Thursday, December 31, 2020

Christmastide: Day 7 (St Sylvester)

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven swans a-swimming ...”

The Seven Swans are swimming in cash as the most expensive overall gift in PNC's Christmas Price Index. Your true love will pay $13,125 to buy them all in 2020, a cost that should come as no surprise as it is the same as last year.

+    +    +

Allowing for corruptions evolving the text as described earlier, the "seven swans a-swimming" completes the first seven days being represented by birds, in honor of the seven sacraments. The song is just more than half over, and we can already see that someone obviously put a great deal of thought into it.

What do birds and sacraments have in common? We may never know, but we already know this much ...

Today is the Feast of Saint Sylvester, who was Pope from 31 January, 314, until his death on this day in 335. He was the first bishop of Rome to refer to himself as "Pope," or more specifically, "Father (Papa)." His reign would have occurred during that of Emperor Constantine, as well as the First Council of Nicea in 325, which composed the Nicene Creed proclaimed at Mass on Sunday. (Sylvester did not attend this council, but sent a delegation.) He is also one of the ten longest-reigning popes in history.

In present-day Germany, this day of New Year's Eve is known as "Silvester." Beverly Stevens of Regina Magazine tells us: "Okay, this is TRADITIONAL in Germany to play this clip on 'Sylvester' -- that is, New Year's Eve." The English comedian Freddie Frinton (1909-1968) is a butler in his famous "Dinner for One" scene, from the 1948 British short comedy "Trouble in the Air." Other countries know the day better by the saints name as well (such as "la Saint-Sylvestre" in France).

As for the year of our Lord, two thousand and twenty, the clock is running out. And for a year such as the one we've had, it may not be missed all that much.

Brace yourselves.

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Christmastide: Day 6 (St Egwin of Evesham)

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six geese a-laying ...”

Proving that 2020 has been “for the birds,” the six Geese-A-Laying prove to be one of the bad eggs on the index with a 35.7% price increase this year – the second highest increase of 2020, at $570.00.

+    +    +

Geese were among the first birds to be domesticated. As our ancestors made the transformation from hunting and gathering to settling and farming, they found they could keep a supply of them penned up, and with sufficient breeding, to supply eggs and meat for a period of time. Thus did geese emerge as a common barnyard fowl in England.

Closer to the present, Katy Sirls is an English professor at Dixie College in St George, Utah, where she teaches English classes at Dixie College. After completing her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing, with an emphasis on fiction, she published one of her academic essays.

After several months overseas, Stacia is ecstatic to return home for Christmas. It’s been too long since she’s seen her boyfriend, Luke and she longs to be in his arms again. She even has a seductive and sexy “present” planned for their first night together.

With arrangements to celebrate the holidays with Luke’s family, Stacia soon discovers her plans are going to be quite difficult to carry out. Her first night back is spent getting to know his beloved pet geese. It seems as though their night of passion will have to wait—until, that is, she discovers Luke has plans of his own.

Stacia soon finds herself following the mysterious trail of presents Luke has left her: Christmas-wrapped goose eggs, each one with a clue that will lead her to the next ... and, ultimately, to a night she’ll never forget!

Today, neither the traditional nor reformed general Roman calendars commemorate a saint, and with the former, it appears only as a day within the octave of the Christmas season. However, the oldest of religious orders -- the Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, to name a few -- have their own calendars of saints particular to themselves. In addition, many countries have local celebrations on their calendars, lesser-known saints with a popular local cult of devotion.

On this day, the Benedictines remember Saint Egwin of Evesham, the late 7th and early 8th century bishop of Worchester. Born of noble blood to a royal family of the English midlands, he joined the Order of Saint Benedict, and was eventually made bishop. He was known for his protection of the widowed and orphaned, which made him very popular. He was also known for his strict enforcement of the Church's justice, and of her discipline, especially (wait for it!) priestly celibacy, which made him, well, not so popular. A canonical case was made against him, for which he traveled all the way to Rome to appeal, and win.

After seeing a vision of the Blessed Mother, and at her request, he founded Evesham Abbey, one of the great Benedictine houses of the British Isles. He died in 717, and was buried at the Abbey, after which many miracles were attributed to him. (The church in England and Wales commemorates him on January 11, the date of the transfer of his relics.)

Depicted here is the bell tower of the abbey, which is all that remains following the suppression of monasteries during the Reformation.

And so it goes.

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Christmastide: Day 5 (St Thomas of Canterbury)

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five gold rings ...”

Gold Rings show a coupling between commodities and consumer prices this Christmas. As investor interest in the precious metal grew at the onset of the pandemic, so did its price. If True Love is looking for a little sparkle this holiday season, they’ll pay 14.5% more for this index item than in 2019, at $945.00.

+    +    +

The fifth day's gift of gold rings (or "golden rings" in some versions) refers not to gold jewelry, but to a characteristic of the ring-necked pheasant. This becomes significant later. The day after tomorrow. You'll have to wait for that.

