See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, December 31, 2011

What?


Looking back...



Not so much to see.

I was going to write about the past year's top stories but realized - nothing.  I realized nothing - I just didn't want to have to go through the process of linking to the stories and digging up the dead again.  After all, that has been kind of my motto recently: "Let the dead bury their dead" - but I'm not very good at it in practice...

However, now that I mention it...

The Corapi story.  That was huge, wasn't it.  I got in trouble for saying I wasn't surprised based on the fact he dyed his beard and started tanning.  Other bloggers got in even more trouble for speculating, commenting, and expressing their disgust, and have since been labeled bad Catholics, and are forever under suspicion as being in cahoots with the USCCB and Fr. James Martin and the evil Jesuits.  The wonderful thing about stories like these is that it reveals what a bunch of assholes we all can be under that thin veneer of decorous piety we like to bask in.  (I mean that in the 'nicest' way BTW - as in 'who wants to cast the first stone' and  'judge not and you won't be judged', and so on.)

For me the Corapi story was a good boost to my stats.  Seriously.  In the end, I'm not sure I cared so much about him - we all have our lives to live and we have to deal with the decisions and choices we make, and the consequences - which go along way after everything is said - but not done.  He is doing what he wants to do, living his life the way he wants to live it - or at least that is what he says.  I'm not too worried however, since as one holy priest once said; "O, the Holy Virgin, when one confides in her as a child, she never loses sight of you." 

I suppose if I have realized anything it is that the scandals involving other priests, nuns - Mother Nadine of the teal blue scapular for instance, and the fall of monks and monasteries - which I posted about - in the end revealed more about me than it did them.  It wasn't a nice picture.   

Anyway - for me the biggest story of the year was just that - I grew a bit more in self-knowledge I think - I hope.  I stand accused and my detractors are vindicated.  At the last judgement when everyone gets to see my sins...  It won't be pretty.

I need to pray many more rosaries, and pray them devoutly.

The feast of Pope St. Sylvester...

Friday, December 30, 2011

The importance of the family...




Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. - Ps. 128

This morning I was impressed by the fundamental importance of the family, which this feast of the Holy Family makes evident.  It is obvious to me that many of us do not even comprehend how much damage has been done to the very definition of family in our time.  Though I'm overly simplifying issues, I'm convinced it began decades ago when artificial contraception was introduced.  I also believe the subsequent wars of the 20th century contributed in no small way to the erosion of family life and traditional morality, leading to a sort of 'tolerance' of infidelity and divorce.  A great many of us so-called boomers actually come from such dysfunctional, damaged, broken families. 

Today, matters are much worse simply because fewer people even get married, or if they do, stay married, and the family unit is often dispersed, or 'extended' beyond conventional parameters.  Many people, with or without faith,  have attempted to reinvent the ideal family; adding 'extended family members' - live in boyfriends, girlfriends, inventing same-sex marriage, and so on. 

Growing up I tried to invent a family for myself with my friends - who became more of a family for me than my real family - I sort of consciously 'divorced ' my dysfunctional natural family, and 'married' my friends.  I continued the fantasy in various forms, even adopting superficial family traditions I admired in literature and film.  After many of my friends went their separate ways - my cats sort of became my kids, and so on.  I think we see this happening around us today - people desperately trying to invent the modern family - rejecting the authentic family archetype that has already been revealed to us.  It is a very great loss that the truth of family life has been obscured and turned upside down, inside out, and nearly unrecognizable. 

If you are fortunate enough to get Magnificat, the Catholic magazine with the Mass readings of the day and a shortened form of morning and evening prayer, you should read the texts provided for today's feast of the Holy Family.  Today's feast is so important for contemporary Catholics to contemplate and enter into.  But rather than waste time with my own thoughts, I will share with you some of the better meditations on the family that I found in today's Magnificat.
"The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.

Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of his graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their 'beginning,' that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God's plan..." - Bl. John Paul II

"The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love..." - Pope Benedict XVI
So you see, if we come from homes of disorder and chaos - like I did, and God only knows how many kids today come from even worse situations, the result can only be disorder and chaos and the absence of love, leading to a confused and desperate search for the love that is unknown and unrequitted.
"The family is the fundamental project and pursuit of the human person.  It is the place in which human life begins, is nurtured, and is cherished.  In the family, the human person learns to love by being loved, and learns that each person has an incalculable dignity that must be respected and affirmed in small or great ways each day.

