Family in Exile

Evelyn Waugh, the great Catholic novelist, was rather disappointed with the modern celebration of Christmas. He wrote:

Christmas. All that remains of Bethlehem is the breakdown of communications; no room in the inn.

For Waugh and for many other people, in spite of their deeply religious sentiments, Christmas is very much not “the most wonderful time of the year.” Continue reading

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Christmas Mass at Dawn

From the rising of the sun
To the world’s furthest edge,
We sing to Christ our Prince,
Born of the Virgin Mary.

Blessed maker of the ages
Now takes up the body of a slave,
So flesh may unfetter flesh,
That what He made is not lost.

This ancient Latin hymn for Christmas Lauds, A Solis Cardine, refers to the dawn and the course of the sun across the sky. It also connects this idea with the saving of our flesh by the coming of Christ in the flesh. We pass from darkness into light, from despair to hope, because Christ enters the darkling earth as the Light of the World. Continue reading

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to All

Remembering all the readers of this blog at the altar.  We celebrated Mass St. Mary Major’s today, in which Basilica is kept the relic of the crib of Bethlehem.  God bless you all. and Merry Christmas!

O Immaculata, what were your thoughts when for the first time you placed the Divine Infant on his bed of straw? What feelings inundated your heart while you wrapped him in swaddling clothes, held him to your heart, and nursed him at your breast?

You knew very well who the Child was, because the prophets had spoken of him, and you understood them better than all the Pharisees and the learned Scripture scholars. The Holy Spirit had given to you infinitely more enlightenment than to all the other souls together. Besides, how many of the mysteries of Jesus were revealed only and exclusively to your immaculate soul by the Divine Spirit that lived and operated in you!

Already, at the moment of the Annunciation, the Most Holy Trinity, through the ministry of an angel, had presented to you, in all its clarity, its plan of redemption, and had awaited your response. At that moment you knew perfectly to whom your consent was being given and whose Mother you were to be!

And there he was before you, in his newborn fragility.

What feelings of humility and love, and of gratitude must have filled your heart… while you marveled at the humility, the love, and gratitude that God incarnate showed you.

I beg you to fill my heart too with your humility, your love, and your gratitude.

 

—St. Maximilian Kolbe

This is the Christmas Story…

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This is the Christmas story in a nutshell: The Infinite One has wed himself to our finite humanity. This is what we’re preparing ourselves for during Advent. And this is why Advent is a time of desire: The bride is longing to be filled with the eternal life of her bridegroom. And so she cries in union with the Spirit of God: “O come, O come, Emmanuel!”

Christopher West

Interesting that he never mentions anything relative to the infancy of Christ, or to the nature of filiation in the context of Christmas.  Not that there is any contradiction between the nuptial and filial mysteries in Christianity.  I just thought the primary idea is that the Son of God became the Son of Mary and that our baptism into Christ before anything else was a rebirth.

Son of God and Son of Mary

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

May there stand no darkness between you and the Christ Child on this Blessed Day.
The past is gone and the Daystar rises in the East!

The Light, the Light! The Morning Star, who is the Virgin in conceiving and birthing. The star in the heavens that leads the poor and lowly in mind and heart. The brightness of angels that chases away fear and loathing. And the Daystar from on High who is the fulfillment of all hope and all that we have never thought to imagine.  The light belongs to those who long for it and who embrace it in its fulness, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

May you and yours have a blessed and merry Christmas.

All of a sudden…

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All of a sudden, we were joined by a homeless woman who sang a couple of carols along with us, assuring us that she could sing alto or bass. We were at the end of our caroling, and ready to leave. She ignored her friend waving her away from this strange group of twenty-odd black and white robed friars. She had one request before we parted ways. Would we sing “Silent Night” for Newtown? When we had done so, she nodded, turned away smiling, and said: “For Newtown.” She understands the meaning of Christmas, I thought.

Archbishop di Noia in his commentary on “Joy to the World.”

Christmas Sonnet

Beneath the earth asleep with ancient sin,
Another darkness, though warm and holy,
Unseals its treasure, seal unbreaking, in
Return of God to man in state most lowly.
Ark of life, our hope, Her eyes are smiling,
Her joy’s unspoken but sung by angels.
The breath of beasts is incense ascending.
The heart of Joseph is dreaded by devils.
A baby on a manger bed, a vir-
gin’s arms His shelter.  His sleep is worth un-
counted souls. His cries ring out forever.
Mark well this new rising of the sun.
The day is new.  Let our hearts not be old.
Our love needs to warm the Babe that is cold.

