Merry Christmas!

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Go ahead and just say it, particularly if you are certain that you are addressing another Christian.  We live in a world of growing secularism where God, organized Religion and the Catholic Church are pushed off it to the corners with hopes of being just seen and not heard.  This trend did not start overnight; it has been creeping in slowly during the last several decades.  Even the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony has few religious Christmas songs during the hour long television event.  In days gone by, many Christmas television programs were aired with a good deal of both religious and secular Christmas music.  As a child and even teenager, I can remember my parents watching Christmas shows featuring Perry Como singing Adeste Fidelis and Andy Williams singing the Ave Maria and Ring Christmas Bells with the lyrics saying, Ring Christmas Bells Loudly Proclaim the birthday of Jesus is near!”    Even the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has shortened the grand finale of the show, the traditional Nativity scene, in order to make more time for Santa and the Rockettes.   We must ask ourselves, what happened?  Secularization is what happened, and a desire to be politically correct.

While we never want to offend anyone, I find it puzzling to hear fellow Christians, many of whom are Catholic to be wishing each other a Happy Holiday, or have a great holiday season.  Something is very wrong with this, as we are keeping the main celebration and focus of this special time of year obscured!

It is the celebration of God made man…the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ!  One year a well-meaning parishioner in one of my former assignments said to me after Christmas Eve mass, “Have great holiday Father!”  I responded thanks so much, and it is okay to say Merry Christmas to me; I am a Catholic priest you know but that goes to illustrate just how conditioned we have become to this phenomenon.

Most if not all Christians, whether churched or unchurched will have no problem with it, and if you know for certain the recipient of your greeting is Jewish, then do not be afraid to wish them a Happy Chanukah.  I have wished many of our Jewish brothers and sister this greeting and they smile and return it with and Merry Christmas to you!  I suppose if you are absolutely certain someone is something other than an individual from the Judeo-Christian tradition then it is acceptable to wish them a Happy Holiday.

We need to keep Christ in Christmas, and the belief of God in the public sector.  Just perhaps it will raise our consciousness and hopefully get others to think about Jesus Christ and a sense of spirituality and respect for Religion which is sorely lacking of late in this country.

Other ways to promote and remind people of the reason for the season is to send religious Christmas cards and most certainly every Catholic home should have a Nativity Set proudly displayed either inside the home or outside.  Better yet, display two, one inside and one outside.  So go ahead say it and do it,  MERRY CHRISTMAS and KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!

Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears here weekly and in print in our Parish Bulletin

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