Friday, December 25, 2009
A tradition on this blog (if it happens more than once, it is a tradition!) - a few lines from Hilaire Belloc's wonderful essay, 'A Remaining Christmas,' from his selected essays, Penguin edition, 1958, edited by J. B. Morton.
"Now, you must not think that Christmas being over, the season and its glories are at an end, for in this house there is kept the full custom of the Twelve Days, so that 'Twelfth day,' the Epiphany, still has, to its inhabitants, its full and ancient meaning as it had when Shakespeare wrote. The green is kept in place in every room, and not a leaf of it must be moved until Epiphany morning, but on the other hand not a leaf of it must remain in the house, nor the Christmas tree either, by Epiphany evening. It is all taken out and burnt in a special little coppice reserved for these good trees which have done their Christmas duty; and now, after so many years, you might almost call it a little forest, for each tree has lived, bearing witness to the holy vitality of unbroken ritual and inherited things."
"This house where such good things are done year by year has suffered all the things that every age has suffered. It has known the sudden separation of wife and husband, the sudden fall of young men under arms who will never more come home, the scattering of the living and their precarious return, the increase and the loss of fortune, all those terrors and all those lessenings and haltings and failures of hope which make up the life of man. But its Christmas binds it to its own past and promises its future; making the house an undying thing of which those subject to mortality within it are members, sharing in its continuous survival."
A very blessed and peaceful Christmas to my faithful three readers. Blogging has been obviously light over recent days. We had full Masses - even Midnight which, for English readers is not usually the first Mass of Christmas here in Vermont - we have the ubiquitous "early evening Mass," in some places called the "children's Mass," even though such a thing is not allowed. My first was at 4.30pm, followed by Midnight, then 10.00am. All went well, although I was distressed to have to deal with two instances of people walking off with the Eucharist - it is time for the indult to be revoked - but that's for another post! I was invited to Christmas dinner with a family in the parish who explained to their six year old son that I was called "Father" because they were my family, which I thought was rather nice, especially as all my family is thousand of miles away. Buon Natale!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wonderful news from Rome: almost "local" Saint, Blessed Andre Bessette, founder of the world famous Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, is to be canonized. Blessed Brother Andre spent some of his summer every year in Richford, next to my old parish in Enosburg, and still has relatives in Vermont. This will be a great event for the highly secularized population of Quebec. Also, the "heroic virtue" of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII was approved - so now "Venerable John Paul II and Venerable Pius XII."
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I have had my first experience of the ubiquity of the world-wide web. Although my articles for the former 'Vermont Catholic Tribune,' now known as the 'Vermont Catholic' have my copyright, once something is on the web, copyright does not seem to exist. My articles also appear in the much more widely distributed 'St. Austin Review.' I recently received an email asking me to clarify points I made in an article I had written for 'VirtueOnline' - I was not aware I had written an article for an online magazine of which I had never heard of. Idly googling myself, as one does on a Tuesday evening after Mass, I find I am now on a number of Anglican websites - it's all rather peculiar. At least the article I originally wrote seems rather helpful. I am a great believer in Ecumenism - all roads lead to Rome!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
One of the things my magnificent (!) seminary training ill-prepared me for was "shovelling ministry." For English readers, this excellent course would introduce the seminarian to the idea that, when appointed as a parish priest in Vermont he would: a) spend a considerable amount of his time shovelling snow from church entrances, walkways and parish halls - b) learn the difference between freezing rain and normal rain - which, by the way, if snow is already on the ground, is no difference at all - c) discover that parishioners will complain about snow blocking doorways anyway - even though they could do something about it - like offer to help shovelling!
God bless Al Gore - I'm looking forward to global warming!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Today, on December 9th, 1531, Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego. We celebrate his Feast Day today. It is worth remembering that, only 2o years later, her image was on one of the ships at the Battle of Lepanto. Perhaps it is time Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared a Solemnity, at least for the Americas?
Monday, December 7, 2009
"He fashioned a paradise for the second Adam to dwell in, and that paradise was the body and soul of our blessed Lady, immune from the taint of sin which was the legacy of Adam's curse. It was winter still in all the world around, but in the quiet home where St. Anne gave birth to her daughter, spring had begun. Man's winter, God's spring; the living branch growing from the dead root; for that, year by year, we Christians give thanks to God when Advent comes round. It is something that has happened once for all; we look for no further redemption, no fresh revelation, however many centuries are to roll over this earth before the skies crack above us and our Lord comes again in judgment."
Monsignor Ronald Knox, The Pastoral Sermons.