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A Feast of Self-Indulgence

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

For years the Saturday Evening Post featured a new Norman Rockwell painting on its Christmas magazine cover. In 1947, he painted a salesclerk doubled over in a state of Christmas exhaustion. The clerk is disheveled, just lying over a pile of toys which had been picked-over. On the wall in the background was a calendar. The date was December 24. Next to the calendar was a clock and the time was 5:05 p.m., the store’s closing time. Evidently, and this clerk had made it through another “American Christmas.”

An “American Christmas,” to our culture’s shame, has devolved into a riotous feast of materialism. But as we come before the Crib of Bethlehem today, we hear the words of St. John the Evangelist: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). While on the first Christmas, King Herod sought “the young child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13), most people in our culture reject the Christ Child by ignoring Him.


For many Americans, Christmas has become a feast of self-indulgence. This Christmas, let us think of the Christ Child’s poverty and humility, of the gifts we ought to give Him, such as a good confession, a worthy Holy Communion, an act of charity or patience, rooting out gossip, feeding the hungry, helping a neighbor, and visiting the elderly/sick.

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