In the family, man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father, live a gift of self to each other, and, as an expression of this gift, welcome new life that is entrusted to them.  Children experience, from their mother and their father, the full range of complimentary human experiences and emotions, learning naturally that the human person is a being that comes from love, and for which the pursuit of an eternal, transcendent love is the ultimate desire.  In this experience of the human person as male and female, and as coming from and going to love, the family finds its role as the cradle and school of humanity." - Anna Halpine
God's grace is sufficient to remedy every situation.

Disclaimer:  I don't mean to offend readers who happen to be in unconventional family arrangements.  I respect your efforts and convictions, though we disagree on Church teaching, you have a great responsibility for those under your care and I pray and wish you all that is good and every blessing.  God bless you.  Nothing is impossible with God...

Feast of the Holy Family



How much the world and the Church needs this feast, when so many no longer know what a real family is.  Pope Benedict XVI:
"The family is fundamental because it is the place where there germinates in the human soul the first perception of the meaning of life," Benedict XVI affirmed.

"This perception grows in the relationship with the mother and with the father, who are not the owners of the life of the children but the first collaborators with God in the transmission of life and the faith," he added.

The Bishop of Rome went on to explain to the youth of Palermo that "the family is the 'little Church' because it transmits God, it transmits the love of Christ, by the power of the sacrament of matrimony."

"The divine love that united man and woman, and that made them parents, is able to make the seed of faith -- which is the light of life's profound meaning -- grow in the hearts of their children," the Pope said.

He added that "the family, to be a 'little Church,' must be well integrated into the 'big Church,' that is, into the family of God that Christ came to form."

"The greatest gift that we have received is to be Church," the Pontiff affirmed, "to be in Christ the sign and instrument of unity, of peace, and true freedom."

He continued: "No one can take this joy from us! No one can take this strength from us! Courage, dear young people and families of Sicily! Be saints!"

The Holy Father urged the tens of thousands of youth in the audience: "Do not be afraid to oppose evil! Together you will be like a forest that grows, perhaps silently, but capable of bearing fruit, of bringing life and of renewing your land in a profound way!" - Benedict XVI at Palermo, 10/5/10 

Hi Poodle...



Now try to cheer up - it's still Christmas, after all.   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Are gay activists the new neo-nazis?



Some people seem to think so.

Unfortunately for 'them' they may be right.  On Christmas I watched The Sound of Music on television - again.  One of the characters in the film, a local man from Salzburg (Herr Zeller, the Gauleiter) who obviously sided with the Nazis and intended to force Captain Von Trapp to do so as well, interrupted a conversation during the party scene just before intermission.  He was rude and very brusque, spewing Nazi propaganda in an effort to refute, rebuke and silence the pro-Austrian conversation.  (The character acted like that throughout the film.) 

I must admit his behavior reminded me of how some 'gay activists' can respond to those who oppose legalizing same sex marriage and other hot button politicized issues wherein homosexuals demand not simply tolerance and acceptance, but societal approval.  More than one Catholic blogger refers to such activists as 'brownshirts' - inferring Nazi-like tactics - hence the title of my post.  Very often, the coercive comments I read from gay protesters on such blogs certainly lend credence to the theory.

Naturally that label is troubling to gay activists who sincerely believe they are fighting a civil rights war for equality, something liberal politicians and their minions seem to agree with.  Thus the Roman Catholic Church is more and more regarded as the enemy and real menace to society.  Especially since Cardinal George recently suggested the tactics employed by gay activists may be heading in a similar direction towards how the KKK tyrannized the Church in the early part of the 20th century.  "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism," he said.   As usual, his words were taken out of context and sound more sinister than he intended - but that is how it goes in media when soundbites become the main story.

The Cardinal further defends his statement:
That dispute was resolved last week, but the cardinal’s KKK comparison – and his new explanation of those comments – have kept the controversy boiling.

“Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the cardinal said in a statement issued Tuesday. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.” - Chicago Tribune

I definitely do agree with the Cardinal. 

Going forward.

The fight for gay rights is going to become more heated in 2012 - especially in Minnesota as we approach election time and the marriage amendment comes up for a vote.  I think I read someplace that in New Hampshire efforts are underway to repeal the law permitting same sex marriage.  These issues volley back and forth - as we've seen in California especially.  Likewise Republican presidential candidates have pledged to overturn the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.   There are big issues and not so big issues.  I'm against same sex marriage and homosexual acts, but who serves in the military doesn't happen to be an issue for me. 

