Thursday 17th April 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Christmas And Frailty

December 22, 2013 Featured Today No Comments

By JEFF MINICK

(Below is a Christmas letter from the ever-feisty Uncle Samuel to his beloved — and often clueless — nephew Hobson.)

+    +    +

Dear Hobson,

It pleases me to no end that you will attend the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Basilica with Abigail. These last four months since you met my young friend have certainly brought about some remarkable changes in you. By placing Abigail’s happiness ahead of your own selfish concerns, you are discovering the true meaning of affection, friendship, and love. When I first introduced the two of you by mail, it was my fervent hope that you would see in the lovely Abigail those advantages faith and grace have bestowed on her.
Your criticism of Catholics, particularly the charge of hypocrisy among so many in the congregation, is valid. (By the way, dear nephew, please continue to work on your grammar. A university education should have taught you that “its” is a possessive pronoun and that “it’s” is a contraction meaning “it is.” To be frank, you should have learned this convention in elementary school.)
You write that when you have previously attended Mass here in Asheville while visiting Abigail, you were astounded to see nearly everyone receiving Holy Communion. Given the vagaries of the human heart, you wonder how it is possible that so many parishioners can be in a state of grace.
Your statistics are sound: The long Communion lines versus the short confessional lines — my own spiritual judge spends most of his hour in the box reading — reveal that a majority of American Catholics either fail to comprehend what they are receiving in the Body and Blood of Christ or are ignorant of the concepts of sin and sacrilege. Various opinion polls also find that many Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ, marking many communicants not only as benighted but also as heretical.
You write that you recognized three parishioners, know their stories, and wonder how on earth two of them can approach the altar and take the Eucharist without bursting into flames. You identify one of those taking Communion as a “gay activist,” another as a real estate agent who would hoodwink her own grandmother to make a sale, the third as a man who created a scandal by committing adultery with a co-worker.
The first two you report as receiving Holy Communion, with the adulterer declining by remaining in the pew. Here several comments are in order. The adulterer clearly has not yet made his peace with God through the Sacrament of Confession. The first two parishioners have either done so, in which case they are worthy of Communion, or else they have convinced themselves that they are innocent of any mortal sin, which would find them guilty of a second grave sin, that of sacrilege.
Your mention of the adulterer brings to mind the biblical account of the woman caught in infidelity. Because you have so rarely darkened the door of any church, let me remind you of the story. Some scribes and Pharisees bring a woman accused of adultery before Jesus. Hoping to trap Christ into breaking the Mosaic Law, they ask Him whether, according to the Law, they shouldn’t stone her to death for her deceit.
Christ replies: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the men drift away. When only the woman remains, Jesus tells her that he does not condemn her and instructs her to “go, and do not sin again.”
Two points from this story are pertinent to your remarks on the Church. The first may be found in Christ’s injunction to the woman to avoid sin, a command aimed at all of us. The second point — His words to the Pharisees — dictates that we must be prudent in our judgments of others. Actions, Christ seems to remind us, may easily be condemned or praised, but to judge the state of the soul of another human being is nearly impossible.
Take your adulterer, for instance. He clearly knows something of his faith — after all, he has exiled himself from Communion — so we can surmise he knew he was sinning when he entered into a relationship with a married woman. He surely understood that discovery would bring painful worldly consequences: the destruction of a marriage, the concomitant damage done to children in that marriage, the loss of respect in the community.
So why would such a man enter into such an affair?
Catholic writer and thinker Blaise Pascal, whose Pensées deserves your attention, once wrote: “Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point,” which translates as: “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.” To condemn the adulterer’s actions demands nothing of us — here the guilty parties have condemned themselves — but to try and understand what he was thinking and feeling offers deeper mysteries.
(Two of the world’s greatest novels, Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, explore this theme, and Catholic novelist Graham Greene offers an exhaustive examination of the moral quandaries in The End of the Affair.)
Was the man cynically exploiting a vulnerable woman, a wife and mother unhappy in her marriage? Or was he so deeply in love that he simply couldn’t stop himself? (Think Pascal). With the affair revealed, why has he not made his Confession? Is it because he can admit his wrongdoing, but cannot yet forsake his love and confess his regret? We can’t justify any objectively immoral action, but how can we know the state of his soul?
Such questions bring us, oddly enough, to Christmas.
We Americans have turned Christmas on its head. We party and feast during Advent, which, as the Church tells us, should be a time of prayer and preparation. We rip open presents on Christmas Day, enjoy a huge feast, and then spend the Twelve Days of Christmas stripping the house of decoration and moaning over the status of our banking accounts in the wake of our spending spree. By celebrating this way, we have, as we have in so many areas of our public and private lives, brought disorder into the realm of the sacred.
Even so, the real meaning of Christmas remains clear to believers, and for me this evening, contemplation of the Nativity brings to mind one word: frailty. Think on it, nephew. Consider how the world was changed by a baby’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Think of how this newborn, fully human and yet fully God, forever broke history in half. (To further your literary education and my own argument, I would suggest Eliot’s Journey of the Magi.)
I wonder: Have you ever held a newborn baby? (A good friend, age 52, recently held one of my infant granddaughters in his arms. He informed me he had never before held a baby. The mingled astonishment and terror on his face made me howl.)
If you have held a newborn, then you know their utter helplessness. Other than being able to breathe, they are weak, fragile beings dependent for their every need on other human beings. They are, in a word, frail.
Christ came to us as a baby. Frailty — weakness, powerlessness — was His condition when He entered our broken world. In certain ways, this frailty, this vulnerability to attack without the power to defend Himself, remained His condition His entire life. On Easter Sunday He is triumphant, yes, but at Christmas He is a baby again.
His weakness as a baby reminds me of our own human frailties. As a Catholic and a man, I am certainly aware of my own shortcomings, my temptations toward sin, my sins themselves. With each passing year, Christmas thrusts itself more deeply into my heart, making me also more and more aware of the fragility of my fellow human beings. All of us, for example, are desperate for love, more desperate, many of us, than we know.
An example: This Advent season I posted a poem on my online site containing the line: “The one who loves you just the way you are.” (That’s iambic pentameter, in case you missed poetry in college.) That short poem received more hits than anything I’ve ever posted. At Christmas, I think, we become aware that a being exists who loves us and who wants the best of us.
But enough. My great wish is that your affection for Abigail, and hers for you, continues to flourish and grow. You have found a beautiful young Catholic woman. One caveat: As I have mentioned previously, Abigail is a close friend. While it delights me to see you courting her, I wish to remind you of the consequences should you ever mistreat her. I am an old man, and you are young, but we old men can be formidable when circumstances require. Should you hurt her, I guarantee you, beloved nephew, you will never see what hit you, but you will be eating the sidewalk.
With that gentle admonition, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