But you don't have to wait for today's feast, which in the western Church is that of St Thomas à Becket, also known as Thomas of Canterbury, named for where he was Archbishop at the time of his death. Born around 1162, he became the confidant and High Chancellor of King Henry II of England. Then the King got the idea for Thomas, already an archdeacon, to be consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England. This did not have the effect for which the King had hoped. Eventually, Thomas was embroiled in conflict with Henry over the rights and privileges of the Church and was assassinated by the King's followers in Canterbury Cathedral, on this day in 1170. He was canonized less than four years later by Pope Alexander III.

(Hmmm, canonized in less than four years. Sounds like he was railroaded to me. Obviously the conspiracy is worse than we thought ... but that's another story.)

This story became the subject of a stage play, and eventually the great 1964 film, Becket, starring Richard Burton as Thomas Becket and Peter O'Toole as King Henry. It won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and received eleven other nominations, including Best Actor (Burton and O'Toole).

Following an extensive restoration process, the original 1964 film was made available in limited theatrical re-release in 2007. It is currently available on DVD. More information is available at the website

And the celebration of the Nativity continues.

+    +    +

It is a little-known fact, that today the Western church also celebrates the feast of an Old Testament figure, none other than King David. In the West, we rarely address Old Testament people as "Saint So-and-so," although it is quite common in the East. ("Saint Elias," for example, is a popular name for Eastern Catholic and Orthodox parishes, otherwise rendered as "Elijah.") As to "Saint David," Shawn Tribe of New Liturgical Movement provides commentary.

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmastide: Day 4 (Childermas)

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four calling birds ...”

The Four Calling Birds are sticking to their holiday tradition in 2020 with a price tag that remains unchanged from 2019, at $599.96.

+    +    +

Actually, they would have been referred to as "colly birds," meaning a form of blackbird. This is one of a number of lines that had become corrupted over the centuries. But enough about the song. Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the infant males in Bethlehem under the age of two years, that King Herod had put to death, in the hopes of doing away with the newborn King, which he saw as a threat to his power (Matthew 2:16-18).

In this 1611 painting by Guido Reni, we see the depiction of that which fulfilled the prophecy: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

Some historians have debated whether the tale actually occurred, as the ancient historian Josephus fails to mention it, but the consensus of biblical scholars attest to its authenticity. An ancient tradition has placed the death toll at fourteen thousand, most likely an allusion to the many atrocities committed by Herod, including the killing of his own son. However, given that the "little town of Bethlehem" had a population of only about one thousand at the time, the estimated number of victims has been more realistically placed at around twenty.

In Spanish-speaking countries (including, uh, Spain), as well as former colonies such as the Philippines, this is traditionally a day given to playing practical jokes, much like April Fools' Day elsewhere. The pranks are known as "inocentadas" and either the pranksters or their victims are referred to as "inocentes."

I suppose it depends on which ones you ask.

+    +    +

It is also a day of remembrance for yours truly, as an entry scheduled for later today will attest. Stay tuned ...

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmastide: Day 3 (St John the Apostle)

“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French hens ...”

The Three French Hens flock together with the other fowl of the index as another item increasing in price from 2019. This trio will cost your true love $210.00 – over 15% more than last year.

+    +    +

“The disciple whom Jesus loved” (“ο μαθητης ον ηγαπα ο Ιησους”) was, for a time, banished under Emperor Domition to the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. This was before returning to Ephesus to remain for the rest of his days. John was the only one of the Twelve to die a natural death. Tradition says he lived to be nearly one hundred years old, yet it was not for want of his enemies trying. Upon an attempt to kill John by poisoning his wine, the evil substance miraculously took the form of a serpent, as it dissipated from his cup.

Here he is in a circa 1610 painting by El Greco with a look that says:

“Dude, seriously? This is the best you can do?”

Today, families can celebrate the Feast of Saint John by drinking to the health of each other, following a German tradition known as Johannissegen. Fisheaters has a recipe for mulled wine that is customary to the occasion. Before the evening meal begins, the head of the house recites the blessing over the wine, as recorded in the Rituale Romanum:

Lord Jesus Christ, Thou didst call Thyself the vine and Thy holy Apostles the branches; and out of all those who love Thee, Thou didst desire to make a good vineyard. Bless this wine and pour into it the might of Thy benediction so that everyone who drinks or takes of it, may through the intercession of Thy beloved disciple, the holy Apostle and Evangelist John, be freed from every disease or attack of illness and obtain health of body and soul. Who livest and reignest forever. (Amen.)

He then lifts his glass toward the next person (or touches the rim of his glass to theirs), saying, “I drink you the love of Saint John.” The receiver says in response, “I thank you for the love of Saint John.” The second person turns to the third, and the process is repeated all around the table. That's the long form. The short form is where all present clink their glasses together saying, “Drink the love of Saint John.” This is especially handy for young children who cannot wait to chow down.

To each his own.

