Saturday, December 24, 2011

The grace of Christmas...

Little Therese,
Pray for us.

Or the Christmas conversion of St. Therese.

Many good people and scholars have treated of the so-called conversion of the little Therese on Christmas, and she herself attributed great significance to it, writing:
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!"   
St. Therese is referring to something that happened one Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass:
The one event in her life which Thérèse explicitly designated as a "conversion" fulfills the criteria of a moral conversion. Many years after the event, Thérèse recalled that on returning from Midnight Mass on Christmas, 1886, she overheard her father express annoyance that at age thirteen Thérèse was still planning to be the center of Christmas customs typical of small children. Thérèse's sister, aware of how unusually sensitive Thérèse was and knowing Thérèse heard their father's remarks, was amazed to see Thérèse joyfully carry on as though she had heard nothing.

Thérèse calls this "my complete conversion" because a dramatic change happened, she says, "in an instant." The permanent change in direction is from being a girl who "was really unbearable because of [her] extreme touchiness" to a "strong and courageous" young woman whose "source of tears was dried up and has since reopened rarely and with great difficulty." She who "wasn't accustomed to doing things for [herself)" now experienced "the need to forget [herself] and to please others." She now had a great desire to work for "the conversion of sinners".

Thérèse gives this conversion a religious interpretation, but it is more accurately understood as a moral conversion. This is not to deny genuine religious aspects and implications to the event. Rather, it is to affirm that the basic change of direction Thérèse describes corresponds more closely, in three ways, to that of a moral conversion.

The primary characteristic of moral conversion is the shift from concern for self-satisfaction to a desire for a life devoted to value. Thérèse speaks principally of this event as marking a change in her criterion of decision from self-pity to concern for others. Second, moral conversion is an experience of more adult decisionmaking. A movement out of childhood is precisely the process that Thérèse identifies as most characteristic of this event; it marked her "growing up." Third, the qualities of strength and freedom of decision -- characteristics of moral conversion -- are singled out in Thérèse's later interpretations of this conversion. - Source
I think that is a rather good analysis of what happened to St. Therese - but as with everything concerning Therese - for me it misses something - the intangible, the ineffable exchange that took place between her heart and the heart of the little Jesus.  Such spiritual transactions cannot be contained or limited by words, though she herself wrote about its effects... that writing being her Story of A Soul, and doctrine of the 'Little Way'.  May she obtain such grace for you and for me this Holy Night.

+ Prayer +

Convert us O Lord.

O Little King, attraction of all hearts, we hail that blessed hour and moment in which you were born of the most pure Virgin Mary in the poverty of Bethlehem.  You did not need earthly pomp or riches, for they could add nothing to your Infinite Majesty.  Teach us that true riches are within and that it is not what we have but what we are* that counts. Amen

O Jesus, sweetest child, born in poverty at Bethlehem of Mary ever Virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid amongst the animals in a manger, announced by angels, visited first by simple shepherds; have mercy on us.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

*22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. [...] He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. - GAUDIUM ET SPES

Christmas Eve

I like this film.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"No Catholic for you!"

Detroit tells Michael Voris he is not authorized to use the word... term... "Catholic".
The Church encourages the Christian faithful to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings but, nevertheless, prohibits any such undertaking from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority (see canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law). For some time, the Archdiocese of Detroit has been in communication with Mr. Michael Voris and his media partner at Real Catholic TV regarding their prominent use of the word "Catholic" in identifying and promoting their public activities disseminated from the enterprise's production facility in Ferndale, Michigan. The Archdiocese has informed Mr. Voris and Real Catholic TV,, that it does not regard them as being authorized to use the word "Catholic" to identify or promote their public activities. Questions about this matter may be directed to the Archdiocese of Detroit, Department of Communications. - Source
They can do that.

On the other hand, I am Catholic - and no one can take that away from me.  I'm also a Catholic who blogs, but I do not put myself out there as a spokesman for the Catholic Church.  I was neither authorized nor commissioned to blog.  I know my place and stay away from church activities, lest I be tossed out in the street for improper credentials or not dressing appropriately.

Anyway - perhaps Michael Voris needs to head to the chancery and ask for a proper commissioning rite - like they do for lay hospitality ministers, lectors and EMHCs?  The entire congregation could raise their hands during the rite of commission and Voris could maybe get a cape or something to signify he's a real Catholic.

H/T to Mark Shea - who is also Catholic and enjoys it.  To Ray at Stella who sent me Fr. Z's post on the matter.  Merry Christmas my Catholic friends.

Now back to regular Christmas programming, with Manny, Moe and Jack...

A dusting of snow...

It is actually snowing in Minneapolis today - we've not had a significant snowfall for weeks - it has been warm and the landscape had returned to shades of brown and grey - but today there is snow.  Very Christmassy!

Art: Source

Pre-Christmas prep... the last day.

Christmas Cards.

I love them.  I think of them as little gifts - even the photo cards.  Maybe those especially.  I once disliked photo cards - but in these days when fewer and fewer people send cards - they are more special than ever.  They even appear on NYSD - which means they are now chic?  Nah.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Still time to get a tree...

I didn't do a tree this year - but I did decorate.  Garland on the mantel, with santos and candles; candles in every window, and garland around the Dresden embellished front door.  It's fun, but low key.

I think the secret of Christmas is to accept things as they happen - to avoid placing limits upon what and how the holidays are 'supposed' to be.  On the other hand, it's important to avoid the sometimes overwhelming tendency to place unreal expectations upon how Christmas should be celebrated - at home, in church, in the public square, and so on. 

Christmas happens.  Let it.

Photo: The last Christmas trees.  New York Social Diary  

Christmas at Bergdorf's...

The Christmas windows open on Thanksgiving and usually run through Christmas.  In NYC the unveiling can be like a Broadway opening.

