Day 5 of the Christmas Novena…

This Christmas Novena starts on December 16th. Don’t forget to pray each day – *Click here to get novena reminders by Email! * – No spam, just prayers…

Opening Prayer:
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father…

Our Father…


Day 5

The Circumcision.

O most sweet infant Jesus, circumcised when
eight days old, and called by the glorious name
of Jesus, and proclaimed both by your name and
by your blood, to be the Savior of the world.
Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…


Now, since I don’t want these posts to be perfunctory, I will add something for you to ponder–though, I admit, the following provided not a few slaps in the face for me.

The Christmas sermon of Saint Gregory the Theologian

IV. Let us Celebrate Christmas In A Godly Manner. 
This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth (Eph. 4:22,24), or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God – that putting off the old man, we might put on the New…. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so the more blissful must come out of the painful. For where sin abounded Grace did much more abound (Rom. 5:20); and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the Passion of Christ justify us? Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world….

V. Let Us Not Celebrate Christmas In A Pagan Manner. 
And how shall this be? Let us not adorn our porches, nor arrange dances, nor decorate the streets; let us not feast the eye, nor enchant the ear with music, nor stimulate the nostrils with perfume, nor prostitute the taste, nor indulge the touch, those roads that are so prone to evil and entrances for sin; let us not be effeminate in clothing soft and flowing, whose beauty consists in its uselessness, nor with the glittering of gems or the sheen of gold (Rom. 13:13), or the tricks of color, belying the beauty of nature, and invented to obscure the image of God; Not in rioting and drunkenness, with which are mingled, I know well, in fornication and wantonness, since the lessons which evil teachers give are evil; or rather the harvests of worthless seeds are worthless. Let us not set up high beds of luxury, making shrines for the belly of what belongs to debauchery. Let us not toast with fragrant wines, the specialties of cooks, the great expense of perfumes. Let not sea and land bring us as a gift their precious refuse, for it is thus that I have learnt to estimate luxury; and let us not strive to outdo each other in intemperance (for to my mind every superfluity is intemperance, and all which is beyond absolute need),-and this while others are hungry and in want, who are made of the same clay and in the same manner.

VI. What is The Difference Between Pagan And Christian Celebrations. 
Let us leave all these to the Pagan Greeks and to the pomp and festivals of the Pagan Greeks…. But we, the Object of whose adoration is the Word, if we must in some way have luxury, let us seek it in word, and in the Divine Law, and in histories; especially such as are the origin of this Feast; that our luxury may be akin to and not far removed from Him Who has called us together. …

We will begin from this point; and let me ask of you who delight in such matters to cleanse you mind and your ears and your thoughts, since our discourse is to be of God and divine; that when you depart, you may have had the enjoyment of delights that really do not fade away. And this same discourse shall be at once both very full and very concise, that you may neither be displeased at its deficiencies, nor find it unpleasant through excessiveness.

My take on it: let us feast, but let us do so in a way that is always suffused with and tempered by the salt and light of full-throated Christian zeal. After all, if you can’t get a bit crazy about Christmas (and Easter!), you have to ask yourself: “Why am I a Christian?”

Apropos, have you been keeping up with your Christmas homework assignment?

Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
A Catholic tale have I to tell:
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël!

(H/T to IANS)

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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4 Responses to Day 5 of the Christmas Novena…

  1. Flambeaux says:

    I tried “celebrating” Christmas like that once. It was a baleful, miserable experience and I shall not repeat it. If, in fact, that’s what Holy Mother Church expects I’ll just go my merry way.
    The older I get the less inclined I am to follow the advice for practical living that comes from monks and ascetics.
    Making myself, my wife, and my children miserable in the name of religion strikes me as positively diabolical.

  2. I think the kind of excesses he had in mind were worse than we can imagine. But I agree, it struck me as blowhardy, even for a curmudgeon like me, who also has a deep attachment to the patristic age. That’s why I tried to add some vital Anglo-Saxon sensibility to it with Belloc’s merry song!

  3. Tony Jokin says:

    Well, you have to keep in mind that such a thing is only miserable if you are a rich or middle class person. Most people at the time this homily was given would be from the poor. So for them, it is more miserable to desire what the rich would have (a middle class was probably not something that existed at the time).

    Today, it is somewhat different in that most people in SOME countries belong to either the rich or middle class bracket. But it still does not excuse us from simply celebrating like a “heathen”. Celebrations should have some moderation.

    As examples of immoderate celebrations, the image of people who drink themselves to the level of not being able to legally drive comes to mind. Or the people who eat without any self restraint. Or the ones who go over board in simply lighting up their gardens and houses to beat the neighbor at it. Or the ones who simply move from one house party to the next without any time for prayer or mass. Or the ones who spend so much on gifts or elaborate meals but don’t give a dime to the poor. I think the principle of moderation behind St. Gregory’s advise in this sense is something we should all keep in mind and adapt to our celebrations as much as possible.

    On the severity of the actual practices, I think we must keep in mind that these are not of the “if you don’t do it like this, you are damned” kind. We commit sin if we are immoderate but we can also go beyond what is moderate to merit more. So these are presented as an ideal that one must try to approximate. Monks are those who have have given up much to achieve this ideal and they will be rewarded for it. We do not need to achieve the same ideal but we can come close.

    It’s like the story of the rich man who came to Christ. If he gave up all of his things, he will have much reward. But not everyone can do that nor is everyone called to it. The take home message should be that we must not be immoderate in our celebrations. To what level we try to go to within the boundaries of moderation is dependent on our circumstances and calling of each individual.

    What I wanted to say in all of this (which I realize got very long) is that St. Gregory’s words are valid today as it they were in his time if we understand it.

  4. Well said. As I read the words, I also kept superimposing them on our times, and the images that came to mind were the typical WASP family that uses “the holiday season” as an excuse for overcharging their credit, gorging and debauchery, ruthless consumerism, and generally sentimentalism without spirituality or the sacraments.

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