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmastide: Day 2 (Boxing Day)

"On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two turtle doves ..."

Costs for this flighty pair soared amidst market volatility this year, reaching the highest increase of any item on this year's index. Up over 50 percent in cost from last year, the Turtle Doves were anything but slow to illustrate how increase in demand impacts pricing, at $450.00.

+    +    +

I love to show this video of the á capella group Straight No Chaser singing their own unique version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Today still feels a little like Christmas, only more stores are open, bustling continued consumer spending in spite of everything. I know, some people may think that's a concession to the over-commercialization of the holiday, but as we mentioned before, it's better than pretending it's anything other than Christmas.

Today is “Boxing Day” in Canada, the UK, and other nations of the present and former British Empire. Traditionally, Christmas Day was when the master of the house would give presents to his family. On the following day, he would arrange for leftovers from his great feast to be given to his domestic staff, in boxes that they could take home. Eventually, it became customary to box other gifts as well.

For this year's musical Boxing Day selection, we feature a tune by Courtney Barnett entitled (what else?) Boxing Day Blues (Revisited).

Whatever works, huh, guys?

Meanwhile, the Irish celebrate this as a national holiday, too, only as Saint Stephen's Day, honoring one of the seven deacons appointed in the Book of Acts, to assist the apostles in their ministry. He was stoned to death by the Jews -- no, not all of the Jews, just some of them, and all of those guys were Jews, alright already??? -- and so is known in the Churches of the East as the "Protomartyr," as he was the first recorded to die for the Faith. And let's not forget that "Good King Welceslas" of Bohemia went out on the feast of Stephen, when the snow lay on ground, yada yada yada ...

And so it goes.

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmastide: Day 1 (Nativity)

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.”

While 2020 was anything but predictable, the Partridge sheltered in place, as the price for him and his Pear Tree remains unchanged from 2019 at $210.18.

+    +    +

The period known as Christmastide begins with the Feast of the Nativity itself; specifically, with the evening of this first day, and into the dawn of the Feast of the Epiphany. And so the first day of Christmastide is 25-26 December, ending with Twelfth Night on 5-6 January.

By tomorrow, you will stop hearing Christmas music on some radio stations, but here at Chez Alexandre, whether here or on the road, as well as here at man with black hat, the Christmas season is just beginning. Most of us are familiar with the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and the significance of the symbolism therein. But for those who are not ...

Twelve Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Eleven Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles

Ten Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments

Nine Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Eight Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes

Seven Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and/or the seven sacraments

Six Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation

Five Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

Four Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists.

Three French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.

Two Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments.

One Partridge in a Pear Tree refers to Christ on Earth being crucified upon a tree.

True Love refers to God, who sent his only son to us.

[NOTA BENE: The use of this song as a "secret catechism" for children, employed by Catholics persecuted in post-Reformation England, is a matter of some dispute, as pointed out in this article from Leave it to them to bring the party down, especially when they're actually wrong some of the time.]

+    +    +

Now then (and this should be a treat for those of you new to us), we present the continuation of a venerable man with black hat tradition.

For thirty-seven years, PNC Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the United States, has calculated the prices of the twelve gifts from the classic carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The result is the PNC Christmas Price Index, originally the brainchild of Jim Dunigan, the former managing executive of investments with PNC Wealth Management. The result is a unique and whimsical holiday tradition that makes learning about the economy fun.

For many years, Mr Dunigan himself presented the complete rundown of the cost of the entire entourage on video. For now, you can get this year's short version from the FOX affiliate in Indianapolis. The effect of the pandemic on various service industries brought the cost way down from last year, by a whopping 58.5 percent (from $38,993), to a mere $16,168.14 this year, what with all the drummers drumming, pipers piping, lords leaping, and ladies dancing, being out of work.

Be that as it may, in the years following his departure, Mr Dunigan's legacy presses on.

Meanwhile, from all of us at Chez Alexandre, we wish you "Maligayang Pasko at Makabagong Bagong Taon!"

You get the idea. Now, dear minions, go forth and spread joy!

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

(The illustration for the PNC Christmas Price Index is from the website of PNC Bank, NA, and is used here without permission or shame. It's the least they can do for charging me twenty-five bucks a month to earn interest off my damn money.)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 9 (The Vigil)

The whole world awaits the coming of the Savior. No amount of early turmoil or political shananigans will prevent the arrival of the King. Yes, he is King. It is a sign of wonder, a sign of contradiction, one that is lost on those whose thoughts are confined to the world.

Take, for example, the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam. Two weeks ago today, in light of restrictions imposed for the coronavirus pandemic, he took people of faith to task for daring to insist, that occupying a church building was no more dangerous than doing the same at Walmart.
“But this year we need to think about what is truly the most important thing. Is it the worship or the building. For me, God is wherever you are. You don’t have to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers,” Northam said. “Worship with a mask on is still worship. Worship outside or worship online is still worship.”
You know you've been had when the likes of His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Archbishop of Washington and former McCarrick protege, in a rare moment of testicular fortitude, had to be the one to school the Powers That Be on what matters.
"The right of the faithful to assemble for religious services is one of our most cherished constitutional legacies, and we maintain it should be treated as an “essential” activity — just as D.C. regards shopping and so many other activities as essential. We simply ask that religious worship be treated in the same way so that we may continue to worship together and serve those in need."
Of course, in the face of legal action, the Mayor of DC backed down. (See, Your Immenseness, was that so hard?)

