Saturday, December 02, 2006
And so am I.
Advent hasn't even started yet, but Advent, which starts tomorrow, is just part of the preparation for Christmas. I am not one to willfully neglect spiritual preparation for His coming at Christmas.
But let's face it, spiritual preparation for Christmas really means taking a couple of hours to make a good examination of conscience, and getting into a confessional just late enough to be in a state of grace, or something close to it, in time to be housled at Christmas. Everything John the Baptist said can be translated into "Understand your sins, have remorse for them, repent of them, make a good confession, do your penance, and amend your life." That and you do have to take time to reflect on the mysteries of the Faith including the Virgin birth, and the fulfillment of the Prophets in that stable in Bethlehem. That really doesn't take 28 days (or 22 this year, as Advent is very short). But the important thing is to use the season of Advent as a reminder to do that.
The physical preparations for Christmas are much more exacting and need to be spaced out over a month or so. I greatly relish the social aspects of Christmas, as traditionally observed. I love decorating, gift-giving, baking, and cooking for Christmas. And let's face it, the family that holds all that until Christmas Eve has a heck of a lot more energy than this middle-aged rotund fellow can muster. Hold off on the tree, the presents, assembling them, filing stockings, and any holiday entertaining until Christmas Eve? Do you realize I put 3,000 little mini lights on my tree? It takes me a whole day to just do that! Let alone the other decorations! I have to take it in stages. Do they realize that I bake 6 or more dozen of a half dozen different Christmas cookies? That takes a half dozen weeknights.
No, I get a head start on Christmas, and always have. I used to, as a kid, play my parents' Christmas records starting in November. The Harry Simeone Chorale's Little Drummer Boy, and two Perry Como albums were the staples. When a college and law student, I used to spend one weekday early in the first semester exam period (around the 8th or so) doing nothing but going from store to store with my lists, and buying and wrapping gifts. It is a testimony to my then-youthful vigor that I used to get all that done in just one day. And I was buying for 7 people and a dog. Plus a few little tidbits for moi. I still like to plan out my decorating scedule and gift-buying and baking schedule, and even my Christmas special-watching schedule well in advance, now that I don't depend on the networks buy watch what I want on video (this January, I will be 9 years free of network programming!).
Without further ado, here is a fun meme about how you celebrate Christmas.
Courtesy of Ginny:
WELCOME TO THE CHRISTMAS EDITION OF GETTING TO KNOW YOUR FRIENDS.
CHANGE ALL THE ANSWERS SO THAT THEY APPLY TO YOU.
1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? Eggnog. Both the dairy eggnog and the Captain Morgan-rich adult version.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? he wraps 'em and doesn't assemble a thing.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Multi-colored, in vast numbers on the tree. I like multi, with big C9 or C7 bulbs in the trees around the house, and white around the front door and on the railing, and bushes around the front.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? I love mistletoe but I can't seem to find any this year, if anyone can please let me know? The "preserved" mistletoe in the plastic bag is so dreary looking. Walgreen's used to sell silk "mistletoe" balls that looked ok, but they are not selling them this year. So my mistletoe source has dried up.
5. When do you put your decorations up? I like to do that in stages. I prefer the tree to go up around the 16th. Outside lights can go up earlier, to take advantage of the nicer weather, ditto wreaths. The tree is usually the last thing to go up, and the other inside decorations go up in between the first things (garland around doors and on banisters) and the last, the tree. The creche is the most important, and that can go up early, so long as the Baby Jesus is kept out until Christmas Eve.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, mashed spuds, and my spicy gravy, with Onion Soup as a starter.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Christmas Eve waiting for Santa.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What truth about Santa? What are you trying to say here?
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. One. The rest on Christmas morning.
10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? Sugar cookies with lots of nutmeg, and Lebkucken, most frequently.
11. Snow! Love it or hate it? hate it. I have two bad knees. I've dislocated them a total of 7 times, 6 of which occurred because of slipping on ice or snow.
12. Can you ice skate? Only went once when I was 9. And with my knees the way they are, things like tennis, skating, and skiiing are right out.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My dog Flash when I was 3.
