What place has Christmas in a secular world?

The Spirit & Meaning of Christmas are not undermined by celebrations that often seem excessive to some. Even in our “secular” world both are possible. We can all agree that Christmas is a time for love, sharing, and enjoying our close relationships, as well as being generous with others.

What does Christmas mean to you?

What do you think about the season of Goodwill?

What place has Christmas in a secular world?

Many people worry that “the real meaning” of Christmas is getting lost. They often blame the consumerism, that seems to take over, and dominate our thoughts and behavior. We witness frantic, excessive and expensive shopping sprees to buy the compulsory Christmas presents, and to stock up on special food or booze. Credit often cards get hammered.

The belief is that such concerns make us forget what Christmas is all about: the “real” meaning of Christmas. I disagree!

I don’t believe that it needs to be either/orI am a life-long Christian, and I fully understand the religious and spiritual meaning of Christmas. I go to Mass, I rejoice in Jesus Christ, and accept and try to live the message of peace and goodwill to all.

But why on earth should that stop me appreciating other good things? I enjoy a beautiful meal, and a glass of wine, as much as the next person. So did Jesus, as far as we know! I don’t believe in a religion, that seems to condemn “earthly pleasures” as something evil and “against the will of God.” 

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Let me repeat: it’s not either/or. It’s both! All we need to do is to keep things in balance, the material and spiritual. After all, are they not just two ways of enjoying the good things in life, that the loving Creator has given us. The honest use of products designed to meet our basic human needs cannot be wrong. Jesus never condemned feasts, providing they don’t degenerate into immoral or inappropriate behavior.

The Meaning of Christmas: Just a cliche?

So what seems to be the problem here? Does our focus on feasting overshadow the spiritual dimension? Do we forget the real meaning of Christmas? Does it get lost? Or perhaps, in today’s secular world, the spiritual and religious dimension no longer resonates deeply? Yet, even if it does indeed resonate, and we do accept that Christmas is a “time for forgiving”, a profound and challenging question still remains:

What do we do in response to the spiritual message?

How does it affect our behavior, our life? Do we even think of changing any behavior, attitudes or beliefs, that are incompatible with peace and goodwill to all? Has that message become something of a cliche? We nod at that message in bored agreement, pour another glass of wine . . . and then do nothing about it in our life?

Same old me when Christmas is over? Back to the old ways? The Meaning of Christmas can become a temporary moment of light, lost within an ongoing darker life. If so, what can we do?


The Meaning of Christmas: A few suggestions

Maybe the best response of all is to take the whole idea of New Year Resolutions more seriously. Tie Christmas and New Year together:

“If I want to live the message of Christmas better, then by New Year I need to start changing . . . whatever must change.”

Christmas spirit finds new meaning in the New Year. In that way you can extend the spirit of Christmas, in your own life, well beyond the confines of December and January. Become a better person, happier, more successful.

You could even find yourself living a whole lifetime of better peace and goodwill to all!

Now wouldn’t that be a Christmas present for all you loved-ones?

A legacy to “die for.”

Gerry McCann


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