December 21, 2007

"And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn [1] Son, and wrapped Him up in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

"For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the Angels departed from them into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.

"And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this Child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." [St. Luke 2:7-20]

This is the more complete account of the first Christmas, the other being in St. Matthew's Gospel. We are struck by the simplicity of the scene, its utter humility, contentment, peace and joy, the perfection of Love Himself Who consented to be born of human nature in so lowly a place, the King of kings born to the Queen of queens and not with the fanfare of men but that of the Angels. To those who think like the world thinks and judges all things accordingly, the manger scene is one of incongruity and even implausibility. To see the first Christmas as it truly was and is one needs to see with the eyes of faith, or the desire for it, which is a gift from God, a response to grace. The shepherds had it, and the Magi, too. Apparently not, the current Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury who scoffs at the Nativity scene. Not even Herod scoffed, although he had not the gift of faith, for he worried exceedingly about the Little King Who might rival his power and thus instructed the Three Kings to report to him what they found as they journeyed East. [Thanks to the Providence of God, they avoided his environs on their way back to their kingdoms.] The Magi had consulted with Herod originally because there was no public proclamation of this momentous event that would forever change the world men had known since the fall in Eden.

While all the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary are beautiful and truly the "School of Mary", of the Joyful Mysteries it is the third, the Nativity, on which one lingers longest, indeed, those ten Hail Marys pass all together too quickly, for one wants to remain at the foot of the manger---as Mary did there as she would later at the Foot of the Cross---the first sacrifice of Christ, so to speak. Now the two Gospels, that of Matthew and Luke, do not speak of the animals that enclosed the manger with warmth, but through tradition we believe that, since it was a place where shepherds and country folks sheltered with their animals, it is natural and a part of God's plan for them to be present at the manger as they were and as signposts of the Passion and the Resurrection and what came after.

Consider the donkey, who so lovingly and carefully bore Mary to her visit to Saint Elizabeth for the birth of St. John the Baptist, then on the arduous trek to Bethlehem, heavy with Child, and later them both on the flight into Egypt under command of an Angel: It would be the donkey who would bear the Savior into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, triumphant as a King, before His Passion and Crucifixion. Perhaps, through the Providence of God, the same donkey?

Consider the oxen, beasts of burden who are bound to the yoke: Christ would later call all men unto Him into His loving Sacred Heart, to bind themselves to Him, with the words, "For My yoke is sweet and My burden light." [St. Matthew 11:30]

Later we will look again at the oxen.

Consider the sheep and the little lambs: Jesus told His disciples that He was the Good Shepherd, Who knows His sheep and His sheep know Him, including: "And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." [St. John 10:16]

The figure of the lamb or the sheep is perhaps the most familiar one of all in Scripture. The Apostles, in particular St. Peter, as the first Pontiff, were to feed His lambs or sheep with the His teachings and the Sacraments He entrusted to them, they too, being shepherds. But it is the little lamb, the one so often depicted in Nativity scenes that is the most poignant for it is the Savior Himself, Who is not only Shepherd but the Lamb, the Agnus Dei, the sacrificed Lamb of God, both Victim and High Priest, both Lamb and Shepherd.

Oh yes, the Mystery of the Holy Nativity is very rich, indeed, beyond our ability to plumb all its depths. As numerous as the stars in the sky of Bethlehem, as numerous as the Angels singing in chorus and adoring the newborn King of Angels, as many as these are the vast innumerable riches of the poor manger ...

We must not intrude on this holy scene, this "Heaven on earth" by bringing in the unseemingly profane modernity, although the purpose of this column is one of contrast to ponder. In order to avoid any undue incursion or spoliation, the column is deliberately concluded below as if on a second page.


John 2
14 And He found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.

15 And when He had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, He drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers He poured out, and the tables He overthrew.

2 Corinthians 6
14 Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?

  Galatians 5
1 Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage. [reference to the slavery of sin, one sin of which is injustice, the withholding of truth men require to live in dignity and harmony with one another.]

Acts Of Apostles 15
28 For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things ... [reference to religious observance, but good counsel in general regarding human nature and men's right to justice under the natural law. Man is not owed charity as he is justice, and while charity is the greatest of the three theological virtues, the purpose of government, ecclesiastical and civil is justice, not charity.]

