Friday, January 29, 2021

ProLifeCon 2021: Twitcast and Transcript

Today it begins, our eleventh annual “Twitcast” joining pro-life bloggers from near and far, who all had the good sense once again, to come in out of the cold during the annual March For Life (such as it is this year), for this year's ProLifeCon, the “premiere conference for the online prolife community” hosted once again by the Family Research Council in Washington DC.

Unfortunately, the embed code for the video of this year's event was not available, so we are providing you with last year's here. You can watch this year's event (both live and later pre-recorded) at the ProLifeCon website. You can also follow the #prolifecon hashtag on Twitter, or following yours truly at

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Our annual #prolifecon "twitcast" is about to begin.
9:49 AM

The #prolifecon begins ... if virtually!
10:02 AM

This week marks the 48th anniversary of the March For Life. #prolifecon
10:02 AM

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Jeanne Mancini is President of the March For Life. She talks about the "virtual" plan for the "March" starting at noon. #prolifecon
10:03 AM

There will be a small group of select pro-life leaders marching to the Supreme Court to leave a bouquet of roses at its steps. #prolifecon
10:04 AM

"Unity is the topic of the day." But everyone should be united in the right to life, and building a culture of life. #prolifecon
10:05 AM

"We all bring something different to the table." #prolifecon
10:06 AM

"We should all do something all year long, keep marching symbolically, responding to the call that God has for us." #prolifecon
10:07 AM

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Stephanie Gray is the author of "Love Unleashes Life." #prolifecon
10:09 AM

"Often there is resistance to the pro-life perspective" because of the emotional draw of pain in the circumstances at the time, and the need for showing them compassion and aid. #prolifecon
10:10 AM

"Show that we love [the mother], not just the unborn child." #prolifecon
10:10 AM

"The more someone shares, the more they can feel safe." #prolifecon
10:11 AM

"So many involved in the pro-choice movement, are involved from a viewpoint of pain, of suffering." #prolifecon
10:13 AM

Persuasion through the posing of questions, less of changing minds than of changing direction. #prolifecon
10:13 AM

"We need to be able to listen to people with hearts that are filled with love." #prolifecon
10:15 AM

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Suzanne Geist is a Nebraska State Senator who fought against a dismemberment bill in the state legislature. #prolifecon
10:17 AM

"What we were talking about in the bill was the second trimester, 12 to 24 weeks." #prolifecon
10:18 AM

Because the bill did not outlaw abortion entirely in Nebraska, the attorney general of the state was persuaded that the bill would not be unconstitutional. #prolifecon
10:19 AM

Ms Geist receives the Samuel Adams State Legislator of the Year Award. #prolifecon
10:19 AM #prolifecon
10:20 AM

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Robert Davi and Nick Loeb, actor and producer-director, respectively, for the movie "Roe v Wade: The Untold Story." #prolifecon
10:21 AM #prolifecon
10:23 AM

Davi plays Justice Brennan in the movie, the one who came up with the "right to privacy" aspect of the Court's decision. #prolifecon
10:24 AM

"The courage that [Loeb] had to put this film together" to show "how the sausage was made." #prolifecon
10:26 AM

Among the actors who asked to play roles in the film were Jon Voight. #prolifecon
10:26 AM

This movie "is not your Marvel Comic," which makes it unique, along with a look inside proceedings of the Supreme Court. #prolifecon
10:28 AM

The takeaway from this film? "Hopefully people will recognize that life begins at conception." #prolifecon
10:30 AM

For more information on its April 2 release: #prolifecon
10:31 AM

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Claire Culwell is an author and an abortion survivor, who talks about forgiving her birth mother. #prolifecon
10:32 AM

"I was adopted by a wonderful Christian couple." #prolifecon
10:32 AM

"I wanted to point people to the direction of redemption that Christ offers to them, but I had to do the same for myself." #prolifecon
10:33 AM

There is also a need for mothers and fathers of the aborted to forgive themselves. #prolifecon
10:34 AM

