A ROK Christmas Benediction From Brother Cui Pertinebit

Frequent readers here will recognize the name of Cui Pertinebit, which has appeared here as both a commenter and as the subject of an article. I have received a letter from him, which takes the form of a Christmas benediction to the ROK community. While it is always pleasurable to receive a letter from a friend, that satisfaction is doubled when the sender is a man of learning and sincere devotion to the virtuous arts.

Intelligence and a patient devotion emerge from his words, as a incipient flame gleams from a bed of smoldering coals; and we are warmed by the energy emitted from these embers. His letter begins below. My response appears below the line after his letter. Readers should be aware that in correspondence, Cui uses the name of Augustinus.


Letter of Cui Pertinebit to the ROK Readership

Ut bene valeas hoc in tempore adventus Domini nostri, Augustinus Exiguus

Incipit tractatellus Augustini de Adventu Domini Nostri: 

Why We Need A More Masculine Approach to the Spirituality of the Holiday Season

Recently was the beginning of Advent, the period of preparation for Christmas. Now, I’m sure that all the good fellows on ROK have noticed Christmas decorations in stores ever since Halloween or slightly before, and you watch in horror as the season that seemed so merry and bright as a child, has been transformed by feckless, effeminate consumerism into a suitable occasion for Mariah Carey to shake her festive ass at underage youths while hocking the foreign wares of our degenerate overlords. In fact, that reminds me: Advent is the time in the Liturgical year for remembering the Last Judgment!

While we await the much-deserved destruction of the cosmos in a blaze of empyrean glory, you may want to take some tips from our forefathers for keeping the season with a more masculine focus. Much of the information will be of specifically Christian focus, of course, but the principles may be generally applied by all men of good will (peace be upon them).

While the norm, now, is to burn one’s self out with a lot of shopping and social events until Christmas Day, when suddenly Christmas is over and the festivities drop off the face of the Earth, the traditional way of preparing for Christmas was to keep a very strict discipline and sober mentality leading all the way up to Christmas, and then to feast very, very merrily for 12 days (until Epiphany, and then moderately for another week after that). I find that this approach keeps the season very happy indeed, without the month of pointless stress and the sudden evaporation of Christmas cheer on December 26th.

As to the sober preparation: the season commemorates both the First and Second Comings of Christ, the first in seeming frailty so as to judge the devil’s power and to cast it out of mankind, the second to pass final judgment on all who chose to remain subject to evil despite the offered liberty. As St. Paul points out in the epistle to the Hebrews: if God commanded the death of those who neglected the decrees of God when mere angels ministered the Old Covenant to Moses atop Mt. Sinai, how much greater judgment will overtake those who have trampled the New Covenant with the Son of God underfoot?

One is immediately struck, upon observing many of the oldest traditions and carols, by how they present a lively tension between the themes of mankind’s greatest hopes and fears being revealed at once; slavery and liberty, judgment and redemption, fear and hope, all combine. There is a “bright sadness” to many of the oldest carols, which often use musical modes such as the Dorian, that allow “minor” and “major” feels to blend in the carol. The focus of Advent is not one of peace and joy and togetherness, still less of boozy asininity, but rather, the sober mentality which awaits the great manifestation of God with bated breath. The main prayers for the weeks preceding the feast beseech God to “stir up Thy power” and come, they express the anxious expectation of redemption and assistance.


The ascetic discipline becomes more severe from the 13th on (the feast of St. Lucia), and the “Great O Antiphons” begin on the 17th of December (the 16th in the usage of Catholic England); these O Antiphons are solemn hymns upon the Magnificat at Vespers that address God the Almighty Redeemer and Legislator in awe, forming the acrostic “(V)ero Cras,” “truly, I shall come upon you tomorrow.” In Advent, we await the judgment of Christ Incarnate upon our souls, and we recall the liberty, with which He has set us free to be ready for this Second Coming. We thus repent and set ourselves in order, to await His arrival in our midst.

In the season leading up to Christmas, then, let your minds be sober. There is a fast during this season, which traditionally begins on 15th November to mirror the 40 day Lenten Fast before Easter (but the first week of Advent is a good time to start it, as well).  Though the Advent Fast is called the Winter Lent, it is not kept quite so strictly as Lent for the first portion. Men who want to discipline themselves to prepare for Christmas in the traditional way, may wish to abstain from meat, eggs and dairy until Christmas itself. Italians may be accustomed to a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve, which is a last vestige of this practice.

Until December 13th, try to wait until 3:00 PM to eat each day, if you can; it you need to eat something early in the day, try to keep it light and not to have a full meal until 3:00 or 6:00 PM. Beginning on the 13th, keep this practice up on every day except Saturday and Sunday (though do observe the Ember Saturday fast after St. Lucia’s day). Pray more at this time; if you can, pray the Divine Office, especially Vespers. Try to favour the carols that look forward to the Advent of our Lord with expectation: Veni, veni Immanuel, The Angel Gabriel, Riu Riu Chiu, etc. If you can convince your friends and family to keep Advent and Christmas this way, you may be able to avoid being invited to too many little parties here and there before Christmas.

If the discipline seems strict before Christmas, it is only so that the Feast itself may seem more joyous: trust me, when you have kept a strict fast like this, even a simple piece of cheese or a bit of beef seems like a morsel fit for a King. When Christmas itself arrives, make as much merry as you can stand, but remember that a little will go a long way, especially at first as you come off of the stricture of the fasting period. Traditionally, the Tree is decorated on Christmas Eve, and is lit upon returning from the Midnight Mass.

Have your favourite foods and observe your favourite traditions.  Let the Lamb’s Wool, Wassail, Egg Nog, etc., flow freely – don’t cheapen your manhood with excess, but feel free to land just an hair on the side of being more merry than is necessary! Try to go to the Midnight Mass – if you are fortunate enough to live someplace where the Three Masses of Christmas are offered, go gladly (provided godless hippies aren’t ruining the services). Chant the parts of the Masses and read the readings at home, yourselves, if need be.  You’re going to keep partying all the way until Epiphany, January 6th. This is when the Magi actually arrived, and many Catholic countries actually exchange gifts then. The Eve of Epiphany, “Twelfth Night,” is another night of special mirth and customs.

I respect so many of the chaps at ROK, and I like the focus the site has on general self-improvement. In my opinion, our forefathers kept a better Christmas than we currently do, and so I wanted to share what I considered their chief insight with ROK members: rather than a crash-and-burn, high-stress, low-spirituality skid into the anti-climactic wall of Christmas Day, try instead to keep a mounting expectation and sober discipline until Christmas Day, and then let the joy of the season keep you company for a good long while in low-pressure (and low budget) merriment.


Both in the austere march to the feast, and in the gladsome merriment thereafter (which also has the Feasts of the First Martyr Stephen, the Holy Innocents, the Apostle John, Thomas Becket, the Circumcision of our Lord, the Epiphany, etc.), keep the mind fixed on the spiritual significance of the observations and let these things communicate joys of the highest order to you. Christmas is a time of year when many people stumble around in a deadened, boozy stupor, buying crap while “Jingle Bell Rock” blasts in their ears, only to collapse in depression on December 26th. I have better hopes for the men of ROK.

I wish you all a peaceful and sober Advent, and as joyous a twelve days of Christmas as possible.



