Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Reason For The Season

The reason for the season, an oft-repeated phrase thrown out there more like a monkey wrench, serving as timely reminder, and at times subtle but still loving warning, for each Christian approaching these Christmas holidays, or winter holidays as many secularists would like everybody to refer to it.

Observing around one can truly say that we have gone a long way from our ancient understanding and celebration of the true reason for the season. Man’s boundless creativeness and resourcefulness, and throw in there, unparalleled business acumen and entrepreneurship, have heavily candy-coated the recurring holidays so much so as to completely submerge its more mystical meanings. In its place we have collectively anointed the superficial manifestations of materialism and secularism to co-opt its rightful place. Even the very name of Christ-mas has been rigorously challenged in many public spheres.

Credit the Christian churches for doggedly keeping the flame aglow, maintaining the same holy vigil and subdued celebration of this most significant event in Christian history, so profound and shrouded with mystery as to escape the easy discernment of the typical Christian today.

In most Christian practices, this liturgical season continues to be referred to as Advent, coming from the Latin word, adventus, meaning the coming or arrival. And this well-anticipated event has been wrapped around the great mystery of the Incarnation. The taking on flesh of the Word of God, who deigned to become one with us and to dwell amongst us.

And this is the central theme that has been gravely diminished in the citizenry’s secular celebration of these holidays, save for the meager or occasional attendances to church rituals and festivities. Our undivided attention and avid participation in sumptuous food-taking, the mad scramble for exciting gifts, the well-planned vacation getaways, the lemmings-like rush to well-attended games, and etc. have all conspired to remove our hearts and minds from the true reason of the season.

How many present-day Christians have even bothered to learn about the implications and ramifications of that great mystery of the Incarnation? And more importantly, what one’s Faith requires from each member to discern and accept about the Incarnation? And one fears that learning sufficiently about this mystery, one may be well disposed to henceforth treat the holidays with a less than spirited enthusiasm if one cannot learn to accept the boundless leap of faith required of each Christian about the Incarnation.

Regarding this mystery, here is what the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) laid out as its infallible definition:

“We confess that in these latter times the only-begotten Son of God appeared in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation – the distinction of natures not having been taken away by this union.”

Stripped of its archaic language and baring its essentials we come up with the following: In the Incarnation we have One Person, the Son of God, and two natures, one divine and the other human, and these two natures are united in one Person. Of great importance in understanding this then is the clear delineation and distinction between “nature” and “person”.

Admittedly, this is a doctrine not very easy to comprehend, much less swallow, and simply because it is beyond the finite ken of human understanding to fully grasp the preternatural significance of this most unique union in one Person. There is absolutely no model to compare this with. Nothing in the past to even hint of any similarity. But accept we must, if we want to keep our faith; and on a more corporeal level, if we want to continue with our devoted celebration of the recurring holidays we all have become so automatically fond of.

Before you leave maybe in your confused state, ask yourself these questions. Does Christ then have two personalities? If not, where is the human person?


  1. Merry Christmas Amadeo!

    My commemoration of the Reason for the season involves little things like spelling Christmas in full.

    It would be also good to resist the consumerism of this times, I'd only buy gifts if required (or maybe I'm just stingy, hehehe).

  2. Dave:

    I believe you refer to the word, Xmas. I read somewhere about this when I was a teen, that it was a shorthand way of designating the word, Christ. And that it was the Christians’ way of keeping their religious affiliation amongst themselves for fear of reprisals. And the letter X does form like a cross, the symbol of Christ. Again, when I was younger I had seen images of St. Peter strapped to a cross similarly made, but held upside down.

    And here's a more formal explanation:

    Short Hand: The idea of using ‘X’ in place of Christ is not a modern idea. In the Modern Roman Alphabet, the first letter of the word ‘Christ’ is ‘chi’ which is represented by a symbol similar to the letter ‘X’

    You will frequently see people write Xmas as well as Xian, which means Christian, using the same principle. [Cross and Chi -- Two chi's superimposed upon one another. The chi in its normal position represents Christ. The chi in the position of the cross represents Christ's crucifixion.]

    Source: Paul G. Donelson

    BTW, if you observe the priest’s vestments at Mass, you should be able to see the two chi’s in some of the older symbols.

    Anyway, Merry Christ’s Mass, too.

  3. The diety of Christ and the Holy Trinity are dogmas that terribly confuses the Jews and Moslems, the two other religions that believe in the Torah ( Old Testament) to the point that they accuse Christianity of being polytheistic, departing from the teachings of Abraham and the subsequent prophets. Anyway, this is another topic of discussion altogether.

    For now I just want to wish you and Merry Christmas and A Happy New year. May you have a bountiful 2008 :)

  4. Many thanks for the explanation on "Xmas." You should have been a priest, Amadeo :)

    A joyous holiday season for you and your entire family!

  5. bw, faiths do diverge on doctrinal issues, but by and large, religion ought to arrive at what it is intended to do and what the word, religio, means, which is to re-connect to man's nature.

    Eric, a Jesuit education can be such an enduring influence in the lives of many who have gone through their rigorous programs of personal development.

    But one must be open to the idea that maybe nowadays things have changed, that people have differing ways of expressing their spirituality.

    To all, may blessings and grace be always with you the whole year through.

  6. No offense buddy, but I like Christmas, just not over HERE! Thank God its over...

  7. As always, Phil, different strokes for different folks.

    But you are not getting off that fast. Remember over there you have the longest holiday season, lasting well into mid January. HeHeHe.

  8. You know why I dislike it so much? Aside from the fireworks, which seems so incongruent to me and is definitely a "different strokes" thing just as you say, I hate the constant intonation of "Merry Christmas" from virtually everyone that sees me as a potential gift giver. Its the most cynical display I've ever seen. The last two or three days before "the day" I don't even go out of the house. But to you, I say heartily, Merry Christmas my friend...

  9. Likewise here, Phil. My sincere good wishes for the holidays to you and yours.

    Just got home from a 60 mile drive to be with the kids and the wife's sibling, for a little gathering. And that will be that till New Year's eve.

  10. ah yes, but the meaning of X is getting lost nowadays.


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