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Kyle Mann is editor in chief of The Babylon Bee, a satirical site, who discusses the issues of censorship in social media. #prolifecon
10:38 AM

"Government is using Big Tech as a cudgel" to censor content that they don't like. #prolifecon
10:39 AM #prolifecon
10:40 AM

"We are being fact-checked because our jokes are false." #prolifecon
10:40 AM

"The culture warriors that control Big Tech obviously do not like the pro-life movement. When they can censor the President of the United States, who can't they censor?" #prolifecon
10:42 AM

The message to those who are discouraged, is it worth it to continue on social media if they are silenced? Be contrarian and continue to share it anyway. #prolifecon
10:43 AM

"They want to isolate us, but we are not alone." #prolifecon
10:44 AM

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The discussion of censorship continues with John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews. #prolifecon
10:46 AM #prolifecon
10:47 AM

"We are currently de-platformed on YouTube and Twitter. Most of our articles on Facebook are marked as false information. Google is censoring us as well." #prolifecon
10:48 AM

Moving our platforms to Telegram (Telegraph?) and Gab. #prolifecon
10:50 AM "Please hit the 'Subscribe' button." #prolifecon
10:53 AM

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Ryan and Bethany Bomberger are founders of The Radiance Foundation. #prolifecon
10:54 AM #prolifecon
10:54 AM

Every life has purpose. Ryan himself is the product of rape. #prolifecon
10:55 AM

"If a woman who survived an abortion is pro-choice, this is so ironic. If only she learned the truth as a child." #prolifecon
10:57 AM

"Our own children were 'born for such a time as this.'" #prolifecon
10:57 AM

"Life Has Purpose." #prolifecon
10:57 AM

"Abort Roe." #prolifecon
10:58 AM

"Adoption Releases Purpose." #prolifecon
10:58 AM

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Tony Perkins, President of #FRC, sits down with Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). #prolifecon
11:00 AM

"We anticipated this [pro-choice agenda] with the election of Joe Biden as President." #prolifecon
11:01 AM

"We must preserve the filibuster" [in the Senate] so that Biden can't have his way with everything. #prolifecon
11:03 AM

There have been efforts to eliminate the Hyde Amendment before, during the Clinton and Obama administrations. "Miraculously" it has been preserved. "Henry Hyde was the greatest leader imaginable" for the value of life. #prolifecon
11:05 AM

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was even against pre-natal care for poor women, according to Congressman Smith. #prolifecon
11:08 AM

Senator Daines wants us to put pressure on our own senators, in an effort to prevent a pro-choice super-majority. "41 is the magic number." #prolifecon
11:11 AM

"We know that the Biden administration is going to reverse the Mexico City policy" which means that Planned Parenthood could get "a blank check." #prolifecon
11:12 AM

"We need this help [of #FRC] on The Hill more than ever." #prolifecon
11:14 AM

Montana may soon have a "Baby Born Alive" bill signed by its governor. #prolifecon
11:15 AM

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Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is the first woman and first mom to represent Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. #prolifecon
11:17 AM

"I had my first son at eighteen years old." #prolifecon
11:17 AM

Boebert discusses the devastation of loss of a child through miscarriage. #prolifecon
11:20 AM

"I teach my [four boys] about the consequences of their actions" in showing them what abortion involves. "I want to invite men into this conversation." #prolifecon
11:23 AM

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Josh Craddock is an affiliate scholar for the James Wilson Institute for Natural Rights and the American Founding. #prolifecon
11:27 AM

The appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has already shown promise. #prolifecon
11:28 AM

States should feel empowered to pass pro-life legislation at their level. #prolifecon
11:29 AM

"We are seeing lower courts uphold pro-life laws," including in cases of unborn children with Down syndrome. #prolifecon
11:29 AM

The unborn are protected under the Constitution, according to scholars who examine the 14th Amendment without preconceptions. #prolifecon
11:30 AM

