Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
Bad move. He won't win the GOP nomination. He could have been re-elected governor. And he is handing the entire governing apparatus of Massachusetts over to the most liberal nest of socialist vipers this side of Castro's cabinet. Bad for Mitt. And very bad for the people of Massachusetts.
By the way, he is leaving without doing a thing to rebuild a Republican Party in Massachusetts. It just isn't here. Weld made the same mistake after 1990. In fact, while we have had Republican governors since 1991, the party in the legislature has declined to such an extent that they can hold their caucus meetings comfortably in a broom closet. In the House, there are 155 seats, of which 18 are held by Republicans. In the Senate, there are only 6 Republicans in the 40 seats. All of the congressional delegation is Democrat, as are all the constitutional office-holders other than the governor. And below that, at the city council, selectmen, town meeting, school committee level in every city and town, the numbers are just as bad. Mitt's leaving is nothing less than handing the whole thing over to the Socialists.
People in Massachusetts don't necessarily like having the Democrats in complete control. We found out with Dukakis what a bad thing that can be for the state. That is why we have been electing Republican governors for 16 years. So, if a Republican with stature and name recognition, maybe a sports hero, or a war hero were to run, he might win. It worked for Mitt, who had only run as sacrificial lamb against Ted Kennedy once, and had no history of holding elective office. His claim to fame was straightening out the Olympics mess and running successful businesses. But I don't see anyone out there. The last Boston sports legend who flirted with running for office as a Republican was Dave Cowens, a long time ago.
Since I am totally at sea with regard to such things, I would be a mark for every contractor on the make. And I would have to call one in for everything beyond changing lightbulbs. The car thing is bad enough. Any mechanic could tell me I need a new disgronificator, and I'd have to reluctantly shell out the $500 he wants.
On December 16th, 1944, three German armies began an offensive along the Western Front, under cover of low clouds and fog. The Germans threw some 600 tanks into the attack, and aimed them at 3 American divisions (one veteran divison badly in need of rest and replacements after months of fighting, and 2 brand new, untried units) holding a quiet sector of the line in the Ardennes.
The German objective was ambitious, perhaps too ambitious given the resources available to them. The wooded Ardennes was to be crossed, pushing aside the American resistance, the River Meuse was to be crossed in the vicinity of Dinant, where the Germans had broken through in 1940, and the port of Antwerp was to be reached. If they got there, they would cut the Allied line in two, probably driving the Brits int he north into the sea. Taking Antwerp would also disrupt Allied logistical arrangements, as they were using the port to bring in supplies.
German secrecy had been impressive. Planning for the offensive began in September. Reserves of manpower, fuel, ammunition, and armored vehicles were carefully husbanded for it. All orders concerning the attack had been banned from radio traffic, and were delivered by hand of officer only.
The result was that the Allies were caught by surprise, since almost everyone thought the Wehrmacht was finished and that the war would soon be over. Eisenhower and Montgomery had a well-publicized 5 Pound bet on whether it would end by Christmas or not. Patton was due to begin an offensive south of the area the Germans attacked in a few days. Many senior officers were on leave, and the General Bradley had only the two American Airborne Divisions, the 82nd and 101st, in reserve, and both were refitting after having been committed too long to the fighting in Holland in September and October.
The Allies had been able to completely thwart all Geman efforts at an armored offensive, in large part because, with unchallenged air supremacy, Allied planes swooped down on attacking German formations with machine guns, bombs, and rockets, and took a heavy toll on German tanks, supply columns, and massed troops.
But the low clouds and fog meant (in 1944) that virtually no Allied planes were flying.
The Germans managed to penetrate the Allied line, though a stiff shoulder on the northern flank of the attack around Elsenborn Ridge and the villages of Krinklet and Rocherath held up progress. To the south, there was less in the way of natural lines of resistance, though a mixture of American units were holding a vital crossroads at Bastonge. Thus the German gains looked like a large "bulge" in the Allied line.
Bradley reacted slowly, but decisively. Patton was ordered to call off his offensive in the Saar, and get his units on the move north to drive into the German gains from the south. The 82nd Airborne was sent to help stiffen resistence around Elsenborn Ridge, and the 101st was committed to hold Bastonge. Montgomery ordered British units to backstop the Americans, holding a line on the far bank of the River Meuse.
The fighting around Bastonge, with the 101st going in virtually unarmed, and scrounging ammunition from the dead and wounded, and holding for more than a week (in fact, they moved very little in over a month of fighting), the pompous German demand for surrender, and the response from the acting diviisonal commander, Brig. McAuliffe, "Nuts!" is the stuff of which legends are made.
With Patton driving up from the south towards Bastonge, and every man who could carry a gun being scrapped out of billets behind the lines and made into combat infantry replacements, with the clearing of the skies for the Allied air forces shortly before Christmas, the tide turned against the Germans. The 2nd US Armored Division, with a lot of help from close air support from the Army Air Corps, stopped the German 2nd Panzer Division in the vicinity of Celles, a few miles from the Meuse.