Response Of Quintus Curtius

Quintus Curtius Augustino fratro amplissimo suo salutem dicit,

I have read your letter here with great interest, and expect that it will be as well received by the community as was our last dialogue. You should know that your favors and counsel here are valued, and their positive reception speaks to the interest that many readers have in matters of spiritual devotion; and although human power is rarely granted except in accord with destiny, we strive to approach the ideals set for us, and let others worry about what will happen.

To exert effort towards these ideals which you speak of is to be privy to some splendid human achievement, one that assures us both reward and sustenance. Let us congratulate ourselves—if we may be so presumptuous—on our shared search for these Divine Principles, a search which infuses our worldly labors, and draws us steadily upwards.

Know, then, that men of whatever station and standing seek out each other, and take comfort in shared goals and struggles; the activity of one inspires the other, and so the progress of man is assured. And let us not forget to be patient with our younger brothers, as the racket and din of inexperience may sometimes overwhelm the voices of Reason. Time and life lived are the two prerequisites for wisdom.

I find the counsel of Angelo Poliziano, when writing to the Bishop of Segni, to be most wise. He said, Amici vitia noveris, non oderis.

This means, as you know: Take note of a friend’s shortcomings, but do not despise them.


Read More: A Dialogue With A Pious Monk

109 thoughts on “A ROK Christmas Benediction From Brother Cui Pertinebit”

  1. This article I will read not during a break at work, but later, when I can give it full attention. Because articles like this demand it. And deserve it.
    I’m sure it will be good.

  2. More unearthed wisdom. One needn’t be a practicing Christian to see the value of these words and this way. I’m sure many of our brothers here from diverse backgrounds can appreciate the strength, dedication and resolve on display here, and many who are part of the faith, such as myself, sincerely value this guiding exemplar for a more thoughtful, sincere and masculine adherence to the true spirit of the season.
    A guiding light for those of us who have stumbled along the way. Thanks for this.

    1. But i’m not a Christian and therefore the very presence of a Christmas article on this site makes me feel bad
      Please be more inclusive of non-christian men and remove this article
      just kidding ppl enjoy your fruit cakes and egg drinks

      1. But I’m not a secular humanist and the exclusion of Christian articles privileges secular humanism in a way that makes ME feel bad!
        In modern society, there is one group of people which is always excluded and made to feel bad: grown men who don’t wet themselves every time they feel bad.
        Here’s wishing you an hardy party, too. 😉

  3. I’m going to fast from today until Christmas Day. I’ve already been doing intermittent fasting for the past year, so this will be a little tougher.
    These articles from Quintus are becoming my favorite.

    1. Excellent! Best wishes to you for a good fast, and an even better feast! The first year I kept the Great Lent with full stricture, I was blown away by how delicious a simple peace of cheddar cheese on a roll could be. There’s so much goodness around us; overuse of it blinds us to the treasures we really have.

      1. “There’s so much goodness around us; overuse of it blinds us to the treasures we really have.”
        Very true.

  4. Getting to read something like this is really like a Christmas present for me. The whole holiday has been twisted so far beyond its spiritual meaning that it’s barely recognizable anymore, and just an excuse to rabidly buy more stuff. It’s refreshing to hear from someone with with a more sober attitude about it.

    1. I rarely concern myself with buying gifts anymore. I take advantage of the sales for myself but I attempt to give my loved ones and friends memorable experiences and my time. Memories outlive mass-produced toys.

      1. That’s a great approach; though we’ve all given or received an occasional gift that was truly special, most gifts are quickly forgotten. The best things are the memories of drinking cognac with dad, sitting at the piano with mom, smoking a pipe with grandpa, with the Christmas tree twinkling and the coals glowing. Frankly, it’s more of a sacrifice to make time for people, too; spending cash is easy, if you have cash to spend.

  5. More people have been murdered in the name of Christ than pretty much every other human invention put together… I really can’ t vibe off some celibates, adhering to a 2000 year old tribal superstition, that was out of date before it even began.
    The only difference between pygmies in the jungle painting their faces and dancing around the fire to worship the holoholo God, and the mainstream religions, is Christianity, Islam and Judaism, were better marketed and enforced with endless blood letting.
    Even Buddhism which is the least bad of the bunch is way off the mark these days. The world needs some new spirituality, a concept of “Beings of the Universe” – or “The Force”. Science needs to step up to the plate and stop trying to disprove religion and sink it’s teeth into the esoteric, mystical questions. This is the main reason we are screwed as a humanity.
    All we have is dogmatic science pitted against dogmatic superstition (religion).

    1. One thing I can’t help but notice though, is that in human history wherever God was taken out of the scene, murder and tyranny still happened. People will readily kill for the state under statism just as they would for some religious “ism”.
      A lot of atheists these days tend to be statists politically. They call themselves “progressive” and it’s the progressives who have given us nanny-state backed up by the gun.
      Some of this I think is due to kids who are unfortunate enough to have bible-thumping Jesus Freak parents, where everything is “of the Lord or not”. These kids grow up hating all things God, understandably (having had to deal with people suffering from BCS – “Bellicose Christian Syndrome” and the way their churches are run on insular moral superiority grounded on hate and suspicion for everything else).
      But, still having been raised by weak-minded parents and spending time among the weak-minded, these young atheists still need something to “bend the knee” to. They end up taking on left-leaning causes. SJWs for example. They do it with the same levels of zeal and extremism that they claim to be trying to rid the world of. (again, SJWs for example doing everything the Nazis did while claiming to be anti-Nazi).
      So there is no more Spanish Inquisition but I think the people who have lost their careers thanks to SJWs might say otherwise.

      1. Well said. We’re very quick to blame ideas and institutions meant to guide us to a better nature than the base nature of humanity itself.

        1. The blind appeared to have done a good job then, given as they gave us near universal literacy, the notion of rational self interest and worked their arses off to give us the Industrial Revolution.

      2. These progressive atheists are just as weak minded as the religious bigots.
        Their SJW religion has the same mecchanisms.

        1. Hmmm “Puritanism” removed from the religious context and shuffled over to the topic of SJWs retains the meaning of the word.
          We are heading into Moldbuggian territory.

        2. 😉
          I firmly believe that Protestantism was the start of it all, and that the modern SJW is just a microwaved, soy-imitation version of Puritanical Kidney Pie.

        3. even a quote from napoleon himself “You don’t govern men who don’t have religion, you shoot them.”

      3. religion is out of date, so it’s been replaced with something even worse….. at least god wanted you to be decent… socialism is just a subjective opinion backed by the uneducated masses and held in place by incompetent lawyers and their thugs.

        1. I think Christ made his point though. He would like his followers to continue his work of throwing the money changers naked into the mud. I haven’t seen it yet. His tribe of money changers must hate him big time for that. The idea has infected many. It’s coming.

    2. you have my respect for stating baldly what you think. Christianity must indeed prove its worth or perish. I believe it will prove its worth, but it must first address the kind of points that you make

    3. Christianity, prior to becoming the official religion of Rome, was focused on behavior, not doctrine. Early Christians were entirely disinterested and unable to make arguments for their faith and against other faiths. Christianity was a simple way of living in the world, not a set of beliefs that were to be accepted on the point of a sword.
      But then Rome accepted Christianity as a state religion and Augustine went on to merge it with Greek philosophy, define it institutionally and transform it from a way of life into doctrine. It was then possible to be a dogmatic believer and to torture and kill unbelievers.
      Institutions make possible the sort of violence you are referring to, whether they be atheist or religious.