Centuries of case law and common practice reinforces the idea of the unborn as persons. Such is the original meaning of the text, to protect all persons, as opposed to what happened before with slavery. #prolifecon
11:32 AM

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Emily Berning is President of Let Them Live. #prolifecon
11:34 AM

A pro-life non-profit, dedicating to the aid of women with "crisis pregnancies," those who consider abortion for financial reasons. #prolifecon
11:35 AM

"You can post on Facebook and reach people to support you financially." #prolifecon
11:37 AM

"Women don't need to have abortions to get out of poverty. One hundred percent of them are preventable." #prolifecon
11:38 AM

"We are currently supporting a ton of moms." #prolifecon
11:41 AM

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"We'll see you next year at #prolifecon."
11:42 AM

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And ... we're out. On to the March (if you can find one.) #prolifecon
11:42 AM

Thanks and High Fives go out to the Family Research Council (#frc) for their support of this unique event, and their assistance in getting on board. #prolifecon
11:44 AM

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Feast of Santo Niño

Our exploration of the continued remembrance of Christmastide as a forty-day feast, in some form or another, shall continue, and in ways that, in turn, continue to surprise many of us.

Most practicing Catholics in North America (we can only hope) are familiar with the image of the "Infant of Prague." While the devotion to the Child Jesus originated in Spain in the 16th century, it soon made its way to the Czech region of Bohemia, the historic capital city of which is Prague, hence the popular reference. But in much of the Spanish world, including the Philippines, he is known as "Santo Niño" and the feast commemorating the Christ Child (as he is referred to from infancy to the age of twelve) is celebrated on the third Sunday of January.

Rehearsal in Qatar, 2013.

All throughout South America and other parts of the Hispanic world, celebrations that are akin to our own Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday," the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent) take place. Among the greatest are the various celebrations of Santo Niño throughout the Philippihes, not only in the capital city of Manila, but especially in Cebu, the major city of the central region of Visayas, and the epicenter of the national celebration.

Sinulog Dance 2012 by Tribu Sugbu Dancers, Rockville MD, 2012.

In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan came to Cebú and gave the image as a present to Humamay, chief consort of the local monarch, Raja Humabon, when she, together with her husband and a number of his subjects, were baptized into the Catholic faith. Tradition holds that Humamay -- who received the Christian name Juana after Joan of Castile -- danced for joy upon receiving the Santo Niño, providing a legendary origin for the fervent religious dancing during the Sinulog held in honor of the Christ Child. (from Wikipedia)

Sinulog in Singapore 2017 Rehearsals, choreographed by Edynne Baclay.

While remembered primarily as a religious holiday, the celebration, or Sinulog, is known for its street festivals, as the young woman who is crowned queen of the festival leads the parade, dancing and carrying the image of the Christ Child in honor of him. The name "sinulog" comes from the Cebuano (Visayan) word "sulog," which translates roughly as "water current movement," a reference to the backward/forward movement of the Sinulog dance in which festival goers participate. The dance itself, performed as a group, is relatively simple, but various cities and dance troupes will invariably cultivate elaborately choreographed versions of the same. As they do, they sing the popular folk song "Viva Pit Senyor" which translates as "Long Live the Lord" (or more popularly as "Long Live the Christ Child"). The dancers will usually carry images of the Holy Child, holding them over their heads as they move together, praising the young Christ Jesus in song.

Jesus teach me how to pray
Suffer not my thought to stray
Send destruction far away
Sweet Holy Child

Let me not be rude or wild
Make me humble meek and mild
Pure as angels undefiled
Sweet Holy Child

When I work or when I pray
Be thou with me through the day
Teach me what to do and say
Sweet Holy Child

Make me love thy mother's blest
Safe beneath they care to rest
As a bird within its nest
Sweet Holy Child.

The climax of the event takes place at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niõ de Cebu, as in these two clips from the previous year (from the cheap seats, and near the sanctuary). Just when you thought Catholics didn't know how to party, you learn that they do in the "Land of the Morning."

