Wednesday, December 4, 2013

*BEST OF DTB #40* The Catholic Defender: The Christmas Tree

Growing up in the late 1950's and through the 1960's I remember at Christmas time the feelings of anticipation for Christmas.

My Mother would have a small Nativity scene set up nearby the tree which associated the tree with the Christ Child.

In those days, Christmas trees were mostly either cut down from the field, or bought in town.

It was always a lot of fun putting up Christmas trees, decorating them and watching the wrapped gifts accumulate under the tree.

The lights, the ornaments, the silver tinsels the smell of the tree takes me back when my family would provide a meaningful Christmas. Christmas time was special throughout the Country.

I remember going into town and you can see the lights on the light poles, homes had outside lights and decorations, stores and shops had Christmas advertisements.

Santa Clause would arrive to give cheer and joy at the malls. I always looked forward to watch "Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Miracle on 34th Street", all this added to that expectation for Christmas.

I remember my Mother taking me to Midnight Mass growing up.

All of this was building a foundation for me that would help me in my faith in Christ. Because of Christmas, many people shared this faith filled experience growing up. In the early 1980's, I first heard of those who did not celebrate Christmas.

I was told that the Christmas tree was a "pagan" ritual. I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever heard. I always felt sorry for those who could not understand the experience in celebrating Christmas.

My family always kept Christ in Christmas! Today, I have tried to keep alive those traditions I was raised with for my family. That is more difficult with all the commercialism associated with Christmas. Growing up you would start seeing Christmas advertisements after Thanksgiving, today I noticed such advertisements were popping up even around Halloween.

Still, even with all the commercialism, families can still keep the true meaning of Christmas. As long as we can keep the liberals from trying to take Christmas out of society. Our society recently has been embattled by those who attack Christmas.

They have turned away from Christ and want to totally reduce Christmas to a secular "holiday". The return of ancient Paganism and Hedonism in our culture is attacking the very fabric of society, the family.

One of my Hero's of the Faith is Bishop Boniface who was born in modern day England in 672 A.D. and from an early age developed a great love for Jesus Christ.

He would become a missionary to the Germanic peoples who were still enslaved by Paganism. St. Boniface is remembered as "The Apostle of the Germans" and today is the Patron Saint of Germany.

He was the first Archbishop of Mainz. The action of St. Boniface in reaching the Pagans (centered in Germany) at his time reminds me very much of Elijah challenging the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-46).

In a town called Geismar stood a large Oak tree that held much superstition surrounding it.

The local people in the area called this tree the "Donar Oak" the tree of Thor. When the Romans occupied the land, they called the tree "The Jupiter Tree". Thor and Jupiter were Pagan gods of "Thunder".

I am reminded of a song by a secular group known as "Kiss" called "god of thunder" which says,

"I was born on Olympus
To my father a son
I was raised by the demons
Trained to reign as the one

God of thunder and rock and roll
The spell you're under
Will slowly rob you of your virgin soul

I'm the lord of the wastelands
A modern day man of steel
I gather darkness to please me
And I command you to kneel
Before the

God of thunder and rock and roll
The spell you're under
Will slowly rob you of your virgin soul"

Perhaps they were having some fun with this story. It's pointing to the return of Paganism in our midst today.

St. Boniface began to challenge the people about the superstition of the "Donar Oak" and threatened to cut it down. He challenged the gods to stike him dead for cutting down the tree.

St. Boniface had strong faith and reliance in Christ and as he began to cut the tree down, a great sign appeared among the people.

A great wind erupted causing the people to think this was a miraculous sign. The wind blew the tree down leaving St. Boniface standing there totally unharmed.

I can see him smiling at the event thanking God for showing the people who the true God really is. People believed in Christ through the missionary work of St. Boniface. Many were being baptized and confirmed by the great Bishop of God.

St. Boniface would use the triangle shaped fir tree to teach the doctrine of the Trinity much like St. Patrick used the shamrock.

He would hang the tree from the ceiling at Christmas to represent the peoples faith in Christ.

St. Boniface popularity and fame didn't protect him from those who thought they could rob him of gold and precious stones.

He died at the hands of those who could not recognize the treasure found in the Word of God. But the people remembered this great man of God and by the 12 century, the tradition of the fir tree was refereed to by the people as "God's Tree".

Martin Luther would expand on this tradition by adding candles showing that the light of the candles shown through the darkness.

Our modern day Christmas lights are derived from this. Luther's intent here was to counteract the Catholic Church's use of the Nativity scene at Christmas and hoped the Christmas tree with lights would captivate the people.

The people continued to love the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree.

To those of you who believe that the Catholic Church practices Paganism using the Christmas tree, I disagree.

I believe that the Christmas tree used in the tradition of the Church, reminds us of Christ.

He is the light of the world. Who thinks of Thor or Jupiter? No one, certainly not the Christians.

For those of you who want to see the "Christmas tree" as a "holiday tree", you are allowing "political correctness" to run amok.

I do not believe in X-Mas, it is Christmas.

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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