      1. This is not true at all. The New Testament is full of warnings about denying the doctrine that Christ “came in the flesh,” and of the false teachers of gnosticism. The first (and only) Church Council mentioned in the Bible, was called to debate the heresy of the Judaizers and define the real position of the Church. St. Paul’s concern in many of his epistles, is not to dissuade Christians from “working out their salvation in fear and trembling,” but rather, to remind them that it is heresy to think that one’s works, especially if these works are done to observe the Mosaic Law, are somehow obliging God to save them as a due reward. He commends the same behaviour in either case (doing good works in the fear of God), but takes care to teach them to eschew the wrong doctrine on works.
        It would also seem that you have not read the other Christian writings from before the conversion of Constantine, which ubiquitously reveals the same concern with right doctrine. They also indicate that the early Christians believed in a religion precisely identical to that, which they believed after Constantine. I’m always amazed at how many people think Constantine had a magic switch that instantly changed the doctrine for all Christians, everywhere. Of course, I once believed it myself, so, an happy journey to you.
        Right behaviour is rooted, necessarily, in right doctrine. Who can imagine behaving the “right” way, if there is no teaching about what is right and true?

        1. Allow me to quote from a conversation with Karen Armstrong (none are my words):
          Q: You also say in your book The Great Transformation that Jesus didn’t teach doctrine. Explain that, please.
          KA: Does he mention the Trinity, the Incarnation or original sin? What you see Jesus doing is going around being good, asking questions. They’ll ask him what is the greatest commandment and he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” But he’s not telling them what the Lord your God is, whether he is the Trinity or not. There’s very little of that.
          The Axial Age sages were not interested in orthodoxy. Orthodoxy means correct teaching. They weren’t interested in theology much at all. For them, religion was not about belief or holding onto correct beliefs but about behaving in a way that changed you at a profound level.

        2. I’m not sure I would quote Karen Armstrong as any kind of authority; she is what one has come to expect of modern, feminist Christianity.
          Jesus’ ministry, initially, is to a community of Jews, ruled by a group of elders, in a religion based on a Scriptural tradition rich in doctrine and doctrinal commentary. He often tells people that they should hold fast to that teaching, and to the teachers. Certainly, however, most of His concern is the work of moral awakening, which He came to provoke, in preparation for His Passion and Resurrection, which was the whole reason for His Incarnation.
          Christ did not go around giving theological dissertations to the common man, and He never wrote anything down for transmission. But He is recorded as giving the authority and mission of His Church to the Apostles, and as explaining everything to them in the days between His Resurrection and His Ascension. As He leaves, He promises to send the Comforter, the Spirit, Who will lead them not into “all morality,” but into “all Truth.” Then, from the very first, the Apostles’ concern is one of moral repentance and orthopraxy alongside a correct understanding of the Faith (or, orthodoxy). I think it involves a logical disconnect from the essence of the matter, to imagine that, if Christ was Who He claimed to be and did what He promised to do, the moral AND doctrinal emphases of His hand-picked Apostles would somehow be a departure from His intent.

        3. Karen Armstrong–“mad dogs and Englishman stay out of the midday sun”–is an apt description of her. She’s a gapped toothed kooky Brit.

        4. As a monk and devotee of institutionalized Christianity it comes as no surprise that you would not accept the idea that there could be Christian behavior in the absence of
          formalized doctrine.
          Institutions such as the Church and State encourage men to believe that in their absence there could be no moral or ethical life; that before their appearance man lived in some primitive, brutal, Hobbesian state of immorality and war. Verily, there is much evidence that men knew how to relate to one another morally and ethically long before a Church and State appeared to enact laws telling them how to act and in what to believe. The codification of laws and crafting of doctrine as foundations for both institutions–while perhaps well-meaning and innocent endeavors of their creators–are easily subverted towards violence and the amassing of wealth and power, the opposite of the very behaviors they were enacted to promote.
          The focus on doctrine, Church-building, and theological argument (particularly its merging with Greek philosophy through Augustine and Aquinas) led Christianity away from how to act in the world (exemplary behavior) and instead to what should be believed. This, as I argued in my original post, provided both the foundation for the institution of the church and subsequent religious violence.

        5. I don’t think St. Paul in the epistle to the Romans and Thomas Hobbes are anywhere in the same ballpark when it comes to man’s nature.
          Doctrine and morality are inseparable parts of being Christian. What is the point of loving if we do not know what to love and love as God does? We can’t love God as God if we think the Son is lesser than the Father or did not become flesh.

        6. For crying out loud, man, of course I believe there could be moral behaviour without Christianity, as is a readily observed in the many non-Christian cultures of history and of today. You have read all of this into my statements; all I said, was that there is plenty of reason to believe that Christianity has always been doctrinal. Moreover, Catholic doctrine has always upheld – beginning in the Scriptures – that men have a universal, intuitive nature of the moral law, and always have. So, the Church has never believed any of your allegations about “brutal Hobbesian” conditions, etc.
          It sounds more like you have an emotional aversion to the doctrinal realities of Christianity (and perhaps a disappointment in the shortcomings of the mortals that hold the Faith), and have allowed this to prevent you from taking a reasonable and fair approach to it in toto. I would point out that Christianity raises man from merely natural morality to a supernatural participation in the Divine Nature, a feat which was accomplished through the work of Jesus Christ for man’s redemption. Thus, getting the facts right about Christ and His work, is an essential element of the Christian Faith – which is why the New Testament stresses the doctrinal importance of confessing that Christ came “in the flesh.” If you look at all of the Great Councils of the early Church, you will see that each of them dealt with this principle, when some person or other introduced ideas which undermined it, often subtly and unintentionally. The Church accrued an ever more precise doctrinal content in this process, and, all the while, was bursting at the seams with Saints who lived exemplary lives in pursuit of moral perfection. It is not until modern times, with “doctrine-less” Christianity, that we actually see the wholesale collapse of the spiritual, doctrinal AND moral excellence of Christian society.

        7. It also occurs to me that Jesus corrected the woman at the Samaritan well, when he informed her that the beliefs of the Samaritans were incorrect, and the Jews’ beliefs were correct. Jews and Samaritans had the same moral code, but had differing ideas about God and how to worship Him correctly. So, that at least was a direct taking of sides on doctrinal matters.

        8. Of course there can be “Christian” behavior in the absence of a formalized doctrine.
          But this is beside the point, and ignores some historical realities. Religions, if they are eventually to spread over vast regions, must eventually become codified and structured. This promote consistency of ideas, rational interpretations, and some degree of regularity. Every religion has its written scriptures.
          In Christianity’s case, it happened to flourish in the waning period of the Roman Empire. For this reason, it stepped into many of the institutional shoes that were formerly filled by the Roman Empire. It made good sense for this to happen. As Christianity became the official religion of Rome, the Holy See in Rome replaced the Emperors. The Papal Curia replaced the Roman Senate.
          And yes, religions need structure, in my opinion. At some point, debate has to stop if people are to have peace of mind.

        9. A 1000 pardons sir. Thank you for the correction. Didn’t this saying arise from the British in India during the Raj?? British subjects went native and loved the less rigid culture of India ( versus Victorian England) and of course the sexy time /kama sutra etc??