It took a month of very hard fighting, some of it in deep snow (though on December 16th, based on many photographs I have examined, the weather appears to have been raw with rain and fog, but no snow over most of the sector) before the Germans were made to slowly give back every square inch they gained in the first 5 days of the offensive.
What was the significance of the Battle of the Bulge?
It shortened the war considerably, since in using up his reserves in this attack, Hitler wasted an opportunity to use them to blunt the Russian winter offensive that carried them onto German soil, and eventually to Berlin itself. It turned the American soldiers, most of whom had had a relatively easy war since breaking out of Normandy, into first-rate soldiers, who met Hitler's best, and stopped them. And it showed, yet again, the importance of air power in modern warfare. The lack of air power allowed the Germans to make an impressive advance, and when that ability to utilize airpower was restored, the German gains were reversed.
REMNANT COLUMNIST, Massachusetts
December 15, 2005
(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) The hour is near. Unless there is some
kind of dramatic intervention from on high (however that may be
interpreted) Holy Trinity church in the South End of Boston is soon
to be eradicated. Should this German Gothic structure fall to the
bulldozers and wrecking balls of developers, it will symbolize yet
another step in the thoroughgoing moral disintegration in what was
once America's most spectacularly Catholic archdiocese. Cursed with
a string of abysmal prelates since the death of O'Connell in the
1940s, the Catholic population in Boston and in Massachusetts at
large is as degraded as any in the world. State and local
politicians, and those sent to the U.S. House and Senate, are among
the most virulently hateful anti-Catholics in the nation,
interminably returned to office by a constituency
overwhelmingly "Catholic." This Catholic state is already Mecca for
sexual predators. Now, as I write, some in the legislature are
promoting bestiality. When you've gone as low as you can go, it's
time to dig a sub-basement.
Masses at many parishes are a stew of witchcraft, obsequious
apologies, and "gay" agitprop. The small pro-life community is
routinely subjected to police brutality but the prelates remain
silent. Churches are routinely vandalized and desecrated but the
prelates remain silent. It cannot be said that the bishops are
entirely out of action, however. Archbishop Sean O'Malley did put
together a stellar coalition of the state's bishops to fight the
homosexual "marriage" fiat. Too bad the whole thing unraveled when
one of the aforementioned shepherds was screamed out of the closet by
two of his "alleged" victims.
In this cauldron of dross there is a fleck of gold. Holy Trinity, as
many Traditionalists know, is the one parish in the archdiocese which
is officially allowed the Latin Mass. For the past fifteen years, a
devoted cadre of parishioners has kept the church going as a beacon
of God's light in the vast wasteland that is the archdiocese. It is
entirely fitting that this structure is the last stronghold of
traditional Catholicism in Boston.
Holy Trinity parish was originally formed in the 1840s to serve the
small community of German Catholics in the area and for many years
had a troubled history, which included bankruptcy and factional
squabbles. By the second half of the 19th century, the Jesuits were
in charge and the extant building was completed in 1877 at great cost
to, and sacrifice by, the parishioners and the priests of the Society
When Catholics first worshipped at this church, Pio Nono was still on
the throne of Peter after thirty-one years of being savaged by
successive waves of anti-clerical European regimes and rebels. Pius'
camerlengo, Gioacchino Pecci, would soon succeed him as Leo XIII.
The year that Holy Trinity opened its doors, John Boyle O'Reilly was
occupied composing poetry and editing the Pilot, an Irish newspaper,
not yet the official organ of the archdiocese. At the same time,
William Henry O'Connell, the indefatigable, imperious future cardinal
was just entering Boston College, then located in the South End near
the parish. In 1877, the "Boston Strong Boy," John L. Sullivan, was
still five years from becoming the heavyweight champion of the world
and neither the Red Sox nor Fenway Park yet existed.
When Mass was first said at Holy Trinity, Rutherford B. Hayes was
president, winner of one of the most dubious elections in American
history, and the Civil War was still a recent memory. The Spanish
American War, World Wars I and II, and all of the others were
cataclysms yet to happen. At the church, generations of Catholics
celebrated the rituals of the Faith as they passed through this
mortal coil. How many children have been baptized at its font? How
many brides have shed happy tears at its altar? How many of the
faithful have shed tears of anguish there, before the casket of one
of their own?
Today, after 128 years, the church is on the archbishop's hit list of
parishes to be closed to pay off the whopping settlement incurred by
decades of child molestation cases. A gang of homosexual predator-
priests did this, they and the bishops who protected, enabled, and
empowered them. When the cesspool finally overflowed a few years
ago, Bernard Law was rewarded with a sinecure in Rome and John Paul
moved Sean O'Malley, formerly of the Fall River and Palm Beach
dioceses, to Boston. In many quarters there was relief that the
reviled Law was gone, but there was also a hope that O'Malley would
go to work cleaning up the effluence. This has not happened and he
has spent his time converting churches to ready cash. Though a few
of the predator priests are either in jail or dead, the Augean
Stables that are the Archdiocese of Boston have yet to be cleansed,
and O'Malley is anything but a Hercules.
