Christ is Born to Us (10-pack)

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Thomas Merton Christmas Cards
CHRIST IS BORN TO US (10-pack)


Hand-designed calligraphy of a Thomas Merton quotation: "Christ is born to us today, in order that he may appear to the whole world through us."

Inside text: "May Christ's presence be with you now and throughout the coming year."

10 cards printed on high quality recycled paper, with envelopes, 4" X 6"

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.

Merton was born in Prades, France to a New Zealand-born father and an American-born mother, who were both artists. After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and on December 10th, 1941 he entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists).

The twenty-seven years he spent in Gethsemani brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became a prominent voice in the peace movement of the 1960s. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called "certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States." For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk.

During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. It was during a trip to a conference on East-West monastic dialogue that Merton died, in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution.

Christmas

Christmas is the annual feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, over 2000 years ago. For Christians, it is not just a single day (December 25), but an extended liturgical season of joy and celebration, involving many different symbols and traditions, special music and activities, which vary significantly among different countries and cultures. For religiously observant Christians, the Christmas Season begins at sunset on Christmas Eve, December 24, and lasts from 12 days to 40 days. In some ecclesial traditions the Christmas Season might end on January 6 (the traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany); in others it might last until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (usually the Sunday after Epiphany), or might even last all the way to February 2 (the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 40 days after December 25). January 6, usually celebrated as Epiphany, carries different significance in various church traditions. Due to different calendars in use in various eras and locations of the church, some cultures and church traditions celebrate Christmas on January 6 (in the older Julian calendar still used as the religious calendar in Eastern Churches, January 6 corresponds to December 24 on the modern Gregorian calendar).

Although we cannot know the exact date of Jesus' birth, it has been celebrated on December 25 since the early fourth century, when most of the Roman Empire adopted the Christian religion. It replaced the mid-winter Roman festival of "the birth of the sun god" (sol invictus), celebrated just after the winter solstice.

Etymologically, the word "Christmas" derives from Old English "Cristes mæsse" (literally "Christ's festival"). It is similar to Dutch Kerstmis, but is significantly different in derivation and meaning in many other European languages: German Weihnachten ("Blessed Night"), Italian Natale, Spanish Navidad, French Noël (all ultimately derived from Latin natalis, "birth"), and Scandinavian jul (from which is derived the English yule).

The official liturgical color of the Christmas Season for most Churches is white or gold, not green and red, as many people assume because of their prevalence in secular celebrations.