The thing about e-card Christmas greetings...

They all land in my junk/spam box.

So a big thank you to all of you who have sent them - but I never see them.  Nope.  I do not even know who sends them.  But it's the thought that counts... so thanks.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hildegard of Bingers

It appears the Holy Father intends to canonize the 12th century mystic and declare her a Doctor of the Church.  Story here.

I'll drink to that!


Christmas 1967

Did you know Polo was founded in 1967 as well?

So anyway - a very old friend and I were reminiscing about Dayton's Department Store in its heyday back in the late 1960's.  The store went through a another renaissance in the early 1980's - something both of us worked through and benefited from once again.  I was in and out between those times - pursuing other interests - although my friend stayed all the way through to retirement.  The store began its downhill slide after acquiring Marshall Fields, culminating in dropping the Dayton name.  Eventually Macy's stepped in, and what used to be a fine department store turned into not much more than an outlet store.

However, it was fun to go over our experiences, recalling anecdotes and stories about the people we worked for and with over the years.  It's quite a history really.  In 1966-1967 Dayton's was on the map in this country as one of the very best retailers not only in the midwest, but the nation.  It was the year the company presented Dickens Village, a well researched, lavishly constructed, historically accurate auditorium presentation for Christmas, coordinated with finely detailed display windows.  In fact my very first job in the display department was watchman for the display windows, my duities comprised making the rounds of the windows to ensure the animation was working well and that there was no danger of fire.  I was so cute and nice, they kept me on after Christmas - and my career took off!  That's what I told myself at least, and I left home even before graduating high school - the job became my ticket out of the East side of St. Paul.  Although in reality it was more like running away to join the circus.

[Read a snippet of the Dickens Village history in the book by Karal Ann Marling, Merry Christmas: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday.  Click here.]

I'm toying with the idea of returning to 'my story' - sort of a memoir - finishing up where I left off on this blog a couple of years ago.  I lose interest in writing a chronological narrative - which is why I stopped writing - but maybe jumping ahead to the Dayton's part of the story will make things more interesting.

I'll have to change a few names of course, because some of the people we worked with are still alive.  It was an unreal world, let me tell you, especially for a 17 year old kid.  I was glamour struck.  I recall one coworker who modeled herself after a famous movie star, even attempting her accent - she was a complete phony - but a good one - so I'll call her Holly.  Anyway, once I asked her why she was angry with me - believe me, I was so genuinely naive and unaware it wasn't funny, and she looked at me rather officiously and responded in her most imperious tone; "I can see right through that innocent little facade of yours, young man!  You are not fooling me or anyone else."

I of course had no idea what she was talking about at the time, although I was soon to find out.  Looking back, I mostly see the incredible irony in what she said, since it was she who created an elaborate facade for herself, feigning innocence and virtue...  But I'm jumping way ahead of myself and do not want to spoil the story by revealing too much here.

Curiously, the Presentation Director and genius behind the talent and store presentation was said to be a witch, and he kept live crows in his office, his name was Joe Wright and he was definitely an eccentric.  In fact the entire company seemed to be run by and comprised of eccentrics, many of whom were decidedly immoral, yet spectacularly talented: Gypsies, tramps and thieves.  It wasn't until the late 1970's, early 1980's that the business adopted a more stable, professional image.

My first Christmas at Dayton's changed my life.


Christmas memories...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Squirrel feed...

I'm feeding my squirrels this year.  One sits atop Our Lady's shrine just like the illumination shows here, to sun himself after he eats.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha


A second miracle has been approved and the cause of Blessed Kateri will go forward, she will be canonized a saint.  Te Deum laudamus...

Information on Blessed Kateri here.

Likewise, the cause for Pere Eugene-Marie of the Infant Jesus will go forward:
 - Servant of God Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus (ne Henri Grialou), French professed priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites and founder of the Institute of Notre-Dame de Vie (1894-1967). - Source
"A person needs this feeling of weakness, of poverty, of physical powerlessness... It is good to feel our weakness, so that we turn to mercy! Remember that for yourselves. God has placed me among you so that I might show you how to use weakness. It's the way you take to return home with joy, with your fullness of soul." - Pere Eugene-Marie of the Infant Jesus    

The Nativity of St. Francis.

I think St. Francis originated the first live nativity re-enactment.

I think a sort of creche scene - at least in fresco, was already in use at the time of St. Francis of Assisi.  Either he popularized the three dimensional creche, or he initiated the live nativity tableau.  Today he is credited with both.

Anyway - I stopped by the live nativity at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in South Minneapolis last evening.  The parish presented a living mom and dad and baby, shepherds, and living animals;  a camel, a calf, a donkey, and two sheep.  The animals were so meek and mild.  The churchyard was all lit up, with colored lights on the pines, fires, and even a search light.  I think they served hot beverages and treats - but I didn't partake.  Despite the total lack of snow and the temperature in the 40's - it was awesome.  I normally wouldn't go out to see such things, but I had told an older friend about it and he asked me to drive over to see it.  I did.  He was deeply moved - as was I.

Our Lady of Peace is a cool parish: The pastor is a young, very good priest, and the parish is comprised of  young families and singles and their 'grand parents and parents and aunts and uncles' too. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I can't control the ads.

I think you can.

So you say you can't control the ads on your web site and add ons?  Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Don't allow ads.
  • Take down your site.
  • Change your host site.
  • Do not use 'free' features/services which stream ads.
  • Use your donations/blog income to pay for a proper ad blocker.

    I'm just not sure anymore...

    About people and people stuff, that is.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
    Where there is injury, pardon.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is darkness, light.
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

    If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is self-deceived: his worship is pointless.  Looking after orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself unspotted by the world make for pure worship without stain before our God and Father. [James 1: 26-27]