January 10, 2021

"Christmas is stolen from us, as in the tale of Harry Potter" - His Beatitude Sviatoslav

In a fascinating interview that covers many other topics (including changing the date of Christmas and new beatifications in the Church, etc.) the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav also speaks about the onslaught of secularization that Ukraine is now experiencing and he mentions one of this year's social controversies that was placed in heart of religious Kyiv...

Ukraine is facing a great challenge when Christmas turns into a secular Christmas* without the newborn Jesus. This position was expressed by the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, in a Christmas interview for Ukrainian service of the popular Catholic radio network in Europe - Radio Maria, which can be heard [HERE] in Ukrainian.

What is this challenge? "The very word 'Christmas,'" he explains, "means a birthday." When we celebrate Christmas and do not say whose, then it turns out, we celebrate Christmas without the Newborn. This is a fairly new phenomenon that confuses us a little, but at the same time it needs an adequate response from believing Christians. But I will say at once, there is no single adequate answer to this phenomenon... »

Secular Christmas. What is that? There is "New Year's", explained His Beatitude, that serves more as a secular party, but Christmas - is a religious event, which is celebrated primarily by believers. Secular Christmas is now another secular party.

According to the observations of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, secular Christmas has three main features. First of all, such a Christmas is a commercialized event. This is a powerful shopping campaign. In our tradition, we gave gifts not for Christmas, but for St. Nicholas. And now a certain brand of Christmas purchases is being created...

The second feature of secular Christmas is a day of some magic, sorcery, fairy tale, which we find in the story of Harry Potter. "I realized this when I heard that the organizers of the Christmas tree on Sofia Square (in Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv) put a hat on the Christmas tree. Eventually, the tree did receive the Star of Bethlehem, but the hat was placed on the side, and under it a chair. As it turned out, they did it to sit under it to make a wish. Harry Potter also had Christmas, there was even a figure of a Christmas kidnapper... But that world of magic has nothing to do with the real religious reality," said the Head of the Church.

And the third feature is a secular Christmas, which is devoid of any religious meaning. It is celebrated by representatives of various religions, even non-believers. Celebrated as a special occasion for a holiday, but not as Christmas.

That is why Pope Francis calls this type of secularized Christmas a "stolen Christmas." This is a challenge. Christians are losing their monopoly on Christmas, so to speak, "His Beatitude Sviatoslav said in the interview.

"It's really a challenge, because we are called to Evangelize this new culture that is emerging. We must return this "stolen Christmas" to Christ. We must bring the context of the Saviour into a society that pursues commerce and magic, and is losing touch with God, Who is present here and now", he said.

If we don't wake up, the Head of the UGCC says, "we can become like those to whom the Holy Family knocked, and they were told: there is no place for you here."

Source: Dyvensvit


* Christmas is a compound word derived from "Christ's Mass", i.e. the Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated on Christ's Day - i.e. on Christmas. The secularization 'lobbyists' in English-speaking countries promote "Happy Holidays" as they are uncomfortable with - or even opposed to - both concepts of Christ and Mass. In Ukrainian, Christmas is usually expressed as "Rizdvo Khrystove" (i.e. Christ's Nativity). Many have come to use the abbreviated expression "Rizdvo", which most people presently would associate with Christmas. However, yes, it does remove "Christ" from the equation. In both cases, the Christocentric origin of the holiday risks being obscured and eventually forgotten.

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