Closer to home (and yours truly), Father Daniel Gee, pastor of Saint Rita's in Alexandria, was more to the point.
"The sacraments are not a luxury. The sacraments are life!"
We have watched our leaders make rules for everyone but themselves. But they will not prevail. What government official, what empty-suited script-reader of the Fake News networks, what health official who can't make up his mind whether or not masks are safe, can presume to tell the rest of us to stay home and pretend the Coming of the Savior would be ignored, even for one year?

Their cause is lost, for the King is coming, to comfort the afflicted with the Good News. We will take prudential measures to protect ourselves, but we will not take no for an answer.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
"Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)
So it is written. And so it goes.

This novena can be found in its entirety at the "xmasnovena2020" label.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 8 (O Emmanuel)

Veni, Veni Emmanuel!
    O come, o come, Emmanuel,
Captivum solve Israel!
    And ransom captive Israel,
Qui gemit in exsilio,
    That mourns in lonely exile here,
Privatus Dei Filio.
    Until the Son of God appear.

Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (7:14). “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.”

+    +    +

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag. (Won't be long now ...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 7 (O Rex Gentium)

Veni, Veni, Rex gentium,
    O come, Desire of nations, bind,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
    In one the hearts of all mankind;
Ut salvas tuos famulos
    Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
Peccati sibi conscios.
    And be Thyself our King of peace.

Isaiah had prophesied, “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5), and “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4)

“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”

+    +    +

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 6 (O Oriens)

Veni, Veni, O Oriens!
    O come, Thou Dayspring,
        come and cheer,
Solare nos adveniens,
    Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Noctis depelle nebulas,
    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.
    And death's dark shadows
        put to flight.

Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

+    +    +

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 5 (O Clavis David)

Veni, Clavis Davidica,
    O come, thou Key of David, come,
Regna reclude caelica,
    And open wide our heavenly home;
Fac iter tutum superum,
    Make safe the way that leads on high,
Et claude vias inferum.
    And close the path to misery.

Isaiah had prophesied, “I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Advent IV: Love

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. R. Thanks be to God.


V. O Lord, hear our prayer.
R. And let our cry come unto Thee.
V. Let us pray ...

O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us: that by the help of Thy grace that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness: Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.

R. Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 4 (O Radix Jesse)

Veni, O Jesse virgula,
    O come, thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
Ex hostis tuos ungula,
    From every foe deliver them.
De specu tuos tartari
    That trust thy mighty power to save,
Educ et antro barathri.
    And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and “On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

“O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

+    +    +

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 3 (O Adonai)

Veni, Veni Adonai!
    O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Qui populo in Sinai
    Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
Legem dedisti vertice,
    In ancient times didst give the law
In Majestate gloriae.
    In cloud and majesty, and awe.

Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).

“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”

+    +    +

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 2 (O Sapientia)

Veni, O Sapientia,
    O come, O Wisdom from on high,
Quae hic disponis omnia,
    who orders all things mightily,
Veni, viam prudentiae
    to us the path of knowledge show,
Ut doceas et gloriae.
    and teach us in her ways to go.

Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).

“O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”

Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

+    +    +

(Commentary for this series of the “O Antiphons” is authored by Father William Saunders, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, with copyright 2003 from the Arlington Catholic Herald. Images in the upper right-hand corner are the work of designer Esther Bley. Both are used in this series without permission or shame.)


This entire series can be found in progress at the "xmasnovena2020” tag.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Novena for the Christ-Mass: Day 1

VIDEO: The art of making a parol is demonstrated on Filipino-American television based in California (in Tagalog, mostly). A brief documentary follows beginning at 01:38 (in English, mostly).

In a nation where eighty percent of the population is Catholic, Christmas starts early. It has to. After all, you cannot have a feast like Christmas without it being preceded by a novena. That's when you get up to attend Mass just before dawn for nine days before the big day. In the Philippines, it is known as “Simbang Gabi” which is Tagalog for “evening Mass.” It is also known as “Misa de Gallo” which is Spanish for “Rooster’s Mass.”

So why is this series of Masses held in the morning and not the evening, as is customary with Masses for a Christmas novena?

+    +    +

The answer can be traced to the early colonial days, when the people would be exhausted from working in the fields all day for their Spanish overlords. The priests and friars who tended to their spiritual needs availed themselves of the people's desire to start the day early, ahead of the tropical heat, and moved the customary Mass and devotion to the early morning, before dawn.