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays to you? The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Mince Pie. And Fruitcake
16. Favorite Holiday tradition? Baking and decorating
17. What tops your tree? An angel.
18. Which do you prefer--GIVING OR RECEIVING? Giving, especially to my dearest.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? I have several. The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships (which I have been whistling for weeks now) Good King Wenceslaus, God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen, Deck the Halls, The Boar's Head Carol, The Coventry Carol, The Sussex Carol, The Wexford Carol, The Sans Day Carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Past Three-O-Clock, Ding Dong Merrily On High, The Gloucestershire Wassail, The Wassail Song, among others.
20. Candy Canes? Love them, especially in hot cocoa.
Friday, December 01, 2006
The Catholic Encyclopedia Has this on the heroic martyered priest.
And Wikipedia has this.
Here is the text of Campion's Brag, his defense of the Faith against the English protestant establishment.
To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council:
Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.
Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.
i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.
ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.
iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.
iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.
v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.
vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.
vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.
viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness' Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.
ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.
Important feasts celebrated during December include:
1st St. Edmund Campion
3rd St. Francis Xavier
4th St. Barbara
6th St. Nicholas
7th St. Ambrose
8th Immaculate Conception
9th Ven. Fulton Sheen
12th Our Lady of Guadalupe
13th St. Lucy
16th St. Adelaide
21st St. Peter Canisius
22nd St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
23rd St. John Cantius
24th Christmas Eve and Adam & Eve
26th St. Stephen
27th St. John the Apostle
28th Holy Innocents
29th St. Thomas a Becket
December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady.
The Immaculate Conception on December 8th and Christmas on December 25th are Holy Days of Obligation.
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI's prayer intentions for December, 2006 are:
That Christ, meek and humble of heart, may inspire those responsible for nations to use power wisely and responsibly.
That in every part of the world missionaries may live out their vocation with joy and enthusiasm, faithfully following in Christ's footsteps.
The First Friday of the month is December 1st.
The First Saturday of the month is December 2nd.
Important novenas commonly said during the month include the Advent Novena I (Nov. 30th-Dec. 24th), Advent Novena II (Dec. 16th-Dec. 24th), and the Epiphany Novena (Dec 28-January 5th).
The O Antiphons of Advent are integrated into evening prayer beginning December 16th.
The Season of Advent begins on Sunday December 3rd, and continues until the 24th, when it is succeeded by the Season of Christmas.
The Advent Embertide is the week of Gaudete Sunday. Ember Wednesday is December 20th, Ember Friday is December 22nd, and Ember Saturday is December 23rd.
December 31st is New Year's Eve in the secular calendar.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Because of my re-enacting experience, I am either a member of, or have been a guest of, the messes of regiments of all four major ethnic groups of the British Isles. I have dined with the Royal Welch Fusileers (23rd Regiment of Foot) officers' mess on March 1st, with the Friendly Brothers of Saint Patrick on March 17th, with the officers' mess of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment, or 42nd Regiment of Foot) on November 30th, and with the Loyal and Friendly Society of the Blue and Orange on April 23rd.
These evenings are convivial occasions, with a formal dinner, many, many toasts, and seemingly eccentric regimental customs. You would not want to drive yourself home after one of these dinners. Re-enactor officers are just being true to the characters they portray in these celebrations. But 18th century officers could not be pulled over for DUI.
John Peebles, an officer of the grenadier company of the 42nd Regiment celebrated St. Andrew's Night thus in his New York-area garrison in 1779:
Went to town to celebrate the day with his Ex (he mounted a round blue device with a white Saint Andrew's cross in his regulation highland bonnet-GTF): where the field offs. & Capts. of the 42nd. were invited, the Adml. there the offrs. of the Royal Highland emigrants & some others, about 24 in all. Major Small personated the Saint who gave very good toasts & apropos for the occasion. The Adml. very chatty & entertaining. Major Hay sang some good songs & spouted a prologue very well. A good dinner & drink till 10 o'clock. A numerous party of the Sons of St. Andw. din'd at Hick's above 60, among whom were the subs. (subalterns: lieutenants and ensigns- GTF) of the 42d. Exchanged a complit. & some of our Compy. join'd them after we broke up, & made a night of it.
John Peebles'American War 1776-1782, edited by Ira Gruber, 1997.
I wish my Scottish friends of the 42nd, 71st, 74th, and 84th Regiments of Foot a happy Saint Andrew's Day, with much enjoyment of haggis and that amber-coloured beverage distilled in the Highlands.
