Proclamation of the Nativity of Jesus: Roman Martyrology lost the plot


Don’t think I haven’t ever been in the habit of reading the Roman Martyrology daily. With that in mind…

Proclamation of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ:


  • when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;
  • when century upon century had passed since the Almighty set His bow in the clouds after the great flood as a sign of covenant and peace;
  • in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our Father in Faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
  • in the thirteenth century since the people of Israel were led by Moses in the exodus from Egypt;
  • around the thousandth year since David was anointed king;
  • in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;
  • in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
  • in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the city of Rome;
  • in the forty-second year in the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus…

… the whole world being at peace…

  • Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by His most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
  • and when nine months had passed since His conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
  • and was made man…


/// That’s nice Styrofoam. All true. But lies are cloaked in truth, right? Lies can come about through telling part of the truth, looking fulsome, but actually omitting, well, really, pretty much everything, but – Hey! – leaving people with nice feelings! “Jesus is nice and even as maybe perhaps as important as Caesar ’cause He’s mentioned along with Caesar! That’s nice!

I suppose people will think I’m a shallow heretic and a dullard in that I can’t appreciate the intervention of the Word Incarnate in human history at just the right time, and that that’s the point of the Roman Martyrology’s account, and that not everything can always and in every way say everything and therefore I should just cool my jets and appreciate what is presented for what it’s worth and just get over it. After all, there are words like “covenant” and “consecrate” and stuff like that there. And tinkeritis must be avoided at all costs, even regarding some rather ill phrased matters about our salvation, because, you know, we’re used to it. But even the intensely devout are not assisted in their faith by such words as “covenant” and “consecrate” when other words are purposely omitted by self-congratulatory intelligentia who do know more but are too smug to JUST SAY WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR.

I’m an equal opportunity disdainer of tender snowflake dumbing down wherever I find it, whether after or even before Vatican II. And anyway, what dullard made Vatican II the absolute center of human history, replacing the Incarnate Word? Sounds blasphemous to me, and also ignorant. I mean, most heresies came about before Vatican II and most were presented in – oooo! – Latin!!! Now that I’ve successfully made people angry, let’s make the point (I only mention here a couple of possible tweakings):

  • What if we were to have a Roman Martyrology that actually presented the faith?
  • What if the history of the proclamation were to mention – even if only in just a few words – the vicious sin of Adam bringing death and hellish mayhem into the world, handing us over to Satan?
  • What if we were to speak of, say, the binding of the son of Abraham to the wood of the sacrifice as prefiguring of the Redeemer’s violent death to come?
  • What if we were to recount the unworthiness of David to have a future Son that would save us from our unworthiness, saving us from… wait for it… SIN?
  • What if we were to speak of the lust for violent power of now secular leaders?
  • What if we were to say that – I mean, it pains me to say this as it should be obvious – what if we were to say that it is precisely because THE WHOLE WORLD WAS NOT AT PEACE that the Prince of the Most Profound Peace came to save us from that state of NOT being at peace?
  • What if we were to tell the truth for once, that there is sin and the Jesus was born to redeem us, save us from sin, that He was born to die and then rise to bring us to life, to the eternal life we did NOT have?

/// I can just hear it now, you know, all the condemnations:

  • We’ve done just fine with being dumbed down, with escaping reality! Stop trying to evangelize us! We’re nice with what we’ve always had! Leave. Us. Alone.
  • And then: You’re a heretic for trying to say that what we’ve always had isn’t quite up to what it should be! Stop it!
  • And then again: Wait? What? You’re attacking the Martyrology? It’s TRADITIONAL!

Meanwhile, do you know who wasn’t so taken with being clever with dumbed down religious and secular history? The angels knew: it was certain little shepherd boys. And, I have to say, this donkey-priest just loves this:

This ultra-short film is a 1968 Disney animated presentation, which has much more sense, much more faith than the Roman Martyrology. Listen to the narrator. If you didn’t catch it, little Aaron is repentant of his own SIN of hatred (after the horrific non-peaceful violence that took place in his own life), SIN representing the eons of SIN and hatred that sets the backdrop for Jesus to come into this world so as to save us from SIN, He, Jesus, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, yes, that little Babe in the manger. The faith isn’t about our sense – our feelings – of security with the way we’ve always had mere stuff like a book. The faith is about the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God’s Divine Son Jesus saving us from a world which was being up to anything except for peace. Obvious, right? Nope. We have to say it: Jesus is the One; Jesus as the only One saving us from sin.

Pah-rum-pa-pum-pum. ♬


//////// UPDATE: So, I put this post up every year untouched, but this year is different. I’m now years older. I’m now much more ironic and sarcastic than I’ve ever been, I hope not for evil, I hope in a manner at least somewhat reminiscent of Belloc and Chesterton, of Jerome and Augustine. That’s what I strive for.

What this means is that I cannot but reappraise that which I’ve written in the past. For instance, this entry in the martyrological entry about the Nativity of the Lord in historical context being stunningly incomplete. I still agree with that, and I still think we are all too weak to get by on a purposed omission. However, I take back my rather severe judgment on the author and tweakers of this entry. The guy writing this is surely a monk a bit bereft of the weakness of the common man on the street just needing to hear it like it is, giving us WAY too much credit for being able to recognize what he is up to, giving us WAY too much credit for being able to give him credit for what he is actually doing. Here’s perhaps the best way to understand what this guy is up to, what the Church is up to in providing us such an entry into the Martyrology:
  • This guy knows he is leaving out everything important. He knows we’re going to be scandalized by this. He’s giving us credit for questioning what’s going on. He’s giving us credit for having some intelligence. Most of all, he’s presenting all this in such manner that the only ones who are going to understand (and this is a confession) are those who have been as penitential and ascetic as he has been in the penitential time of Advent, so that with purity of heart, agility of soul, clarity of vision, profundity of understanding we will instantly see and rejoice – totally laughing out loud – at his almost vicious sarcasm: Yeah, sure, the whole world being at peace. What a crock of B.S. Oh, wait! Look at the world agreeing with all the violence of that fake-peace! OH! He’s being sarcastic just like the prophets of old, just like John the Baptist, just like Jesus, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace who was born at a time, like all times in this dark world, a time of extreme violence. Hahahahahaha! Finally, someone who get’s it! someone who mocks the idiot world! someone who’s joyful to see the Babe who takes us so seriously as to lay down His life for us, being born to be tortured to death for us in all the fake-peace we proclaim. Hah! I’m happy to be able to at least start to begin to appreciate the irony and sarcasm as the writer and tweakers of this great entry in the Martyrology for the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to all!


