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opinion/commentary View Comments

O Holy Not
By The Editors
Source: America magazine
Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 
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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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