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A selection from the essay Catholic Faith, Catholic Culture, Catholic Life by Thomas Storck:

How a culture organizes time is very important. In their efforts to root out all Christian consciousness from the Russian people, the Soviets made an early and unsuccessful attempt to replace the seven-day week in order to eradicate the concept of Sunday. Likewise the French Revolution abolished our familiar months and began renumbering the years from the Revolution beginning with Year One. In a less radical way we can see that the official civic culture of the United States also desires to organize time. As I write, we are approaching Thanksgiving Day, a day meant for thanksgiving to Almighty God, yet - is this not strange? - initiated by the public authorities, not the Church, in fact a secular civic holy day. And, of course, there are other titles that name other days. New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and many others. We even have Jefferson Davis's birthday (June 3) and Wright Brothers Day (December 17). If you are interested, look in your almanacs and you will probably find a civic celebration for nearly every day of the year. And what do these days teach us?

They teach, I think, that our life is bounded by the state and by this life. The heroes who are honored in them served the nation, or at least we thought they did, contributed to its industrial progress or its land grabbing or to some other aspect of its history. They teach us that duty to the state is our whole duty and this duty is accomplished entirely in this world. By saying that this day is the Fourth of July or Veterans' Day they assert that the community of Americans is the most important community to which we belong, the one that is primary in our lives. We receive holidays from work and take part in public celebrations (as our Thanksgiving turkey or our fireworks) only according to this schedule. Any other is at best supplementary and private and at worst a competitor to be driven underground. (In fact, one could argue that the secular American calendar has banished the notion of the Church year with its progression of holy days from the consciousness of Catholics much more effectively than the French or Russian revolutionaries and their reformulations of the calendar ever did.)

Perhaps some readers might have thought of one holiday that was not created by the State authorities, and yet is given full honors by our society. This, of course, is Christmas. But what of it? It should be clear that the general official North American celebration of Christmas has nothing to do with God become man, with the fact that Almighty God himself could now be touched, held, played with, suckled, not to mention, spat upon, whipped and killed. It is simply a winter festival presided over by an elf named Santa Claus, who has absolutely no living connection with the holy bishop of Myra.

According to the Church's calendar, Christmas begins on the evening of December 24 and extends for a period of days. Preceding Christmas comes Advent, a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord. It hardly need be said that this preparation does not primarily mean the buying of gifts and suchlike, but rather the preparation of our souls for the Holy Infant.

Now, in the public culture of North America Christmas begins to be celebrated sometime in November. Store displays may be put up even earlier. Christmas parties and the like are often held in early December. The "Christmas spirit" is certainly fully present by mid-December, and builds up to a climax on December 25, when it suddenly disappears. But what about the Church? She is just beginning her celebration. But who is celebrating? Are her children among those who have observed Advent, who have refrained from holding and attending parties before the evening of the 24th, who are now in a proper state of soul and mind to rejoice? Or are her children, equally with the secularists, among those who are already sick of Christmas, jaded, happy to toss out the tree and buckle down to the next holiday, New Year's Eve? That many Catholic schools and other organizations hold Christmas celebrations during Advent shows that they lack the minimum understanding of how culture expresses faith. Of course, there are all sorts of good reasons why they must make that compromise - people will be away for the holidays, etc., but they all make about as much sense as celebrating Easter on Good Friday because someone will be out of town on Sunday. Those who do so proclaim that for them faith is separate from culture, a thing that hardly seems to affect their lives. They are so unwilling or afraid to depart from our culture's customs and dictates, that they would rather ignore what Holy Church is doing. She may patiently await the coming of the Lord during Advent and rejoice afterwards. They will stubbornly try to rejoice before and sit around in disgust or boredom afterwards.