The Black Watch drilling at street firing.
Today, the Church celebrates Saint Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, and Apostle of the Lord.
Andrew was a fisherman from Capharnaum. He was with John the Baptist at the time of the baptism of the Lord, and followed Him from that time, later bringing Peter into the fold of the apostolic college. It was Andrew who reported the state of the food supply to the Lord before the feeding of the five thousand. But ortherwise, he appears to have faded into the apostolic group.
Andrew exercised his ministry in the region of the Black Sea, and was crucified on an "X" form crucifix at Patras in Achaia. He is the patron of fishermen and fishmongers, as well as patron of Scotland.
The St. Andrew's Novena (also called the Christmas Anticipation Novena) begins today, and runs through Christmas Eve.
“Hail and blessed
be the hour and the moment
when the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
in a stable,
in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe,
O my God,
to hear my prayer
and grant my desires,
through the merits
of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds like this one can go on a short list of very good Catholic movies from recent years, along with The Passion of the Christ, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Therese.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I remember eating these with great relish when I was a kid. And I haven't seen them in the supermarkets in an age. It must be since Purity Supreme went out of business a decade or more ago. I love raisins (a clue to my fondness for mincemeat and Christmas fruitcake and plum pudding, eh?).
Monday, November 27, 2006
Holy Trinity Parish To Merge with Cathedral of the Holy Cross
BOSTON – November 26 – Saying, "It is the Cardinal's view, and my
personal view, that the mission of this beautiful church is over,"
Father Mark O'Connell announced this afternoon Cardinal Sean P.
O'Malley's plan to merge Holy Trinity Parish in Boston's South End
with the nearby Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The merger means that the money and records "stay here," according to
Father O'Connell, instead of becoming assets of the Archdiocese. The
fate of the parishioners of Holy Trinity will be as follows:
The Latin Mass will be moved to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in
Newton Upper Falls. Father O'Connell will inform parishioners there
of the plan when he announces the Cardinal's proposal for
reconfiguration in Newton tonight at 7:15 PM at St. Philip Neri
Church on Beacon Street in Waban. According to a published report in
the Newton Tab, St. Philip Neri and Mary Immaculate of Lourdes will
merge, with the latter being the surviving church building. The
Korean Catholic Community, which is part of St. Philip Neri, is also
expected to join Mary Immaculate. Father O'Connell also announced to
Holy Trinity parishioners that Father Charles J. Higgins will be
named as pastor of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. Currently stationed
at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury, Father Higgins
celebrates the Latin High Mass each month and, because of his
personal interest in traditional liturgy and spirituality, is
extremely popular with Latin Mass parishioners.
Father Harry Kaufman will become the chaplain of the German
parishioners, replacing the church building as the anchor of the
German Catholic community. Father Kauffman is popular with the
German parishioners because he was a member of the community before
his ordination to the priesthood in 2002. He is a Parochial Vicar at
Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth.
The two social service agencies hosted by Holy Trinity, the Cardinal
Medeiros Center for homeless older adults and the Bridge Over
Troubled Waters residence for at-risk youth, will still be expected
to move. Bridge will "stay put" until they find a new home. The
Archdiocese plans to assist the Cardinal Medeiros Center with a
proposed move to Our Lady of Victories Church on Isabella Street in
the South End.
The church building of Holy Trinity will return to the Cathedral; it
will be the responsibility of the rector of the Cathedral to decide
what to do with the church.
Father O'Connell noted that the plan is what Cardinal O'Malley wants
to do but is not a final decision. While Father O'Connell gave no
timeline for implementation of the plan, he noted that, if the plan
goes forward as announced, the Latin Mass would be the first to leave
Holy Trinity, early in 2007.
The hour-long presentation was followed by another hour of questions
and commentary from parishioners, who, while calm and respectful,
generally opposed the plan. A closing statement by George Krim, the
80-year-old Music Director Emeritus and a parishioner since the age
of 4, may well summarize their thoughts. "Go back to the Cardinal
and tweak his plan. There's a fervor here, unique in the
Archdiocese, of two communities who work so well together. Do NOT
let him separate the communities. What advantage is it to the
Archdiocese, or to the communities here, to close Holy Trinity?"