In a sane Church, Holy Trinity would not be a parish slated for
closing, since the Latin Masses are well-attended and the
parishioners enthusiastic. But real estate in downtown Boston is
phenomenally expensive and even though Holy Trinity is in an Asian
neighborhood, the property it sits on is likely to fetch an
exorbitant amount, presumably millions of dollars. A few hundred
Latin Mass devotees and a handful of German-Americans are nothing
compared to that payday.
Now, I have a dog in this fight, and it concerns the old Company of
Jesus boys. For some years, I've spent a lot of hours with books
written by and about the Jesuits. Because anti-Catholics have always
hated them passionately, I had a predisposition to admire them. For
centuries, the Jesuits were the "Can-Do" men of the Church; men, not
gods, but men who steeled themselves for any miserable task; men who
lived to endure.
A few years ago, I was hunting at a library book sale. Whether books
are face up or spine up, it's easy to find what I'm looking for. Any
volume with S.J. after the author's name gets snatched, though most
of the stuff published after 1960 gets tossed back.
One little book I found was about Kateri Tekakwitha, written by F.X.
Weiser, S.J. At the time I knew nothing about him but a former owner
had thoughtfully left a 1986 obituary clipping in the book. It
indicated that he was an Austrian who had come to America at the
beginning of World War II and spent the rest of his life in pastoral
work and academia. He sounded interesting and I thought I'd look into
him someday. Father Weiser had also signed the book, and, for me,
autographed books have an aura. The man himself had this copy in his
hands, and a good book represents the heart and soul of the guy who
squeezed out every word. When you find an autographed book the
author is talking to you, even if he's long dead. Subsequently I
picked up two more of his books, one concerning the traditions of
Christmas and the other on Holydays. Regarding them, it is evident
Weiser loved what he was doing and loved the Church. The books are
Last spring, the president of the Holy Name Society at Holy Trinity
asked me to speak at the Society's lecture series, provided, of
course, that the doors were still open in September. As fate would
have it, the lecture series is named in honor of that selfsame Fr.
Francis X. Weiser, S.J., who was Holy Trinity's pastor in the 1940s.
If the church was still alive in the fall, and I was, I'd be there.
Sunday, September 18 was a beautiful day in Boston, sunny and windy.
The president of the Holy Name Society and I strolled around the
church prior to the noon High Mass, admiring the artwork and
discussing the imminent closing. Many Traditionalists from all over
the country have come to Holy Trinity as to a shrine, and for good
reason. The church remains a Catholic church, not a Puritan meeting
house or converted Seven-Eleven. The Novus Ordo crowd can keep their
ersatz "worship spaces." This is the real thing. The honest-to-
goodness altar appears to be marble but is actually intricately
carved wood that has been colored white. The stained glass windows
and massive Stations of the Cross are predictably wonderful. And
Lord, what a collection of statues! Larger than life-size figures of
Jesus and Mary flank the main altar as St. Joseph, not to be
neglected, stands watch over a side altar.
It is everywhere evident who the caretakers of this church were.
Here, a statue of Ignatius; there, one of his lieutenant, Francis
Xavier. Abutting the ceiling, in twin rows of alcoves in the nave,
are paintings of the pair, joined by some of the other heroes of the
long black line. Depicted are Peter Claver, the "Slave of the
slaves"; the fantastic General, Francis Borgia; the humble porter
Alphonsus Rodriguez; Robert Bellarmine, hero of the Catholic
Reformation who had "no equal for learning"; Peter Canisius, "Second
apostle to Germany," entirely appropriate considering the Church's
history, and the three who died too young, Aloysius, Stanislaus, and
John Berchmans, who nevertheless get to mingle amongst the greybeards
through eternity. It's not the Sistine Chapel, but some artist
worked his craft on scaffolding, putting those images on high so that
the Jesuits could look down in perpetuity and watch the people at
Mass. Oh, yes, it's very clear who tended to this church for many
The Jesuits left Holy Trinity in 1961, though of course there is
still a Jesuit presence in town, at Boston College. But to compare
the modernist Jesuits to the iron men of the past is to liken chopped
liver to filet mignon. At B.C., the aged apostles of liberation
theology soldier on, espousing just about every conceivable
immorality. Have you heard the latest? The war of "gay" "rights" is
consonant with Ignatius' concept of "social justice." I prefer to
think that Ignatius will shish kebab these blasphemers with his G.I.
sword on the other side. Certainly there are a few good men left in
the order but they're not the ones calling the shots or getting their
names in the papers. The showboats are the characters cheering for
euthanasia and abortion, and that's just for starters.
Back at Holy Trinity, the Mass I attended was reverently conducted by
an intense diocesan priest. The atmosphere in the sacristy prior to
the Mass was electric. Some of the team vested the priest, others
prepared the censers and torches. During the Mass, smoke and pungent
incense wafted through the church. The priest knew why he was there.
He was not a clown or an emcee. He didn't crack jokes, try to
be "mod," or appeal to the children. Instead, he offered the
sacrifice of the Mass in a language which the Church found perfectly
acceptable for more than a millennium, and in a manner which those
men on the ceiling loved well.