The problem for Catholics, as I see it, is the lack of clear, consistent teaching on the issue of homosexuality.  To be sure, the teaching is there and it is spelled out in no uncertain terms.  There are documents to prove it.  Nevertheless, in practical terms there is a lot of leeway given when it comes to observance. 

For instance, homosexual acts are sinful, but the orientation itself - though disordered (disorders are normal for fallen man) is not sinful.  "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." CDF Letter, no.3

It's getting to be like a witch hunt.

Therefore men with homosexual inclination who have renounced homosexual acts and have accepted Church teaching continue to identify as gay - hence they refer to themselves as "gay Catholics".  Likewise, so do their actively "gay Catholic" counterparts who do not accept Church teaching on sexuality and marriage, yet attempt to live as faithful Catholics, frequent the sacraments, maybe attend Dignity and adopt kids and send them to Catholic school.  Straight people are especially confused about this situation.  What to do?  I don't know - it seems to me ridiculous to have to go around constantly repeating, "I live a chaste life and accept Church teaching and I'm against gay marriage."

I found an interesting comment on a Fr. Z post about an openly gay ex-priest EMHC at a parish:
Speculae says:
There are a few issues here that are of concern. The first is of course the fact that this man is an ex-priest, as stated within Redemptionis Sacramentum, he should not be involved in any liturgical activity that may confuse the faithful as to his standing with regard to his priesthood.


The second is that he is an EMHC…and I just can’t abide them.

But the third is a concern for a wholly different reason. As to being “openly gay”… do you mean that he has simply said that he is a homosexual, or do you mean that he is actively homosexual. I get the impression from the comments here that the very fact of his being a homosexual is a problem in itself. If the Church is to reach out to active homosexuals we have to accept that that is what they are and support them in living a chaste life…this honesty is vital if we are to have authentic relationships with each other as members of the Body of Christ. We can’t teach that homosexuals must give up their sexual lives and then demand also that they pretend to be something that they are not once they come into the Church. We cannot claim that we offer the Truth and then once people accept it ask them to live a lie.


If by “openly gay” it is meant that he is having sexual relations with someone (or more), then of course there is a problem and he must not be allowed to function as an EMHC. - WDTPRS
It is a rather good comment, making needed distinctions - however, how does one know which type of 'openly gay' person is acting?  Why do we have to know?  Within that post and comments, people brought up the fact they have gay organists at church.  (My parish does too - how do I know?  I don't really, except he looks/dresses, walks/talks, like a girl.  Do I care?  No.  And I have no idea if he is active or not.)  In the recent past there have been news stories concerning openly gay organists and other church workers being fired from their positions.  I don't understand that.  Frequently in large city parishes, organists are hired help - just like a janitor - only with status.

"Labeling limits and disrespects people. "

But I digress.  I for one, as I've made clear numerous times, whole heartedly accept and embrace* what the Church teaches regarding identity:
"Today, the Church... refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual "or a "homosexual," and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life." CDF, no.16

The Church won't put a label on anyone. To say someone is "gay" or "lesbian" or a "homosexual" is to define a whole person by just one aspect. It can lock up a person's identity and block further emotional growth. That's just the sort of labeling which gives rise to prejudice and discrimination. The Church stands against any behavior it calls immoral, but always teaches support and respect for the person. Labeling limits and disrespects people. - Source
Nevertheless, there are other sources of confusion which can compromise acceptance of Church teaching, or at least call it into question.  This is seen most clearly in the prohibition of homosexuals from Holy Orders and/or the religious life.  It is technically forbidden, although if a candidate lives a chaste life for 3 years or so they seem to be able to be received.  I'm not saying that it is wrong or right, it is up to the competent authorities to make such decisions.  I hate to bring this aspect up, but it seems the most convenient one to point out what appears to be a double standard at least in principle. 

For instance, without naming names, I know there are prominent priests who are active in the Church who happen to have very gay pasts - and there are those who continue to identify as gay - at least semi-privately, and some - in this archdiocese - are pastors.  That is something I don't get.  They seem to  'cling' to that identity when in fact it is objectively disordered, although it seems to me it  would be better to "strive to lay aside every encumbrance of sin that clings to us."  [Hebrews 12: 1]  To be sure, I annoy many ssa people when I say such things.  I can't control what they think of me any more than I can control how they live.

