Christmas

LA Times_Watts Riots

Black Crime and White Flight

The recent events in Ferguson, MO, in which a “gentle giant” was shot and killed after assaulting a policeman, leading to demonstrations and riots, brought back to me memories of the August 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, which likewise developed in the aftermath of assaults on a policeman after a young black man was [...]

Christ: Our Shield Against Evil

About a month ago, up at 2am with a sick baby, I found myself watching a documentary about the modern-day descendants of prominent officials of the Third Reich. Entitled Hitler’s Children, it examined the lives of modern-day descendants of high-ranking Nazi officials such as Hermann Goring, Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Höss. None of them Nazi [...]

That Other Capra Christmas Movie

Every one has seen it. At least, it seems so at this time of year. You can't avoid seeing that 1946 classic appearing on television. Everyone at the office loves it, of course, even those who haven’t seen it. Everyone has their favorite scene, the bits they like to quote. Unexpectedly, some become quite poetic, [...]

The Last Days of December

 Great Little One!  Whose all-embracing birth  Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth. — Richard Crashaw These last days of December have suddenly come upon us, leaving in their wake the wonder of a God who without loss of divinity dared to assume the burden of a broken and fallen humanity.  Moved by an incomprehensible [...]

The Angels bring Good News to the Shepherds

The shepherds, imitators of the holy patriarchs, and the most innocent and guileless men in the world, were “keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Lk 2:8) Holy angels, accustomed to conversing with those shepherds of old—with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—brought these country folk the news that the great shepherd had arrived and that the [...]

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore: The Doctrine of Santa Claus

Twas only a matter of time. And it came—as it comes to all. ’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, a small creature was stirring—my seven-year-old daughter. “Dad,” (I knew the time was come,) “does St. Nicholas bring us presents at Christmas, or is it just you and Mom?” “Daughter,” (I knew [...]

Dickens’ Forgotten Christmas Tale: The Haunted Man

Everyone knows Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. It is, arguably, one of the Victorian author’s most permanent masterpieces, adorning Christmas celebrations in every corner of the English-speaking world, and making the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family household names. Modern audiences have seen it adapted for television and film in [...]

The Christmas Miracle

I picture him as a tall Texan, his outsize appearance easily eclipsing everything in sight, save only the immense shrine that he and a busload of tourists have come to Rome to see.  And then, throwing up his hand at the end of an exhausting exploration of the world’s most beautiful basilica, I hear him [...]

Rejoice and Evangelize: He is with Us and We Have Been Loved

Advent and Christmas celebrate the joy of a new life. Like an expectant mother, we wait, with bated breath, joyful anticipation and we brim over with excitement. For God is with us, He is soon to be born, Come, Come, Emmanuel! The Visitation of Mary is a joyful visit between cousins but also an encounter [...]

Preparing for the Twelve Days of Christmas

About a hundred years ago, the usual jolly G.K. Chesterton can be found lamenting two things that are still a problem today: First, that as a writer, he has to write about Christmas long before Christmas in order for it to be published at Christmas. Second, the rest of the world seems to celebrate Christmas [...]

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry: The Wise Fools of Christmas

 Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. As Christmas carols draw mind and heart to the spirit of the season, the Church also calls for spiritual preparation through Advent. All are bidden with the shepherds to “go to Bethlehem and see” with minds and hearts [...]

Why “Celebrate” Christmas—and the Epiphany?

Did you know that Christmas celebrations were banned in Scotland until 1958?  I certainly didn’t, not until my son started working on his sixth grade “Christmas around the World” report.  I haven’t looked up what the English did in this regard (Scotland always has had a good deal of autonomy within Britain, and never stopped [...]

Light Amid Darkness: A Christmas Meditation

On first hearing the news that Calvin Coolidge had died, humorist Dorothy Parker impishly asked, “How could they tell?”  I thought of that the other day when a friend told me that the Winter Solstice was coming, thus giving us the shortest day and the longest night of the year.  Living in a place where, [...]

Christ is Born! Come, Lord Jesus!

In the crypt of the church of St. Mary Major in Rome, under the high altar, rests a crystal reliquary containing five pieces of sycamore wood, which are believed to be the remains of the crib of the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The altar in this crypt chapel is privileged; on it any priest may [...]

The Silent Wonder of Mary and Joseph

We have beheld the shepherds coming in from their fields glorifying God and bringing all who heard them to glorify him too. Yet here is something still more marvelous and edifying: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” And furthermore, “his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.” [...]

C.S. Lewis on Christmas

It's a sad irony that Charles Dickens, who most likely did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, is the English writer most identified with Christmas, while C.S. Lewis who is one of the most articulate literary proponents of the orthodox faith in his century, has left behind almost no contribution to the literature [...]

Cultural Amnesia and the Separation of Church and State

One of the sadder aspects of Christmastime in America is the display of ignorance on the part of so many Americans regarding the constitutional tradition of our country.  Why at Christmas? Because it is at this time of year that we hear the whining call of “that song” or “that play” or “that display” violates [...]

The First Proclamation of the Gospel

The beginning of the Gospel is in the angel’s words to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of a great joy,” the good news of the birth of a Savior. (Luke 2:10) What news could be better? When he first preached in the synagogue after the forty days in the desert, he himself explained [...]

Sing we Noël!

Speaking of his medieval ancestors and ours, d’Alembert once said that “Poetry for them was reduced to a puerile mechanism.” James Madison, echoing him, judged the result of fifteen centuries of Christian civilization to be little more than “pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and [...]

Three Wise Men and Three Stooges

Epiphany--in my opinion--has always had the edge on Christmas. Sure, I like the Christ child and the manger and the ox and ass and St Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin, and the angels and shepherds and, “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” But I think I like the [...]

Steady in Iowa, Romney Counts on New Hampshire, Florida

  Election year has finally arrived, well after the beginning of a turbulent and unpredictable elections season, and voting begins on Tuesday in the Iowa Republicans caucuses. The few days of post-Christmas polling have shown the numbers oscillating and opinion changing in ways it hadn't been earlier in the campaign. Pre-Christmas, Barack Obama's job rating [...]

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