After the Mass, I was to speak in the lower church. I had something
up my sleeve that I wanted to spring on the parish. A few months
before, I had asked Father McLucas at The Latin Mass if he was
interested in an article on the history of the church. He gave me
the green light and I finally got to do a little research, not just
on the church, but on Father Weiser, who had been with me since I
discovered his books. The issue of The Latin Mass came out only a
few days before I was to speak and the people at the Keep the Faith
office rushed a big box of copies so that I could give them to the
parishioners. One woman, near tears, thanked me for writing a
tribute to the church. Another lady thought that the article would
spur action, because, she assured me, the magazine is "read in Rome."
Read in Rome. Does anyone actually believe that Rome would stir
itself to save an historical church on the chopping block? Then I
allowed myself a flight of fancy. Why not? What if the Bavarian
wearing the fisherman's ring somehow heard the story of Holy Trinity
and decided to do right by these people? After all, the church was
founded by German immigrants and he likes to talk about a "re-
evangelization" of the West. Where better to begin than at the last,
beleaguered garrison in a once-Catholic city, now crawling with pagan
barbarians? If only he would hop a jet (surely his passport is in
order) and show up at the old fortress, perhaps to deliver a sermon
explaining that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman,
not a hook-up between a man and a man, a man and a boy, or a man and
a twenty-mule team. He might even exhort the Catholics of the city
to get up on their hind legs, act like Catholics again, and oust
their rulers who hate both them and God. On his way back to the
airport he might even suggest to O'Malley that the parish be kept
open and, presumably, the archbishop would get the message.
This would be an eminently realizable miracle. But it isn't going to
happen. The current pope appears content to follow his predecessor's
policy of appeasing those who reject the Lord, even as Catholics
striving to live the Gospel suffer endlessly. And while mitered
(Kasper) milquetoasts celebrate forty years of Nostra Aetate, the
Church's enemies celebrate forty years of Catholic cowardice and
decay. As for O'Malley, he, unfortunately, shares some of the
characteristics of his unlamented predecessor. It must be said that
taking over the morally bankrupt archdiocese in the wake of Law's
regime would have been a daunting task for even a very strong man.
What Boston Catholics needed, desperately, was a man of courage who
would first clean out St. John's Seminary, then correct the abuses in
the parishes by ejecting every priest engaged in sexual activities
with anyone or anything. Such a man of scruple would be pilloried by
every malignant bigot both without and within the Church. The only
folks he'd have with him are the minority of Catholics sick in the
gut over the way things are, and have been for decades.
O'Malley's "promotion" to Boston is a dreary continuation of what
went on before. He has been repeatedly humiliated by Mayor
Thomas "Mumbles" Menino; yet another "Catholic" politician with a
vicious animus toward the Church. Menino's career has been built
upon adoration of homosexuals and abortion and aggression against
orthodox Catholics, a sure-fire combination for political success in
Massachusetts. O'Malley has consistently failed to stand up to
Menino and to defend Catholics against his and other politicians'
attacks on the Faith. Just recently O'Malley was scheduled to appear
at a Catholic Charities party honoring this creature, before the
attendant publicity shamed him into withdrawing from the event. The
perversely misnamed Catholic Charities group are the very ones who
adopt children to homosexuals. Such is what passes for good works in
In other matters, O'Malley appears insensible. His reaction to the
enrollment difficulties in diocesan schools indicates a man out of
touch with reality. He has claimed that Catholic schools were begun
because of pervasive anti-Catholicism but since that does not exist
anymore, the schools must find another mission. If O'Malley is
sincerely unaware of the boiling hatred in this society of everything
genuinely Catholic, he is beyond reason.
One of the causes, by the way, of the vacant schools was O'Malley's
implementation of the controversial "Talking about Touching" program
in 2003. When disgusted parents sought to have their children opt
out of that, they were told by the archdiocese's priest-spokesman
that, if they didn't like it, they weren't forced to send their
children to Catholic schools. In other words, shut up about the
filth or get your kids out. Not much Christian charity there. Is it
any wonder that the schools are dying?
The parochial schools could perhaps benefit from an infusion of
decency and Catholic teaching, but those concepts are not even on the
table. O'Malley chose instead to bring in money men from that
university on Chestnut Hill. These financial wizards are planning
to "Boston College" the schools by filling them with non-Catholics.
And so, adieu to the Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Now it may seem that I have digressed from the sad story of Holy
Trinity's closing, but not so. The eradication of that lovely and
beloved church and the pathetic condition of the institutional Church
in Boston are of the same cloth. There seems to be no legitimate
reason to close and sell the church. The Novus Ordo Masses are not
the draw, but the Latin Masses pack the pews. As heretofore noted,
the church has a devoted parish community. Worshippers drive from
all over the state, and from as far away as Maine to hear the Latin
Mass. Even now, with the archbishop threatening to padlock the
doors, the parish continues to present cultural events, including
concerts which take advantage of the church's excellent acoustics.
Holy Trinity even has a parking lot, that rarest of commodities in
downtown Boston, and a priceless asset to an urban parish. The
bureaucrats have been characteristically obtuse, but the feeling is
that the parish will be extirpated after December 25. This, remember,
is the church credited with introducing the Christmas tree, the
Christmas card, and the Christmas pageant to America.
