As the end of the year touches off yet another season of grand Christmas celebrations, the Church has sent out a fervent Yuletide message to the faithfuls: “Don’t miss the woods for the trees”. Things the Church wants you to slam the brakes on include too much shopping, drinking and brazen festivities.
The Delhi Catholic Diocese feels Christmas has been subjected to “crass commercialisation” with over-the-top festivities and too much extravagance that can lead one away from the “real significance of Christ’s birth”.
To check the faithful from straying, churches in the Capital have been preaching “homilies on moderation” since the beginning of the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas.
“Since the first Advent on December 2, I have been asking church attendants to turn to the real teachings of Christ. One of them is moderation. So, faithfuls are being asked not to go overboard at the expense of spirituality,” the parish priest of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Father Rebello, told HT.
“There is a tendency in the consumer world of today,” said Father Susai Sebastian of Chetanalaya, the social arm of the Catholic Church, “to spend big on food, drinks, dresses and other such externals. Such a tendency is a devilish trap that can lead you astray”.
The executive secretary of the Catholic Enquiry Centre, Father Verghese Nediakalayil, said Christmas trees, Santa products, along with hotel events focused directly on Christmas, have brought about a consumerist approach. “With all this, the message of Christmas can get diluted. Believers should make merry but not fall into this trap,” he said.
Many Christians leave for Goa from all over India for Christmas because of the ostentatious parties. “But Christmas is not about partying,” the parish priest added.
Church officials fear wide commercialisation has reduced Christmas to an entertainment event. So what the church wants you to do? “Celebrate Christ’s birth, not just a festival,” said Father Rebello.
The Kerala Catholic Diocese has already declared 2007 as “Anti-liquor Year”, asking people not to serve alcohol in Christmas parties.