Rorate Caeli

A Must-Read for Parents: Restoring Tradition in Christmas

From our friends at The Remnant comes a blueprint for Catholic parents as only Michael Matt can explain it -- a how-to guide to eliminate both the extremes of commercialism and Puritanism from Christmas and raise a generation of traditional Catholics who truly put Christ back in Christmas.

"I can still see the cast of Bethlehem bathed in a warm, peaceful glow, seeming as real to me as if I were a shepherd boy looking down from that hillside over Bethlehem. I can hear my father and mother’s hushed voices as they prayed and sang to the same royal Baby that shepherds and angels had adored centuries ago. That sacred moment was like a porthole in time, where traveling back to the city of David just then seemed not only possible to a child, but imminent.

"Those long ago Christmas Eves remain vivid in my memory, some thirty-five years later. And the gifts under the tree? I don’t remember many of them. There was no question what Christmas was about — we could feel it in the depths of our souls; we could see it in the tears that formed in our father’s eyes as he prayed aloud; we could hear it in our mother’s voice as she sang softly — silent night, holy night, all is calm."

Take a moment and read the full story, and start to plan now.


LeonG said...

And no matter what recent books may deny to the contrary, there were ox, ass and sheep present and an angelic host singing with heavenly voices - Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Long-Skirts said...

Michael Matt wrote:

"I can still see the cast of Bethlehem bathed in a warm, peaceful glow..."

Me too! Beautiful!!


The hour
The moment
The dark
The cold.

The night
The moon
The straw
Of gold

Which once
Was gray
Behind the
Gable -

But touched by
Christ -
Glowed gold
From the stable.

Anonymous said...

We have observed this tradition in our family since our oldest was little, for the past 18 years. The children love the Christmas room as it is sealed off awaiting the Christ Child. He comes and decorates the room leaving goodies and their main gift! Every year the youngest carries the Little King in procession, everyone carrying lighted candles as we sing the songs of Christmas. Kneeling about His manger their Dad reads the Gospel of Matthew and we pray our consecration to the Christ Child. The curtain is pulled aside and the delight of Christmas morning breaks forth and Advents preparation of our hearts to receive our little King is fulfilled in the welcoming of Him into our Hearts, first in communion and then in our home! God be blessed for this great custom . . . a blessed Advent to all of you as you await His birth.
Margaret Holeman

Seraph said...

Another way to celebrate Christmas is to actually celebrate the Christmas season. Christmas is 12 days long. We should be celebrating the twelve days of Christmas from Dec. 25th until Jan. 6th, the feast of the three kings. Christmas lights, tree, nativity scene, music, gift giving, and feast days should all be celebrated during these twelve days.

Adfero said...

Christmastide actually doesn't end until compline on Feb 2, the feast of the Purifucation of Mary.

Fidus et Audax said...

This is great and I will look forward to implementing this tradition. A French tradition we have in our family is a Galette des Rois cake on the Feast of the Epiphany in January. Every year this beautiful French pastry marks the day. I am amazed every year by my protestant neighbors who dump their tree out in the trash on Dec 26 and go on with their lives as if their Savior had not just entered the world. We always have some celebrations all the way through Christmastide.

merry christmas said...

If you are interested, Maria von Trapp presents numerous traditions a Catholic family could gain plenty of ideas from in this book:

Tom said...

LeonG said..."And no matter what recent books may deny to the contrary, there were ox, ass and sheep present..."

The people connected to said book would do well to pay attention to Pope Benedict XVI's recent book as His Holiness declared that animals were present at Jesus' birth.

His Holiness stated that "the manger, as we have seen, indicates animals, who come to it for their food.

"In the Gospel there is no reference to animals at this point.

"But prayerful reflection, reading Old and New Testaments in light of one another, filled this lacuna at a very early stage by pointing to Isaiah 1:3: ‘The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master‘s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.‘”

"No representation of the crib is complete without the ox and the ass."


Jeremiah Methuselah said...

"Christmastide actually doesn't end until compline on Feb 2, the feast of the Purifucation of Mary”
This of course correct, but actual “feast” stops on the Epiphany. Many people take cards down on 7 January

Herald said...

The excellent Fr. Michael Rodriguez gives a sermon about restoring Advent here:

B. said...

I still find it kind of ironic that Michael Matt praises the tradition of the Christkind each year as "profoundly Catholic", when it was in fact invented by Martin Luther to counter the devotion to St. Nicholas, who used to bring the gifts.
The tradition has been heavily Catholicised afterwards, and today in Germany it is mostly the Catholic regions that keep it.

CatholicBuckeye said...


I was thinking the same thing. Isn't Christkind where we get "Kris Kringle" from? I thought I was doing the "Catholic" thing by teaching my kids that Santa Claus was St. Nicholas not Kris Kringle.

We just try to do a gradual build up through Advent as we approach Christmas, in our family and to incorporate as much religious overtones into the common memes of the season. When Advent first starts we only bring out a wreath for our front door, a Nativity scene (minus Baby Jesus and wise men) and the Advent wreath. As we progress through Advent we gradually add more things like outdoor lights, Christmas tree, indoor decorations, etc. In fact, we just put our tree up two days ago and decorated it last night. Our Nativity scene has a place of honor greater than or equal to our Christmas tree in our living room. Our little ones help light the Advent wreath every night (kids for some reason just love fire). They know that Christmas is "Jesus' birthday" and they know he is missing from the manger. Once we get to the point where all four Advent candles are lit they know Christmas will be coming very soon and they like to check the nativity frequently to see if Jesus is there yet. They still believe Santa Claus aka St. Nicholas brings the toys down the chimney but they know it is because St. Nicholas is a friend and follower of Jesus and it is all part of the big party we get to throw once Jesus arrives. We keep our Christmas decorations up through Jan.6 but leave our nativity scene up where the three wise men make their appearance at the manger (They gradually start on the other side of the room and get closer each day until their epiphany arrival). We finally take the nativity scene down after the feria of the Epiphany. I know Christmas season goes until 2 February, but I don't feel obligated nor it necessary to leave my home decorated until February. Of course, the church's decorations and colors and the priest's vestments are another story; they should follow all requirements of the calendar...

Tom said...

Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966:

"5. Changing customs, especially in connection with preparation for Christmas, have diminished popular appreciation of the Advent season.

"Something of a holiday mood of Christmas appears now to be anticipated in the days of the Advent season.

"As a result, this season has unfortunately lost in great measure the role of penitential preparation for Christmas that it once had.

"6. Zealous Christians have striven to keep alive or to restore the spirit of Advent by resisting the trend away from the disciplines and austerities that once characterized the season among us.

"Perhaps their devout purpose will be better accomplished, and the point of Advent will be better fostered if we

*******rely on the liturgical renewal and the new emphasis on the liturgy*******

to restore its deeper understanding as a season of effective preparation for the mystery of the Nativity."

Our bishops in 1966 A.D. were right on the mark.

The "liturgical renewal" certainly restored a deeper understanding of Advent among Catholics.



Gratias said...

Concerning the new format of Rorate Cæli, at least for iPad, one can display it as before by going to the bottom of the list and pressing "web format".

California Daily Catholic went through a similar readjustment and the final product now looks quite nice.