Taking in the unsightly bedlam of the anti-Bethlehem scene that is modern politics, and public debate, one can only think that the above image is too benign, for all its swift dispatch of evildoers, to capture the profane, stupid, obscene cacophony before us. Modern man, despite his claim to "have faith" is spiritually blind, politically inept at best and subject to that which is not only unbecoming persons created in the image of God, but completely incongruous. This segment of the column could be subtitled, "How come?" in sharp contrast to that first Christmas and most historic of historic events, for the Church teaches us why the Incarnation of Christ.

Christmas in secular America otherwise known and hailed as "the holiday season", ought to be renamed the "silly mean season", courtesy of the rampant secularists with power who despise Christ. In the year of 2007, it is rendered even more so by the presidential election of 2008, thus it is more accurately called the perennial season of hubris, hype, and hypocrisy. Note, the party affiliation is not mentioned because there is only one party in America, the party of the establishment, big government handouts, largesse with other people's money, the new world order, a la "Foreign Affairs" articles written by one of the candidates, as much abortion as can be gotten away with, and the nanny PC state in one form or another, preferably both in some quarters. Until Christ reigns in enough hearts, truly reigns, America is flirting with national dissolution and moral, social suicide. Our judas goats have enslaved us poor oxen bound ever and ever more tightly to a burdensome yoke unworthy of a people if they still possessed the use of reason. We can choose to have an abortion, women can "make the right decision" but no one can decide for themselves or not if they want to smoke in their own home while alone, in many jurisdictions, or what their children eat for lunch at school. Imagine! One of the candidates is seeking to establish by law universal Pre-K indoctrination for all children in the USA. Of course the age of the so-called Pre-K will be moved further and further back until "no child is left behind" in his mother's arms, that is.

Consider first and foremost the audacious egos involved: consider another Christmas over two hundred years ago, when a small band of revolutionaries, outnumbered but not out won, led by General George Washington, crossed the frigid Delaware River, where the Hessian mercenaries were encamped. You and I may not have joined the American rebels as the violence that was used to stir up the masses was more violent and unjust than that of the supposed British rule, but we can marvel at the humility of Washington, who was so courageous against all odds. When the American republic was established a President was needed. The colonial representatives selected him by popular acclamation, not the least of which were some of his favorable attributes: honesty, simplicity, and humility. He did not seek the highest office in the land; no, in fact, he shunned all such conceit. He had to be convinced and in the end he relented out of a sense of duty, not ambition. Only a humble man is open to the grace of God; I am morally certain that George Washington, once a Freemason, of whom it is said he converted to the true faith, also kept an image of the Mediatrix of all graces on his bedroom wall.

Consider the enormity and boldness of such egos that think they are fit not only to be President, but that they are better than their opponents, and are willing to spend the millions and millions that could be used to help those they say they want to help, to convince the voters how worthy they are for such office where they will assist the ultra liberal unconstitutionally bent Congress to match what they spent getting elected and then some. Evolutionists and those who think they can peacefully coexist with them also believe that money grows on trees.

Consider the megalomania that has seized one American family, whose husband served two terms and now is in the thick of things, managing his wife's campaign for President, so that once more we can have "two for one" as if the first round wasn't sufficient to reveal how corrupt and or naive the electorate are and how shame itself has lost all meaning along with the verb "is". Consider that while claiming to be for reducing taxes on the "middle class"---this is also the year that our candidates have "gotten religion", in more ways than one, the first being the recognition that the middle class, the burdened oxen that make the water wheels revolve, has been selected for extermination---this same candidate makes no such claim in re the upper classes, yet has her and her husband's substantial millions safely out of reach of the IRS in the banks of the Cayman Islands. Consider that she, taking cynical advantage of the "gotten religion movement", has put out a commercial with a Christmas tree, sans nativity, in the background while she places the finishing touches on gaily wrapped packages, labeled with the various aspects of socialism, which means higher taxes, period. Conceit, and deceit. And not one word about the reason for the season, the Babe in Bethlehem. How come?

This is the same candidate who is known to permit money to be handed out at key intervals to the populace while campaigning. In my day we used to call this "buying an election" or just plain graft. Now it is merely "handing out money", perfected to an art form by the Kennedy machine in an earlier era.

Consider the ego that resides in a man who has barely served part of a first Senate term, that he is qualified to be President, given the exigencies of modern warfare. Consider that having joined the religion bandwagon, he says he joined a such and such Protestant church. The reason? He was attracted to its social mores and its action work. Not one word about being a Christian because he believes in Christ the Savior. Not to be left in the dust, he, too, has a "Christmas" commercial, all sweet and charming with a Christmas tree in the background, sans nativity, of course, that would be just too religious, with sentiments of gratitude and the like. Does he wish the viewer and voter a Merry Christmas? No, he requires plausible deniability to hedge his bets. He has a little surrogate say it for him to cover one of the bases, his young daughter, with the other one piping up "Happy Holidays" to cover the rest. Right. How come?

