Catholic Apologetics

[Written to the author in response to this blog post: http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/no-christmas-for-millions-of-american-families-this-year/comment-page-1#comment-39567]

Michael,

I know your heart is in the right place here, but your reasoning is seriously flawed - largely because your assumptions are incorrect.

Let's start with what the holiday of Christmas really *is* - what the Church *made* it: Christmas is a holy day (that is, 'holiday') celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Who is God Incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Creator and Redeemer of the world.  That's what Christmas *is* - even if the former pagans the new holiday was given to *previously* celebrated it as something else.

You see, the Church that Jesus Christ founded has the power to make the ordinary holy - just as the Incarnation Itself has made the profane holy, for eternity.  Christ gave the first leaders of His Church the power to "bind & loose" (this refers to law-giving in the ancient Jewish sense), and even told Peter that what he binds on earth will be bound in heaven as well!  Clearly, the Church has authority on earth, does it not?

To take a pagan festival and *transform* it into a Christian Holy Day - for that is what was done - says to the world, "Jesus Christ is Lord, and He changes the world.  Forget your pagan past, for this day, like all days, now belongs to He and He alone!"

You are aware that wedding rings are a pagan artifact?  Do you wear one?  Do you think you should take it off?  How about going to McDonald's, which features a set of golden arches remarkably similar to that symbol of the Whore herself, ancient Bablyon?! 

You will say that that is silly, and may say that these things are not involved in religious worship - but, actually, for the Christian, every aspect of life should be offered to God.  But, in that case - pagans had rituals with water similar to baptism - perhaps it should be ruled out.  And they knelt in prayer to their gods - that posture is pagan!

Do you see the lack of logic and naivety in such thinking?  Yet such is a logical endpoint to he who begins with things like eschewing celebrating the birth of the Lord because the date was formerly a pagan festival.

In fact, atheists and pagans will assert that *all* of Christianity is in fact an outgrowth of paganism - a falsehood, of course, but as a matter of fact there are indeed many examples of God making the profane holy, or of His Church simply making use of aspects of human behavior, posture, symbols, etc., that either have no intrinsic meaning or are actually innately, properly associated with worship of God.  Please see this short essay, especially the links therein:

http://www.catholicthinker.net/catholicism-and-paganism/

Perhaps you can see that it is not very practical to try to "avoid" all *traces* of anything remotely related to paganism - and in any case this is a mistaken motivation anyway, because it's what you believe, what's in your heart, and how you behave that matters, not superficial and external details.


[ And now for an aside regarding your comment that "there is nothing about December 25th in the Bible", with the obvious implication that it is thus irrelevant (or worse).  Again, we have a set of very false assumptions in operation here - the main false assumptions that underly modern Protestantism, actually.

I might start by asking, since the Apostle John tells us in his Gospel that Jesus did and said many things that were never written down, why anyone should assume that *everything* relevant to the Christian would be contained therein.  The word "Trinity" is found nowhere in Scripture - is it irrelevant?!

However, this is only the very tip of the iceberg.  Where did my Bible come from, the intelligent and truth-seeking Christian must ask.  In fact, the canon of the Bible - its list of books - is a product of the Catholic Church, decided at Catholic Councils.  Please see the beginning section of this document for a very brief treatment of the canon:

http://www.catholicthinker.net/infallibility/

See also these documents which demonstrate that not only does the Bible not teach "sola scriptura" - the notion that *it* is the sole or even main source of authority - it teaches quite the opposite:

http://www.scripturecatholic.com/scripture_alone.html
http://www.scripturecatholic.com/the_church.html
http://www.catholicthinker.net/sola-scriptura/]

Jesus Christ gave us a living Church that did not die when the canon of Scripture was finally settled (several hundred years after the Resurrection!).  Christ tells His disciples to "go to the Church" (thus it is singular and visible) to settle disputes, He gave this Church the power to "bind and loose" that even Heaven respects, and He promised that the very gates of Hell would *never* prevail against this Church - because it is His divine creation.  This Church has decided that the birth of Our Lord will be celebrated on December 25th, and those who wish to remain obedient to Christ in all things should take notice.

P.S. Please see these documents for details on the authority of the Church - Biblical proof that it must exist, and does exist:

http://www.catholicthinker.net/th-source-of-catholic-authorit/#_ftn1
http://www.catholicthinker.net/peter-the-papacy/

P.P.S. More "pagan"/"idolatry" misunderstandings debunked:

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/do-catholics-worship-statues
http://www.catholic.com/tracts/praying-to-the-saints


Addendum:

Dave Armstrong has an excellent treatment of this subject:

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/02/is-catholicism-half-pagan.html

He points out that it is actually quite likely that December 25th was *not* co-opted from a pagan holiday - rather, it was the inverse, with the pagans having beforehand attempted to co-opt the Christian feast day for themselves!

He also makes an excellent point in noting that it is actually the fundamentalists who tend towards the idolatrous mindset - that is why they cannot see sacramentals and holy images for what they are.