        10. That’s quite alright. To answer your question, a lot of fellows did “go native” in various parts of the empire but it was very much frowned upon by the memsahibs. One didn’t get invited to afternoon tea, which meant trading cucumber sandwiches for the Kama Sutra. A tough choice, as you can imagine.
          However, the mad dogs thing originated with a Noel Coward song that was first performed in 1931 and which became enormously popular all over the world. Churchill and Roosevelt are said to have debated its lyrics, no doubt over brandy and cigars. Its theme is the strength of the British work ethic, which was maintained regardless of local traditions to take a break in the heat of the day.

        11. “Yellow fever” is nothing new. And English women despised men who wanted Eastern wives, as they do now.

    4. I think you know just as well as anybody else, that it is queerly false to claim that more people have been killed in the name of Christ than “everything else.” In fact, there may be some projection here, since Atheistic Communism in the past century is certainly the Heavy-Weight Champion in that competition!
      Christianity spread entirely peacefully for the first 300 years (not counting the persecution of Christians, that is); it spread almost entirely peacefully for the next 1200 years, though I’ll concede that there were some battles (primarily political in motivation) that incidentally involved the spread of Christianity, as regarded the Roman Emperors, Burgundians, Charlemagne, St. Olaf (of Norway), etc. The defamation of the Crusades and Inquisition is just that: a defamation that consistently proves itself to be unacquainted with the facts; the Dominicans and Franciscans themselves were often martyred at the hands of the Conquistadores, while they tried to protect slaves and natives from their aggression; the wars of religion during the Reformation were largely political struggles, attempting to establish the absolutely autonomy of princes from the principles of philosophical truth and justice; and, beginning with the 1700s, we again see a period where Christianity has expanded globally without any use of violence.
      I think you fundamentally misunderstand science, if you think that a process of empirical observation, hypothetical speculation and empirical re-verification, could possibly dig its teeth into esoteric, mystical questions. It by definition cannot. The dogmata of science have changed many times, and will change many more. For, you see, empiricism in the hands of a fallible observer, is just as uncertain (in fact, far more so), than the rational principles of natural religion.
      I would wholeheartedly endorse doktorjeep’s observation, that people have a propensity to kill, period. Since people don’t like to feel like complete monsters, as a general rule, they like to pretend that they have a good reason for doing this. The best reason, is a strong belief in something that purports to be for the greater good, because it provides the maximum power of self-justification. For that purpose, Christianity, Communism, Islam, I suppose even “Free” Health Care, will all suffice.

    5. Also, why is death such a bad thing? Billions of humans exist, have existed, and will exist, all of which experienced/will experience death. What does it matter if the death is caused by someone or if it occurs naturally? Nature doesn’t mind death, obviously, since it causes most of it. Animals kill eachother. Why is it so horrible for a human to kill? Humans are bags of meat. Nothing more.

    6. “More people have been murdered in the name of Christ than pretty much every other human invention put together”
      “if you tell a lie loud enough for long enough the masses will believe it” -hitler
      more people die from abortion (5 billion every 20 years) then anything else

  6. I’m amused that our Christmas season becomes most frenzied from the period right after our last major feast before Christmas in America. We can find great wisdom in the idea of abstaining before the celebration of Christmas as to better enjoy it when it comes. We burn out on the season before we even reach the day we are concerned with. We should be with people we love, and if we give material things, we should remember the season is a time to express merriment, not a time to express the size of our bank accounts (or debts).

    1. I can’t help but notice that we try to make much shallow merriment and fanfare of the shortest darkest days of the year when our bodies are really trying to slow down. There is something unwholesome about this.
      We have also gotten rid of the “feasts” – which occur through the year, and pack everything into this one holiday. The Europeans at least take a week off for this.
      This is why I opt out. The day after Thanksgiving (US) and up to Midnight December 24th is the worst time of the year, where hypocrisy abounds and people trying to be what they are not (especially from being too sick and dumb to be anything really). If everybody I care about is alive by December 25th that’s all the presents and “cheer” I ever needed. The rest can be hauled overboard.

      1. We make those feasts, I think, because preservation techniques from antiquity were rather sucky. You want your feasts to coincide with the harvest and also for the time prior to the meat from the hunt going bad. Just a hypothesis.

    1. Most of the western Christmas traditions are derived from Pagan traditions for the Winter.
      The notion that Christianity spread “by the sword” strains against the adoption of traditions through various cultures. If everybody was “invaded” and told “convert or die”, how in the world did these traditions carry over? Would they, these people with their trees and logs and holly, been slaughtered instead for not…. um…. OK how did they observe this holiday before?
      My best theory is that the vikings took well to this notion of being “freed from the power of death” as implied behind the Crucifixion. Of course with these Norwegians and Swedes we never know.

      1. Yes; and the life of Christ was retold in the epic poem “The Heiland” to emphasize those elements of the Christian message that would most appeal to German culture in the early Middle Ages. Also, many conversions came about through miraculous events, “fire-walking” challenges or, in the case of St. Boniface, the destruction of a pagan shrine being taken as proof that Christ was more powerful than the pagan deity (and giving us our modern-day Christmas trees!). There were some sword-point conversions as a result of Charlemagne’s (and others’) expansive campaigns, but, though he played this element up to avoid censure by the bishops, the primary reasons for these campaigns were obviously political. Most pagans converted quite peacefully. The Celts even said that they had prophecies which had long predicted the arrival of this Christian religion, and converted en masse, quickly, without bloodshed.
        Certainly, many pagan practices from many lands have been welcomed into the Church, for paganism often points to the truths of natural religion, which of course the Church also affirms and accepts. In fact, I hope to do an article on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for New Year’s, and this tale deals with old customs of paganism, marvelously translated for use by a Christian people.

        1. “The Heiland”. I will look that up. Thanks!
          This thread has a lot of history of Christmas too it. Makes all this pageantry of late a kind of shallow self indulgence. Yet we have a chance to learn of this every year and we drown in a sea of petite fours and “winter beer” (not even good beer). Seems intentional sometimes, but predicting the base tendencies of people, just as predictable.

  7. Interesting article and full of holy wisdom that goes against the typical, consumerist rat race taking place in the Western world (not only) in December of each year. I myself don’t race along with the others rats in this pathetic race for some shitty things that will be forgotten after the New’s Year Eve. I’m disgusted of all those displays of smugness deriving from walking around with shopping bags in one’s greedy hands. They need validation as usual. How else could they get some? Gotta roll with it, it seems. Adapt. I Ching. Like Vincent says in Collateral (2004). Whatever. I think this masculine approach to spirituality must also include doing good deeds for others as well, and not just focus completely on oneself. But this is harder and it seems that no real opportunities are provided to do good deeds. Mistrust could be a new festivity. Merry Christmas!

    1. Vwic, you’re absolutely right and I have to confess a massive oversight in my article. As a monk, I am more often a recipient of (monetary) charity than I am a giver of charity. I pray and do other things on behalf of all men (and especially on behalf of the Church; a monk says his Office for the whole Church, not just himself), but generally cannot be too fiscally generous.
      Absolutely, one of the essential corollaries of fasting in the Church is to spend the money one saves on food, on charitable deeds for others.