More information about the main event can be found at the Sinulog website for the annual celebration in Cebu.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Plowing Through Monday

Today is the traditional start of the agricultural year in England, and so is known as Plough Monday, or, the day after Plough Sunday (you remember from yesterday, right?) which was the Sunday following the traditional observance of Epiphany on the sixth of January. This was the Monday when everyone would end the Christmas revelry and get back to work.

In his 1777 book Observations on Popular Antiquities, the English antiquarian and clergyman John Brand (1744–1806) gives an account of the formalities:

The FOOL PLOUGH goes about: a pageant consisting of a number of sword dancers dragging a plough, with music; one, sometimes two, in very strange attire; the Bessy, in the grotesque habit of an old woman, and the Fool, almost covered with skins, a hairy cap on, and the tail of some animal hanging from his back. The office of one of these characters, in which he is very assiduous, is to go about rattling a box amongst the spectators of the dance, in which he receives their little donations.

Well, okay, maybe not directly ending and getting back to work. Personally, I'd rather be molly dancing. What is that, you ask?

VIDEO: A 2016 performance of "Black Sheet" by the Ouse Washes Molly Dancers. Following a bit of narrative, the dancing actually starts at 2:07.

“Molly dancing” traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter and is regarded by many people as the East Anglian form of Morris dancing. It is characterized by blackened faces, heavy boots (usually hobnailed) and the presence of a "Lord" and a "Lady", two of the men specially attired respectively as a gentleman and his consort, who lead the dances. Blackening faces was a form of disguise since the dancers could not afford to be recognized. Some of those people from whom they had demanded money with menaces would have been their employers. Molly dancing is by nature robust and, some would say, aggressive. These qualities are emphasized by the sound of the hobnailed boots worn by the dancers, which were the normal form of footwear for farm workers in the East of England right up until the second half of the twentieth century. (Information courtesy alexandersanders.)

On a promising note, and according to the Olde Farmer's Almanac: “In the evening, each farmer provided a Plough Monday supper for his workers, with plentiful beef and ale for all.

They could do worse.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Plowing Through Sunday

The forty days associated with Christmas and Epiphany continue. The coming of the Savior in the course of the liturgical year is further made manifest. So too is the relationship between the sacred and the secular.

The Sunday after Epiphany, that which falls between the 7th and the 13th of January, is commemorated in England as Plough Sunday, when the beginning of the agricultural year is celebrated. Farmers will arrive at the parish church in their tractors, which are blessed along with the seeds for planting, as found in the official worship book of the Church of England. The day is also remembered by Morris dancing after church services, where a homily for the occasion is often proclaimed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Christus Mansionem Benedicat!

VIDEO: A 2008 performance of "March of the Kings" ("Marche Des Rois") by Nowell Sing We Clear (Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, Andy Davis and John Roberts) at Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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At the Mass for the Day, the faithful are given chalk that has been blessed by the priest, as well as special holy water known as "Epiphany water." The blessing for it, which takes place only for this occasion, is to be found in the traditional Rituale Romanum, and includes a prayer of exorcism. The blessed chalk and the holy water are then taken home, to be used that evening.

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The Blessing of the Entrance to the House (“Chalking the Door”)

The one who is the Officiant begins with the Sign of the Cross, as the others respond ...

Pax + huic dómui.
(Peace + be unto this house.)

Et ómnibus habitántibus in ea.
(And to all who dwell therein.)

...and then continue with Psalm 71(72) "Deus, judicium":

Give the King your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the King's son;

That he may rule your people righteously
and the poor with justice.

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people;
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
like showers that water the earth.

In his time shall the righteous flourish;
there shall be abundance of peace
till the moon shall be no more.

He shall rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

His foes shall bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

All kings shall bow down before him,
and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live!
and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;

May prayer be made for him always,
and may they bless him all the day long.

May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
growing thick even on the hilltops;

May its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
and its grain like grass upon the earth.