And so, it's with a sense of irony that the Archdiocese of Manila saw fit in recent years, to introduce liturgical norms for the novena, in the form of celebrating Simbang Gabi in the evenings. At first this was due to the limitations imposed by curfews during the years of martial law under President Marcos. More recently, it has accommodated office professionals who can more easily attend after work than before.

+    +    +

The popular decoration for Christmas in the Philippines is the “parol” (pronounced “pah-ROLL” with a rolling "r", from the Spanish word for lantern, "farol"), which is as common there as the Christmas tree is here in the States. This star-shaped motif is a cross between a Chinese lantern and the Mexican piñata. It is lit from within; traditionally with candlelights mounted inside, but in the last century with electric lights. They are typically two to three feet wide, but if you go to such renowned events as the Fiesta in San Fernando, Pampanga (north of Metro Manila), there is a huge parade to celebrate the beginning -- no, not of Christmas Day, but of the novena!

Traditional parols are made with bamboo sticks and rice paper. The Bayanihan Community Center provides instructions for making your own. You can find what you need at an arts and crafts store. You could have it done next weekend.

Closer to home, at Chez Alexandre, there is a very colorful parol gracing the front door, one that Celia brought back from the Philippines. It is of the modern variety, made with wire and a type of seashell known as capiz, and illuminated with elaborate flashing lights.

+    +    +

Now, back to that novena thing.

We here at man with black hat have an annual tradition of honoring the “O Antiphons” the seven chants which introduce the Vesperal Canticle (the “Magnificat”) in the Divine Office. Most people hear paraphrases of them in the hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel," but they were originally chanted one verse a day, ending with the day before the Vigil. Over time, our annual feature has evolved into its present form, as a comprehensive aid to daily devotion. For just five minutes of viewing during a quiet time in the day, one may contemplate the coming of the God-made-man. The video clips for this unique series are provided by the YouTube channel of francisxcc entitled “The Splendor of Truth.”

As an added bonus, we will provide links for each Antiphon to Father John Zuhlsdorf's famous commentaries on the same (without permission or shame; nah, he doesn't care), the link for which will be indicated by the letter “Z” at the bottom of each entry.

They will publish at six in the morning, eastern USA time, beginning tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

My Year of Living Dangerously

The year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty (1980) may be remembered as the most critical in my life. I made decisions that would, more than any other, determine its direction forever, and so I choose this occasion to elaborate.

My So-Called Life

In the summer of 1978, I graduated from the University of Cincinnati, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Graphic Design. Being raised in a "Procter and Gamble family," it only seemed to make sense that I would seek out a company, large or small, to hire me for life. That didn't quite happen. Early in my interviews, I was asked to work for a small advertising agency -- as a free-lancer. The thought of going into business for myself had not occurred to me until the moment they asked. I said yes, and for two and a half years, it made all the difference.

My academic training was excellent. Unfortunately, the ability of my instructors to transfer such knowledge to real life left something to be desired. This was despite an internship program that essentially allowed me to graduate with eighteen months of real job experience. But there I was, working in Cincinnati by day, and living with my parents in the eastern outskirts of the city at night. There wasn't much promise there for a young designer in the late 1970s. "Mother Procter" was queen of the industry, and set the pace not only for the big agencies and creative houses, but for the bottom-feeders consisting of cigar-chomping geezers whose creative acumen was reduced to cranking out one piece of overdecorated future landfill after another. They'd look at my work. "Very nice, but can you spec type?" I'd go to agencies for ad work. "This stuff is too creative. Have you tried looking for studio work?" Then I'd interview at studios. "Most of this stuff is straight advertising. Have you gone to the agencies?" Most guys were amicable, some were very instructive, a few were simply jerks with bad polyester suits and even worse comb-overs. Most of them were not as aware of the industry's big picture as they thought they were.

That big picture wasn't looking too good in the late 1970s. The recession of the last "hope and change" guy, Jimmy Carter, was wreaking havoc. They left behind the riff-raff that constituted my interviews, contrasted with the occasional pompadours with Italian suits and the usual pretensions, who thought they were doing a podunk town like Cincinnati a favor by hanging their shingle there. Between clowns to the left of me, and posers to the right, I was stuck in the middle with no place to go. A few of my colleagues were disgusted with the local scene at the offset, and headed to New York or Chicago.

I couldn't blame them. Cincinnati was home to a number of two-year trade schools devoted to "commercial art" or related fields. Without the burden of academic and liberal arts requirements, these storefront diploma mills pumped out graduates equipped to do the low-end production work, without pushing the envelope in terms of design. "Scaling new heights of mediocrity" was what one art director called it. Their work didn't break new ground, but it was the bread and butter work for smaller and less aggressive markets like ours. A portfolio of purely creative innovation might wow them in the Big Apple, but it didn't cut much ice in the Queen City.

And yet, provincial though it was, Cincinnati was about as "big city" as I could handle, or so I thought.

