Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

All joy and heart's ease be to you and yours!
and pray for our brothers and sisters in places of danger

Joyeux Noël - 1914 'Truce'

You are probably aware of the Christmas 'Truce' that took place informally on Christmas Eve 1914 between soldiers on both sides of the World War I bloodbath. It was immortalized by John McCutcheon in his unforgettable Christmas in the Trenches.

Recently I saw a 2005 film rendition of this event. Below is its depiction between German, Scot, and French troops.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Knox - Christmas Hide and Seek

THERE IS NOTHING IRREVERENT, I think, in comparing man's search for God to a game of hide-and-seek. A child's games with its father, all the skill and foresight on the one side, al the romance and excitement on the other! When you read in the Old Testament about almighty God making a covenant with men, your sense of the fitness of things is outraged; how is it possible, considering what he is, that he should make a bi-lateral treaty with his children, he with his own income, they with nothing but the pocket-money he allows them; and what complicated transactions take place, in make-believe! And so it is with this game of hide-and-seek, that goes on all through the centuries, that goes on in every man's life from the cradle to the grave.

Why is it that God, who so loves us, makes himself so distant from us, so difficult to find? Dare we say it? - it is part of the rules of the game. He will make himself difficult to find, so that when we do find him, the shock of triumph may be something unexampled in our experience. Why does man, whose heart is made for God, and cannot find rest until it rests in him, yet spend long days, long years of his life, may be, trying to run away from God, to avoid his scrutiny? Once more, it is part of the rules of the game; not that we should hide from him, but that we should be able to hide from him ...

And then, in the fullness of time, God changed his hiding-place. Suddenly, while all was quiet around, with the deep stillness of a winter night, he came and hid in a little country town, came and hid in a manger, came and hid in the form of man. Not quite so silently but he betrayed himself; just a movement among the stars, just the brush of angels' wings, was enough to raise the hue and cry among a few searchers, shepherd folk with their keen ears, stargazers with their sharp eyes. And so the hunt started afresh: Tell us, where is he born, the King of the Jews? The question, repeated to one passer-by after another, begins to sound like the chorus of some children's game. What, this tumble-down house in a back street, this draughty cellar underneath it - it's no good looking in there! He wouldn't hide in a place like that! And then the door opens, and a woman stands there, a finger pressed to her lips; our Mother, come out to help in the search. "Yes, he's in there; but come in quietly; he's asleep." The God who does not dwell in temples made with hands, asleep in there! The God who neither sleeps nor slumbers, watching over Israel, in there asleep!

- Ronald A. Knox

Of Great Joy

From the last post that sits in darkness waiting for great light to this post where we see light shine in the darkness: an Arab Catholic seminarian, Khalil Hattar, gives a message of great faith, hope, and love here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scimitar and Christmas

Let's get this straight: this is offensive, but this isn't. Everybody understand? Pathetic, isn't it (look closely at the descriptors on the Scimitar poster - bile, pure bile).

Incomprehensible blather? Not at all. Understand this: the Scimitar was born in the cauldron of scandal and what René Girard calls the "problem of the doubles" or the reciprocity of the model/rival (model/obstacle, model/mediator). It has continued this mimetic relationship with the faiths of the Bible from its inception to this day.

I do not see a solution to the problem - and recent (unofficial) Catholic prophecies see it growing worse - because the Scimitar, by definition, is dependent on the Judaeo-Christian ethos for its very existence and will, therefore, always feel a deep resentment and humiliation by the existence of the truth of the biblical faiths. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will cause a break-thru of contrition in the hearts of its adherents someday. Or, perhaps our Lady will continue to appear and bring members of the Scimitar to Her.

Let us pray for peace as this Advent draws to a close, and we welcome again the birth of the Prince of Peace and Savior of the sin-filled world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Old Saint Nick

Father Christmas - The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

As I posted back on his actual feast day, Benjamin Britten did the world a thing of beauty by memorializing the events of the life of Saint Nicholas of Myra in his moving Saint Nicolas Cantata. And I noticed that Tim Jones posted on Chesterton's views of Saint Nick at Old World Swine, while young Andrew Cusack did also on the saint's day.

This, in my way of thinking, allows me the license to capture and republish both of their illustrations (above).

If you get an opportunity, do listen to Britten's gift of love for Saint Nicholas.
(Reposted from 12/17/08)

Knox - St. Thomas More

TIMES LIKE THESE, DO NOT let us deceive ourselves about it, are difficult to live in for a Catholic who loves his faith. There is a continual apparent contrast between the restless speculations of the modern intellect, and those abiding certainties by which we live. The question continually arises: Is such and such a view, which I see propounded in the newspapers, consistent with Catholic truth? Is such and such a political expedient, which I see prominent men are advocating, justifiable in the light of Catholic doctrine? We are hurried along breathlessly by the spirit of the age in which we live, yet protesting all the time, questioning all the time. Our neighbours, our non-Catholic neighbours, look upon us as an obscure survival from the Middle Ages, a kind of museum piece, whose beliefs they find it interesting to study, but impossible to share. Here and there, one or two of our Catholic friends drop out of the ranks, abandon their religion for no better reason than that they have been caught by the glamour of modern movements. There is no acute conflict, but we are perpetually ill at ease, like a ship that drags its anchor.

In such times, let us thank God's mercy for giving us the example and the protection of a great saint, our own fellow countryman, who knew how to absorb all that was best in the restless culture of his day, yet knew at once, when the time came, that he must make a stand here; that he must give no quarter to the modern world here. His remembrance has long been secure in the praise of posterity; it only remained for us to be assured by the infallible voice of the Church, what we could not doubt already, that he is with our blessed Lady and the saints in heaven. he knows our modern needs, let us turn to him in our modern troubles; his prayers will not be lacking for the great country he loved so, for the great city in which he lived and died.

- Ronald A. Knox

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Advent Reality Check

Conrad Black opines upon the slings and arrows shot at the prime target of the arbiters of progressivist relativism, the Catholic Church here.

They, of course, do not mind people being Catholic as long as it is fully admitted that the Catholic Church is merely one human institution among the many (it isn't), and that they are and ever shall be the true setters of the terms of public discourse and value (they aren't).

May all the accusers and other lost sheep be given the grace to wind their way this Advent and Christmas to the loving arms of Mother Church.

Or, better yet, become part of the growing number of Catholic engaged in prayer for the renewal, unity, and spread of Christendom, the restoration of all families, and support of our Holy Father in Marian chivalry.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Nativity - Film

While pal Frank over at YIMC lauds the highly-laudable Sound of Music, and rightly so, I recommend a faithfully-told and moving portrayal of the events of our Lady and St Joseph's lives leading up to and including The Nativity.

From a cunning and deadly King Herod to hand-wringing parents of Mary, St Anne and St Joachim, the film depicts the way that Providence works in the warp and weft of the human tapestry of history, always allowing for God's interjection of grace at key moments.

This film will warm, bolster, and prepare you in an exceptional way for the coming of the Christ Child.