That said - I'm not going to knock myself out campaigning for the marriage amendment.  I'll pray and let people know I'm not a believer in same sex marriage, and I'll vote to pass the amendment, but that is about it.  I'm not afraid to 'stand outside the American consensus' - that is where Christ is, as St. Paul tells us:  "Let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the insult he bore. For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come." [Hebrews 13: 13-14]

Works for me.

*embrace:  It is one thing to accept Church teaching, to actually embrace it can take awhile for some people.  Everything is possible with God.  For those who can't accept Church teaching, I wish you well, I'm not your judge.

Looking back...


Looking back on nearly six years of blogging.

I'll be ending the blog sometime in 2012 - it was always my plan.  I'll have lots to say about the art of blogging and bloggers and blogists before the 'last post' goes up.  True confessions and exposures...

Photo caption:  "What if Chaz Bono walks into a men's room and tries to pee next to my son?"

The Lord of Misrule - redux.


Bosch's Ship of Fools was directly
related to the Feast of Fools.
Works for me.
Christmas season.
.
If you partied and celebrated throughout Advent you are probably one of those who say, "I'm so glad Christmas is over!"  Or you could be one of those experiencing some sort of post holiday depression.  That's too bad - kind of like the foolish virgins who used up all of their oil before the bridegroom arrived, and then got locked out when the wedding feast began.  The feast of Christmas really only begins on December 25, and it consists of twelve days:  The Twelfth Day - traditional Epiphany - initiates carnival season, which ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday - Mardi Gras.
.
Now the Lord of Misrule goes back to Medieval times, the origins of which are traced to pagan Rome, where it was celebrated for the feast of Saturnalia.   The festival tended to become rather debauched of course, and later was often condemned by the Church.  Perhaps a re-adaptation of the custom, with discretion of course, could help people celebrate the Christmas season more appropriately.  Such as resisting the temptation to be so caught up in the manufactured commercial observance of the holiday, which more or less ends on Christmas day night - for those who fell for the hype and partied through Advent that is.
.
History...
.
"The Lord of Misrule, known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots, was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia. The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. The celebration of the Feast of Fools was outlawed by the Council of Basel that sat from 1431, but it survived to be put down again by the Catholic Queen Mary I in England in 1555." - Read more.
.
Anyway - if my posts are a tad more misrulish during Christmastide - you now know why... and are hereby  forewarned.

Larry started it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas stressful? Here's a real 'dust-up'...



Greek and Armenian monks brawl in Church of the Nativity.

They do this sometimes.  When I was younger I remember the Franciscans even got involved.  Going to church in the Holy Land can be like hockey.  Hey - that could be a topic for a homily to attract more men to Mass.  Active participation - it's a good thing.

Report with a 'before the cops got there' video here.

Faithful priest, Fr. Bernard Reiser, RIP



A very dear and holy priest died this week, Fr. Bernard Reiser:
Rev. Bernard Reiser, founding pastor of Church of the Epiphany, Coon Rapids, died Tuesday evening. He was 87 years old.

Reiser recently underwent brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor behind his eye, but he returned home to Epiphany Pines earlier this month and was at home in hospice care when he died.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Reiser was born in 1924, the son of farmers Aloys and Otillia Reiser, and was ordained into the priesthood June 4, 1949.

He was a priest in a parish in White Bear Lake for 15 years when he was called on by Archbishop Leo Binz of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in April 1964 to start a Catholic parish in Coon Rapids.

In May 1964, he was named the first pastor of Epiphany. A 70-acre farm on Hanson Boulevard was purchased.  “There was nothing but sand and thistles, no trees except along Hanson Boulevard,” Reiser said in an interview with ABC Newspapers staff writer Sue Austreng earlier this year.

Reiser had a school, Epiphany Catholic School, built before the church, he said in that interview.

The school auditorium served as Epiphany Catholic Church while the church building was being constructed.

There were some 125 people attending services at Epiphany in those early days; now close to 5,000 families are members of the parish, which is one of the largest in the state.
Scott Schulte, Coon Rapids City Council member and owner of Hi-Ten Service Center at Hanson and Coon Rapids boulevards, describes Reiser as his mentor growing up.

