Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don’t bleed Christ out of Christmas

The Manila Times
Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Thank God that we in the Philippines have not yet been swept by the secularist deluge. In the United States and Europe, government buildings and common public spaces cannot be used to put up giant Christmas trees much less crèches and the Nativity scene. Here, government employees and their bosses can still put up Christmas trees decorated with angels and the star of Bethlehem. In December “Merry Christmas” signs and mobiles are still the first things you see when you enter some government buildings.

Some government-building lobbies have life-size manger scenes that would never be tolerated in Washington, D.C. or in the smallest town hall from Florida to the New York border with Canada.

There is such a drought of Christian images in public and government-owned space all over the world that only in churches do you now find the Holy Family, with Baby Jesus in the crib surrounded by his parents, the shepherds, the Magi and a couple of cows and sheep. Private homes and front lawns may still display Christian symbols—but even these have caused Christian homeowners to be haled to court, accused of causing discomfort to neighbors and passersby.

According to this mentality, Christians should be given no freedom to express their faith publicly even in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. The sensibilities of nonChristians who worship other gods or atheists who cannot abide the sights and sounds of Christian symbols and hymns must never be violated.

The campaign to bleed Christ out of Christmas appears to have won decisively in the public square of the Western countries.

Put up the Nativity scene

This moved Pope Benedict XVI to urge Christians, last December 14, to put up Nativity scenes in their homes. The Pope was in Saint Peter’s Square, blessing images of the Child Jesus—our beloved Santo Niño—brought to him in the piazza for the papal blessing. Those Baby Jesus figures and statue were later placed in home altars and manger scenes.

The Holy Father led the children in a prayer:

“We pray to you, that with your blessing these images of Jesus, who is about to come among us, be, in our houses, a sign of your presence and your love.

“Open our heart, so that we may know how to receive Jesus with joy, do always what he asks and see him in all those who need our love.”

He ended with prayer calling on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession so that her son “Jesus, who in his birth brings God’s benediction to men, [will] be welcomed with love in all the homes of Rome and the world.”

Mindless imitation

Pope Benedict’s prayer and exhortation for everyone to mount a Belen in their homes is needful—even among us Filipinos. For there has been an increase in the number of companies—even those that have chapels in their buildings—that send gifts and cards with the unChristian message: “Happy holidays” or “Season’s greetings.”

Are they just mindlessly copying the latest fashion in America, London and the United Nations offices?


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