Monthly Archives: December 2009

Of Geese and God

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I had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning as my family and I were readying ourselves to go out of town to see a movie.  Flights of several hundred geese in their V formations flew over the town of Dwight, Illinois, heading south and honking their heads off.  This was at 8:00 AM and no doubt some of the citizenry who had made merry on Christmas did not find all the honking welcome, but I thought it was delightful and awe-inspiring.  Dwight is not on any major migratory flight paths for geese, so this was a rare event.  As I do whenever I see something in nature that inspires awe in me, I quickly thought of the Creator of nature, and I mused that after celebrating the Nativity yesterday, God deigning to become part of Nature, this sight reminded me of the delight that God takes in His creation, and why He marks the sparrow’s fall, and the honking of a goose.

Organized Religion and Dogma

This rant was inspired by a recent tour of anti-religious com-boxes following various articles on religion. My sincere hope is that some of the people who frequent these com-boxes with their anti-religious hatred can find their way to my blog to see what I think of them.

Merry Christmas!

Pope Benedict Assaulted, Doing Fine

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pulled down by a woman during the Christmas vigil Mass on Christmas Eve.  In the video you can see the woman jump the barrier and instantly you see Vatican security react but the distance between the Pope and the barrier was small enough for the woman to bring down the Pope.

Along the way Roger Cardinal Etchegaray also fell as the woman barreled her way towards Papa Bene and through Cardinal Etchegaray.  The good French Cardinal is currently still hospitalized with a broken hip.

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Pope Benedict immediately got up and proceeded to celebrate Mass as the congregation clapped joyfully seeing that Papa Bene was unharmed (not shown in the video).

Vatican security is reviewing their procedures amid this recent break down in security.  But keeping in balance the Pope’s access to his sheep to his safety is a delicate task.  Father John Zuhlsdorf has floated the idea of bringing back the sedia gestatoria, the portable papal throne where adequate lines of men would flank the chair bearers.

Preliminary reports have suggested this is the same woman, identified as Susanna Maiolo a Swiss-Italian, also jumped a barrier at an earlier papal procession but was tackled before she could reach Papa Bene.  It has been reported that Miss Maiolo appears to be unbalanced, but this hasn’t been confirmed.

Finally the Vatican will pardon her for her attack on the pope and offer leniency (in any future prosecution I assume).

_._

To read the Zenit news blurb on the attack on the Pope click here.

To read Father John Zuhlsdorf’s suggestion for a return to the sedia gestatoria click here.

To read what a sedia gestatoria is by the The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912 version) click here.

To read a more contemporary definition of the sedia gestatoria by Wikipedia click here.

To read the pardon of Susanna Maiolo by Samuel Goldsmith of the New York Daily News click here.

Christmas Wishes from Hugo Chavez

Surely every parent has moments when he or she think that the toy obsession at Christmas has got far out of control. Some turn to religion, seeking to “put the Christ back in Christmas”, but that big, cuddly man of the people Hugo Chavez has a better idea:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for an end of Christmas “consumption insanity” and replace presents for children with stories about national independence hero Simon Bolivar, local media reported.

“For the love of God, let’s halt this, let’s put the brakes on this consumerist, capitalist insanity, that leads us to lose our spiritual values,” said Chavez.

Chavez suggested to stop buying toys “that as mothers and fathers we are practically forced” to buy. He also said that there is little sense in buying new clothes each December before Christmas Eve as these sales do not benefit the small merchants, but “their owners, the wealthy, the big distributors that make a bundle squeezing people.”

“Let’s sit with the children and tell them stories of Bolivar, of the motherland,” the Venezuelan President said, adding that he makes this appeal from his heart “to put aside these vices.”

Somehow, I’m not sure that “Bolivar and the motherland are the reason for the season” has quite the same ring to it. But surely Chavez’s heart is in the right place.

Have a happy Boxing Day/St. Steven’s Day/ Second Day of Bolivar!

Good King Wenceslas

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Something for the weekend and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslas has always been one of my favorite Christmas Hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The video above is my favorite of the three I have posted, replete with images of Saint King Wenceslas.  However, the Irish Rovers add their own Celtic lilt.

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A Merry Christmas To Those Who Guard Us While We Sleep

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Hattip to Big Hollywood.  A film clip from Battleground (1949), a rousing tribute to the heroic stand of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne at Christmas 1944, which helped turn the tide of the Battle of the Bulge.  We should always be mindful of the men and women in our military who are far from their families today, celebrating Christmas often in dangerous situations.  May God bless them and keep them, and may we always remember the sacrifices they make for us.

The Nativity

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The thatch on the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind had a peal as of trumpets,
Though blowing and barren and cold,
The mother’s hair was a glory
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming
A child was born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered
A child is born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered,
Huge cities for ages laid low?
This at least—that with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them,
“A child is born.”

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove,
Still the plumes stir around us, above us
The wings of the shadow of love:
Oh! Princes and priests, have ye seen it
Grow pale through your scorn;
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes,
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the stars of the heart,
And the wise men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new king is enthroned; yea, the sternest,
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things,
Still feels that high moment unfurling
Red glory of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed,
A child is born.

And thou, that art still in thy cradle,
The sun being crown for thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer,
Say, whence art thou come—who art thou?
Art thou come back on earth for our teaching
To train or to warn—?
Hush—how may we know?—knowing only
A child is born.

G. K. Chesterton

Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas!

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Here is the text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

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A Proclamation

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The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

Celtic Woman Singing Little Drummer Boy

Little Drummer Boy is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time and I surprisingly stumbled across the Celtic Woman version of this song.  Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble which I came across on YouTube earlier this year and they are delightfully good!

This version of the popular Christmas song has Gregorian chant in it, I’m not sure who scored this, but it works very well with Celtic Woman’s version of Little Drummer Boy.

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Here is the original music by the Harry Simeone Chorale:

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And finally here is the Vienna Boys Choir rendition of this song:

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My favorite line of the song is “then He smiled at me“.

Gets me every time.

Long live Christ the King!

Have a blessed Christmas.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

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Something for a Christmas Eve.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing combined with Renaissance Masters praising in paint Madonna and Child.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

As an Illinois Republican I have little love for the Daley clan of Chicago.  However, I have always respected their political acumen.  William Daley, Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000, where he was much too effective for my comfort in what should have been a big Republican year, and brother of Richie the Lesser, current Mayor for Life of the Windy City, has an interesting column today in the Washington Post:

But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, “true” Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.

Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.

Despite this raft of bad news, Democrats are not doomed to return to the wilderness. The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan. (end of column)

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Handel's Advent Messiah, Part III

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The culmination of the Advent portions of Handel’s Advent Messiah.  Part I is here and Part II is here.  Handel heralds the coming of Christ with the immortal words of Isaiah Chapter 9, verse 6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

To Be Pitied More Than All Men

“17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Cor 15:17-19)

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Marriage Improvement

It seems to me that marriage and family are probably the area in which different sub-cultures of our country have diverged most radically. Reading this New York Times feature about the author’s attempts to improve her marriage is in some ways a more alien experience than reading an anthropological study of some distant tribe. The instinct behind the exercise is laudable:

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married — truly married — slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly — some might say obsessively — at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

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