    2. But this is harder and it seems that no real opportunities are provided to do good deeds.
      Walk down a city street with shopping bags full of long underwear, gloves and wool socks. I guarantee you that you’ll encounter poor homeless souls that would see you giving them items to keep warm in a positive light.

  8. My own family celebrates on the night of 21st of December – the winter solstice. The sun is born and the light wins over the darkness. It is the real beginning of the new year. This calendar is so mixed up, it’s unbelievable we still use it. It is not according to the christian canon but it is more accurate astronomically.
    Thank you for the letter, Cui Pertinebit and to Quintus for delivering it.

  9. Thank you, Quintus.
    And please transmit my gratitude to brother “Cui Pertinebit” (“to whom it may concern”).
    I left the (Catholic) church at the tender age of 13 because there too many “shutup and believe what you are told” moments, but he is the living proof that not all in that institution are valueless fags.
    A joyous Advent and Merry Christmas and to all.

    1. I will be certain to pass it on to him. He likes to participate in the comments section here, and I expect to see him here shortly.
      I am happy that someone like him, who hails from such a different background than the rest of us, finds ROK to be a value in his life.
      It reflects positively on all of us that we can attract men of extremely diverse backgrounds.
      I also appreciate that he never tries to force his beliefs on anyone; he just states what he thinks, and lets people draw their own conclusions.
      For these reasons, I’ve decided to feature him in a few of my articles. It seems like most ROK readers agree with me, and have been very interested in his opinions.

    2. Well, your message made me laugh and wince all at once, Dogbert (II). Absolutely, much of what calls itself “Catholicism” these days, is an apostate conventicle of valueless fags. And, the immensity of the Catholic Tradition is a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it is so immense because it is a divine wisdom that has plumbed the depths of human knowledge and can give an answer to every serious question; on the other hand, that very immensity often makes it hard for (lazy) Catholics to bother knowing anything about the how or why of it. I don’t have a problem with simply submitting to authority, if Reason has approved of the reasons for this submission… though I would still hope to see people find a full understanding of what they believe, rather than believing it on reasonable authority without any further interest in the matter. “Credo ut intelligam,” St. Augustine and other spiritual masters have said: “I believe, that I may understand.” Reason leads us to God; Faith in God’s revelation leads us to the divine dogmata of the Catholic Faith; Reason can demonstrate the reasonableness of this Faith, at which it could not have arrived by arguing from natural necessities.
      What could I do to encourage you to consider returning to the Church – the real Church, mind you, not that gay bordello full of, as you accurately described them, valueless faggots? It didn’t take me more than a month amongst them, after my conversion, to see that something had gone horribly wrong in the institutions calling themselves “Catholic” these days.

      1. How does one track down a traditional Catholic church in these united States? Is there a list compiled somewhere, or is it trial and error. While clearly there are easy signs that mark a “faggoty” church (hippy priests, silly carnival atmosphere, “womyns be rights alls the times”, etc), are there more subtle signs to look for?

        1. Well, we live in an age of devastation, and I’ll admit that it is tough. One can find some traditional Churches run by the FSSP, and some of their priests are quite manly and serious. In my personal opinion, there are serious problems with being in the apparently “official” institutions of Catholicism, since it is almost impossible to do this without being required to accept materially heretical propositions (i.e., that the Church has the power to change all the rites for all the Sacraments; communio in sacris with those outside the Church, as required by the New Code of Canon Law; etc.). I would avoid the Institute of Christ the King, since all the priests I’ve met from this society are a bit fruity (and their Superior General was caught tying teenaged-boys to bedposts some years back. My gosh, but these people have wrecked the Church! There will be a reckoning).
          I think the SSPX, and some of the “Resistance” parishes are acceptable alternatives; there are some crazies, especially amongst the latter, but really, I don’t think those people are any crazier than the people who put on leotards and do interpretive dance to “Eagle’s Wings;” it’s just that those crazies run the buildings, so we tend to think they must be more respectable. I suggest reading the SSPX’ explanation of Canon Law as it relates to their situation on their website, if a Catholic is confused about whether one can attend such chapels. The Eastern Rite Catholics are often (but not always) in better shape. They can have interesting cultural eccentricities, but generally they are good, traditional people who have not changed their liturgies; therefore, one is likely to get at least the content of the good, old-timed religion from them.
          I may have some more personal news regarding this matter in the near future…

      2. Carissimum Fratrem,
        thank you for your kind words and for answering my superficial rant. That you would consider to encourage me to return to the church is very endearing to me, as that is the tradition in which I grew up.
        Yet, let me ask, why would you or anybody else for that matter, want to bring somebody into the fold who sees all religion, but especially the abrahamic “family”, as one distinct form of ideology, a weapon if you will, used to destroy whole peoples and subjugate them? Secondly, why would I be interested in joining that conventicle of useless fags (and marranos and childfuckers and degenerates of all colors and stripes and …)? Even if I thought of the few holdouts of sanity remaining, what could interest me joining, for example, your order, taking in account that “believing” is in my eyes the wrong thing for a man to do? Why would somebody like myself be interested in joining an organization which I think has lost, nolem volem, its interest in temporal power at a time when our whole society needs it to counterbalance the the marxist craze more than ever, an organization which was subverted by marranos from its very inception as it propagates what can be seen as “protective faith” (a term coined by Frank Herbert) for their parasitic brethren?
        I intend to attend Christmas Mass at midnight on 24 December, but more church than that, I doubt you or anybody else will be able to interest me in.
        Gratias ago Vobis pro tua in me Observantia

        1. Well, I also appreciate your honesty. I asked about convincing you to return, in case some faint ember of supernatural faith, or of desire for supernatural faith, yet remained… i.e., a belief that the Church is what She says She is, even in her darkest hour. Those who betray the faith are quite literally excommunicated from it, ipso facto; they may claim to be Catholics, to be the Church, they may even sit in the towers of authority upon mighty thrones issuing orders, but they and their acts are null and void. If there was some part of you, however small, that was willing to return to the Church, if you could find Her, I wanted to encourage that. I did not know if your rejection of religion was more or less complete, or if it was simply driven by a despair over the seeming defection of the Church in modern times. I agree that the world needs the Church’s force as a counterbalance against Communism and Social Marxism more than ever; I agree that the past century has been characterized by a marked retreat of the institutions of the Church from this mission. But I also believe that this is the whole substance of the prophetic warning at Fatima in October of 1917. Because I have a supernatural faith in the Church, thanks be to God, I see the devastation of the past century but, find that the circumstances surrounding this do not so much sap my faith, as strengthen it. Some people have simply left the Church in their confusion, but when someone can point them to Fatima, the ecstasy of Leo XIII, the general prophetic warnings and apocalyptic nature of the past century, they can see that the Church has not failed or disappeared, so much as entered Her Passion. Sometimes, persons are then inspired to come back, even though they know that things are going to get worse, before they get better.
          But, if you have already concluded that religion, and Abrahamic ones in particular, are simply bankrupt without regard to all this, then that would be a larger philosophical conversation that would only be productive if you were interested in discussing it. Otherwise, I’m glad you’ll go to Christmas Mass, and I wish you an happy feast. Somebody, somewhere, will be saying a rosary for you.

  10. I am not christian but happily extend a merry Christmas to our esteemed Quintus, and Brother Augustinus. I did make some Christmas beer this year, when I cracking the first bottle, i’ll toast to you both.
    I will be celebrating the Japanese way, with a quiet and contemplative new year, we will train hard and rigorously for the end of year training, observe the first sun rise of the new year, and throw ourselves back into heavy training again on the 3rd.