As I left the church on that blustery September afternoon, I glanced
back and envisioned an empty hole. Should O'Malley go through with
his plans, it won't be a pretty sight. Like abortion, the reality is
a horrific event, not the bloodless theory of its advocates. It is
possible, though improbable, that a purchaser would reuse the
building in its original form for some purpose. But because of the
structure's age, converting it to, say, apartments for the wealthy or
a barroom would probably be prohibitively expensive. It is assured
that once the building is on the market, the Archbishop will realize
a fantastic profit on its sale, though still less than true value
because he's an eager seller.
A developer planning to vomit up a concrete eyesore on the real
estate could have the site cleared in one day. A crew with crowbars
and sledgehammers would make short work of the Stations of the Cross,
while another group filled a dumpster with statues. A wrecking ball
or a giant crane can crack the exterior walls of granite and in the
process smash the stained glass windows into a million shards. When
the roof collapses, that Black Legion of Jesuit saints will go
crashing down, to be scooped up into a dump truck and hauled away
with all of the rest of the wreckage. However, the church's
destruction will not go unnoticed. It is guaranteed that the
demolition of this historic shrine will generate a great deal of
national publicity for the Archbishop.
On that day O'Malley will have killed two birds with one stone. The
sale of the church will net a hefty wad of cash but, perhaps as
importantly, the Latin Mass community will be dispersed and the
ancient rite may eventually, if not immediately, be prohibited
again. For the Vatican II hierarchy, churches like Holy Trinity and
the devout Catholics who adhere to Latin are tangible and infuriating
reminders of the way the Church once was, and, if it is to survive in
any meaningful way, must be again. Those whose rice bowl depends
upon the modernist version of the Church must fight, tooth and nail,
to prevent any more Catholics from "going back there" and so must
continue to promote the prevailing bedlam. In Boston, it's only a
matter of time before another predator scandal erupts. Whether or
not O'Malley survives the Iroquois gauntlet he'll be dragged through
is of no consequence. He'll learn, to his sorrow, that collaboration
with the Enemy avails him nothing. It will be left to whoever
replaces him, or the one after that, to do what needs to be done.
During the Roman republic, virtus, meaning manliness, was the noblest
of characteristics. The saying went that virtus ariete fortior,
virtue is stronger than a battering ram. Those of us who seek the
resurrection of the Church await an ecclesiastical champion well-
imbued with virtue to begin the job. The successful applicant must
also be in possession of a good stout backbone and a head harder than
a battering ram.
I doubt that the Archdiocese has simply given up, and is suddenly going to listen to reason, because the green-eyeshade guys are in charge there, and when the topic of Holy Trinity comes up, all they see and hear is the $3-5 million its sale should net the Archdiocese. They don't give a fig for the pastoral needs of the Latin Mass community. They just want the money. Period. And they are not friendly to the Latin Mass (some in the chancery are downright hostile) so we can't expect much beyond a duplicitous process designed to achieve one thing only, a smooth closure of Holy Trinity without too much negative publicity.
But for now, Holy Trinity worshippers should be able to get through Christmas without worrying about the Archdiocese pullling a fast one (though I would be ready with the vigil people starting January 1st). But only because they would look like real weasels if they tried to close the church before Christmas.
Christmas Novena II
O Shepherd that rulest Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
O Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, God of hosts, come, show Thy face, and we shall be saved.
Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
But most of what you here is Winter songs, like "It's a Marshmellow World" or "Winter Wonderland", or the ubiquitous "Jingle Bells". Then there is the Santa/Rudolph/Frosty cluster. Then there are the 20th Century American songs about Christmas like The Christmas Song, Silver Bells, It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.
Now I am as fond as anyone of songs about celebrating. In fact, many of my favorite Christmas songs center on the traditional joys of the season: wassail bowls, Christmas Pudding, Yule Logs, holly and ivy, feasting. But the songs I prefer are older songs, in fact some of the oldest carols. And they often make mention, at least once, of the reason for the season, the birth of Our Lord, at midnight, in a stable, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold (in the formula of the novena prayer). As a result, in this politically correct and relentlessly secular age, you won't hear these songs very often on the local Oldies station, or via the mall Muzak.
The Gloucestershire Wassail
The Boar's Head Carol
Deck the Halls
Christmas Is Comin'
Master's In This Hall
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Past Three O'Clock
Once In Royal David's City
Joy To the World
The Holly and the Ivy
The Twelve Days of Christmas
I Saw Three Ships
God King Wenceslaus
The Wassail Song
The Coventry Carol (talk about a downer!)
The Sans Day Carol
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing!
Ding Dong Merrily On High
O, Holy Night
The Sussex Carol
Good Christian Men, Rejoice!
The First Nowell
When it comes to humor, there is a little subset of songs that I enjoy.
Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown
Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake
Christmas In Killarney
Christmas In Carrick
The Twelve Pains of Christmas
By the way, the lyrics of all of these songs, and many more, are available in the files section of Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group, along with about 300 recipes, many of which are perfect for Christmas parties.
