Celebrating Christmas…

This Christmas thread is to allow us firstly to reflect on the momentous event which changed the world forever – the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ: hence feel free to post your favourite prayer, hymn, story, poem of the season etc.

Secondly, this thread is to allow a breather from serious discussions, so some fun is in order: post Christmas jokes and stories – in the spirit of our ‘Good Clean Fun’ thread earlier this year – and we’ll promise to laugh, even if the jokes are of the Christmas cracker corny variety!

And, in anticipation of the stroke of midnight, allow me, on behalf of the Catholic Truth team, to wish all our bloggers and readers a very happy and holy Christmas, 2013.

49 responses

  1. Happy Christmas everyone!

    This is one of my favourite Christmas videos, which I hope you all enjoy as well.

    • One of my favourites, too. I think we had it on the website or blog last year. Thank you very much for posting it here – and Merry Christmas!

    • Thank you for posting Adeste Fidelis – haven’t listened to it yet but will do tomorrow.

      A joyous Christmas to you and yours, as well.

      God bless.

    • Thank you for this – we had a different version of this hymn on the website a few days ago, but I’m looking forward to listening to this one.

      Happy Christmas!

  2. Madame Editor,

    On the subject of Christmas jokes, have you heard the latest one by Archbishop Muller? He is telling the world that the SSPX is “sacramentally excommunicated” and is consequently schismatic, notwithstanding the lifting of the illicict excommunications against the four bishops, and that the only way for the SSPX to gain recognition is through total acceptance of the whole caboodle of Vatican II.

    Does that mean we can have a new thread in 2014 about whether or not the SSPX is in schism? Or perhaps one about the requirement to accept non-infallible pronouncements or face a fate worse than death?

    A Holy and Joyful Christmas to us all.

    • Leprechaun,

      Yes, that is a joke, right enough. However, we’ve already got a thread inspired by Archbishop Muller’s nonsense – it’s been up there for a couple of days. Click here to comment before the end of the month or thereabouts when the December threads will be closed.

      And a holy and joyful Christmas to you and yours.

      God bless

    • Theresa Rose,

      Thank you for posting Silent Night – another of my all time favourite carols.

      A very happy and holy Christmas to you and yours.

    • Nothing beats Andrea Bocelli – great rendering of Silent Night.

      A happy and holy Christmas to everyone on the Catholic Truth blog and hope the new year is a happy one.

  3. I suppose all the self professed Atheist and Secularists will be celebrating Christmas. Oh, the hypocrisy.

  4. A Happy and Holy Christmas to all, including those who consider it to be a pagan festival.

    Maybe the word Christ in Christmas will be a wee hint.

    • Frankier,

      As you say the “Christ” in Christmas is “a wee hint”. I wonder if the people, especially atheists and agnostics, who are celebrating Christmas have noticed that!

  5. It’s nice to hear all those carols which tell the real story of Christmas so it’s disturbing that a church in Dublin ended it’s 12.30 p.m. Christmas Day Mass with Have your self a merry little Christmas followed by Jingle bells. When you think of all the beautiful Christmas carols to choose from it is very sad that they should resort to Christmas songs instead of carols.
    We had a very beautiful Midnight Mass in Edinburgh. Some people, especially those who have far to travel, didn’t manage because of the gales but 85 people attended it was a joyous occasion.

    • That’s incredible that any Catholic priest would pick “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” to finish Mass on Christmas day. I think I’ve heard it all now.

      Happy Christmas everyone. I enjoyed all the lovely videos here, although (no offence Vianney) I wouldn’t say that was my favourite version of Holy Night. I do love the carol though, it’s really gorgeous when sung by a choir in church.

    • Susan Boyle’s voice is just glorious. Thanks for posting her singing O Holy Night – it’s lovely.

  6. Thank you very much, everyone, for posting all the wonderful videos.

    It’s a pity I didn’t find the following and post it a couple of days ago. It’s taken from the website, bearing the saintly priest’s name, which is dedicated to the memory of a truly exceptional pastor of souls, the outstandingly heroic Father William Doyle SJ.

    The following excerpt from the classic biography of Father Doyle by Alfred O’Rahilly recalls Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass during the First World War in 1916. Eight months later Fr Doyle was killed on the fields of Flanders, while carrying out his priestly role of ministering to the wounded, having run “all day hither and thither over the battlefield like an angel of mercy.”

