Christmas means a great deal to many of us; to others it is foolishness and a lie. Even the word Christmas for some Christians is an embarrassment, thus the now popular 'Season's Greetings.'
Some do not find 'Christmas' in the Scriptures and therefore reason enough to dispense with the word. The origin of the word, 'Mass of Christ,' also does not help matters. Others go back into history and are scandalized that the Catholic Church used the pagan feast of the Winter Solstice as the birthday of Jesus. The Church has no difficulty seeing this as a deliberate and legitimate 'baptism' of a pagan celebration.
Acculturating to a reality when it is teaching or enabling us to accept some truth is welcomed; truth is to be accepted wherever found. The Winter Solstice, when the days begin getting longer, had great meaning for the early Christians; for them, as for us, it was Jesus who was the light of the world.
Last week, Legion of Mary members were on retreat for three days, and heard talks on the Buddhist 'search for the ox'. These ten pictures are seen often on the walls of Buddhist main sermon halls. The members returned with leaflets with the ten colored pictures, which most Koreans would be familiar with. They do help a great deal in showing us the steps to moral growth.
The ten steps: 1)Searching for the bull, 2)Discovering footprints, 3)Seeing the bull, 4)Catching the bull, 5)Taming the bull, 6) Riding the bull home, 7)The bull is forgotten, the individual remains, 8)Both the bull and self transcended. 9) Reaching the source, 10)Going back to the market place, enlightened.
The Buddhists gave a Buddhist interpretation to the Taoist pictures; we Christians can give a Christian interpretation to the pictures. The retreat master using the same 10 pictures did just that. Each one of us can use them in anyway he wishes for his own spiritual growth.
Since true Buddhism is a natural religion without revelation the Catholic Encyclopedia reminds us: "In general, revealed religion does not reject natural religion and ethics, but rather adopts them in a higher form."
A common interpretation for the pictures would be the search for one's true self, the bull, the true self, is captured with difficulty, tamed, returning home on the bull, but the self and inner nature are still divided. You have the uniting of the two; the circle is arriving at pure light, total emptiness, which is fullness. Oneness with all nature and a return to daily life, enlightened.
Catholics should be small letter c-catholic in accepting truth wherever found that enables us to love God and our brothers and sisters. We have not always lived up to the saying attributed to St. Augustine: "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity." It's a sure way of being magnanimous in the way we look at the here and now.