Filed under Christmas

19 responses to “Proclamation of the Nativity of Jesus: Roman Martyrology lost the plot

  1. Cathy

    Beautiful, Fr. Byers! I am in awe, have a Blessed Christmas!

  2. James Anderson

    Thanks for this Christmas gift.

  3. Aussie Mum

    What the world calls peace is only the absence of war, and war can’t be held back for long in a pagan world, an ancient Latin adage advising the people of Rome “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (“If you seek peace, prepare for war”).
    Wishing you, Father, and everyone who reads here a happy and holy Christmas blessed with
    that true peace that only Christ can give.

  4. Nancyv

    Merry Christmas dear Father and fellow sojourners. Ditto what Cathy wrote.
    My daughter who visited the Holy land and came baxk with a bad attitude towards the Jewish people has softened in a beautiful way. She gave us a copy of the autobiography of Eugenio Zolli (who was chief Rabbi of Rome) Deo gratias for Fr George who tells it like it is! And you make our Mother smile.

  5. Gerry

    A beautiful Christmas message. Thank you Father Byers, Merry Christmas!

  6. nancy v

    Merry Christmas dear Father and fellow sojourners. Ditto what Cathy wrote.
    My daughter who visited the Holy land and came baxk with a bad attitude towards the Jewish people has softened in a beautiful way. She gave us a copy of the autobiography of Eugenio Zolli (who was chief Rabbi of Rome) Deo gratias for Fr George who tells it like it is! And you make our Mother smile.

  7. elizdelphi

    Oh man. I’ve been sucked in by the fake news Christmas Proclamation!

    Merry and blessed Christmas Fr George!

  8. Merry Christmas, Father George! May all three persons of the Holy Trinity hold you and bless you. What you say is so true. I have asked similar questions for a long time. It is reassuring to know that I was not totally crazy or a heretic like the powers to be wanted me to believe. I have finally figured out that it is simply a case of JESUS I TRUST IN YOU! All the rest is nice but the real answer is Jesus! Happy Birthday Lord.

  9. elizdelphi

    Our midnight Mass homily was more than a little disjointed about “the scandal of particularity”, but the Christmas AM Mass I went to had a well crafted homily by a different priest featuring an interesting ancient inscription about Caesar Octavian Augustus having brought peace, being a god, the years being counted from his birth since he was the greatest and there would never be a greater one etc. This inscription puts the Christmas Proclamation in perfect historical context. Maybe I had heard of that before but I cannot recall.

    • Father George David Byers

      God’s peace and Caesar’s pax Romana are two different things!

    • Father George David Byers

      “Caesar Octavian Augustus having brought peace…” — Ah yes, the ol’ Pax Romana. I hope he mentioned that Caesar was on the heads of the great dragon possessed by Satan as depicted in the Apocalypse! The peace of this world and the peace which Christ our God brings are so very different. Maybe the historian of the martyrology is trying to be sarcastic…

  10. Now, this is countercultural! I love people who think for themselves. We always have room for the truth. More, more!

  11. Thanks for repeating this. I had forgotten that I read it until I saw my own comment at the bottom, so I guess it bears repeating!

  12. Joisy Goil

    Merry Christmas to all. May God bless all.

  13. Aussie Mum

    I am reminded of those in the hierarchy who claimed Our Lady’s message at Fatima only pertained to the last century – it seems impossible that they could really believe that her Immaculate Heart had triumphed more than 20 yers ago – as if they wanted her message put aside lest it rock the boat. The Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God will triumph and there will be peace when her divine Son reigns in every heart, which is certainly not the case yet. Nevertheless I am told by Catholics in my own family that we are living in the best of times because mankind, supposedly on an upward evolutionary trajectory has “progressed” beyond ignorance and barbarism to toleration and enjoys the “dignity” afforded all citizens in a democracy. Sin is forgotten and poltical correctness – turning a blind eye to truth – seems never out of fashion regardless of the age.

    It grates every time I see BCE and CE (used in the name of toleration toward non-Christians and in support of the egalitarian way “forward”) used in place of BC and AD in order to dislodge from our consciousness the Incarnation, birth, death and resurrection of Our Lord as the centre point of history upon which our eternity hinges. Political correctness and its false peace requires we forget Our Lord, the Prince of Peace.

    Wishing everyone a Happy and Holy Christmas.

  14. catherine

    Merry Christmas Father George!

    I went into my Favourites and found you had written this commentary. I don’t seem to be getting your writings in my email these days.

    It is very disturbing how we are getting a watered down version of our Faith and Truth by the Church.

    Its too bad that with all this snow that there are no flowers for our wonderful Heavenly Mother.

    God bless you and all here.


  15. sanfelipe007

    I can hardly believe that I have not, before now, left my one comment. Well here it is:
    “It’s good. If you’re a monk or Scripture scholar but the rest of us need help.”
    Yes, even gyrovagues.

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