May his Name remain for ever
and be established as long as the sun endures;

May all the nations bless themselves in him
and call him blessed.

Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds!

And blessed be his glorious Name forever!
and may all the earth be filled with his glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Then the Officiant says the following prayer:

Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
(O Lord, hear my prayer.)

Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
(And let my cry come unto you.)

Oremus ...
(Let us pray ...)

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Officiant or another takes a piece of blessed chalk and, stepping up on a chair or ladder if necessary, writes over the entrance to the house.

“Christus ...” (“May Christ ...”)


“Mansionem ...” (“this dwelling ...”)

          C      M

“Benedicat.” (“... bless.”)

          C      M      B

“In the coming year ...”

20      C      M      B

“... and in the years to come.”

20      C      M      B      21

“In the name of the Father ...”

20  +  C      M      B      21

“and of the Son ...”

20  +  C  +  M      B      21

“... and of the Holy Spirit.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B      21

Everyone responds: “Amen.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B  +  21

The doorway is sprinkled with Holy Water blessed for the Epiphany. The inscription is to be removed on the Feast of Pentecost.

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For those who require "the short form," there is this one from the Church of Saint Mary in Clifton Heights, New York. On those nights when the weather is particularly inclement, one can simply read from the Gospel of John while inscribing over the door ...

In the beginning was the Word, (inscribe 2)

and the Word was with God, (inscribe 0)

and the Word was God. (inscribe +)

He was in the beginning with God. (inscribe C)

All things came to be through him, (inscribe +)

and without him nothing came to be. (inscribe M)

And the Word became flesh (inscribe +)

and made his dwelling among us, (inscribe B)

and we saw his glory, (inscribe +)

the glory as of the Father’s only Son, (inscribe 2)

full of grace and truth. (inscribe 1)

… then with the Holy Water, making the sign of the cross three times over the entrance, proclaiming “Christus ... Mansionem ... Benedicat” and calling it a night.

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This day is remembered throughout the world by various names. In many parts of Europe, Epiphany retains its distinction as "Little Christmas." Among the Greek Orthodox, the waters of the harbor are blessed by the local priest. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as “Dia de los Tres Reyes” (“Day of the Three Kings”). There are parades on the main street, such as this one in Madrid, Spain.

Although we know the "kings" were not actually royalty at all, but scholars in astronomy and other sciences who came from Persia, tradition has associated Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar -- their names as rendered in various apocryphal gospel accounts -- as representing the Orient, Europe, and Africa, the three great land masses of the known world in the first millennium.

As with the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in parts of western Europe, children in the Hispanic world are known to leave their shoes out and receive candy and other treats by the next morning. In Spain, children traditionally received presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, although recent years have seen both Christmas and Epiphany as a time for gift-giving.

I just love parades.

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This day is also the occasion for the solemn pronouncement of movable feasts for the coming year, using the chant from the Pontificale Romanum. Other resources can be found at

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Christmastide: Twelfth Night

When I was growing up back in Ohio, the village of Milford had their own way of disposing of old Christmas trees. They would be collected and taken to some field at the edge of town, stacked in a big pile, and "Twelfth Night" would be celebrated with the lighting of a bonfire dubbed the "yule log."

This might seem remarkable when you consider that Milford is a town first settled by (and more than two centuries later, is still more or less dominated by) Methodists, as opposed to the "Catlickers." Of course, my parents -- may God rest their souls -- didn't go for that sort of ribaldry, so I never actually saw it, but I would always read about it that week in the local rag known as The Milford Advertiser.

(Here we note that Protestants in the northern states did not celebrate Christmas until well into the 19th century. It was even outlawed by the northern colonies in the early years of European settlement. The southern colonies, on the other hand ...)

These days, I imagine people would have a hard time penciling it in between trips to soccer practice and PTA meetings. In fact, since leaving the Buckeye State to seek my fortune elsewhere, I learned that the town has yielded to other priorities, as in this little gem I read a few years ago, from the county's Office of Environmental Quality:

“Many recycled trees are sent through a wood chipper and are used as mulch.”

