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Who doesn’t love a Christmas Tree? 

What Christmas would be complete without the glittering fir, filling the house with color and warmth?

But whence the custom of the Christmas Tree? The pine fir certainly wasn’t present in Oriental Bethlehem, when Jesus was born. Rather, palm trees grow in the East, and are often depicted around the Crèche.

So, why don’t we decorate a palm tree, rather than a fir tree? Is the custom even Christian, we may ask?

Indeed, that Christmas tree standing in our living room has an ancient, wonderful history. And though the custom began pagan, it was “baptized” and adopted by the wisdom of a great saint.

St. Boniface was an English man who lived in the ninth century and who felt called to evangelize the German nation.

One of the pagan German gods was a great oak tree called “Thunder Oak” in honor of the god Thor. Every winter, the locals offered a sacrifice to Thor, usually a child, under the mighty oak.

One year, fired by holy anger, Boniface decided to do away with the barbaric custom and bravely showed up with an ax just in time to prevent the killing. Before the astounded revelers, he proceeded to hack away at the massive trunk.

Legend has it that a miraculous gust of wind pushed down the tree at the first blows. Impressed that the “god” did not strike down the daring priest, the pagans accepted Christianity.

As the giant oak collapsed, standing there was a small fir tree that, somehow, escaped destruction.

 

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Pointing to it, the holy man said:

“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”

Thus using strength, St. Boniface did away with an idol.

Yet, also showing amazing tact, he wisely filled the vacuum left by a cancelled custom with another tree, now used merely as a symbol or as a type of “sacramental” directing the new Christians to the true God.

So was the evergreen taken into homes at Christmas, from that time on becoming a loving sentinel to the birth of Christ, a symbol of hope, peace and good-will.

With time, small and large decorated evergreens were used as an actual backdrop to the holy Crèche, another custom begun by another great saint, Francis of Assisi.

So as you gather around the Christmas Tree this year, share its holy origins with your children, so they may not only love it’s lights and colors, but also the rich Catholic heritage that is theirs.

 


 

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By Andrea F. Phillips

References: EWTN Online, Catholic Answers, Wikipedia
Photos:
Christmas Tree: Dreamstime.

St. Boniface and Thunder Oak: Wiki Commons; attribution: Jdsteakley

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for December 12, 2019

“Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my sh...

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December 12

 

“Am I not here who am your mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?”

Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego


Protest & Offer Reparation for this "Christmas" BLASPHEMY

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Putting an end to the horrific practice of extensive human s...

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

In February of 1519, Hernán Cortéz, a Spanish General, landed in Aztec Mexico with a contingent of armed men. By August of 1521, with the help of native allies, he had conquered the country.

Putting an end to the horrific practice of extensive human sacrifice to satanic idols, he sent for Spanish missionaries to begin the work of evangelizing Mexico. Coming up against the natural obstacles, the work was arduous, and progress slow. The fact that some Spaniards suppressed the natives did not help. As a revolt brewed, the saintly Don Juan de Zumárraga, first bishop of Mexico, appealed to heaven for help.

On December 9, 1531, one of Mexico’s first converts to Christianity, a middle-aged native named Juan Diego, was making his usual way into Mexico City to attend Holy Mass. As he passed a hill called Tepeyac, he heard music, then a sweet voice that called his name, “Juan, Juan Dieguito…”

Following the sound of the voice calling to him, he climbed the hill and came face to face with a beautiful lady in an aura of light who said she was “the ever Virgin, Mother of the true God”. Speaking in Nahuatl, she asked him to convey to the bishop that she wished a church built on the spot where she stood.

Juan Diego obeyed but Don Zumárraga did not believe him. Two more times the lady appeared with the same request, and, finally, the prelate asked for a sign as a proof of the apparition’s authenticity.

On relating the bishop’s request, the Blessed Virgin bid Juan Diego climb to the top of the hill, and to gather the flowers he would find there. Doing so, the good man was amazed at seeing an abundance of Castillian roses, unseasonal in December.

Gathering the blooms in his tilma (a whitish cape), he returned to the lady who re-arranged them with her own hands.

When Juan released the flowers before the bishop and his retinue, a brilliant image of the Blessed Virgin appeared on his tilma before the astonished eyes of all.  On his knees, Bishop Zumárraga contemplated the wonder, also moved at the sight of the Castillian Roses, the sign for which he had secretly asked.

In an apparition where Our Lady healed Juan Diego’s dying uncle, she referred to herself as, “she who crushes the serpent,” in Nahuatl, “Coatlaxopeuh”, interpreted as “Guadalupe”. Though there are other interpretations, the latter seems most plausible as the cult of “Quetzalcoatl”, the “Serpent-god” was prominent in pre-Christian Mexico.

As news of the stupendous miracle spread, so did the Catholic Faith.  As the natives flocked to Juan Diego’s tilma with their sorrows and joys, plaints and petitions, Mary’s silent sweetness, love and purity effectively won over the hearts of the Mexican people.

To them, she was – and is to this day – “their queen”, La Guadalupana.

Not only had the exalted lady appeared to one of them, but she had also adopted their own ruddy semblance, conveying to them that she was queen by wearing the Aztec royal turquoise, yet not divine as her head was bowed. That she was of the faith of the Spaniards they knew by the small black cross at her neck, the same as on Cortéz’ soldiers’ helmets.   So, once more, led by the Mother, all of Mexico came to the Son. In a few years, nine million accepted Baptism.

The sacred tilma is venerated to this day in the shrine built on the site of Tepeyac in Mexico City. The icon has miraculously defied the test of time, as the natural fibers of the cloak normally last twenty years. Not only are image and cloth intact, but other inexplicable facts continue to astonish science.

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WEEKLY STORY

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee...

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Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.

Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.

Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.   Amen

By Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

 

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Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

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