With love and prayers,
Uncle Samuel

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Denver Archbishop Rallies Coloradans Against ‘Extreme’ Abortion Bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2014 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Denver on April 15 rallied opposition to a Colorado bill he says is “both extreme and dangerously ambiguous” in its ban on all abortion regulations and other…Continue Reading

CATHOLIC PARENTS BEG MASS. DCF TO LET THEIR HOSTAGE DAUGHTER CELEBRATE EASTER, FILE ‘HABEAS CORPUS’ MOTION

By: Raquel Okyay 4/16/2014 08:41 AM Parents of the ailing Connecticut teen held captive by Massachusetts authorities for more than a year are pleading with the bureaucrat captors to let them celebrate Holy Week and Easter with their daughter, whose health…Continue Reading

Common Core stirs controversy for Catholic schools

By Peter Doocy Published April 15, 2014 FoxNews.com Classrooms at some Catholic schools are undergoing a transformation, as decades-old traditions are being updated with Common Core state standards. Although the standards are not federally mandated for Catholic schools, dozens of dioceses…Continue Reading

Catholic League’s Donohue: Church’s Pedophilia Crisis Is Over

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 06:14 PM By Bill Hoffmann The Catholic Church has far less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors than other major institutions, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil…Continue Reading

Catholic Malta Legalizes Same-sex Civil Unions

Staunchly Catholic Malta has legalized same-sex civil unions and has given gay couples the right to adopt children. The vote comes nearly three years after the Mediterranean island nation legalized divorce. The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption…Continue Reading

Remembering Terri Schiavo:

April 13, 2014 Remembering Terri Schiavo: Bobby Schindler comments on Pope Francis, Bishop Robert Lynch, and working on behalf of the severely disabled By Matt C. Abbott The following is an email interview I recently conducted with Bobby Schindler, brother of…Continue Reading

Parents Protest Speaker’s Talk On Morality At Another Catholic High School

For the 2nd time in recent weeks, parents of students at a Catholic high school are protesting that a speaker’s presentation on Catholic morality was harsh and insensitive. Parents of students at the Prout School in Rhode Island have expressed…Continue Reading

‘Pay for it yourself’: Canadian Catholics fighting renewed push for single publicly funded school system

Sarah Boesveld | April 12, 2014 When Leonard Baak’s son hit kindergarten age, his local public school in Stittsville, Ont., was so full it couldn’t even add any portables. So all the other parents in his neighbourhood did the natural thing and…Continue Reading