Schulte attended Epiphany Catholic School from second- through ninth-grades and said that Reiser taught religion every day during first hour.

“Father had a great influence in my upbringing,” he said.

“He was a great man, served the community and did a lot for everyone, no matter their faith. He was an excellent man of God.”

In Reiser’s years as pastor of Epiphany, the campus expanded beyond the church and school to include Epiphany Pines senior living, an assisted living facility and Epiphany Cemetery.

Reiser retired as pastor of Epiphany in 2000, but continued to serve the Catholic church as a substitute pastor in various parishes in the state. He was also pastor emeritus at Epiphany.

In the years since his official retirement, Reiser has also been deeply involved in relief and humanitarian efforts in the Caribbean country of Haiti.

He first visited Haiti in 1996 and on his return, established Reiser Relief Inc., which since then has provided fresh water, fed the hungry, built an orphanage and eldercare facilities and funded primary schools in the impoverished country.

“We can’t forget,” Reiser said in his interview earlier this year with Sue Austreng.

“You can’t walk away from misery and do nothing.”

And since 2008, Reiser Relief Inc. has hosted an annual community fund-raiser, Keep the Wheels Turning Gala, for its projects in Haiti.

Earlier this year, Reiser was named by KARE TV as one of its “Eleven Who Care” program recipients for his and Reiser Relief’s work in Haiti.

The annual program honors the volunteer contributions of 11 outstanding, grassroots volunteers and promotes the spirit of volunteerism in the communities from nominations submitted by individuals and service organizations throughout KARE’s viewing area. - Peter Bodley, ABCNewspapers

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs



My theory as to why abortion is still legal in the United States.

The pro-life politicians are not really and truly anti-abortion.  Why?  Because deep down they believe only the woman has a right to make that choice.  So yeah - they claim to be against abortion and go on to claim - even vow - to overturn legislation which allows it, nevertheless they lack the will to actually do so.  And millions of Americans are in denial about that - and we have become hostages to the worst crop of politicians ever to campaign for office.  In the meantime, countless innocents continue to be slain, and there isn't a politician or a court to overturn their death sentence. 

I may be wrong of course - although no one can convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Truce Pop-ups.


Feast of St. John Evangelist


Pop-ups.

I suppose this post is like other blogger's 'quick takes' or 'time outs' - but I'll categorize it as 'pop-ups' and will not attach a number to it.  Since it is still Christmas, I'll call these snippets 'Christmas truce pop-ups'.  Short commentaries about non-controversial subjects without any passive aggressive snark.  (As if I would do that!)  Analyze away!

The fat lady already sang...

Christmas is over.  I know I say it isn't - and the Church and the liturgy says it isn't - but it is.  I was going to do a Christmas post each day for the 12 days of Christmas but decided against it - no one pays attention to Christmas after the Christmas day.  Unless you happen to be a religious or are religious.  Most people aren't religious. 

I've never baited anyone...

If I don't blog about something controversial hardly anyone reads me.  I'm tired of blogging about negative stuff however.  Especially during Christmas - yes, I observe Christmas - all twelve days of it.  What I dislike even more is reading the negative stuff on other blogs - people keep it up even through Christmas - along with their negative anonymous comments.  I no longer allow the anonymous comments.  It is for the commenter's own good - it is a sort of antidote, or prevention against their hypocrisy.  They should know better than to blog or comment when they are drunk.

Tippler's feast day...

Speaking of drunks, tipplers love today's feast of St. John, since as the Saint's enemies sought to poison his wine, the saint blessed it before drinking and the poison was neutralized and the Evangelist was not harmed.  Traditionally wines are blessed today - and people find another excuse to keep drinking.  BTW - don't make or drink mulled wine - the alcohol evaporates.

Prayers for those suffering the effects of disaster and terror...

On a serious note, I apologize that I've failed to mention the terror in Nigeria and the bombing of Catholic churches on Christmas.  We observe the feasts of the ancient martyrs during the Christmas Octave, while the martyrs of our day continue to suffer.  Likewise, the people of the Philippines continue to suffer the devastating effects of the floods.  These things ought keep us sober and vigilant throughout the 'holidays'.  Prayers for all who actually suffer Christmas.

The repeal...