Founded in 1844 to meet the pastoral needs of German worshippers,
Holy Trinity Church is the Archdiocese's oldest ethnic parish. For
161 years it has cherished and preserved German Catholic traditions
both for new immigrants and for their descendants. It is the only
German Catholic parish in New England's eleven Catholic dioceses. In
1990 it expanded its role by embracing the Archdiocese's only
authorized traditional Latin Mass. The combination of these two very
compatible traditions has produced a faith community that is much
stronger than the sum of its parts. The parish has also demonstrated
its commitment to ongoing Christian charity by willingly sharing its
facilities with two social service agencies: the Cardinal Medeiros
Center day shelter for the homeless and the Bridge Over Troubled
Waters residence for at-risk youth.
On the whole, I don't like the idea, though I need to hear about the parking issue, the interior of the new church (they do have some nice stained glass), and how the Latin Mass community will fit in: will we have EEMs, and altar girls, and a Novus Ordo communion table, a non-traditional CCD program, and host-parish music ministry thrust down our throats? Is there a Communion Rail, and a real, operative High Altar with the Tabernacle? How are things going to work with a Korean community? Getting Father Higgins as pastor is a real plus. It shows that the Archdiocese did a little thinking here and tried to address some concerns (including having a pastor inimical to the Latin Mass, which Father Higgins clearly is not). But I would hate to see Holy Trinity closed for any reason. The Latin and German communities have worked well together for almost 20 years, and I don't think they should be seperated. But I must admit, on the face of it, it looks better than the St. James idea.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
But this last Sunday before Advent is also the proper time to make up Christmas Cakes and Christmas Puddings so that they can cure properly before Christmas. So the title "Stir-Up Sunday" has taken on other meanings besides the liturgical.
The recipe that follows is a modified version of Martha Washington's recipe for what she called "Great Cake," or her cake for great occasions. Her recipe calls for taking forty eggs, separating them, and beating the whites to a froth with a bundle of sticks. Well, eggs were smaller then. And the bundle of sticks has long given way to the electric mixer. Nevertheless, Martha's kitchen slaves must have had arms of steel, because this batter is by no means light or easy to work with.
If you want to try it, read the recipe through first, so that you will be sure to have everything you need.
1 pound raisins
11 oz. currants
1 cup candied orange peel
1 cup candied lemon peel
1 cup citron
1 cup of candied red cherries
1 cup of candied green cherries
good brandy (warning: this is not a recipe for those recovering from a drinking problem)
Put all the fruit into a large bowl, and cover it with the brandy. Cover the bowl, and let the fruit soak in the brandy for a couple of days. Given that it is now 4 weeks until Christmas, you can start the fruit soaking today, and make the batter and bake the cake Wednesday or Thursday night.
41/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
10 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup of cream sherry
the remainder of the bottle of cream sherry (I use Savory & James: inexpensive but tastes nice)
Once the fruit has soaked for at least 36 hours (sometimes, I let it soak for 5-6 days on the counter), sift together the flour and spices, and set it aside.
Work the butter until it is creamy, then add one cup of sugar a little at a time. Beat it until it is smooth.
Beat the egg yolks until they are thick and light. Then add 1 cup of sugar to the yolks. Add the lemon juice to the yolks after the sugar is added. Combine the yolk mixture with the butter-sugar mixture. Add the rest of the sugar.
Add the flour/spices and 1/3 cup sherry both little-by-little and alternating with each other.
Once all the flour/spices and the 1/3 cup of sherry have been added to the egg yolk/butter/sugar mixture, drain the fruit (I've never tried to drink the brandy, but I don't suppose it would do much harm), and add it also.
Now beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (don't forget to grease the tube itself). Pour the batter into the pan. Put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven, and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another hour and forty minutes. The cake is done when a knife inserted in it comes out clean.
Turn the cake out gently, and let it cool on a rack. Soak lots of cheese cloth in the rest of the sherry. Wrap the cake in the sherry-soaked cheese cloth, then put it in an airtight Rubbermaid (or other airtight plastic cake container) for three weeks.
Each week, check the cheese cloth to see if it is still moist. If it has dried out, soak it in more cream sherry, and re-apply. The longer the cake cures, the better. Just three summers ago, I found in the pantry a Christmas cake made two years before, and happily sliced it up. It was delicious. All the sugar, spice, and booze in the mix makes it almost as everlasting as the Twinkie, except it improves with age, unlike the Twinkie.