Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is one of my favorite feasts of the Church, for as they say, of Mary, nothing is sufficient. This title, among all of Mary's titles, is an especially dear and sweet one- how could it not be when she said, "I am the Immaculate Conception" to little St. Bernadette just a few years before it was dogmatically declared?
Additionally, the quantity and quality of the Marian artwork on the topic is phenomenal, as readers are already no doubt aware. Indeed, it is a little funny that an undepictable event, which art can only suggest by figures or adding titles to otherwise barely distinguishable works, has been given such attention. Here's a nice classic from - the Internet!
More notably, Christmas is approaching, and I find myself beset by a few dilemmas. Cheer and good spirits abound, and all and sundry seem more sociable now than ever. Hence, each meeting presents an occasion for that decisive decision: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Of course, this blogger isn't going to start parroting "Happy Holidays" like all the seculars would desire; the sheer extent of its political correctness has rendered it more vacuous than, "Wazzup, D.A.W.G.!" (and more of a surrender to crudity). On the other hand, and this is probably just the contrarian in me, but Merry Christmas seems so unwieldy, and its use in the culture wars has made it quite artificial; for that reason I have dished out more "Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!"s than "Merry Christmas!"es. My thoughts are best described by an article, "Merry Christmas, Pinhead", which appeared in Chronicles magazine recently, but sadly it isn't online. Essentially, saying Merry Christmas is the Bill O'Reilly thing to do, and that's not good enough for me. Sure, I will start using it eventually, as in, maybe two or three days before the feast itself, but until then I will generally avoid, for once, a combative practice, and continue with the more convenient and natural "See you later." Except for this once: Merry Christmas., boys and girls!
Speaking of art again, one of my great annual travails, for the third year now, has been coming up with the annual Christmas sonnet. Feeling compelled to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I can't simply brush it off as I occasionally have to when a friend wants a sonnet, but I feel uninspired. Last night, I couldn't sleep, and as I heard the wind howling in the trees and over the light sheet of fresh snow, in my lack of words I was inspired to write
Sonnet CIII- Our Christmas Work
The nearing Christmas writhed my soul. The wood
Or resin cradles, present in the crèche,
And all the holy pictures, failed to flesh
Out Christ, my first love, highest, ever good.
He's sleeping there, or in His Mother's arms,
The Savior prophesied, for all to see.
I often prayed, "What can you want of me,
Protected sweetly, safe from every harm?"
And then I saw the reason they were cold.
The icons figure for us our part,
For God most-loving sorrows in His Heart
When men are sinning, falling from His Fold.
We, Christians, cradle Him, Who mourns our loss,
God freshly born, and ever on the cross.
May Christ, and His will for you, always be apparent to you. The helps to discovering, if not God's specific desires about how we should live, at least how we should conduct ourselves when we run into a situation, are many. The revelation of the Bible, especially with the aid of handmaiden philosophy, are always the first and best helps. Yet, these instructions do not always give a heartfelt spirit of direction. For that, there remain those incommunicables, the profound feeling of closeness to God which may elude the most erudite Christian scholar, and indeed be strongest among those with a weaker ability to make the wonders of this world and the next mundane. Such closeness, such fulfilledness may only be given us as we wonder at the now-increasing moon, or indeed as we ponder the intimacies of the crèche. Only with these may we happily know God.