They have got to be kidding. That kills the holiday magic right there. Why celebrate the glory of the season, when you can spend the rest of the year spreading it on your lawn and walking all over it?

Meanwhile, here at Chez Alexandre, we will celebrate Epiphany on the traditional day all along. Tomorrow the lights that are traditionally left on all during Christmastide, will finally be shut off in the evening and taken down. They will be put back in storage along with the decorations, waiting for the season to return.

Last of all, the dying tree is sent to its final resting place -- in the years that we actually have a live tree, which we didn't this year in favor of being out of the country -- which as has been noted, is another story.

Joy, health, love and peace
Be all here in this place
By your leave we will sing
Concerning our King.

Our King is well dressed
In silks of the best
In ribbons so rare
No King can compare.

We have traveled many miles
Over hedges and stiles
In search of our King
Unto you we bring.

We have powder and shot
To conquer the lot
We have cannon and ball
To conquer them all.

Old Christmas
    is past
    is the last

And we bid
    you adieu
Great joy
    to the new.

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

Christmastide: Day 12 (St Telesphorus/St John Neumann)

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming ...”

While drumrolls from these dozen have been dampened by the pandemic, the last item of the index still signifies setting the pace – much like consumer spending this holiday season. As the drumbeat of the U.S. economy, retail sales, savings rates and ecommerce will set the tempo for market growth this holiday season.

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Contrary to popular opinion (including that of people who should know better), the sixth day of January is not the twelfth day of Christmas. The day before, the fifth of January, is the twelfth day of Christmas. The following day, the sixth of January, is the first day of Epiphanytide.

Don't believe me? Get the calendar, do the math, and thank me later.

Another misconception, one growing in recent years among traditional Catholics, is that Christmas literally lasts for forty days, leading up to the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas Day. No, Christmas does not last for forty days. Well, not exactly.

Let's back up a minute and go over the distinctions. I'll use big letters so no one misses anything. (Whatever I can do to help.)

The TEMPORAL CYCLE of the traditional Church year has two sections; CHRISTMAS and EASTER. The CHRISTMAS SECTION has three seasons. The first season is the ADVENT SEASON. The second season is the CHRISTMAS SEASON, which runs from 25 December (the day of the "Christ Mass" itself) to the end of the Octave of the Epiphany on 13 January (the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord). The third season is the EPIPHANY SEASON, which runs from 14 January (the day after the Feast of the Baptism) to the Saturday (or Eve) of Septuagesima (the pre-Lenten season). The number of days varies based upon when the Paschal Sunday falls, based on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. Nevertheless, it is with Septuagesima Sunday that the EASTER SECTION of the temporal cycle begins. (We'll deal with that whole thing later. Probably.)

So, what of the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also known in the West as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ), or Candlemas Day, forty days after Christmas? In his commentaries found in the Saint Andrew Daily Missal, Dom Gaspar refers to it thus:
There is, however, a "satellite feast" of the Christmas Season, the Purification, occurring invariably 40 days after Christmas (Feb. 2), sometimes in the Time After Epiphany, sometimes in the Time after Epiphany [that is, the "Epiphany Season"]. For that reason, it has been placed in the Sanctoral Cycle, although its object brings it into close connexion [sic] with the Christmas section of the Sanctoral Cycle.
Well, that wasn't much help, was it?

Or was it?

How the season of Christmas is calculated varies. In 1969, the reformed Roman calander composed by men with nothing better to do expanded the season by a variable number of days, from Christmas Day itself, up to and including the Sunday after Epiphany or the sixth of January. However, in the 1960 Code of Rubrics that were placed in force before all hell broke loose defines Christmastide as running from First Vespers of Christmas to None (midafternoon prayer) of the fifth of January inclusive. However, it became a custom during the Middle Ages for the forty-day observance of Christmastide. Even to this day, the Christian cultures of western Europe and Latin America still maintains the forty-day observance.