Mama's Boy Is In The House

Early that year, I hooked up with a commercial studio run by one of the city's most respected illustrators. A former agency director of a firm eventually bought out by Young and Rubicam, he later presided over a family affair. His wife kept the books, his older son used the studio as his apartment (the cause of occasional awkward moments when female visitors spent the night there), and his younger son came in around mid-afternoon. Waiting for Junior was work that I could have been doing, as opposed to sitting around half the time. I was paid by the hour.

The rest of my life wasn't setting the world on fire either. Looking back, it was easy to see why. I was twenty-five and still living with my parents. The older of my two sisters had already married and had a son. My younger brother left home during sophomore year of college, and wasn't coming back. I was also dating this girl whose horizons were even shorter than mine. I'm not sure how we ever connected, really, unless you count either boredom or low expectations as an excuse. Not only that, but in addition to three months of dating her, it took me two months to dump her. After all, I was her ticket out of living with her parents. This mistake alone was reason enough to get outa Dodge City.

As dismal as things seemed, my life outside the office was coming on its own. Cincinnati was home to an emerging roots music scene. I was becoming known as a musician, organizer, somebody who was good to have around to get events going. The bluegrass people, the Celtic people, the contra dance and international folk dance crowds, they all knew me.

But when you added it all up, I seemed to be at a standstill.

Back in February, my professor who headed my department back at UC convinced me to send a slide portfolio of my work to something the Government called "The Federal Design Registry." I had just started working for the Mom-and-Pop studio, but I figured, what could it hurt?

The Other Shoe

Then in September, three things happened within about a week that heralded an impending change of life. First, a cousin of mine suffering from severe depression hung himself on the tree in his yard. Second, I finally got rid of the crazy girlfriend. But the third thing was what did it. A few weeks after the boss said I was doing a great job, his younger son graduated from the rinky-dink trade school, and the place wasn't big enough for both of us. Cincinnati is a small town when it comes to who's doing well or not-so-well. The Big Guy couldn't afford the bad rep to hit the streets, so he told me he was cutting me loose because I was doing a NOT-so-great job. His son's predicament was a mere coincidence. Lying through his teeth wasn't anything personal; it was business.

The worst thing was that the old-timers I knew and spoke to saw nothing unusual in this. I began to lose some respect for my chosen profession. I had heard of guys being "black-balled" so some studio hack could save face, but never thought of myself as much of a threat.

I free-lanced for a couple of months, but hardly enough to live on. Then I got a letter from Washington, an "inquiry of availability," they called it. I had just landed a contract with Procter and Gamble, the kind of work that the aforementioned bottom-feeders (including the one I had just left) would have killed for. In the three or four weeks I was there, I had a blast. The prospect of following my father's footsteps -- well, sort of -- was a great rush. I was sorry I hadn't gotten in there sooner. But however long they would have kept me under contract, it wasn't a sure thing.

Meanwhile, I was being interviewed on the phone, by an art director who was well respected in Washington. He worked for some agency whose name I had never heard. He was impressed with my work, and after listening to his own resume, that was good enough for me -- to tell him I'd think about it over the weekend.

The Epiphany

You know those times when, out of the blue, you suddenly realize your destiny has been hitting you in the backside? I'm not sure how it happened, only that it did. No, I take that back; I'm sure. A few years earlier, I had my palm read. It was just for fun, mind you, at a time when kids try just about anything once. When I remembered the "prophecy" that I would, in a quest for inner peace, move to a city near a large body of water, and meet a man who would change my entire life, it all started to make sense.

Pretty lame pretense for a life-altering decision, but let's face it, it didn't take much.

Mom didn't take it well at all. How would I ever survive without screwing things up royally? This was the conventional wisdom in our house, one that didn't always apply to my younger siblings. I answered it with a question: what the hell else was I going to do? That crazy ex-girlfriend had just visited me, and she wanted me back. Fortunately, I had the perfect excuse. In a sense, she represented everything I had to escape -- a life spent "scaling new heights of mediocrity."

My folks had already suggested I take a job at the post office, and do design work on the side. Had I followed that advice, I'd be a postal worker today. So much for five years of college.

It all added up. Either I get the hell out now, or spend the rest of my life wishing I had.

So, on Thursday, the 11th of December, I loaded everything I could fit into a newly-purchased 1980 Honda Civic, and headed up Interstate 71, toward the rest of my life in what was politely known as "the Nation's capital." That life as a Federal Employee began on the 15th of December. Forty years ago, and everything that has happened since -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- can be traced to that one decision.


How has it changed me? In some ways more than others.

Back home I'm still known as "Dave." Here in DC, even my closest friends know me as "David." It took me at least twenty years just to feel at home here in the so-called "Nation's capital." I managed to lose some speech patterns, though. I pronounce "neither" as "NYE-thur" instead of "NEE-thur." Same goes for "either." When someone says something I didn't hear, I say "come again?" instead of "please?" (because the Germans who settled around that part of Ohio would say "Bitte?" in the same situation). Then again, the gals my uncles married are still called my "ants" instead of my "ahhnts." I could probably go back to Ohio right now and fit right in. I have yet to decide if I want to. The musings of Tom Wolfe notwithstanding, you really CAN go back home again. Just don't expect things to stay where they were when you left.

