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opinion/commentary View Comments

O Holy Not
By The Editors
Source: America magazine
Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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One does not have to be a curmudgeon to pine over the loss of the Christmas season to Madison Avenue, a loss that is now more or less wholesale (pun intended). Set aside the Black Friday insanity that follows Thanksgiving Day, accompanied by now-annual reports of shopping-related injuries of stressed-out consumers. Set aside the fact that this year many department stores tacked up their Christmas decorations the day after Halloween.

Set aside even the fact that attendance at Christmas Day Masses has fallen off sharply; one reason is that more Catholics want to “get it over with” the night before so that on the 25th they can concentrate on the main event: presents.

More irksome is the increasing number of stores that use imagery specific to Christmas to flog their wares, while at the same time expunging any explicit mention of the religious holiday they have hijacked. It makes for some bizarre marketing. “Believe” is once again Macy’s “holiday” slogan. Believe in what? Jewelry?

Appliances? J. Crew’s online store this year offers a “Very Merry Gift Guide.” Merry what? The guide features evergreen trees, glass ornaments and plenty of red-and-green outfits to entice. What holiday might they be referring to? If you click long enough, you will finally get an answer: Happy Shopping.

One way to get around all of this, however, is the approach taken by Loft, a division of Ann Taylor, the women’s clothing store. Their 2010 motto: “Create your own holiday.” Pace Don Draper of “Mad Men,” God has done that already.


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Jeanne Jugan: 
		<p>Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.</p>
		<p>When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).</p>
		<p>After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.</p>
		<p>Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890. </p>
		<p>By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009. </p>
		<p> </p>
American Catholic Blog The people who know God well—the hermits, the prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator. God is never found to be an abusive father or a manipulative mother, but a lover who is more than we dared hope for.

 
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