Christmas Truce

Merry Christmas!

Whereas in our times this holy household has been afflicted beyond measure by tribulations through having to join in suffering so many oppressions and dangers, we have so striven to aid it, with God’s help, that the peace which we could not make lasting by reason of our sins, we should to some extent make binding by at least exempting certain days.

In the year of the Lord’s incarnation, 2010, it has been decreed by God’s mediation, the Queen and all of import unanimously agreeing, that from Vespers (Evening Prayer, around sunset) of the vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Lauds (Morning Prayer, around sunrise) of St. Stephen’s Day, this decree of peace shall be preserved.

The purpose of it is that those who dwell in this household and all who visit here, as well as all of this household who travel together or separately, and anyone else with whom members of this household may encounter, may enjoy the greatest possible security, so that no one shall commit any act of violence whether with bodily member or weapon, whether with intention to injure or aggravate, whether by physical assault or, sometimes more deadly, by wicked and pestilent words, flung far and wide by the pernicious war machine of the tongue, and that no one, no matter on account of what wrong, shall be at feud by words or acts of intimidation, revilement, provocation, malediction or any species of hurtful, harmful or offensive words, gestures or actions.

Likewise, such cessation of hostilities, during the space for which the peace has been declared, if it shall be necessary for any one to go to another place where that peace is not observed, he may bear arms; provided, nevertheless, that he harm no one unless he is attacked and has to defend himself. However, in nowise is he to respond to provocations which do not threaten his bodily wellbeing, whether such offenses come from Christian or infidel, unless indignities be perpetrated against a damsel, or the weak and poor, the defenseless, and without exception, against Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Holy Mother Mary, the angels and saints, in their images and names, and against Holy Mother Church, in her sanctuaries, sacraments, doctrines, ministers, virgins and monastics.  Moreover, when he returns, he shall lay aside his weapons again. If it shall happen that a castle is being besieged, the besiegers shall cease from the attack during the days included in the peace, unless they are attacked by the besieged, and are obliged to beat them back.

And lest this statute of peace be violated with impunity by any person, the following sentence was decreed by all present:  If a man of age shall have violated it, that is, if he shall done harm outside the duty of governance, he shall show upright example by asking forgiveness and praying ten beads of the Holy Chalplet of the Blessed Virgin for the one thus oppressed.  If violated by child, then the same sentence is to be carried out, and if incorrigible with banishment attached from the common association of the household for a period to be determined.  But if any man wishes to clear himself of the charges against him, he shall be free to present the evidence.  If witnesses are found falsifying evidence against a man, they shall suffer the same sentence in his stead.  Final judgment is reserved to the head of this household and is irrevocable save by his decree.

This Christmas peace has been decreed chiefly for the security of all those who are at feud; but not to the end that, after the peace is over, they may dare to seek revenge or resume unchristian behavior with impunity.  For the law and judgment that was in force against them before this peace was decreed shall be most diligently observed, so that they be restrained from iniquity, for those who hate peace are excepted from this divine peace, and, in fact, from every peace.

If any one strive to oppose this pious decree, so that he will neither promise the peace to God nor observe it, let it be known that the peace willed by the Lord and Savior, which the world gives not, belongs not to him, nor the blessings of this sacred time in which we give thanks for our regeneration from unregenerate nature and despair.  But let him also know that the doors of God’s mercy are flung open wide during this most holy time so that even the haters of peace may find redemption for their transgressions and from the bane of slavery to sin if only they turn away from their iniquity and be healed.  Amen.

Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will!

Follow this example. (The first video has subtitles, the second version does not but has better video quality.  The subtitles are not all that necessary.):

Without Subtitles

Griswold’s Greccio

In Griswold we assemble a rather large nativity scene that I constructed over several years from polystyrene and decorate with trees, live plants and flowers, dried plants and, this year, with branches from a blooming cherry tree that I found in New York City. The whole creche tradition comes from St. Francis and his Christmas in Greccio in 1223, where he reenacted the first Christmas and had the Holy Mass celebrated near the creche.  Click on the images for a larger view.

The Armor of Love

From a Sermon by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe:

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbour made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.

Armor up.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  Just coming up for air.  Christmas bustle and all.