Christmas Letter, 2010

To our Tertiaries, Benefactors, and Friends,

On a recent trip to Rome, where I was privileged to be present at the canonization of my patron, Saint André Bessette, the brothers took a tour of St. Clement’s Church, a truly ancient edifice whose multi-level subterranean crypt is a wonder of Christian archaeology. Descending past the Christian “layers” of the building, one comes to what used to be a private home that had a small pagan temple of Mithras inside. I hitched along with a tour group that welcomed me, and was learning a great deal from the knowledgeable tour guide, a Canadian fellow, who performed his services admirably — until he explained the origins of Christmas. Our guide declared that we celebrate Our Lord’s Nativity on December 25 thanks to the fact that this was the ancient festival of Mithras. During times of persecution, you see, Christians had to fake it, and play like they were pagans, only secretly celebrating Christ’s birth… on the wrong day!

Such an implausible and harebrained explanation is only one of several that creative scholars have concocted to explain away one of our dearest traditions. To debunk their debunking, I’ve decided that this Christmas Letter will reprint a small feature I wrote years ago for the Housetops, “In Defense of Christmas”: [Read the rest (PDF file)]