Although I still refer to women as "gals."

(FIRST IMAGE: The author, in a May 1978 publicity photo, with his late-1960s vintage Gibson J-160E.)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Advent III: Joy

Reading (Philippians 4:4-5)

Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice: let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. R. Thanks be to God.


V. O Lord, hear our prayer.
R. And let our cry come unto Thee.
V. Let us pray ...

Incline Thine ear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our petitions: and, by the grace of Thy visitation, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.

R. Amen.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Lussinatt: The Vigil of Saint Lucy

There are a number of saints who are commemorated in December (other than Saint Nicholas). Whether by the accident of tradition, or by design, some of them have been awarded with a connection to the Christmastide celebration -- keeping in mind that this happens during the allegedly sackcloth-and-ashes season known as Advent.

Saint Lucy (283–304) received the crown of martyrdom during the Diocletian persecution. She is one of seven women aside from the Virgin Mary who appears in the Roman Canon. Her name is from the Latin word for "light," and she is remembered on the 13th day of December, the night before which was the longest of the year in the unreformed Julian calendar. As a result, various Germanic pagan feasts associated with the passing of darkness into light were appropriated by Christendom, and sanctified by this commemoration.

Natten går tunga fjät
    Night walks with a heavy step
rund gård och stuva;
    Round yard and hearth,
kring jord, som sol förlät,
    As the sun departs from earth,
skuggorna ruva.
    Shadows are brooding.
Då i vårt mörka hus,
    There in our dark house,
stiger med tända ljus,
    Walking with lit candles,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia!
    Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Då i vårt mörka hus,
    There in our dark house,
stiger med tända ljus,
    Walking with lit candles,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia!
    Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Saint Lucy is one of the few saints honored in the Lutheran tradition, and the eve of her feast is celebrated throughout Scandanavia, with a procession of young maids bearing candles, led by a chosen one with a lighted wreath on her head (as shown in the first video, a celebration in Mora, Sweden, in 2007). The carol Santa Lucia, sung by the girls in procession, was an old Neapolitan melody of the same name. The lyrics in Italian are the song of the boatmen of the waterfront district in Naples. The various Nordic languages (Swedish is featured here) sing of the light that overcomes the darkness.

The second video elaborates. The third video is "the full monty," for when you have a half hour to kill.

+    +    +

FOOTNOTE: In a few days, we begin the prayers and songs and stories of the Novena for the Christ-Mass, and continue after the solemnity with the commemoration of the Twelve Days, culminating in the Visit of the Three Kings, and the blessing of the doors to your homes. Please join us as we remember the fast, and celebrate the feast, for GOD IS WITH US, EMMANUEL!


I am generally not partial to images of the Blessed Mother without her visibly holding the Christ Child. This has long struck me as edging toward a sort of Catholic goddess-worship -- Mariolatry, if you will. (NOTE: The aforementioned is a personal opinion, not to be construed as having been rendered with the certainty of the theological virtue of faith. Remain calm.) But I make one exception, and that's the image used to commemorate today's Feast, that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

Contrary to what some dime-store theologian disguised as a pastoral associate has ever told your children in Catholic school, the customs of the indigenous peoples' in Central and South America were not suppressed by their Catholic conquerors. In fact, the natives were all too happy to have been relieved of being victims of human sacrifices, where their hearts were cut out while they were still alive, so much so as to have participated in what may have been the largest single mass conversion in Christendom.

Furthermore, and on a lighter note, when Juan Diego opened his cloak for the bishop, and the venerable image appeared, the roses hidden in the cloak came falling out. But that's not the whole story of the miracle. Years earlier, seeing that Cortez's successors were not nearly as benevolent as he, the bishop found himself powerless to enact reforms, and appealed to Our Lady for a sign of her intercession, in the form of roses from his Spanish home province of Castile. And so, the bishop recognized the roses as a breed only found in ... you guessed it, he got the message.

Mind you, this was in the days before overnight delivery.

The Chieftains and Los Lobos perform "Guadalupe" at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland.

A few years ago, an American publisher of liturgical aids featured a tribute to this vision, starting out with some drivel about the Spaniards and their suppression of the venerable Aztec folkways.* Several years ago, Father William Saunders gave a fuller account of the real deal in the Arlington Catholic Herald. I don't have the link, or the date of the piece, but I managed to preserve a few extracts:

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 ...

When you look at it that way, giving up meat on Fridays doesn't seem so bad. Even so, the aforementioned process only took about fifteen seconds for each victim -- less time than your average abortion. (If you have to think about the connection, I can't help you.)

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. Here again, the Blessed Mother’s standing on the moon indicates divine triumph over evil.

Note also, that in her dominance over false idols, Our Lady stands in a submissive posture, with head bowed and hands folded, as if to render tribute to an even Higher Power.

