Christmas A Converted Pagan Holiday?

On this, the Second Day of Christmas (Dec. 26th)... the Date of Christmas Discussion is revisited...

This article is in follow-up to one I posted back in 2007:  Calculating Christmas (an article I reposted from Touchstone Magazine, Tighe, 2003).

This topic came up again in a family discussion last night (Christmas Night) after we had Christmas dinner (which, due to lack of planning on our part was at Denny's - hey, "They're always open!").  The discussion was back at my place as we sat around the Christmas tree enjoying some egg nog and other festive beverages.  Someone mentioned the pagan origins of the date of Christmas and when I mentioned that in reality the date had nothing to do with pagan origins - rather it was based upon the date believed to be the Conception of Jesus on March 25th which brought us to December 25th (nine months later).

Dates brought up were for Saternalia (which always ended BY December 23rd - One must ask too, why would the Catholic hierarchy have picked a date TWO DAYS AFTER Saternalia if they wanted to "replace" that celebration with the Christ Mass?) and Sol Invictus, which was celebrated on December 25th - but not until late in the 3rd century - and Catholics had already been celebrating Christmas on December 25th by that time!  In fact the Roman Emperor, Aurelius, who instituted Sol Invictus, is said to have done so to counter the growing popularity of the Catholic holiday of the Christ Mass (Christmas).

Also, at least as early as the second century, the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist was celebrated on September 9th.  Scripture states that the Annunciation took place in the sixth month of Elizabeth's (John the Baptist's mother) pregnancy.  Go six months out from September and you have March.

Now, considering that ancient belief was that one's death date was the same as their conception date, in Eastern Christianity they went with April 6th as this date for Good Friday while the West settled on March 25th.  One problem we'd have with the Eastern date is "instead of working off of 14 Nisan from the Hebrew calendar they used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their Greek calendar–April 6 to us. And April 6 is, of course, exactly 9 months before the eastern date for the birth of Jesus, January 6." (qtd. from Barney. 2006).  The West used 14 Nisan and came up with March 25th.  This is also why Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholic/Western Easter usually falls upon different days.

For more information and discussion, I recommend the following (short) videos too:

Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Dr. Scott Hahn correct a young priest or seminarian:

And from Defeat Modernism ( the commentary goes into more details:

Barney, 2006 - April 6th and the Conception of Jesus -

Defeating Modernism - video -

EWTN Live - video -

Tighe, William J. - Touchstone Magazine - Calculating Christmas -

The Real Face of the Blessed Mother?

Working from the Shroud of Turin, digital artist, Dean Packwood demonstrates what the Blessed Mother may have looked like.  The reason he uses the Shroud is that the only human DNA Jesus would have had would have been from Mary, thus their features, theoretically, would be quite similar.  What do you think?

I must recognize Dave Armstrong for pointing me toward this one as he made reference to Mr. Packwood in his digital Christmas card he sent out.

Do We Wish Peace on All?

Do we wish peace on all mankind, even those who would kill and/or otherwise harm us?  We've all seen the "Christmas cards" with the phrase, "Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

But, is that what Scripture REALLY says?  Let's take a look, shall we?  The phrase is taken from Luke 2:14:
Douay-Rheims Bible
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

The mis-translation comes to us largely from the Protestant King James Version and a couple other (early) Protestant versions.
King James Bible
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Virtually ALL modern translations, both Catholic and Protestant, agree with the Douay-Rheims - that this peace or goodwill is not intended for ALL mankind, only to those of goodwill - or those in whom God is pleased.  In fact, it is not a wish of "goodwill to men" at all, but a wish of PEACE to those who are OF goodwill.

Also, another friendly reminder as this is being posted on December 23rd, it's NOT CHRISTMAS YET!  Christmas officially begins with the first Mass of Christmas, which traditionally is Midnight Mass of Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning.  Until THAT Mass, it's still the Season of Advent!

So, MY wish for those of you reading this - if you are of goodwill, I wish for you a blessed Advent being mindful not only of the Incarnation of Christ and His birth, but also the Second Coming of Christ - which we also emphasize through the readings of Advent.