    1. Thanks for the warm wishes; I’ll wish you an happy New Year, and congratulate you on keeping to a meaningful custom. Tradition connects us with something greater than ourselves, which often provides a much-needed correction to our personal eccentricities.
      I appreciate the toast greatly, as a brewer of beer myself. I have some Prickly Pear Mead in secondary fermentation, but I don’t think it will be ready for Christmas. I’ll bottle it by the Feast of the Purification (February 2nd), and perhaps it will be aged enough to open a bottle by Pentecost.

      1. In a sense we are celebrating or reflecting on the same thing, in a grand sort of cosmic way, death and rebirth, that man must continue on, despite our struggles, if I understand your meaning.
        As for brewing, I am only a dabbler, it’s play for me but such exercises are good to empty the mind and focus on the moment at hand. I made a Christmas maple stout, a standard stout recipe, but I added maple syrup and some spices after high krausen. We will have to see how it turns our. The mead sounds delicious, by the way.
        Once again all the best to you, I enjoy your perspective on things, and loom forward to reading more.

  11. Many thanks for this. I have always been in quiet awe of the christian calendar, or rather of those who manage to observe it

    1. Yes, when I started observing it, I was amazed at the profound effect it had on me. The cycle of fasts and feasts, the relationship of the observances to one another, the salutary rhythm of high, normal and somber days, all transformed me for the better. I can’t recommend its observance enough, while twice recommending the solemn observance of the older, stricter fasting rules.

      1. thanks for the response. I wonder if I’d have the discipline, or how easy it would be to do outside of an institutional setting (at least initially). Might well be worth trying

        1. Yes, the first year I kept it, I had not yet been received into the Church. I was still praying, searching, trying to make up my mind. But I wanted to keep the Calendar, even though I was still on my own, and did. It was well worth it.

        2. I nearly bought one once a long time ago for that purpose. Perhaps I will give it another try

    2. No kidding. When I first became aware that something like the christian calendar exists (with multiple short and longer fasting periods), I just backed off and thought that it was undoable. The timing was also unfortunate because my discovery happened a week before Easter when the fasting rules are the most strict. When I started to digg deeper into my fears, I had to face the fact that I was a hopeless food addict (read sugar and wheat). The key is to start with baby steps, like fasting for a few hours or till noon at first, and just keep going in the right direction. It gets easier over time, trust me.

  12. Quintus, thanks to you for the gracious reply, and for conveying my best wishes to the men on ROK. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of Angelo Poliziano, which are strikingly consonant with the import of his name: I wasn’t born a monk, and I’ve certainly come through my follies, and ken but little of the follies in which I am yet immersed. Every man has his weaknesses, and ROK should be about helping each other to improve; if one man thinks he knows better or is better than his fellow, he may not be wrong as to the former, but such a thought would cast doubt on the latter. Let each man strive to do best by the light he has, and humbly seek that his light may be increased.
    The fasts of the Church point to a general principle, which one hardly needs to be religious to understand; indeed, a completely secular fellow once told me, quite truly: “You need to have the ones, if you want to have the tens.” In this current vale of tears, it seems that unmitigated pleasure is not often the lot of man; some content themselves with mediocrity, and successfully avoid greater pains, but at the expense of greater joys. Some people have known the bitterness of failure, of defeat, of weakness, of struggle with the self, the world, the devil… and these have the comparatively greater highs, in their due season. The Feasts of the Church, especially the Greater Ones, are always preceded by a fast. Pascha (Easter), the Feast of Feasts, is preceded by Great Lent; Christmas, by Advent and the Winter Lent; after Pentecost, the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul was traditionally preceded by the Apostle’s Fast, and the Feast of the Assumption is preceded by a fast of 15 days, as well. The Feasts of John the Precursor (Baptist) and the Holy Apostles, and other great Saints or important feasts of our Lord or our Lady are also preceded by what is called a “fasted vigil,” a vegan fast of one day. The point of all these fasts, is to make the festive occasion seem all the brighter and more joyous. I can say from experience that having even a fine dish of poulet au porto on Easter Day, if one has not fasted, tastes less excellent than a simple dish of Avgolemono soup if one has fasted; Boeuf Bourguignon on Christmas Day tastes not half so good, if one has not fasted, as simple cheese on a cracker tastes after a strict Advent.
    Expand this principle out to include all the senses: somber, restrained carols; sensual deprivation of television, raucous music, alcohol, partying; use of no incense or pure frankincense in Church; the sacred images are all covered and the chants are austere; you are cold, and let yourself stay that way; you are hungry, and will hunger still; if a married man, you yearn to be with your wife, but will yearn longer yet. Now, the feast arrives: the lights are lit and glitter in the gilt of the sacred icons, now unveiled; the incense smells of orange blossoms, cassia and clove; the chants soar and resound in the vaulting as if the hosts of heaven were singing; heading back to the hall, one feels the warmth of the fires, now stoked high; you can’t decide which smell is better – the beef roasting, the spiced wine steaming, or the buttery breads baking; the music is playing, the people are singing. Perhaps in nine months, father will be baptizing a Christmas miracle; he might even be born on a lucky day and receive the name of Michael The Feast is here!
    Some people go out for a nice meal every night, and drink their fill of
    wine every day, and entertain themselves however they please. And often, these men feel something else lacking, and have a certain malaise. At the very least, when fine things are an ordinary part of our daily routine, they never have the power to impart an extraordinary character, and lose their luster. I have been through some
    very rough times over the past ten years, but you know what? Never,
    after keeping the fast, have I failed to find an overflowing joy on the Feast. Life is too short, fellas; make merry like men, and remember that for everything there is a season.
    For an excellent guide to the customs of the Calendar:

    1. What do you think of the Orthodox Church? I’ve seen how tough you are on Protestants (my kin, but I share your misgivings) so I was curious.
      I’ve read one Russian priest describe Orthodoxy as “Christ without the additions of Catholicism and the subtractions of Protestantism.” The Orthodox seem to integrate a more nationalist view into their institutions and this appeals to me a great deal, especially in contrast to the current Pope’s open disregard for European ethnic interests. They also seem to be holding steadfast on the question of homosexuality whilst cracks in the Papal edifice appear.
      I am a layman in all aspects. However, I recognize that there are probably historical rationales for the legitimacy of one Church over the other, independent of current events or the poor policy (in my view) of the current leadership. Either way, I’d be very interested in and grateful for your thoughts. Disclosure: I am an atheist (Protestant upbringing, “converted” by the surge of atheist writings in the mid-2000’s), but find — how to say this tactfully — the company one keeps on my side of the aisle to be utterly lacking in… something very significant.

      1. Same. I don’t really believe in God, but still want to practice religion as a way of keeping myself disciplined and to continue the traditions of my ancestors.

