By The Hermits, Dec 25 2015 11:07AM
Not perhaps since the late 1930’s are we living in such uncertain times on this Christmas day 2015. We are incredibly muddled in the West, politically, morally, religiously, and globally, whatever the last term means. Such terms as “The Global Village” are hardly helpful and are out of date, anyway. Quite what Globalism actually entails would be hard to know. It does, however, appear to be about bankers and the very,very few power brokers who run the World and pull the strings of most of the political leaders.
What then is at stake this Christmas? Virginity, fatherhood, motherhood, and the family. ISIS of course are very keen on the family, but it would not be the monogamous Christian or Jewish family, and virginity means little to the Moslems. Motherhood is highly prized, even though a woman’s power is confined to the home. So for the Moslems, family and children are important. For the West virginity, family, fatherhood, motherhood and religion are of little interest. All that matters in the West is pleasure, leisure, and quality of life, which if it fails to be worthwhile ends in death by Euthanasia. The word that is not on most Westerners’ lips is sacrifice. The English middle classes seem obsessed with education, but education for what? As far as I can see it is all about careers and making more money, with quite a large dollop of meaningful left wing views, but there is no passion; only interests. The English middle classes find everything fascinating, but there is a superficiality about them. The French, a far more philosophical race, would have a more passionate view of education, and would have romantic ideals, even in the present day grey republicanism of the Hollande government, but there is always a chance that France will ultimately come up trumps, and her Catholic heart will beat again, for at present it resembles not a beating heart, but a dying one. The French say of the English “Trivial about the serious, and serious about the trivial”. The French are not so free of a similar vice, which is about the all importance of style.
The problems that afflict the French conscience, and which France wishes to deny, as does the rest of the West, is that without Christianity, there would be no France, nor would there be a Europe. Europe was founded ultimately by Monasticism and the Papacy. As Daniel-Rops the great French historian of the Church says, the great age of the Church was between 1050 and 1350. How right he is, and we have been going downhill ever since. The obsession with knowledge, and with education beginning very worthily with Aquinas gets out of hand the more the years progress, and so by the time we get to Luther, subjectivism has won the day. Luther’s feelings submerged his theology; the artist triumphed over the theologian and downhill all the way has become a theological and moral avalanche. It is no surprise that by the late 19th century Modernism comes into play, and religious experience becomes something purely subjective. There is no more objective reality. In fact reality has gone. Man has become the centre of the Universe, and now the once unassailable Catholic Church finds her vision at the highest levels blurred by Modernism. This brings me to Christmas, the birth of Christ.
Nothing could be more perfect, more natural than Christmas. Everything is glorious, and simple. There is no room anywhere for God to be born. Everyone is too busy to pre-occupied with their own needs and business to think about God and what he wants from us. Everything is hustle and bustle as it will be 2015 years down the line, give or take a few years. Do we ever give God our time, our hearts? Our lives are taken up with such questions as; if this had happened, I might have been this or done that. Why am I so unhappily married? Why does no-one love me? Why do my parents not understand me? Why do my children reject me? Why do I hate my job? Why is life so awful? If we have everything and are very rich we will wonder why we are so lonely, or we will worry about losing all our money if the Stock Market collapses.
The shepherds by contrast had virtually nothing. They were looked down upon by the Pharisees as they could not manage to fulfil all the many, many, ritual observances. Their life was incredibly simple and lonely, but they had one thing; time. They had time to look, to pray, to wonder, and it is to these incredibly simple folk that The Angel appears with the unbelievable and startling good news.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke “: vv.9-13)
The rest, as they say, is history. But on one level it isn’t. Those of you this Christmas who feel lonely, abandoned, misunderstood, despairing, a prey to feelings of hate, jealousy, and goodness knows what else be of good cheer. Go to Bethlehem in your hearts and gaze upon the child in the manger. Share with Mary and Joseph all your hopes and fears and you will find joy welling up in your soul. We are never alone; that is the great lie of the Devil. We have our guardian angels, we have the saints, and all the heavenly host. The problem is that we can’t see them, and above all we have the Holy Family who come to us with joy and peace and who say to us, “Fear not… For unto you is born this day in your hearts a Saviour, Christ the Lord.”