The result would appear to be a distinction between that which is codified as law, and that which falls under the category of customary law, or to put it another way, the folkways of a people of Faith. It is as such, then, that we continue to celebrate the coming of God-With-Us, but not in the same way as in the first twelve days. That is why we have Carnivale in Brazil, Mardi Gras (the weekend and culminating on the Tuesday before the start of Lent) in New Orleans and beyond, and in the Philippines, the Feast of Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January. (More on that last one later as well.)

You're welcome.

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Meanwhile ...

Today, the reformed Roman calendar also honors Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, a native of Bohemia and Redemptorist priest who was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in the mid-19th century, and who was a key figure in spreading the Faith to an ever-expanding United States of America.

In the traditional Roman calendar, Mother Church remembers Pope Saint Telesphorus, elected Bishop of Rome in 126, and martyred ten years later. The tradition of celebrating Mass on Christmas at Midnight, the celebration of Easter on Sundays, the keeping of a seven-week Lent before Easter, and the singing of the Gloria, all are attributed by tradition to his pontificate, even as the historical accuracy of these claims remains in doubt.

Tonight, a season ends, and here at Chez Alexandre, we start the day by taking the ornaments down from the tree, and elsewhere in the house. Tomorrow, a new season begins. Stay tuned ...

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

Monday, January 04, 2021

Christmastide: Day 11 (St Elizabeth Ann Seton)

“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping ...”

While you may catch a tune from an online performer, you’re unlikely to hear a peep in person from the Pipers this holiday season. With the pandemic triggering the shutdown of most performance-based industries, these musicians will be tuning their instruments in hopes of a return in 2021.

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The end of Christmastide draws near, but is still with us. And yet, as the workweek begins to return to normal on this day, the party is effectively over. Trees are taken down to sit on the curb, and commercials for "holiday sales," having been extended just beyond the first day of the new year, fade into the realm of yesterday's news. Meanwhile ...

Today is the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, the mother of the Nation's parochial school system, and patroness of Catholic schools. Raised to the altar by Pope Paul VI in 1975, she was the first native-born American to be so recognized.

From the original motherhouse in Emmitsburg, Maryland, a branch house was established out west, known today as the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, based at Mount Saint Joseph-on-the-Ohio, on the city's once-predominantly-Catholic west side. This order did much, not only to build the parochial school system in this part of the Midwest through their teaching apostolate, but the health care system as well, through the establishment of Good Samaritan Hospital in 1852.

Concerning the role of women Religious and the health care apostolate, much has changed in recent years, to say the least. In light of certain health care legislation signed into law in the United States, and the capitulation by certain "leaders" of women religious orders, in forcing others to cooperate in acts against the Gospel of Life, let us pause for a moment to consider the irony.

And hope for a restoration of common sense, not to mention the Gospel of Life, to the issue.

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

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Christmastide: Day 10 (St Geneviève)

“On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten lords a-leaping ...”

Similar to their dancing counterparts, the Ten Lords-A-Leaping are mostly grounded this year, as benchmarked ballet companies report that performances are halted this holiday season. As consumer spend is allocated from services to goods, there also has been an uptick in consumer savings, which will ensure True Love is no scrooge next holiday season.

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Today, as mentioned yesterday, is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus in the traditional Roman calendar. It is NOT the Feast of the Epiphany, nor can the latter be celebrated as an "external solemnity," as the latter can only be celebrated as such within the octave of the feast proper, not before. (Sorry, Father.)

It is also the day that both the Eastern and Western churches remember the French shepherd girl Saint Geneviève, who lived in the mid- and late-fifth century. Her sanctity was noted at a very early age by Saint Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, who consecrated her to God at the age of seven. Genevieve is the patroness of the city of Paris, which has been saved through her intercession more than once, the first time from her contemporary, Attila the Hun.