      2. Well, I was raised Atheist, became a Protestant when I was 15, converted to Orthodox Christianity in my early twenties after reading a bit of Church history, and have finally come to Catholicism after very detailed reading in the Greek and Latin texts of the Fathers, early Councils, ecclesiastical correspondence, etc. Rather than flopping about aimlessly, I feel that this has been a straight line of very natural progression: from unbelief, to general acceptance, to a more accurate understanding of the Christian tradition in history, to a very precise understanding of the finest points of it in the Catholic Faith. I hope that my time in Atheism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy have given me some perspective, and I can sympathize still with people who hold those positions, and I see the good points in them, such as they are.
        I will tell you, quite plainly, that I think we are in a catastrophic crisis, predicted in the Scriptures and most recently at Fatima. I believe this crisis is one of apostasy in the Church, and of the existence of a “false Church” (“the Church will be in eclipse,” our Lady said at Fatima), which can plainly be observed by the fact that, even when they are being “conservative,” modern popes have in fact embraced doctrine or practice that has been formally condemned by the Church. You will not find the Catholic Faith, it is almost entirely certain, in the local Latin Rite parish claiming to be “Catholic.” Really, they aren’t even “Latin Rite,” since their rite has no connection to anything in history. You will only find the Catholic Faith in the SSPX, some “Resistance” parishes and, often, in Eastern Rite parishes. It is also my personal belief that we have suffered under a series of antipopes, at the very least, Paul VI, John Paul II and Francis. Because of the crisis’ nature, the Church has not been able to organize itself to recognize the fact formally.
        To put things painfully briefly, and I’d happily go into more detail if you have further questions, this is my considered opinion of the Orthodox Church, culturally: the appearance of authenticity in the Orthodox Church comes chiefly from two things; 1) Orthodoxy has been restricted, until very recently, to “old world” Christian cultures, which altered very little of their praxis for reasons of both conservatism and cultural stagnation; the unaltered air of antiquity is very impressive to a modern-day Westerner. Still, Orthodox Churches quickly secularize when they come in contact with the West; the local Antiochian parish has cross-dressing lesbians who openly commune. Many parishes are gay-friendly, they all tolerate divorce, contraception, etc. Apart from Russians who have never assimilated, or Protestant converts expicitly seeking tradition, the rank and file people in the mainline Orthodox jurisdictions are very liberal and only culturally committed to their faith. 2) Contrarily, the West has been suffering a cultural crisis since the Protestant defection, which has been so severe that, in its final collapse, much of the Catholic Church fell away into it, and abandoned its heritage and beauty. Compared to the hippie jamboree that deliberately rejects its Catholic heritage, of course the Orthodox Church, which retains the rites and customs of her Catholic origins, looks more authentic.
        The difference is in the Faith. Briefly, the errors of Orthodoxy fall under these umbrellas: 1) the Latin Church is the home of the papacy, which has a mission of care for the universal Church; as such, the papal curia kept many Greeks, Syriacs, Africans, etc., around, and was always careful to consider the whole Patristic Tradition; there were always competent Greek speakers and theologians around Rome, who helped the popes to understand, when they did not speak Greek themselves (and they often did), the Greek theological formulae involved. Contrarily, the Greek Churches, especially after the “barbarian” ascendancy in Latin territories, had a scornful attitude to the West and never bothered to learn Latin or study the Latin Fathers in any serious way. Thus, many things which had *always* been part of the Latin Patristic Tradition (Filioque, Purgatorial Fire, etc.), were rejected by the East as errors. 2) Related to this, the Greek Churches were content to develop terminological innovations of their own, for the purpose of explaining the Faith more precisely, while their culture was ascendant (like “homoousios,” “gnomic will” or the re-working of “hypostasis”). But when the Latin Church was in the ascendant, the Greeks had no patience for this and regarded their similar work as “addition” and innovation. 3) Finally, when it comes to the papacy, I was flabbergasted at the ample evidence of supreme, universal papal jurisdiction in the early Church; I came to see that this was never really obscured, until the ambitions of Constantinople as “New Rome” created a tension that, for the first time, challenged Roman prerogatives that had always been accepted… and which continued to be acknowledged, quite frequently by Constantinople itself, up until the 9th century.
        In all three of the immediately preceding points, the recurring theme is Hellenic, ethnocentric ambitions producing a scornful attitude towards the Latin Church, leading to the rejection of the Latin Patristic Tradition and theological development without ever giving it serious thought. In fact, whenever Byzantines *did* learn Latin and seriously engage the Latin Tradition, they realized that they had previously misjudged it, and came to praise its excellence: that was the case with men like Demetrios Kydones and Basilios Bessarion, the latter of whom was the chief Orthodox representative at the Council of Florence. As the Council neared its conclusion, Bessarion made his views clear: even if none of the other Orthodox would reunite with the Catholics, he would become a Catholic himself. Kydones also converted, after learning Latin from a Dominican for purposes of the Byzantine Court, and reading the theological work of Thomas Aquinas. Contrarily, Mark of Ephesus, another prominent representative at the Council of Florence, could only offer one argument against the Latins: “you have forged your fathers’ writings” – and this even after Bessarion had discovered, and revealed to Mark of Ephesus, that it was the Greek copyists who had deliberately altered St. Basil’s writings to remove his teaching of the Filioque! Mark of Ephesus’ approach is typical of Orthodoxy: whatever the Greek Fathers teach is right; anything that seems different in the Latin Church is “addition” or “alteration” of the faith; if one shows that the Latins have believed something from the beginning, then “forgery” is always a good escape maneuver; the chief thing is the main principle: Hellenic culture is always right, and everyone else is a wretched barbarian.
        I freely admit that, walking into the average parish calling itself “Orthodox” or “Catholic” today, one would immediately find the Orthodox Church more authentically apostolic in its doctrine and practice. I would not deny it. But, this is for the reasons I described above. Even in the SSPX and other authentically Catholic places, the scars of five centuries of culture wars are not absent. I hope to be founding a Catholic order very soon, which will work to restore something of the spirit and aesthetic of authentic Catholicism to the West, for those few willing to embrace it. Revolutions have always begun with small, dedicated minorities.
        A place to go to explore the main theological support for the Latin position as against Orthodoxy’s, is this youtube channel, with plenty of discussion on the papacy, Immaculate Conception, etc.

  13. As well as being downright interesting and educational, Cui’s articles display the finest penmanship on the site. OK, a few ROK contributors will, shall we say, never win any awards for their quality of prose or mastery of English, so it’s not always the stiffest competition, but these articles are top notch.

    1. Thanks, Edward, that’s a very fine compliment. I think my writing is often clear, but I also find it to be verbose and dry at times. Sometimes when I craft something more elegant, I feel like I’m indulging in affectation. Sadly, I’m usually busy about something or other, and having a long hard think about how to be a better writer often gets put on the back burner.

      1. I enjoy reading your vocabulary. In a world of text messages and short emails, I find longer form writing refreshing to read. I feel a challenge to exercise greater control of my language, and in doing so feel as if I have lifted weights for my brain. Fine language crafts fine minds.

  14. Thank you for you blessing brother Cui. No one can ever go wrong with self-discipline.
    As a fellow Catholic, I love our old traditions. We also observe the fasting on the 24th of December (sea food supper) till midnight mass. Twelve dishes are prepared to symbolise prosperity for the 12 months of the upcoming year, although I am not sure if this has religious roots or not. Yes, we do buy presents and have fun with Santa, but I can not imagine the hassle and stress of a purely commercialised Christmas, with just more craziness on boxing day. Also, the house is throughoutly cleaned before the holidays so the external order may reflect the inner preparation and peace. We keep the tree and the decorations and chant carols until February 2nd, the Feast of Candlemas during which special candles are blessed to provide proctection for our families and homes (Our Lady of Blessed Candles back home – here no one had any idea what I was talking about at the feminised local church).
    I am lucky that in my community we have a very red pill priest who encourages us to fast two days per week, and this week we will be doing something called ”quattuor tempora”, fasting on Wednestay, Friday and Saturday. I have never heard of the till 3 pm fast before and am very curious about the roots of this tradition. I have done something like this before as part of intermittent fasting for fitness training, so it is time to give it some meaning LOL.

