Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas...

to all who stop by, with a special thought for the old friends of this blog. Some have disappeared, but I still think of them, like Kathy of the Gospel Minefield, and Francis Mooney, and Jane Wangersky and Varenius. There are others. And I think of those who have had special crosses to bear, but don't need me to remind people of it. And then there are the dead, like Karen Marie Knapp. There are others like her, too. The rest know who you are; all your names would make too long a list. Besides, it's now 9:22 on the East coast, and I haven't wrapped a single present. I'll do it while the family's at midnight mass. I went earlier to the children's mass, during which the priest invited all the kids to sit with him at the foot of the sanctuary while he asked them questions about the meaning of Christmas, then led them in song: "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

...ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
...a song, a song, high above the trees,
with a voice as big as the sea...

Other than that, not much to say, beyond last year's touch of melancholy:

I've always been amazed (except when I wasn't) at the fact that mankind is not stricken dumb with wonder and gratitude by the gift of the Christ Child's story, that men do not lift their eyes heavenward to see that not merely the multitude, but any one among them, might be the star announcing that God is with us. The light of Bethlehem flickers ever more faintly in this miserable and faithless world. It vanished from the heavens but, if not extinguished, where did it go?

The miracle we celebrate seems such a small thing - a baby, conceived out of wedlock, born somewhere in the world to parents of straitened circumstances - yet so fills the heart it's too big for words. The poet, of the shepherds and the wise men, said

...one came from near, one from far,
One heard a song, one saw a star,
but following together found
infinity in flesh wrapped round.

Who can hear it, yet who cannot?

The melancholy lingers; it must ever be joy's companion, in this life at least. Most of you have families, I presume, people who love you, who will shower you with gifts, and with whom you will share in this mystery. On the way home from mass I saw a ragged-looking fellow at the interstate onramp, looking for a handout. It seems a good night for remembering the lonely and the lost. Just for tonight I'll let the cynic sleep, and not blame him for his own circumstances which, like the Holy Family's, seemed somewhat desperate. Maybe I'll just say a prayer engendered by the hope of the Incarnation, that something will change, that someone's misery will have an end.

All you fellow cynics out there need to remember that the image of a mother and child can change the world. It already has, else why are you celebrating that 'small' moment in Bethlehem?
----------------------

Meanwhile, Olivia sings it from the heart.

20 comments:

Jeff Culbreath said...

Well said, as always. Merry Christmas, Bill.

Elena said...

Merry Christmas Mr. Luse!

Francis said...

Merry Christmas, Bill, and thank you for this reflection. As for the prayer request that you posted, my words are inadequate. You always give more than you receive, give more even than you promise. My words failing, I take refuge in the Word, and hope that His joy and peace will fill your heart on this blessed day and throughout the year.
Warm regards, Francis

Lydia McGrew said...

A very, very Merry Christmas, Bill. I'm looking forward to going to the link. You pick good music.

Btw, one of my girls today got an illustrated Christmas book, written by Paul Maier (who teaches at my husband's university, btw), and with paintings that showed the baby Jesus as a newborn! Just like I was talking about and wishing somebody would do. I forget the name of the artist--Francisco, I think, was his last name.

William Luse said...

Thanks to you guys for taking the time to stop by on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to all of you and your beautiful families. At least a couple of you need no reminder to be fruitful and multiply. A comment from Francis is like a drink of fresh water, even when he praises me beyond all justice. And Lydia's right, the newer born He appears the better, fresh from the womb, born of a woman and like us in all save sin. We can speak today with eloquence and conviction of the 'sanctity of life' because Christ was conceived a man.

Ellyn said...

Merry Christmas!

William Luse said...

You're one of those old friends I was talking about. Same to you.

TS said...

Ol' Gospel Minefield...*sigh*. Good of you to remember. I should remember to pray for her now and then.

Willliam Luse said...

Yeah, even after all this time she's still missed.

alicia said...

ditto the above.
I have been so very busy lately but I miss my virtual community
We had a lovely Christmas and I am hoping for a wonderful New Year. Easter comes very early this year...get ready for Lent!
Who else is glad that this year at least, the Feast of the Epiphany will actually be celebrated on January 6>

William Luse said...

Yes, I can tell you've been busy. As to those Feasts, I'm just glad we have them, but if it will be better on the 6th I'm in favor of that too. I tend to take the word 'feast' literally, which I probably shouldn't.

Lydia McGrew said...

This has to be some Catholic liturgical-year thing I'm not getting. What does it mean to say that _this year_, at least, Epiphany will be celebrated on Jan. 6? What's different about this year? Why wouldn't Epiphany be celebrated on Jan. 6?

William Luse said...

You're asking the wrong guy (because it's probably "some Catholic liturgical-year thing"). I just wait for my wife to tell me when I'm supposed to show up.

With any luck, one of my more knowledgable readers will answer your question.

TS said...

I'm guessing it'll take a epiphany for someone to come up with the reason the Ephiphany wouldn't be on Jan 6th.

dylan said...

Dec. 25th : Christmas

Sunday after Christmas : Feast of the Holy Family

Sunday after that : the Epiphany

=========

For several years now (since the '80s?), it's been the custom in the Catholic Church in the USA to celebrate the Epiphany on the Sunday nearest to Jan. 6th. I don't know if other countries do this. I think it may have been a decision of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved by Rome. I guess the reasoning is that few people would bother to go to Mass on the 6th unless it falls on a Sunday, so they want to get as many people celebrating the Epiphany as possible.

Lydia McGrew said...

When I saw the new Ordo Kalendar (why do they spell it with a k?) put out by my denomination just today, I decided it must be that--that Jan. 6 is a Sunday.

Btw, can y'all believe how early Easter is this year? I never remember its being this early. March 25 doesn't even fall in Lent. I thought it always fell in Lent. So the Ordo Kalendar I was looking at has no Feast of the Annunciation, which is weird. It's the Tuesday or Wednesday or something after Easter!

TS said...

that Jan. 6 is a Sunday

Yep, that's what I told Bill too.

TS said...

new Ordo Kalendar (why do they spell it with a k?)

Now that's a real stumper.

William Luse said...

Eminent good sense from Dylan. It'll never do to underestimate him.

An early Easter, huh? It won't interfere with the Masters, will it?

why do they spell it with a k?
Find out who "they" is and you'll probably have your answer.

William Luse said...

TS, I forgot to thank you for letting William of Apologia into Spanning the Globe.