A Challenge!

The Season of Christmas begins with the First Mass of Christmas and does not end until the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) or more traditionally at Candlemas (February 2nd).  Leave your Christmas lights and decorations up and on at least until January 6th!  For the more dedicated, until February 2nd!  When people ask you why the decorations are still up and/or lit, you have an opportunity to share with them that Christmas isn't over yet.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Today was the Last Sunday in Advent as next Sunday marks the Christ Mass - or as more commonly called, "Christmas."  With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year that also makes this the longest possible Advent Season!  Advent ends with the First Mass of Christmas, often a Midnight Mass.

Readings for the Extraordinary Rite (Traditional Latin Rite)

There is urgency in the readings and prayers of today. We ask the Father to "drop" and to "rain" the Savior upon us, the human race, in order that we may "speedily" be delivered. "Come and tarry not!" is our cry. "Prepare the way of the Lord" for an immediate coming is the Gospel thought. And Mary we hail as the mediatrix of our pressing desire. Great indeed is our need for grace.

But the Savior we seek to possess and love is also our Judge. Not men but God alone can judge our preparedness for grace and for eternity. And God judges us by our love for our neighbors and our impartial zeal for their welfare.

INTROIT Isa. 45:8
Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just one. Let the earth be opened and bud forth a savior.
Ps. 18:2.
The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.
Glory be . . .

O Lord, show yourself an all-powerful God and come to us. Aid us with Your powerful assistance so that, through Your grace and merciful forgiveness, we may attain salvation, which now is hindered by our sins; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .

Commemoration of the EXPECTATION OF OUR LADY 
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.


EPISTLE I Cor. 4:1-5
Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man's day. But neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything. Yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time: until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. And then shall every man have praise from God.

GRADUAL Ps. 144:18, 21
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
V. My lips shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all men bless His holy name.

Alleluia, alleluia! V.
Come, O Lord; do not delay. Forgive the sins of Israel, Your people.

GOSPEL Luke 3:1-6
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina: Under the high priests Anna and Caiphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins. As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: "A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Third Sunday in Advent

Gaudete Sunday - "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!"

All the readings can be found here, but I wanted to focus on St. Paul's words for today...
EPISTLE Philipp. 4:4-7Brethren: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety, but in every prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
When St. Paul was writing to the Philippians, he was in prison.  He had every reason to be down or depressed, but his words to the Church at Philippi are to REJOICE!  The lesson for us here is simple, we are to rejoice in the Lord - not only when things are going well, but even when - and especially when - things are not going so well.  Have no anxiety, but be full of thanksgiving - at ALL times!  

So here is your challenge for the rest of Advent, and hey, for the rest of your life!  Let the world see your moderation, your calm and collective nature - and let them see God working in your life.

Just one additional note... today we did not light the "pink" candle!  The priest is not wearing "pink" vestments, nor are the alter vestments "pink!"  Liturgically speaking, it's "rose!"  Yes, you will find sites, even Catholic sites, calling it "pink," but it is really a subdued "rose" color - to signify "joy" - which is also the name of this Sunday, "Joyful" or "Gaudete" Sunday.  During this season of Advent - which, contrary to commercial propaganda, is a time of penance (like Lent).  However, on the Third Sunday of Advent, we look eagerly for the coming of the Lord and we rejoice in His coming.  Lent too has Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent (midway through the penitential season of Lent), and Laetare also means "joy," and thus the for the same reason - a break from penance and a turn toward "joy" exists during both seasons.

OK, one final remark...  it's NOT CHRISTMAS YET!  I wish you all reading this a Blessed Advent!  I will reserve the "Merry Christmas" greeting for after the celebration of the Christ Mass.