    Of course the following recounts exceptional and extremely testing circumstances, but I think it offers all of us an eloquent instruction in what Christmas and the vocation of the priest will always be about.

    “Christmas itself Fr. Doyle had the good luck of spending in billets. He got permission from General Hickie to have Midnight Mass for his men in the Convent. The chapel was a fine large one, as in pre-war times over three hundred boarders and orphans were resident in the Convent; and by opening folding-doors the refectory was added to the chapel and thus doubled the available room. An hour before Mass every inch of space was filled, even inside the altar rails and in the corridor, while numbers had to remain in the open. Word had in fact gone round about the Mass, and men from other battalions came to hear it, some having walked several miles from another village. Before the Mass there was strenuous Confession-work. ‘We were kept hard at work hearing confessions all the evening till nine o’clock’ writes Fr. Doyle, ‘the sort of Confessions you would like, the real serious business, no nonsense and no trimmings. As I was leaving the village church, a big soldier stopped me to know, like our Gardiner Street friend, ‘if the Fathers would be sittin’ any more that night.’ He was soon polished off, poor chap, and then insisted on escorting me home. He was one of my old boys, and having had a couple of glasses of beer — ‘It wouldn’t scratch the back of your throat, Father, that French stuff’ — was in the mood to be complimentary. ‘We miss you sorely, Father, in the battalion’, he said, ‘we do be always talking about you’. Then in a tone of great confidence: ‘Look, Father, there isn’t a man who wouldn’t give the whole of the world, if he had it, for your little toe! That’s the truth’. The poor fellow meant well, but ‘the stuff that would not scratch his throat’ certainly helped his imagination and eloquence. I reached the Convent a bit tired, intending to have a rest before Mass, but found a string of the boys awaiting my arrival, determined that they at least would not be left out in the cold. I was kept hard at it hearing Confessions till the stroke of twelve and seldom had a more fruitful or consoling couple of hours’ work, the love of the little Babe of Bethlehem softening hearts which all the terrors of war had failed to touch.’

    The Mass itself was a great success and brought consolation and spiritual peace to many a war- weary exile. This is what Fr. Doyle says:

    ‘I sang the Mass, the girls’ choir doing the needful. One of the Tommies, from Dolphin’s Barn, sang the Adeste beautifully with just a touch of the sweet Dublin accent to remind us of home, sweet home, the whole congregation joining in the chorus. It was a curious contrast: the chapel packed with men and officers, almost strangely quiet and reverent (the nuns were particularly struck by this), praying .and singing most devoutly, while the big tears ran down many a rough cheek: outside the cannon boomed and the machine-guns spat out a hail of lead: peace and good will — hatred and bloodshed!

    ‘It was a Midnight Mass none of us will ever forget. A good 500 men came to Holy Communion, so that I was more than rewarded for my work.’”

    • Leo,

      That is a beautiful extract from the life of Fr Doyle. I know you have posted quotes from him before and every time I am impressed. He sounds like a marvellous priest. When I read your words that Fr Doyle’s work on the battlefield of WWI is “an eloquent instruction in what Christmas and the vocation of the priest will always be about.” it made me think “how true” – how exalted the priesthood is and yet how many priests today realise it?

    • Leo,

      “I was kept hard at it hearing Confessions till the stroke of twelve and seldom had a more fruitful or consoling couple of hours’ work, the love of the little Babe of Bethlehem softening hearts which all the terrors of war had failed to touch.’”

      Could anybody read those words and not be affected by their sheer beauty? God touching a soul to go to Confession, is so deep.

      Thank you for posting that, it’s a great reflective piece for Christmas, I’d say especially for priests but also for us all.

  7. I forgot to say I enjoyed Vianney’s video of Mahalia Jackson singing O Holy Night but like Susan Boyle’s version as well. I agree it’s beautiful sung in church with a choir, very powerful.

  8. Merry Christmas, everyone!
    I like O Holy Night, too. I think it sounds very good when sung by a young sweet sounding voice. (I like Michael Crawford’s version with the childrens choir).

  9. Leo,

    I agree that this a beautiful extract from the life of Father Boyle. A timely reminder of the vocation of the priest.

    O Holy Night is a favourite Christmas Carol of mine, I too have never heard Michael Crawford singing it. The version I know well, is sung by Mario Lanza.

  10. What a beautiful thread! This is a perfect marker for Christmas.

    I wish everyone who has contributed to this beautiful reflective thread a very happy Christmastide, and a blessed new year.

