Dan Andriacco, communications director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, wrote a Catholic Update a few years ago entitled “Holy Day vs. Holiday” for the purpose of “making Christmas less commercial” that gets some circulation this time of year. Inside are some good ideas for keeping this time of year focused on the right things, e.g., observing Advent and celebrating all of the Christmas season. But allow me to dissent from its major premise: that Christmas is “too commercial.” The generosity that people feel this time of year should be celebrated. It’s good to share gifts with friends and family members. Sure, people can overdo it, but I don’t think that’s the crux of the problem. (And five years of the Obama economy have probably curbed some of those excesses.) It’s that American Christians are increasingly secularized, not commercialized. Their patterns of behavior aren’t grounded in the liturgical calendar the way their ancestors’ were, and they mark time by secular substitutes, e.g., the school year for students, the financial calendar for working adults. Mention the “O Antiphons” at your next “Holiday Party” and see how many puzzled looks you get. The good news is that Mr. Andriacco’s suggestions are mostly just as applicable to helping re-Christianize Christmas. But again, the problem isn’t commercialism, it’s secularism.
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