What Bishop Jugis did NOT say about Sister Jane Dominic’s talk

By Phil Lawler  April 10, 2014 5:05 PM Charlotte’s Bishop Peter Jugis has finally issued a statementregarding the unseemly controversy at Charlotte Catholic High School. In that statement the bishop clearly affirms the teachings of the Catholic Church. But he does not affirm…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Calls Abortion An ‘Abominable Crime’ In Strongest Remarks To Date

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Fri Apr 11, 2014 08:11 EST VATICAN CITY, April 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Human life is “sacred and inviolable” and “every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and most fundamental right,…Continue Reading

Jesuit Priest Championed Conservative Catholic Values In Era Of Change

By Jan Uebelherr of the Journal Sentinel The Rev. Cletus Healy warned about the evils of communism, presided over annual vigils at the gravesite of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and wrote “Stations of the Cross for the Victims of Abortion.” These were the passions of…Continue Reading

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on The Absurdity of Evil

By Fr Dwight Longenecker 4/8/2014 Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) This is the frightful absurdity of evil. This absurdity and rage is the demonic poison of hatred and pride, and the only antidote, I have come to accept-the only antidote for which…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Pope Francis . . .

Pope Francis: Weekly General Audience

pope268

2014-04-16 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday – the Wednesday of Holy Week or “Spy Wednesday” as it is called in many parts of the English-speaking world. The Gospel reading of the day recounts Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, which sets in motion the events of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. In his catechetical…Continue Reading

Featured Today

Politically Correct Hypocrisy On Parade

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I have met liberal Democrats who insist that the inclusion of liberal Democrats Alan Colmes and Bob Beckel on the Fox News Network cannot be taken as proof that the network is, as advertised, “fair and balanced.” They insist that Beckel and Colmes are chosen to make liberals look bad, as…Continue Reading

Rome Media Symposium . . . Shine The Light Of True Religious Liberty

By ALAN SEARS (Editor’s Note: Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom [www.adfmedia.org], offered the following welcoming remarks to those attending the ADF’s March 24-27 Catholic Media Symposium in Rome. Raymond Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, also spoke at the event.) +    +    + Good evening friends. It is an honor to…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… The Justina Pelletier Case And The Abusive Child Protective System

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Will “Health Care” Kill American Medicine?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY My mother, a doctor’s daughter who became a doctor herself, sometimes accompanied her father when he made house calls in the Livermore Valley of California during the Great Depression. Her job was to open and close the gates at the ranches and farms they visited. In those tenuous times, as she…Continue Reading

A Government Admission Of Wrongdoing

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO Last week, National Intelligence Director Gen. James R. Clapper sent a brief letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he admitted that agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been reading innocent Americans’ e-mails and text messages and listening to digital…Continue Reading

Reminder

Your Prayers Are Requested . . .

We sadly report that our longtime news editor, Paul Likoudis, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. He will be incapacitated for about six months as he undergoes chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. His From the Mail column will be suspended. We ask your prayers for Paul’s full recovery. If you would like to help Paul with his overwhelming medical expenses, a…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Pope Benedict … On Wisdom

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s new catechetical series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, given during his weekly general audience on April 9. Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! We begin today a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know that the Holy Spirit constitutes the soul,…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Parents Must Teach Chastity As Does Pope Francis

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Recently Pope Francis urged chastity for prevention of HIV as Pope Benedict was also known to do, and, as a result of which, opprobrium and vituperation were rained down upon him. The two Vicars of Christ agree in this matter because the teaching comes not from men nor from them but from God. The chastity…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… Who Were Jesus’ Brothers?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 Just as Jesus came not to destroy but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17), the New Testament is consistent with the Old, and in Jesus’ time brother had also a variety of meanings. For instance: In Matt. 5:22 (Sermon on the Mount), brother means a fellow man, purely and simply, because of our common origin…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. When was it decided that Sunday is the Sabbath and not Saturday? Is it in the Bible? — R.E.G., Nevada. A. Yes, it’s in the Acts of the Apostles where it says that “on the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread [i.e., celebrate Mass], Paul spoke to them because he was going to leave…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bernadette Soubirous

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of mankind, God has chosen the lesser person to be His messenger, prophet, or king. He chose, Moses, the stutterer, to lead the Jewish people out of the slavery of the Egyptians. He chose Ruth, the pagan Moabite, to be an ancestor of Jesus. He chose King David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Julie Billiart

By CAROLE BRESLIN Across North America there are churches and schools named after St. Julie Billiart. They carry on the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur founded by Julie and her friends during the turbulent years of the late 18th and early 19th century of the French nation when Catholics were being persecuted. Throughout the history of…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading