Young home-schooled friends of ours act in and narrate this uplifting 18-minute video of The Life Of St. Andre Bessette of Montreal, showing miraculous healings and the saint's devotion to St Joseph. Utterly charming!
Call me schmaltzy, but I've long thought the secular Christmas chestnut "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been crying out for a Catholic parody, so here it is. Not ha-ha parody, I mean, just imitative use.
Have yourself a Marian little Christmas: Magnify the Lord. Join His Mother and His saints in one accord.
Have yourself a Marian little Christmas: In her "Fiat" see The model of perfection in humility.
As we walk through this vale of pain, Still our joy remains undimmed, For She who bore the Holy Child, Intercedes for us with Him.
In your longing for a sweet reunion Turn to God and pray, Worship Mary's Baby nestled on the hay And have yourself a Marian little Christmas Day.
In 2001 the original songwriter, Hugh Martin, a Seventh-Day Adventist, co-wrote new, Christian lyrics under the title "Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas." Sorry, Mr Martin, I couldn't find a way to keep a second internal rhyme in the third stanza.
Update: Thanks, Curt Jester, and sorry, everyone, for the technical difficulties here. If you can't get the player to play just by clicking, try right-clicking to open the mp3 in a new tab.
Apologies for the sound quality. Christmas comes once a year, so I thought I really should strike while the iron was hot. In my defence, let me cite Chesterton: "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
The news that I’m preparing to attend an Anglican academic girls’ school reunion has prompted a friend of ours to inquire about my view of the Anglican church. And it’s a fine day for him to have posed the question, because (in the Novus Ordo calendar) May 4 just happens to be the feast of the martyrs of England and Wales. (Canadian readers, please note that, in our country, today is instead identified with Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis, because she was Québecoise.)
Although I was, like The Sheepcat, partly from a United Church clergy family, I was raised high Anglican. At age 8 I started asking hard questions about Anglicanism, and at age 13 I made my profession of faith for reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. My experience of thirteen years at an Anglican school – I chose to stay there following my conversion – had little to do with my decision to become Catholic; much of the Scriptural instruction I received there was very helpful, and I am very grateful for many blessings from that time, especially that of friendship. It did matter that my grade 3 classmates and I talked about whether or not we self-identified as Protestant; it was my early understanding that I simply belonged to the English branch of the Catholic Church, a claim which didn’t withstand scrutiny.
My objection to Anglicanism did not arise for the same reasons as many others’ in the ’70s – abortion and women’s ordination (which I do oppose but didn’t understand as a little child); huge crises of conscience were triggered amongst certain adults with the first ordination of a woman to the Canadian Anglican clergy, on November 1, 1976.
And I’m glad I wasn’t so sophisticated as to fully comprehend the politics around me. Rather, I was young and simple enough to be struck by the whole question of origins. In fairness, my Anglo-Catholic environment was pretty Roman-friendly; and the parishes where I was baptized and raised were linked with the Oxford Movement.
Every year church school [Sunday school] students like me were given a faith-related gift. Mine included a Bible-based story book, a statue of Our Lady, and a rosary. Except for the belief that the Queen was the Head of the Church, I was taught nothing inconsistent with Catholicism, and in fact, I received much better catechesis than many of my cradle-Catholic contemporaries. I even believed in the Real Presence (and I was horrified to learn later the early history of Anglicanism that was so destructive to the Sacraments). I didn’t know that I wasn’t being taught mainstream Anglicanism.
One Sunday thirty years ago – it was a warm morning between Easter and Pentecost – the church school teacher moved our class outside to the lawn, and set about introducing the Apostles’ Creed. “And who were the Apostles?” she asked. Hands went up. One child said they were the Disciples. Another child said they were the Evangelists. And a third child changed my life by saying, “They were the Catholics.”
Big wow. Did that mean there were people who were more like the Apostles than us? How could that be?
See, no Anglican child I knew was ever taught about Henry VIII, because no parents or teachers wanted us to emulate him. So at 8 years old, when I realized that Jesus had founded one Church and Henry VIII another, and I was in the latter, I felt cheated.
I would like to think that, had I lived in Henry VIII’s time, I would have been among those like Erasmus and Thomas More, who advocated Christian humanism and tried to reform the Church from within, perhaps at the price of my life. In university I eventually did a fourth-year paper on how Henry’s personal violation of the marriage covenant led to the wider disruption of communion and the inevitable break, in 1930, with the sexual morality with which Christians have been identified from the beginning. The fruits of a church founded on adultery have included desecration of the Sacraments to ensure a break from apostolic succession; and in turn, doctrinal confusion. (Doctrinal confusion later challenged the Catholic Church, which is now in the midst of a reform-of-the-reform.) And the schisms continued exponentially after the foundation of Anglicanism and other early Protestant churches, so that today we have thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations.
I very much resisted leaving the best world I had ever known till then, but nothing was ever the same after that Sunday. I was happily enrolled in a Catholic Sunday school the next fall. At 13 I converted formally and eagerly to Catholicism, making my profession of faith for reception into full communion.
Others on that lawn were on a similar pathway, and my Anglican church school teacher became my Catholic Confirmation sponsor. As I grew up we lost touch, though I did see her briefly upon the passing of our old pastor, another convert. She went to Quebec and became a Sister in the Congregation of Notre Dame. I heard her news through other convert friends, and was able to write to her before my wedding to The Sheepcat. I extended a printed invitation along with a handwritten letter acknowledging that she would probably be unable to attend, because of illness and frailty. The Sister wrote back, declining the invitation as expected, but telling me two great things.
First, she was confident that our marriage would be successful, because I had known to describe The Sheepcat as “a gift from God.” Second, she has prayed for me every day of my life. Another big wow! From our various wedding guests we received small gifts and large gifts and no gifts and fancy gifts – but this Sister’s intangible gift was the best of them all, and without it, I don’t know how I would have turned out. (Subsequent to our engagement, I joined The Sheepcat in teaching Confirmation at our parish. I tell this anecdote to our students, to encourage them to carefully choose holy sponsors.)
As for the rest: A couple of the Anglicans I knew as a child have become large-E Evangelicals; almost all the rest are now Catholics or Orthodox Christians who are also small-e evangelicals. Meanwhile, most current Anglicans my husband and I know are either swimming the Tiber as a group, or struggling within the various fractured remnants of the Anglican Church of Canada. “The time [has] come when people [do] not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, … accumulate teachers and … stop listening to the truth and [are] diverted to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-5).
I’m too hungry to have stayed in a church setting without nourishing food. As a Christian who accepts the Creed, I’m left with the fundamental issue of what to do with John 6. Here are some chapter excerpts:
v 51: “‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’” v 55: “‘For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.’” v 60: “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’” v 66: “As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.”
Typically, only those Churches (Catholic and Orthodox) which maintain apostolic succession teach that Christ is truly present on the altar as He promised to be. Sacred Tradition is sacred. Other traditions may not be.
The title of Mary as "Mother of God" was one of those puzzling peculiarities of Catholicism, as far as I was concerned back in my Baptist days. Jesus was God, and Mary was Jesus' mother, but how could she be mother of, well, all of God (who is infinite and timeless)? Catholic moral teaching had a reassuring solidity to it, even if not all its rules then struck me as necessary, but the Catholic way of thinking about the Virgin Mary I found downright disquieting.
Part of the answer is that Mary is in fact not mother of God the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit. But because Christ's divine nature, "eternally begotten of the Father," is united with his human nature in a single person (as solemnly affirmed by the fifth-century Council of Ephesus), his mother is truly the Mother of God.
When I was preparing to be received into the Church a little more than three years ago, I was told I could select a Confirmation saint if I liked, though I didn't have to. I considered Maximilian Kolbe, but I was still pretty unsure about this Militia of the Immaculata business.
Cardinal O'Connor named Fr Benedict Groeschel,
CFR, as Postulator of the Cause of Canonization for Cardinal Cooke, who was designated Servant of God in 1992.
Prayer for the Canonization of Cardinal Cooke:Almighty and eternal Father, we thank you for the exemplary life and
gentle kindness of your son and bishop, Terence Cooke. If it be your
gracious will, grant that the virtues of your servant may be recognized
and provide a lasting example for your people. We pray through Our Lord
Jesus Christ your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
After a very, very long hiatus, I'm taking the anniversary of John Paul II's death as a cue to get on with posting pictures from the rest of the central European pilgrimage from (gulp!) nearly two years ago. So here is the building in which Karol Wojtyła was born.
And next to it, the church where he was baptized.
We had a chance to pray in front of relics of his.
Sadly shaking my head, I wrote to the friend who sent me the link, "Trust 365 to put such a spin on the significance of JHN's life." His reply:
I don't know about "significance," but it is their mandate to point out who in history was playing for the team, or at least suspected of doing so.
But c'mon. "Playing for the team"? Newman is this close to getting beatified by his beloved Catholic Church and in 1991 was declared Venerable, one condition of which is that he lived a life "heroic in virtue." Does anyone seriously think that a man for whom there was credible evidence of homosexual activity after he became a Catholic priest would be found heroically virtuous by JP2's or B16's inquisitors during these the Second Dark Ages?
Face it, mate, Newman wasn't even cheering for the team from the sidelines. Here are Newman's voluminous works. Show us the gay pompoms. Without pulling a John Boswell.
The whole business of looking for who's playing on the gay team is a pathetic exercise in self-justification. (I know the game well, having played it myself until I got thoroughly bored with it, which happened long before I gave up on gay ideology as a whole.)
It won't wash. We are not justified by the state's stamp of approval on our sexual practices. We are not justified by eminent persons' having felt or acted upon sexual desires similar to our own. We are justified by the Holy Sacrifice of Christ's Precious Blood.