In her liturgical generosity, our Holy Mother the Church gives us three distinct Masses every December twenty-fifth. They are known as the Midnight Mass, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass of Christmas Day. During the second Mass, the Mass at Dawn, the Church presents us with the memory of a noble widow of Rome named Anastasia, the only saint who gets a “feast day” commemoration on Jesus’ Birthday.
Saint Anastasia was martyred by burning on December twenty-fifth in the year 304. Among all the Christmas Day occurrences of nineteen hundred years, the Church has chosen to remember, in conjunction with Our Lord’s Birth, only this one event: the suffering and death of a Christian martyr whose crime before men was to insist that the Holy Infant of Bethlehem is the One, True God.
This Christmas, there are many gods being proposed to the Catholics of America. They are gods with names like Tolerance and Brotherhood, and to fail to worship them has become, in effect, a crime before men. Invoking Saint Anastasia, The Point prays this Christmas for those who will be guilty of the crime, and who will insist, publicly and persistently, that the Christ Child of Christmas is the only True God, and that His Virgin Mother is that same Mother of God who, when our last Christmas is finally behind us, will stand unique and singular as the one Gate of Heaven.
Thy light is come, Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall walk in thy light. Alleluia.In the troubled season of Christmas, 1958, as the last strongholds of our civilization falter before the Jewish siege, let all who are about to despair consider the above words. They are of an antiphon in the Christmastime liturgy of the Catholic Church, and they offer a needed reminder. Though we must not forget that the Jews have rejected the Incarnate God, we must also remember — with thanksgiving and the chanting of alleluias — that God has likewise cast off the Jews, and established His new and eternal covenant with us Gentiles.
“A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us,” is the jubilant shout of Catholics at Christmas. To the Jews, it is a taunt, notifying them that however much they might bedevil the Church with their anti-Christian onslaughts, her ultimate triumph over them is assured. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.
The potency of this promise that Our Lord made to Saint Peter has been realized afresh during the past weeks, with the election of Saint Peter’s 262nd successor. And it is especially fitting that, as a consequence, the attention of the Catholic world at Christmastime will be directed toward Rome. For, ever since the seventh century, the relics of the Crib in which our infant Savior lay have been in the Eternal City, at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major; there, each December 25, the Pope himself celebrates the Midnight Mass.
But besides being the “new Bethlehem,” Rome claims our Yuletide interest on another score. That note of exultation sounding through the Christmas liturgy, insisting we should rejoice even in these beleaguered days, has a resounding echo in the history of the Bishops of Rome. Through all the centuries, they have been the authors of a wise and effective resistance to the menace of the Jews — a resistance that has safeguarded Christendom in the past, and offers the best hope for rekindling it in the future.
A compilation of papal decrees dealing with the Jews would clearly show that the Church’s legislative interest in them is twofold. First, the Jews must be constantly and enforcibly segregated from the Christian faithful, and second, they must at all times be prevented from infecting the world with their hateful and infidel doctrines. These were the two principles behind the Church’s approval of ghettos, her ban on the Talmud, her prohibitions against marriage with the Jews, her demand that Jews in Christian places be distinguished by a badge or other identifying dress, her warnings against Jews in public offices, etc.
With the final loss of papal territories in 1870, there ceased to be any Jews under the direct temporal rule of the popes. Yet, public questions involving the Jewish problem often brought the ancient Church principles into play. Thus, it is not surprising to find that the pope who was most outspoken on modern public issues, Pope Leo XIII, receives the following notice in the Jewish Encyclopedia: “He encouraged anti-Semitism by bestowing distinctions on leading anti-Semitic politicians and authors, as Lueger and Drumont; he refused to interfere in behalf of Captain Dreyfus, or to issue a statement against the blood accusation. In an official document he denounced Jews, Freemasons, and anarchists as the enemies of the Church.”
The Church’s mind has been made up on the matter since the days when Theodore Herzl, “the father of Zionism,” decided to call on Saint Pius X. Herzl hoped to get a papal blessing on his scheme for setting up a Jewish homeland. But the Holy Father told him flatly, “We are unable to favor this movement ... The Jews have not recognized Our Lord; therefore, we cannot recognize the Jewish people.”
And despite continual coaxings by Jewish leaders and their friends, the Vatican has refused to this day to give official recognition to the Jewish State in Palestine.
There have, however, been papal emissaries in the Holy Land during the last decade. They have gone, not to promote cordial relations between Rome and Tel Aviv, but simply to care for the interests of the Church and her children. They have gone to see how Catholics are harassed and discriminated against by the Jewish government. They have gone to see the wreckage and desecration of Catholic shrines and institutions by the Jewish army. And they have announced plainly to a heedless world what they have seen.
One of the earliest of these Vatican observers was Archbishop Arthur Hughes, who summarized his findings with the charge that there is a “deliberate Jewish effort to decimate the Arabs and to destroy Christianity in Palestine.”
One of the most recent observers is Monsignor Raymond Etteldorf, of the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church. In his book, The Catholic Church in the Middle East, which has just been published, he reports that Catholics living in the Jewish State are being gradually forced out. They find it difficult to get employment, even harder to set up their own businesses. Most important, the number of priests has been so drastically reduced through impositions of the Jewish government that almost half the parishes are now untended.
When Our Lady appeared to the children of Fatima, she told them that the people of all nations would have to suffer great afflictions if they did not turn to her. “But in the end,” she told the children, “My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Eventually, after whatever terrors and desolations may be in store for us, the world will listen, thankfully, to the message of the Catholic Faith — that Faith which looks for its ultimate protection to the Bishop of Rome, and finds its most joyful celebration in the festival of Christmas.