It is 10 days until Christmas. Yikes! This year is just flying by. The O Antiphons start tomorrow (Ember Friday) along with the 9-day pre-Christmas Novena that utilizes the O Antiphons.
My personal Advent preparation so far this year as been, in a word, sucky. I need to set some time aside for a good examination of conscience, probably next week, then corner a priest and subject him to an hour or so of my misdeeds. Why next week? Part of it is that "O God, make me good, but not yet" thing. And part of it is just rational understanding that my stays in the state of grace are limited, often just a few minutes or a day or two at most from the time I leave the confessional.
But today, we have a break from the deep penitential theme of the ember days. On Thursdays, we are supposed to be focused on the Blessed Sacrament. That is the primary reason why Thursday is never an ember day. So this is a good time to spend an hour (or an extra hour if you already spend one every day) before the Blessed Sacrament, and reflect on the wonder of the Word made Flesh, and that Flesh made Bread: the true Word, true Flesh, and true Bread sacrificed to remit our sins.
But I have also read that, with regard to the Novus Ordo Mass, he is an advocate of more "local inculturation." That seems like an odd juxtaposition of views: advocating more freedom for the traditional Latin Mass while being lax with regard to some of the worst abuses in the normative rite. It would be natural to expect someone in favor of more freedom for the Latin Mass to also advocate making every normative rite Mass more like the Latin original.
Perhaps I am mistaking the Archbishop for someone else. Maybe I'm just confused.
Born in Los Angeles in 1936, Archbishop-elect Niederauer was ordained in 1962 for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He received a PhD in English Literature from USC in 1966. He has worked in parishes and priestly formation. He was consecrated Bishop of Salt Lake City in 1995.
Now, if I recall correctly, Archbishop-elect Niederaurer was one of those courageous bishops who, last year, made it clear that pro-abortion politicians and judges need not come forward for Communion, unless they have made a sacramental confession and have stepped away from their pro-abortion views and voting patterns.
If I am remembering this correctly, then he is a very good pick for San Francisco: someone who knows how to stand up to an immoral culture and rebuke it.
Tue, 13 Dec 2005 17:02:25 -0500
Terry Donilon, Statement:
This past spring the Archdiocese of Boston extended the closing date
of Holy Trinity Parish to December 15, 2005.
Since that time, the Archdiocese has been in communication with
parishoners of Holy Trinity regarding their concerns and has also
been in communication with Bridge Over Troubled Waters and the
Medeiros Center, a program of Federated Dorchester Neighborhood
Holy Trinity Parish will not be closing on Dec 15th.
At this time, the Archdiocese intends to pursue further
communications with parishoners and representatives of the tenant
agencies concerning future plans.
So, now our status is totally up in the air. Only the Archdiocese knows what is going on, but my guess is that they are reluctant to toss the elderly homeless people who use the Cardinal Medieros Center during the week out into the cold during this severe winter weather. That would be very bad publicity.
Let us hope that, in the meantime, some further pronouncement from Rome dealing with the Latin Mass generally will make the Archbishop alter his basic intentions regarding Boston's indult Mass, and not only keep it at Holy Trinity, but expand its liturgical schedule and staff.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
It seems odd. But perhaps the Church's message is that, while we are making all ready for Christmas, the cooking, the baking, the shopping, the cards, the wrapping, the entertaining, the decorating, the cleaning, we ought not to forget that the purpose of Advent is to make ready the Way of the Lord. Penance, so that we may make a worthy Christmas Communion, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are the activities that embertides bring to mind.
And, at this festive season of the year, please do not forget, especially during this embertide, to spend a few minutes in prayer for those who are truly destitute and suffering immensely: the Poor Souls in Purgatory. It may well be that, among their ranks are grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, old neighbors and friends who we used to see every Christmas. Remember them now. They can do nothing for themselves. Pray for them. And they will return the gift of your prayers a thousandfold.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Favorite Christmas Reading
St. Luke's Gospel, Chapter 2
This is the Christmas story. I read it privately several times during Advent, and as part of our Christmas ritual after dinner on Christmas Eve.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens and his generation revivified Christmas. It takes a couple of hours to read through the original text. There are many fine screenplays, but take the time to read the original.
Washington Irving, The Bracebridge Hall stories
Mince pies, a whimsical squire bent on restoring ancient Christmas customs on his ancestral lands, a stranger given Christmas entertainment, a parson preaching against Cromwellian attacks on Christmas (in 1820), holly and ivy, wassail bowls, the boar's head, harp in hall, mistletoe, masquing. Young people read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. They should get to know Squire Bracebridge, and renew the acquaintance annually. This was originally part of Irving's Sketchbook.
Old Christmas, complete with Randolph Caldecott's illustrations, is available on line here.
Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas In Wales
Thomas wrote this poem in prose about his childhood Christmas experience. Parts of it are common to all of us. This is a very short read (under an hour). There was a fine television adaptation some years ago, that is unfortunately hard to find today.