  11. Lily, Margaret Mary, and Theresa Rose

    I agree completely with all of you about the exalted, irreplaceable role of the priest in the salvation of souls. I don’t want to change the direction of this thread, and there will be lots of other opportunities to quote from Father Doyle, but I’ll just say that finding inspiring words and stories of spiritual advice and saintliness in his biography, is like picking berries from a bramble.

    • Leo,

      Personally, I don’t think it’s changing direction to quote Fr Doyle, because the infant Jesus was also the High Priest and the priesthood is so basically essential to the Church that it’s always appropriate to quote from a holy priest IMHO. So thank you again for those uplifting words from Fr Doyle about that Midnight Mass. The images it conjured up of fighting men in tears at Holy Mass are so very touching. I bet nobody reads that quote without a tear coming to their own eyes.

    • 3Litleshepherds,

      Thanks for posting that Michael Crawford version of O Holy Night – it’s really beautiful.

      I noticed that Susan Boyle I think it was, one of the other versions anyway, sang “sin and sorrow” but Michael and the rest sang “sin and error” which is what I learned. Anyway, it’s absolutely beautiful in all the videos. I’d be hard pushed to pick a favourite.

  12. Thank you one and all for the wonderful contributions to this thread and for all the lovely Christmas greetings posted here. Thanks, too, to those of you who emailed and texted to wish me a merry Christmas. All much appreciated. I know the emails and texts are from readers who keep an eye on the blog, so I hope they will understand if I make this my “thank you” to one and all, with my good wishes to everyone at home and abroad for a very holy and happy Christmas.

    I have been away from my computer, due to various unforeseen circumstances over Christmas (no, not that – I do NOT drink!) so it is a pleasant surprise to find that you have all kept the blog ticking over in my absence. Thank you all, each one, very much indeed for your loyal support and I look forward very much indeed to listening to all the video carols posted on this lovely thread. Quite a feast methinks!

    Please pray for a family member of mine taken to hospital earlier today after several days of acute pain. I know he’d appreciate all prayers offered for his intentions. Our Lady of Lourdes, health of the sick, please pray for him.

    Thank you and God bless you, each one.

    I will catch up with the other threads asap – right now I’m now heading for the pubs and clubs 🙂

    • Editor,

      I will keep your sick relative in my prayers today.

      Leo,

      I’ve read the extract from Fr Doyle’s biography over and over since you posted it and it never loses its beauty. Thanks once again.

  13. Thank you for putting this blog together and for posting the carols – it has made my Christmas. Wishing you all a bright and peaceful New Year.

    • Bededog,

      Thank you – high praise indeed! A very happy new year to you, as well. We’ll probably have a fun thread to mark the New Year next week, so stick around!

  14. I decided to be very honest with my children and to tell them that Santa Claus is not really an elf who lives at the North Pole. I told them he was St. Nicholas and that he lived in heaven. When I finished my eldest patted my arm and said, “That’s a good story. Now why doesn’t Santa Claus get stuck in our chimney?”
    I continued all the way up to Christmas and kept explaining about the real St. Nicholas. Finally they seemed to believe me but on Christmas morning they shouted, “St. Nick’s brought me presents! St. Nick’s been here!”
    St. Nick? I give up. We don’t even have a chimney!

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      When I listened, this Christmas, to my little Great-Nephew, who steadfastly believes in Santa and his elves, I just cannot imagine being the one to break through that innocence. Reading the letter he penned to Santa (and which he asked me to post) brought a tear to my eye. No, not the glass one, the other one!

      It’s not remotely “dishonest” to use the legend of Santa Claus to teach children about unconditional love and generosity. Of course it’s also good to tell them about St Nicholas – somehow we grew up with both but St Nicholas didn’t detract from the magical visitor with his reindeer stopping at our house to deliver the presents which we just knew for a fact our parents couldn’t possibly afford (as I told my smart alec friend whose older brother had told her the lie that there was no Santa!)

      And don’t worry about “no chimney”: as my gorgeous little Great-Nephew says “Santa knows everything – he knows how to get into the houses with no chimneys” 🙂

      Here’s a lovely editorial written on the subject in response to a letter from a child…

      Enjoy!

  15. It doesn’t matter. I made no impression at all. Although I did see the eldest go over to the nativity scene and thank Baby Jesus for their presents. So I guess that so long as they know where it all comes from the elf stuff is okay.

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