  15. Thank you for this, Frater Augustinus. Since you’re answering many comments here, I wonder if I may further intrude on your time, and perhaps abuse the patience of our ROK hosts, by asking a question of my personal interest: do you have some reading suggestions on the problem of divine hiddenness? This is now the main reason I’m not a theist, and I have been unable to find any really useful resources on that. Everything I lay my hands on seems to lack rigor or beg the question one way or the other. Thank you in advance.

    1. I won’t presume to answer for Brother Cui, but I’ve found the ontological argument for theism by Anselm of Canterbury quite persuasive. It’s summarized in number 7 here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/popular-articles-does-god-exist
      Worth a read and rather thought-provoking. It doesn’t touch on divine hiddenness per se, but for that I’d counter the only way for free will to exist is through divine hiddenness. With concrete proof we’d be merely robots. With a visible God we lose the integral aspect of being human, our ability to choose to turn away. Without is how we find ourselves on this journey trying to uncover the various truths of our own accord… and hints and signs along the path seem to suggest the divine is not quite so hidden. But I’ll cede the floor…

      1. Thanks, TWK. I’m familiar with the ontological argument, though it is the cosmological argument that carries the most water with me. Your point that “with concrete proof we’d be merely robots etc.” is what I usually find, but, as a bald assertion, it is by no means self-evident, at least to me. Of course, I don’t expect you, ou Brother Cui, to solve the problem in a few sentences in a combox discussion. This is why I asked a reference to somewhere where this or other solutions to the problem of divine hiddenness are discussed at length and defended from the most obvious rejoinders one can raise against them.

        1. Of course, I misspelled Maximos… If you want a more spiritual reading, after you finish Pseudo-Dionysius you might try John of the Cross, which is in the Dionysian tradition indirectly.

  16. CP, Another fantastic article. (I saw recently your extensive reply to my questions on the other thread, and you have given me much food for thought, though I have not had time to reply. Thank you for taking the time to reply and posting those links.)
    As a very conservative Lutheran, the church I attend observes the Church Year, and many of the old school among us observe the fasts of Advent and Lent. It is a much saner and more grounded way to participate in the Holidays. One of my life’s goals is to actually celebrate all twelve days of Christmas with my family, feasting and going to church. Can you recommend any resources on fasting in general, and observing the fasts throughout the church year? Also some resources on the Church Calendar for interested readers here at ROK?
    Recent events have brought about a renewed commitment/earnestness toward my faith, and I have put away a couple of besetting sins that have dogged me for years and warred against my faith. I think that fasting and a closer observance of the Church Year will be of huge benefit to me and ultimately to my family.
    Again, a fantastic post. I look forward to your continued contribution here. What you bring to the conversation is sorely needed. A blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas to you.

  17. Thanks for your heart felt letter, Brother Cui. Your outline of the more traditional ways of celebrating Christmas and the mentality behind them are very interesting and telling. That traditionally the Christmas tree was decorated on the eve was something I didn’t know. What a contrast with today’s consumerist societies, bombarded with cheap distractions as soon as November comes around nowadays!
    Be blessed always and keep up the good work. Looking forward to read more of your thoughts in the future. Thanks also go to our Quintus for his fine contributions and for putting you in contact with us.

  18. This morning, I had my typical coffee: four sugars and milk. I guess I’m addicted because I had no real choice in the matter. I woke up and needed it. That was around nine. It’s now one and I’m trying to wait until three to eat.
    And I’m starving.
    I drove by McDonald’s and had a serious inner conflict about whether or not I should buy that juicy BigMac. I’m not fat. I work out 4-6 days a week.
    You’ll have to excuse me, as I’m not religious – though you make me want to be a monk (lol). At the very least, you make me want to have monk like discipline.
    Is this mainly for discipline or appreciation? The strength to fast, or to know that saltines taste delicious when famished. Or is it something greater, more religious. It certainly makes me question my own integrity.
    Anyways keep up the good work.

  19. I would add that the daily praying of the Angelus at noon is especially good during Advent:
    V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae,
    R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et
    benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
    Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis
    nostrae. Amen.
    V. Ecce Ancilla Domini.
    R. Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum.
    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et
    benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
    Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis
    nostrae. Amen.
    V. Et Verbum caro factum est.
    R. Et habitavit in nobis.
    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et
    benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
    Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis
    nostrae. Amen.
    V. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
    R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
    Oremus: Gratiam tuam quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui,
    angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius
    et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum
    Dominum nostrum. Amen.
    Or in English:
    The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
    And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
    Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
    Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
    And the Word was made Flesh:
    And dwelt among us.
    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
    Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
    that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
    Let us pray:
    Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

    1. Whoa ! Another fan of the latin version. But since we have a resident monk who likes ROK, nothing surprises me anymore.

  20. Thanks Quintus & Cui – in the wake of very harsh (albeit useful and informative) articles about the current state of affairs, thanks for posting something that is tonic and will prevent me from pulling out my revolver and decorating the room with my brain tissue and skull fragments.
    Merry Christmas to you, good sirs.

  21. Thanks brother cui ! My original faith which I don’t follow is Catholicism. even though I’m not religious, this was a nice piece on Christmas and it’s real meaning. I have more respect for monks than any priest or religious authority. Martin Luther , st. Francis,bodi dharma etc. I don’t mean to offend but did Christ exist? I like the way Allen whatts describes Christ, as some one preaching that, not only was he the son of god but so was every one else and got in trouble for it. I hope to see more articles from from brother cui , very fortifying even to the non religious .

  22. The empty spirituality and an anticlimactic Christmas day really rings true for me this year. I noticed that as this year has been one of the best of my life due to the hard work I put into it, the way the mainstream wants you to end the year is bland, effeminate, and unrewarding.
    Maybe if you aren’t of faith, you should instead just work these last few weeks that much harder to get your goals for the year accomplished and then some, and carry you into the next with much further momentum.

  23. Fresh breath of air this article represents to me. This is the reason I visit this website in the first place – peak wisdom and knowledge -.
    Quintus, thank you for the article.
    Cui Pertinebit, I wish there was a way that we all men that try to reach our maximum ascension would find a way to communicate more directly with one another.
    I’ll spill my guts: on the way of changing yourself, your perception, your way of thinking, speaking, you are also subjected to forget some of the methods you learn so problems seem to come back and you sometimes lose your motivation to fight again and again and again. Thus I would recommend some more ,,hands-on approach” in future message to us readers. Try to put yourselves in our shoes because we do try to follow but it takes great effort to push yourself and only yourself. You sometimes need someone to kick you in the nuts to progress. All men that reach that peak wisdom have been lead there.
    I somewhat dislike to admit it, but we do need leaders.

  24. Thank you very much for this article it really puts what is important this Christmas season. That is get away from the glitter bad versions of Jingle Bells and consumerism. I wish you all the best this Christmas season.

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