Consider a third candidate who has more guts: he does not pretend to be a Christmas card commercial. He merely sits before a winter scene, like all too many of the Christmas cards we received this year from practicing Christians, and talks of more class warfare and socialism. He wants to be Kris Kringle dressed up like Uncle Sam who wants us, our money that is. He is at least consistent. Yet he made his fortune using the American system of injustice, the corporate way, the very system he now declaims. Hypocrisy. He would deny others the chance to do as he did, if he had his way, by demand or usurpation. Golly gee! To use one expression from his home locale. How come?

Not that I am an unabashed devotee of corporate America that has sold us down the river of extinction to the Red Chinese for a meager 30 billion pieces of poisoned profit.

Consider a certain Huckster, a former Baptist preacher who envisions for himself a messianic role as do-gooder that is, a reconstructed socialist for higher taxes, for just one example, in the White House. As an avowed Christian he says he does not hold with evolution but thinks it is fine in the textbooks of the government schools. How come?

A brief digression here. It is not up to a President to dictate school texts, but this is beside the point, one is speaking of his opinion as to what rightly belongs there. He wants it both ways. If an interview with the affable Larry King on CNN can cause him to stumble so easily how will he deal with the other messianic personalities in the Third World and reconstructed Communist China who do not claim to be Christian?

Hucksteree is not for "gay marriage" but approves of the US Supreme Court decision [Lawrence] that in so many words guarantees that later, if not sooner we will have "gay marriage" or have a heck of a fight on our hands to outlaw it, piecemeal, with a war of attrition that bodes well for the degenerate among us. How come?

With this candidate there are so many How come? moments there is not enough space to list them all. One more shall suffice and it is a beaut! The hopeful Huckster-in-chief is making a campaign stop at a big anti-Catholic watering hole headed by the notorious Rev. Hagee who fulminates against the Catholic Church as the Beast in the Apocalypse and the Pope as the Antichrist. If he is for "all the people" as he says, why has he written off well informed Catholics? How come?

Does he know that anti-Catholic bigotry is socially acceptable, especially since so many "Catholics" practice it themselves?

Consider another well heeled candidate who has had an eleventh hour conversion on abortion, better late than never, and I believe him. Well, how come he is for experimentation on live embryos who are tiny human beings, which he acknowledges they are? How come????

I mean if a person is a person, isn't he always a person and deserving of the equal protection of the law? The sanctity of life is so basic and uncomplicated that only mush heads can botch it. If he is this confused on the most basic of rights, what are we to think of his ability to judge rightly elsewhere?

Consider the Catholic candidate, "America's mayor" who wants to reduce abortions but went on his own cognition and of his own free will, before Planned Parenthood and said he was on their side, in so many damning words. How come? Consider this man who cannot be true to his marriage vows or his Baptismal promises, much more sacred than that of the US Constitution, how should we trust him when he says he wants justices that are strict constructionists? How come he dares to state this with such vehemence in his fruitcake filled Christmas commercial, cum tree, cum red sweater, sans nativity?

Could it just be that he knows all too well that the left-controlled Senate will not confirm such a justice? And that he hopes we will forget the other drop of the shoe, so to speak? To ask is to answer.

And on and on it goes and where it will stop nobody knows; all we know is that the down sized Huck, our Puck the clown of a thousand faces is the Pied Piper, so much so that one of the others above felt compelled to hold a press conference to explain his Mormon religion, that is, that he believes it and will not back down, to the nation. To his credit he is resolute while in error as to the true faith. Contrast this with a previous era, the one known as Camelot. King Arthur John turned out to be a latter day Lancelot as we discovered when he delivered that shame filled speech to a southern rogue's gallery of heretics and bigots promising them that Roman Catholicism would have no affect on him. He then proceeded to prove it with precision once seated in power. The unbelievably pig-headed media honchos were comparing the two men as equals. What a spectacle! The powers that be abroad must be laughing all the way to the proverbial bank. I would have said the enemy, but we have met the enemy and it is us ... we all need the first Christmas as it really was, not how we imagine it to be, now more then ever.

1. "Her firstborn"... The meaning is, not that she afterward had any other child; but it is a way of speech among the Hebrews, to call them also the firstborn, who are the only children. See annotation Matt. 1. 25.