+    +    +

FOOTNOTE: That commercial opportunists from Spain might have taken undue advantage of a massive cheap labor pool is not in dispute here. Nor is it unique to human history, never mind to Europeans. What it is, is another story for another day ...

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Keeping the “Ch” in “Chanukkah” 2020

Today at sundown marks the beginning of the Jewish Festival of Lights, known as Chanukkah (also rendered as Hanukkah, and as חנוכה), which commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, following the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. It is observed for eight nights, as a reminder of the miracle of one night's supply of oil for the lamps lasting for eight, until a fresh supply could be obtained.

+    +    +

It was twenty years ago, that the communications director of my agency at the time was a devout Jewish woman, who invited all the staff to her house in the country for a holiday celebration. A highlight of the affair was her presentation with her grandchildren, as she told them of the story of Chanukkah. As the rest of us Gentiles watched, she would lead the children in the Hebrew chant for the occasion: “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Chanukkah ...” While others stood around watching in varying degrees of perplexity, I found myself singing with the children ... well, maybe sort of following along.

I turned to my son, then in his early teens, and who was raised a Greek Catholic: "Does this sound familiar, like what you hear in the Divine Liturgy?" He nodded, as I continued. "This is where we get the Byzantine chant, and the Gregorian chant. It came to us from the Jews." His eyes lit up, as he said "Ahhhh ..."

He totally got it.

+    +    +

A comedian named Adam Sandler first introduced this holiday classic on NBC's Saturday Night Live. The song gives a list of famous celebrities from various walks of life who are Jewish: “Put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah / It's so much funukkah, to celebrate Hanukkah / Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights / Instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights!”

There's more where that came from.

This is an original work by Matisyahu. “Miracle” is produced by Dr Luke protégé Kool Kojak (Flo Rida, Katy Perry, Ke$ha), and is drenched in a joyful spirit, with chiming synths, bouncing beats, and an irresistible chorus. And ice skating. (A totally awesome a cappella rendition can be found here.)

There are so many Christmas songs out there. I wanted to give the Jewish kids something to be proud of. We've got Adam Sandler's song, which is hilarious, but I wanted to try to get across some of the depth and spirituality inherent in the holiday in a fun, celebratory song. My boy Kojak was in town so at the last minute we went into the studio in the spirit of miracles and underdogs and this is what we came up with. Happy Hannukah!

Matisyahu can be found on Facebook, and followed on Twitter.

On a more serious note, Charlie Harare explains the origins of Chanukkah, and its meaning in daily life from a Jewish point of view, which is only reasonable as this is a Jewish holiday. This begs the question ...

+    +    +

What is there for a Catholic in this message, and why does yours truly share it every year at this time?

As a Catholic, one believes that while the Jewish people were chosen by God under the Old Covenant, that from among their number would come as the Messiah, “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” (John 1:11) From this, a subset of traditionalist Catholics claim that Judaism is a "false religion." They will cite the distinction between the Hebraic Judaism of the Old Testament, and the Talmudic Judaism introduced after the destruction of the Temple, accompanied by the loss of their priesthood and the practice of offering sacrifice. Some will even maintain that those who claim to be Jewish are not descendants of the original Jews up to the time of Christ.

If that were not enough, one such individual claims that Chanukkah is a hoax, a fabricated story, when in fact the account of the Maccabean Revolt is found in the First and Second Books of Maccabees. The Jews do not include these books in the Tanakh, or Jewish bible, nor are they found among the books of the Protestant Old Testament, but they are considered to be of divine inspiration by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. One might even say, by extension, that it was the Catholic Church that saved Chanukkah for the Jews.

In fact, someone actually did say.

Jews know the fuller history of the holiday because Christians preserved the books that the Jews themselves lost. In a further twist, Jews in the Middle Ages encountered the story of the martyred mother and her seven sons anew in Christian literature and once again placed it in the time of the Maccabees.

It gets better.

As John tells us (John 10:22-23), “It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.” As we’ve seen, before Hanukkah became known as the Festival of Lights, it was known as the Feast of Dedication (1 Macc. 4:59). So there would be no question that this is the holiday being celebrated, even if John hadn’t added the clue that it was winter. And indeed, the NIV and other Protestant Bible translations acknowledge as much.

So not only is there is a case for the authenticity of the story, but more important, for the manner in which it is commemorated.

As Judaism is a sign of the Old Covenant, and Christ brought it to fulfillment in the New Covenant, to be a Catholic is to be, in effect, a fulfilled Jew. We therefore cannot rule out the possibility of something to be learned here. Judaism is not a false religion; it is an unfulfilled religion. It was -- indeed, it IS -- fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. As for the distinction between Hebraic and Talmudic Judaism, this only reinforces that point, as by rejecting the True Messiah, the proverbial vacuum that nature would abhor was filled by something else.

If you as a Catholic don't get that after watching this video, I can't explain it to you.