The Nativity, 1646, by Rembrandt

Editorial: Christmas is eternal

  • December 20, 2018

No memories are so sweet as those which cluster round the Infant Saviour’s festive season.

Those words were published 125 years ago in the inaugural Christmas editorial of The Catholic Register. All these decades later, they still remind us that although holiday traditions may change — there were no mall Santa Clauses back then — the wonder of Christmas and the memories it creates endure because this holy event proclaims the  Word made flesh at the miracle birth in Bethlehem.

The past year has been one of reflection at The Register. Milestone anniversaries do that. One interesting observation is that, where it counts most, The Register has not changed. Physically our pages may barely resemble the first broadsheet editions that rolled off the press in 1893, but the newspaper still honours the mission its founders established 125 years ago.

In that sense, it is like Christmas, which at its nucleus can not change, regardless of how determined people are to adorn it with tinsel and ribbons. The similarity became apparent while reviewing that 1893 Christmas editorial.

“In Him mercy and truth met, and at the manger where He lay wrapped in swaddling clothes, justice and peace kissed. Born in the silent midnight in a hovel by Bethlehem’s slope, He came into the world as the poorest and the lowliest come into it.”

The editorial stands as a reminder that He arrived on a bed of straw with no material comforts in order to fulfill ancient prophecies. His very presence graced the world with the hope of redemption and then He showed mankind a way to live filled with love, mercy and peace. 

That message sometimes is blurred by a 21st-century commercialization of Christmas that is too focussed on gifts and parties, and on its obsession to experience the holiday in a social media post or tweet, and on the secular bias of a society which can get huffy when wished Merry Christmas, sung a Christmas carol or greeted by a public display of a creche.

So, yes, the message gets muddied and abused, but it can no more be erased today than it could 125 years ago — or 125 years from now. The promise and truth of Christmas is eternal.

“Can we visit in spirit the stable and the manger, and not learn the lesson which He Himself afterwards taught from hillside and seacoast: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven,” The Register wrote in 1893. “Contentment, therefore, and resignation to God’s holy will, are what the example of the Christ teaches us all.”

The editorial concluded with a final thought which, 125 years later, we heartily echo.

“Peace to men of goodwill was Heaven’s message to Earth. Let us send it out upon that holy morn. Nothing is so much needed in these times and in this country.”

Blessings, joy and peace to all our readers at Christmas and throughout the New Year.

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