Alice Taylor An Irish Country Christmas
We have it all here, from plucking geese to hunting the wren. Mass (but not Midnight Mass), the candle in the window surrounded by holly, gathering holly from the woods, the first appearance of Christmas goods at the local store, the Christmas cards (displayed on the tree along with balloons!), and the letter to Santa (called Santy in this family) all featured in a Christmas in 1950s County Kerry, and all are lovingly recalled by Taylor. This brief collection of essays could make you nostalgic for something you have never experienced. Very much worth a read.
Karen Cure, An Old-Fashioned Christmas
This was a selection from the Conservative Book Club back in the 1980s. It explores in detail Christmas at Williamsburg, at Mark Twain's Hartford home, at Greenfield Village. This is a how-to book on celebrating an old-fashioned Christmas. If you find yourself lacking solid family Christmas traditions, give this a read to find ones you can adopt.
Linda Clements, The Spirit of Christmas Past
This is an English version of An Old Fashioned Christmas. We read here much more about holly and ivy, how crackers came about and why, and the Yule Log. There are also synopses of the rules of Victorian parlor games, like the Minister's Cat.
Aloise Buckley Heath, "It Says Here", published periodically at Christmas by National Review.
NR publishes this one every few years in rotation with other Christmas pieces by WFB's late sister. I saved my back-issues from 1981 on. It is a heart-warming story of an obviously affluent and large family preparing for Christmas morning.
Henry Van Dyke, The Fourth Wise Man
A story of faith and perseverence. Artaban went with his fellow mages in search of the new-born King of the Jews. He was separated from them, and wandered for 33 years in search of the Christ, only finding Him on Calvary.
Jim Bishop, The Day Christ Was Born
This story lacks the detailed historical information of The Day Christ Died. But Bishop does a nice job putting the events connected with the Incarnation into sequence.
Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle For Christmas
How Victorians recreated Christmas and why. By the 18th century, Christmas was largely Carnival, a rowdy drunken time of licentiousness and politically dangerous role-inversion. It resembled in many ways modern Halloween, had been banned, and was in danger of going the way of Lammas and Michaelmas. Within a few years, Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus/Father Christmas, Christmas shopping on a grand scale, the Christmas tree, the Christmas card, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and most of the carols we sing today, all came into prominence both in the US and the UK. Christmas became a cherished domestic holiday.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Christmas Eve is too late. The day after Thanksgiving, too early.
The Chieftans, The Bells of Dublin
Emily Mitchell, Celtic Christmas
The Harry Simeone Chorale, The Little Drummer Boy (the original, with all religious carols)
The Revels, Victorian Christmas Revels
Mannheim Steamroller, A Mannheim Steamroller Christmas/Fresh Aire Christmas/Christmas In the Aire All three rock: the first the most. I don't like their newer Christmas CDs as well as these first three.
Bing Crosby, White Christmas
The Boston Camerata, A Medieval Christmas/A Renaissance Christmas/A Baroque Christmas (again, all three are great)
Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (the original soundtrack but with some additions)
Perry Como, A Perry Como Christmas (a wonderful recording of Schubert's Ave Maria)
Gregorian Christmas Chants and Motets So you can play Christmas music in November, or July, and no one will be the wiser.
I recently listened to Anne Murray's new (2001) Christmas album. I liked it. There was a preponderance of religious songs, but she had the entire traditional Santa/Rudolph grouping at the start of disc 2.
Here is a link about Christmas from Colonial Williamsburg.
And an article about the popular Williamsburg style of decoration.
And that is just part of a larger Christmas In Williamsburg site.
This time, it is my list of the top 10 Christmas movies. My 10 favorite Christmas specials constitute another list entirely. These are in no particular order.
Ed Asner stars as an estranged husband and father who finds out he has very little time to live just before Christmas. This movie is just chock full of scenes depicting preparations for Christmas, and Christmas being celebrated in the grand style in a wealthy household (they even have a pet protestant minister who drops everything to baptize a child at their home on Christmas Day). Ultimately this is a very heart-warming movie, though you have to blot out the "Vietnam was wrong undertone" and some 1970s clothing styles. Sadly, this movie is not currently available on VHS or DVD. Watch the cable listings (Fox used to carry it, or try the Hallmark Channel) and tape it.
This musical version of A Christmas Carol has some problems. For Lord-knows-what reason the producers decided to set it in 1860 (the book was written in the early 1840s) so the costumes are wrong. Albert Finney is a convincing Scrooge, but for some reason portrayed him as a recovered stroke victim. Alec Guiness has a unique interpretation of Jacob Marley. Kenneth More is very good as the Ghost of Christmas Present, but the beard he wears is rather cheesy. I think the actors who played Scrooge's nephew Fred and Bob Crachit are the best of all the versions I have watched. The atmosphere of this rendition is terrific. You feel as if you had stepped into Victorian London at Christmas time. The song "December the 25th" is a classic, as is "Thank You Very Much." Another list will discuss and rate the various screen adaptations of A Christmas Carol.
This was the pilot for The Waltons. All the children reprised their roles in the TV series. I never cared for Patricia Neal, who plays Olivia. Andrew Duggan is not credible as John Walton (not after getting used to Ralph Waite). But this depiction of a Depression-era Christmas is moving nonetheless. And I grew up with it.
