaken the month before Christmas. For many Americans, December has become a month of stress and futility.

We can, dear brothers and sisters, find an amazing irony in all this. We have to find it, because if we don’t, the sad pointlessness of ‘holidays’ without religion will give us the blues, big time.

Continue reading “December Decision”