Friday, December 24, 2004

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done..." One

I'm writing this from Cincinnati. The northern outskirts, actually. Turns out the "Queen City of the West" got the white Christmas we all dream about. Or at least until we realize there's 20 inches of it and it's accompanied by a level three snow emergency so nobody can go anywhere without a Humvee and/or snow chains.

But Sal and I made it in anyway, in ten hours. That's record time when you consider the conditions south of Columbus.

I was hoping we could talk about the many saints remembered in December. In fact, I was hoping we could talk about a lot of things. But I got caught up in my glorious victory over adversity that was my web design class. I did well on my final presentation, and a perfect score on the test. I've gotten tension headaches every damn day for the last four to six weeks of the term. I'm not as young as I used to be. But I've still got game. We completed a "portfolio page" that leads to our website project. Mine was about the French impressionist painter Georges Seurat. It was entitled "J'essai de faire un point." ("I'm trying to make a point.") If you were an art history buff, you'd get it. Probably.

I think I got a B. Here's the results:

Now, back to "all the saints, from whom their labors rest..."

You remember I mentioned Juan Diego. On the 12th, which fell on a Sunday this year, we would normally commemorate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe. In parishes across the USA, a publisher of liturgical aids will feature a tribute to this vision, starting out with some drivel about the Spaniards and their cruel suppression of the venerable Aztec culture. Well, Father Saunders gives a fuller account of the real deal in a recent issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald, in striking another blow against attempts by pseudo-intellectual twits at re-writing history:

"The Aztec religious practices, which included human sacrifice, play an interesting and integral role in this story. Every major Aztec city had a temple pyramid, about 100 feet high, on top of which was erected an altar. Upon this altar, the Aztec priests offered human sacrifice to their god Huitzilopochtli, called the 'Lover of Hearts and Drinker of Blood,' by cutting out the beating hearts of their victims, usually adult men but often children. The priests held the beating hearts high for all to see, drank the blood, kicked the lifeless bodies down the pyramid stairs, and later severed the limbs and ate the flesh. Considering that the Aztecs controlled 371 towns and the law required 1,000 human sacrifices for each town with a temple pyramid, over 50,000 human beings were sacrificed each year. Moreover, the early Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl estimated that one out of every five children fell victim to this bloodthirsty religion.

"In 1487, when Juan Diego was just 13 years old, he would have witnessed the most horrible event: Tlacaellel, the 89-year-old Aztec ruler, dedicated the new temple pyramid of the sun, dedicated to the two chief gods of the Aztec pantheon — Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca, (the god of hell and darkness) — in the center of Tenochtitlan (later Mexico City). The temple pyramid was 100 feet high with 114 steps to reach the top. More than 80,000 men were sacrificed over a period of four days and four nights. One can only imagine the flow of blood and the piles of bodies from this dedication...

"Nevertheless, in 1520, Hernan Cortes outlawed human sacrifice...

The nerve of that guy. The process only took fifteen seconds for each victim -- less time than your average abortion. So it was an efficient civilization if nothing else, eh?

And then there are those feminist-theology types who try to see a "goddess" image in the Virgin Mary. They're outa luck there too:

"These are also symbols of divine victory over the pagan religion. Sun rays were symbolic of the Aztec god Huitzilopochtle. Therefore, our Blessed Mother, standing before the rays, shows that she proclaims the true God who is greater than Huitzilopochtle and who eclipses his power.

"She stands also on the moon. The moon represented night and darkness, and was associated with the god Tezcatlipoca. Her again, the Blessed Mother’s standing on the moon indicates divine triumph over evil."

There you have it; the straight skinny. More information on the Saints of December can be found at a calendar here.

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