Second Sunday in Advent

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
On this day the Church not only makes mention in the office of the priest, but also in the Mass, of the two different Advents of Christ, that by His first gracious advent may be gladdened, and by His last terrible coming at the day of judgment we may be impressed with salutary fear. With this intention she cries out at the Introit:
INTROIT People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard in the joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His advent we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds; who livest and reignest with God the Father, in union with the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
EPISTLE (Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and magnify him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What does St. Paul teach in this epistle?
The Jews and Gentiles who had been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among themselves at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain kinds of food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted that the Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation, thus claiming Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached the Jews for their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore harmony St. Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles alike, to praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all; that each had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for salvation; and he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope by contentions. By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too, have great reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us, whose forefathers were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to guard against losing our salvation by pride, envy, impurity, etc.
Why should we read the Scriptures?
That we may know what we are to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our sufferings, and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To derive this benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them by the light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into existence, who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is, the light of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may be
read according to the sense of the Church and not be explained according to the reader's judgment. For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his own private judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity diverge from the right path, become entangled in manifold doubts, and at last, lose the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic Church has very properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as has been falsely asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she allows the reading of those editions only, which are accompanied by notes and explanations that the unity of faith may not be disturbed, and that among Catholics there may not be the terrible bewilderment of the human intellect which has taken place among the different heretical sects who have even declared murder, bigamy and impurity to be permissible on the authority of the Bible. We are to consider also, that Christ never commanded the Bible to be written or read, and that not the readers but the hearers and the followers of the word of God by which is meant those who hear the word of God in sermons, and keep it, will be saved!
Further instruction in regard to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the "Instruction for Easter Tuesday."
Why is God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of hope?
He is called a God of patience because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because He gives us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so consoles us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope, because He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be Himself the reward we are to expect after this life.
ASPIRATION O God of patience, of consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts with peace and joy, and grant that we may become perfect in all good, and by faith, hope and charity, attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL  (Mt. 11:2‑10). At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
Why was John in prison?
He was in prison, and lost his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous marriage with his brother's wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb says, is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a very ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the truth very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let us learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it, even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with St. John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become martyrs for truth.
Why did St. John send his disciples to Christ?
That they should learn from Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles, that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, whom they should follow.
Why did Christ say to the disciples of St. John: "Go and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk, etc."?
That they should, by His miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had predicted that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). "Christ," says St. Cyril, "proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur as well as by the number of His miracles."
Why does Christ add: "And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in me"?
Christ used these words in reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though "man," as St. Gregory says, "owes all the more love to the Lord, his God, the more humiliations He has borne for him."
What was our Lord's object in the questions He asked concerning St. John?
His object was to remove from St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise the perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened with death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus constituting him an example to all preachers, confessors and superiors, that they may never be deterred by human respect, or fear of man, or other temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling their duties. Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited by St. John's coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn, from his example, penance and mortification.
Why does Christ say that John was "more than a prophet"?
Because St. John was foretold by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all the prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ and could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.
How did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?
By his sermons on penance, and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts of the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true repentance.
ASPIRATION O Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy forerunner St. John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our hearts with love to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that we may never do anything to please man which may be displeasing to Thee; grant us also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may have those who are confided to our care, instructed in the Christian doctrine.


"The God of patience and of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:5,13).
What gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?
The strong and fervent belief that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the will or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received good things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in his affliction, "why should we not receive evil?"
We should be fully convinced that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to us by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence that if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings, if it be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands (Is. 49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the future life, which we will merit by patience in our sufferings, for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17); we should remember that all complaints and murmurs against the dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm and shame; Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4) we should have a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have long since deserved the eternal punishments of hell - hence the well-known saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn, but spare me in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven than the way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother, and all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21). And we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs of God's love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).
PRAYER IN SORROW O almighty, kind and merciful God! who hast said: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 49:15), behold relying upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give honor to Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to Thee and beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only help. Amen.

Scott Is Back...

Well, for a few weeks anyhow... My first semester in the masters program through ASU is complete and I have a break until January 9th.  This will afford me some time to get back into apologetics and catch up on emails. I look forward to interaction with everyone.

Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...