Don't ask don't tell repeal.  (I find it interesting that just about everything can be repealed in this country - so why not abortion rights?  I have a theory.)  That said, I was impressed by Jake Tapper's interview with gay, active military men and a woman which aired Sunday on ABCNews.  One would never know the soldiers were gay - well, maybe one or two of them you could tell.  Nevertheless, they spoke well and expressed relief that they could now be honest about themselves and concentrate more fully on the job at hand:  “The most important thing that has changed since the repeal is now we can focus on the mission"  (Video here.) 

Now there's a train that's already left the station.  Works for me.

Bloggers we have lost this past year...




What happened to them?

Angela?  What happened?  Where are you?

Fr. Dave?  David?  Mark?  Maria?  Hilda?  John?  John?  Fr. John?  Paul?  Helene?  Molly?  Carole?  Bonita?  Sr. Mary Ellen Tracy?

If you watch the video - please note Oprah's boots.  That is so not her.

Bonus Link:  Meet Bonnie - a woman who lives in Wisconsin!

Extra Bonus - Self-Help Tutorial:  How to resist alien abduction. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas at Dogwood Cottage



Too dark? 


I do not know how to take good photos - sorry.  Anyway - I wanted to show the mantel with all the saints.  Spanish colonial figures: Mexican St. Anthony, Peruvian Bambino with silver reflector, Mexican St. Nicholas, New Mexican St. Joseph, Guatemalan Immaculada flank painting of St. Bernard.


The kitchen creche with the saints and 'miraculous' lights.  Mexican nicho housing Italian Bambino nestled in angel hair, surrounded by small German wood carvings of St. Claude, St. Roch, St Dominic Savio, and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Merry Christmas!


Disclaimer:  No poodles were harmed to obtain these photos.  The decorations are much prettier in person and at night when you're drunk.  What?
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The enduring grace of Christmas.



It happened.

Christmas isn't about presents - or even receiving what you want in prayer.  It isn't about the giving or the receiving, or the lack there of.  It isn't about lights and decorations and greetings and parties or carols or religious or secular Christmas songs and stories.  It isn't about delicious food and drinks and treats and sweets.  It isn't about setting up a creche in front of the courthouse or insisting upon calling a tree a Christmas tree or wearing a button that says I celebrate Christmas.  It isn't about family being more important than going to church on Sunday because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year.  It isn't about all of those customs and traditions that have become ritualized and formalized or just trashed over the decades. 

It isn't about me or my religious and political positions, nor my moral judgements, or even my social position or influence - low or high or in-between or non-existent.  It isn't about who is for us or who is against us.

It is about love.
Beloved,
let us love one another
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten of God
and has knowledge of God.
The man without love has known nothing of God
and has no knowledge of God,
for God is love.
God's love was revealed in our midst in this way:
he sent his only Son to the world
that we might have life through him.
Love then consists in this:
not that we have loved God,
but that he has loved us
and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins.
Beloved,
if God has loved us so,
we must have the same love for one another... 1 John 4

Christmas is an epiphany, not a matter of sentimentality or a commercial celebration.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation. - Benedict XVI

In thanksgiving for the one thing necessary.


Feast of Stephen

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I survived Christmas!



It's Christmas Day in the city!

Merry Christmas every one!

I made it.  I made it through all the terrors of the night.  I made it through all the awful advertising and money talk and shopping mauls.  Yes mauls - people pepper sprayed, mothers fighting over Air Jordan's.  Public demonstrations in support of, or against tacky Nativity scenes on public, or private property.  But let's be honest - lights are lights and our inner child always gets excited when we see them - no matter how garish.

I survived all the murder stories - Minneapolis has a lot of gun happy boyfriends who shoot their girlfriends.  My advice - get married - then you can get divorced instead of killing one another. 

I lived through Christmas - Advent to all ye faithful - because tomorrow it is over for those people who don't need a Church to tell them what to do.  Yep - some people actually take all their decor down the day after Christmas.  One year a relative of mine who prides herself on neatness and efficiency took her tree down Christmas night.  "Aren't you neat though, Agnes!"

I survived the depression, the recriminations, the guilt of not being the man my family and friends expected me to be - although some tell me God is even more disappointed. That's a toughie, but it won't keep me from going to him this morning, as he lays in that manger - he doesn't turn anyone away... man nor beast.

Today those who keep Christmas come to know that Christmas is above all about Christ.

So once again:  Merry Christmas!  And remember, today is just the beginning!