By Msgr. Francis Carbine
I recently attended a lovely concert in Northeast Philadelphia. For one hour, the audience was treated to carols such as “Joy to the World” and “Little Drummer Boy.” However, also featured were “Frosty the Snowman” and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” We heard a bit of the best of two worlds.
The singers were nine talented religious sisters of the international community of the Daughters of St. Paul. The setting was Father Judge High School. There was a large Frosty on stage. I saw no grinches in the audience. Nobody picketed outside.
Too often, December is “open season” on Christmas. Sadly, disparagement of Christmas is an aspect of the anti-Catholicism that is the last refuge of acceptable bigotry in the United States. The mantra that warrants war on Christmas consists of three words: spanersity, inclusiveness and sensitivity.
spanersity mandates openness to ideas different from our own; however, Christmas carols are too different.
Inclusiveness means reaching across lines of spanision; however, the display of a nativity set is a line that must not be crossed.
Sensitivity means not trampling on heart-felt convictions of our neighbors. However, when Christmas is neutered to a “winter holiday” and degraded to a “solstice festival,” sensitivity gets a liberal toss out the window.
Yes, as a religious feast, Christmas is a Catholic celebration. However, the date Dec. 25 is not indicated in the Gospels. Santa’s elves originated in Scandinavian trolls. The Christmas tree is rooted in pre-Christian Germany. Mistletoe was important to Ireland’s pagan druids. For “White Christmas” we are indebted to Irving Berlin, an American Jewish composer. Multiculturalism and inclusiveness? There you have it.
Believe it or not, last year, a woman in North Carolina objected to Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” because the lyrics included the words Santa and Christmas. Lady, get a life! Or better, come to the concert at Father Judge High School.
The “war on Christmas” is part of the spiritual darkness of our times. However, it is when the darkness is deepest that the light of the star of Bethlehem shines brightest.
Msgr. Francis A. Carbine is pastor emeritus of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bensalem.