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ON OBSERVING PAGAN RITUALS (Feast of Circumcision) (LUKE 2:16-21)

Every sin is introduced by the devil either through pride or ignorance. From pride comes contempt of the truth, from ignorance comes false ideas. These two are the sources of sin.

Ignorance gives us the false ideas that all sins are slight, that desire for pleasure-- like excessive food, wanton jokes, shameful desires-- are not evil; that there are no dangers in theatres, the slanderous tongue, the thoughtless and confused boldness and the useless observance of omens.

When ignorance remains unamended, it crosses over to pride. So when we eat and drink and sing and laugh, when we dress up ridiculously, disfiguring one's face, singing and dancing with disorderly gestures with the accompaniment of immodest songs on the eve of January first, we, as it were, are participating in a pagan ritual.

By imitating these pagan practices, the devil is able to introduce himself unto us and gain control of our minds because we are captivated by his rituals.

As you indulge in these pagan rites, pride, which is in opposition to God, is born. The signs are neglect of duty to God, no fear of God and disputes against the commands of Christ as found in Scriptures. 

Pride brings forth ambition swelling with vainglory, longing for what is unseemly, despising what is proper. . .then leads to compete shipwreck of morals.

After pride, the unfortunate soul develops envy, where he is distressed because of the good of another. He rages at the good fortune of others. Envy is like a hidden fire consuming the soul like the fires of hell. After envy, anger develops and this pushes him into the pit.

So, Christian soul, live a holy life and share this with those around you, neighbors and servants alike. Discourage all from the shameful practices of the pagan Janus. Because when you are faced with sin, like those sacrilegious practices, and you do nothing to discourage them, you participate in their sins.

Don't be entertained by those sacrilegious rites because they belong to the devil. Rebuke, correct and even punish those who participated in them. If they respond well, you will receive a reward. Admonish your household not to observe the wicked customs of the miserable pagans. Observe this feast in the manner of true religion. 

St. Caesarius of Arles: Sermo 153 







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