Jingle All The Way
I saw this for the first time a couple of years ago and laughed myself into coughing fits. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a stressed out dad trying to get that special toy for his son at the last minute. As an uncle who still bears the scars of the Cabbage Patch doll craze, this movie resonated. Is it me, or is there no super-hard-to-find toy this year?
A Christmas Story
This is an adaptation of Jean Sheperd's works. Little Ralphie wants a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. Everyone tells him he'll shoot his eye out with it. The movie has a lot of what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas. Darren McGavin was a little old for the role of the father, but otherwise perfect.
Miracle On 34th Street
There was a nice rendition in the 1970s, but you have to watch the original. Macy's Santa Claus turns out to be the real thing, but the Macy's psychiatrist wants to send him to the looney bin. The interplay between the judge and his political advisor (played by the guy who played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy) is great.
It's A Wonderful Life
Frank Capra tells us the tale of George Bailey and the Building and Loan of Bedford Falls. Jimmy Stewart is absolutely terrific as Bailey. It would not be Christmas without an evening looking at the life of George and Mary Bailey and rejoicing at his vindication. "No man is a failure as long as he has friends."
The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story
Oh, no, you say. Not another glorification of small-town America. Though I found the Lee Remick character sort of off-putting, Angela Lansbury made up for it. More depictions of small-town traditions. This made-for-TV movie is not available on VHS or DVD, yet. Earl Hamner wrote it, and Delbert Mann directed.
The House Without A Christmas Tree
Jason Robards stars as an emotionally scarred father who is hiding from his own emotional baggage by forbidding his daughter a Christmas tree. More small town values of the early-mid 20th century.
A Child's Christmas In Wales
This screen adaption is narrated by Denholm Elliot, who plays the grandfather. It is a fine adaptation (I think it is the only one). Hard to find, though, as it was filmed for British TV in 1986. I still kick myself for not buying the VHS copy Borders had 7-8 years ago.
What I will do is this. During Embertide (this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), I won't post any celebretory Christmas items. But a few will be posted early this week, and many more next week.
During Christmas itself, I want to post a series of sacred art depictions of the Nativity. I did something similar last year, and found that the well was not nearly exhausted, due to the popularity of the subject.
Good thing it did not last long. But it did leave walking treacherous all weekend, even continuing today. I hate ice and snow. And with two trick knees and a history of 7 dislocations, I have good reason to.
Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, the pink Sunday in Advent. We are at the half-way point.
I have always found it interesting that the traditional calendar makes this week Advent's Ember Week. It does send sort of a mixed message. While the Sunday Gospel tells us to wait in joyful hope, Embertide tells us to dredge up and dwell on our worst sins, be truly contrite for them, repent of them, and amend life. Hard to wait in joyful hope while wearing sackcloth and ashes. Maybe there would be good cause to reform the traditional calendar to move the Advent Embertide to the first week in Advent. Then the focus in early Advent would be on repentence, with a gradual shift to more joyful preparation after Gaudete Sunday. Just a thought.
We are not sure if it is accurate. We are not sure what was discussed if it is accurate.
But if the meeting happened, I take it as a hopeful sign. Is the Cardinal, the prefect for the Congregation For the Clergy, taking the point for the Holy Father in the negotiations? And, if talks are going on, everyone is curious about how far the parties are apart.
I have long maintained that, with action from the Holy Father imminent with regard to the Latin Mass, it would be foolhardy for the Archdiocese of Boston to hamper its own indult community by shutting down the ideal site for that Mass: Holy Trinity. But while action from the Holy Father to broaden the Latin Mass' availability is almost a sure thing, the direct impact that will have on Holy Trinity here in Boston remains murky.
The Archdiocese would maintain that, in offering St. James as a new location, they are not hindering the indult community. But they in fact would be, if they forced the growing indult community to worship at the smaller St. James, with insufficient parking for a commuter parish, with restrictions on the Latin scholae that operate at Holy Trinity (limiting our ability to hold a High Mass), with restrictions on the indult community's excellent CCD program.
The Archbishop would be playing it smart to hold off on doing anything about Holy Trinity until the Holy Father acts with regard to the Latin Mass generally. Then, if Pope Benedict urges yet more liberal treatment of the traditional Mass, the Archbishop would be wise to outline the following: the suppression of Holy Trinity as a German national parish, and its conversion into an Archdiocesan shrine or oratory dedicated to the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, with the appointment of a full-time pastor, and an expanded liturgical schedule. Then the indult community would be very generous to our German friends, and invite them to continue to hold a German/English Novus Ordo Mass weekly at Holy Trinity.
Everyone would end up happy except for Father O'Regan and his business cronies from St. James. The Archbishop would come out smelling like a rose with the public, Holy Trinity parishioners and fans (and Holy Trinity's plight is garnering national interest among Latin Mass worshippers), and with the Holy Father. The Germans would be happy. The indult community would be happy. And, to tell you the truth, the Asian parishioners at St. James would be happy, too, to not have to deal with the Latin Mass worshippers' desires.
So, make it so.