CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Christmas is a special time of year throughout the world and especially here in the Holy City.
But it is somehow easy to forget among the traffic, shopping, presents, wrapping and cooking that the reason for the season is the birth of Jesus Christ.
That is the Christmas message from the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Robert E. Guglielmone
"People seem to be searching for an inner peace in their hearts," said Bishop Guglielmone. "I think we are a people walking in hope and I think Christmas can bring that hope if we focus on what the real meaning of the season is."
The Bishop says it is easy to become misguided these days by commercialism as businesses are pushing more and more to make that retail holiday profit.
"I am asking and hoping that people focus on the real meaning of Christmas and spend time with family looking at the real giftedness, which is the presence of Jesus," he said.
The War on Christmas
We've all seen the ‘Keep Christ in Christmas' bumper stickers on cars around town. It's a strong message from the Christian community to keep Christ in the holiday season. The campaign goes along with the thought that more people in society are striving to be politically correct in saying, 'Happy Holidays,' instead of the traditional ‘Merry Christmas' so as to not offend anyone.
"I think it is important to remember that the reason for the season is Christmas and that is the major holiday and while you want to include the other ones that is fine but let's not take Christmas out of the picture," the Bishop said.
"We don't say 'Happy Holidays' on New Year's and I think on Christmas we should say 'Merry Christmas' because that is what it is."
The Bishop also notes that there are fewer Christmas lights decorating homes around town this year. He says he saw more decorations outside homes for the holiday of Halloween than for Christmas this year.
And while the fewer lights in the Holy City may be a newer thing, for years we've seen a decline in the number of Nativity scenes around town, the Bishop said, which for some people is thought to be too controversial to display.
"You cannot think of Christmas without thinking about the birth of Christ," said Bishop Guglielmone. "I'm disappointed in that I wish I could see more nativity scenes -- but it is a changing society. It seems that a secular society is taking over the religious aspect, but I think people will continue to hold it in their hearts and hopefully we will see a reversal."
The Presence of Pope Francis
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope of the Catholic Church on March 13, 2013, and took the name of Pope Francis. Since the day Pope Francis was introduced, he has taken the world by storm.
"Francis has come along as this unbelievably holy, spiritual, compassionate human being who is not interested in any of the trappings but is very, very interested in people and reaching out to people and that has won the hearts of millions of people around the world," Charleston's Catholic Bishop said.
Bishop Guglielmone says it's hard to believe Pope Francis has only been Pope for a mere nine months as his strong presence makes him seem like he has been around forever.
"The most interesting thing I have found about him is that the secular press has articles about him frequently in terms of the Holy Father and so many of them are positive."
And the press aren't the only ones with positive things to say about the Pope. A CNN/ORC International poll released on Christmas Eve found that 88 percent of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.
On top of that, Pope Francis was recently named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2013, an honor Bishop Guglielmone said is more than fitting.
"I think it is an excellent choice I don't think that anybody else has had that kind of effect on a world-wide basis and to consider he has only been Pope for nine months."
Maybe it is Francis' humble beginnings as a janitor and nightclub bouncer in Argentina before becoming a priest that make him feel like he is one with the people, or maybe it is his dedication to the poor and distaste for extravagant things. Whatever it is, Bishop Guglielmone is like the majority of Americans and likes what he sees in the new Pope.
"So many things that he has done are just refreshing," he said.
He's a man who is a living testament to Bishop's Guglielmone Christmas message for the Holy City.
"Allow the spirit of Christmas to bring that feeling of hope that we so desperately need ," the Bishop said. "I hope people will continue to look at the life of this present Pope and see his concern for people and his concern for the poor and that folks would try to imitate that."