Geneviève loved to pray in church alone at night. On one such occasion, a gust of wind came into the church and blew out her candle, leaving her in darkness. She attributed this act of nature to the Evil One himself, that he was trying to frighten her. Thus she is often depicted holding a candle. Other images show an irritated devil standing nearby.

In nearly two decades of this weblog's existence, her commemoration has been a popular one. Don't ask me why.

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

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Christmastide: Day 9 (The Holy Name of Jesus)

“On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing ...”

As COVID-19 has caused the curtain to drop on most live performances, the nine Ladies Dancing will not have to dash through the snow to entertain in-person. Advocates for the arts are not out of options for the performance lover on their guest list, as virtual performances provide a pandemic-proof alternative for audiences.

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The traditional Roman calendar associates this day with the Holy Name of Jesus.* It used to be associated with the day before, with the Feast of the Circumcision. (In fact, the Gospel reading for both feasts is identical.) Then in 1913, Pope Pius X moved it to the Sunday between the second and the fifth January inclusive, and in years when no such Sunday existed, to be observed on the second of January. Don't ask me why.

(So that would be tomorrow, but we have something special planned for that day.)

The circumcision of a newborn male under Jewish law must take place eight days after the child's birth, at which time he is given his name. Small wonder, then, that the Gospel readings for both feasts in the traditional Roman calendar are the same. The Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate both on the first of January, as did the Roman church for quite some time -- you know, being the eighth day and all.

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And speaking of names ...

I once heard a comedian pose this important theological question: “If Jesus was Jewish, why did He have an Hispanic name?” That occasion aside, it gives us an occasion of our own, to consider that the name "Jesus" was not an uncommon one in His day. Brian Palmer writes for Slate:

Many people shared the name. Christ's given name, commonly Romanized as Yeshua, was quite common in first-century Galilee. ("Jesus" comes from the transliteration of Yeshua into Greek and then English.) Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of 71 Yeshuas from the period of Jesus' death. The name also appears 30 times in the Old Testament in reference to four separate characters -- including a descendant of Aaron who helped to distribute offerings of grain (2 Chronicles 31:15) and a man who accompanied former captives of Nebuchadnezzar back to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:2) ...

How would Christ have been addressed by those around him?

He certainly would not be addressed as "Mister Christ." In fact, "Christ" was not a name, but an honorific, a title if you will, from the Greek Khristós for "anointed one." The Hebrew word was Moshiach or "Messiah." He would have been known by His given name, and the name of His father -- “Yeshua bar Yehosef” or “Jesus Son of Joseph.” In later centuries, or in present-day Iceland, we might easily surmise His being addressed as “Jesus Josephson,” Or, given the nature of the family business, He might have been known as “Jesus Carpenter.”

We also know that He eventually left Nazareth in Galilee, the town of His childhood, for other parts of that country, as well as Samaria and Judea. In those places, He would have been just as likely addressed as “Yeshua Nasraya” or “Jesus of Nazareth.” The Gospel accounts tell us of the inscription on the Cross, which gave both His name and His offense, in three languages: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (actually, “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” in Latin, “Ihsoûs ó Nazoraîos ó Basileùs tôn ’Ioudaìov” in Greek, and “Yeshua HaNazarei v Melech HaYehudim” in Hebrew). After all, a guy from a hick town like Nazareth would have been rather conspicuous in a high-falutin' place like Jerusalem, especially outside of the High Holydays.

The Scriptures also record him being addressed as “Jesus Son of David.” A man would also have been known for his extended family; that is, his tribe or house, as in “Yeshua ben David” or “Jesus of the House of David.” But even though family lineage was everything in Jewish society, such an address might not have been as common in everyday use.

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Devotion to the Holy Name has also been the inspiration for the National Association of the Holy Name Society. HNS chapters have been the basis for men's clubs in Catholic parishes for generations. Their mission includes the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the afflicted, that sort of thing), and acts of reparation for the misuse of the holy name.

On that note, we have a couple of Holy Name stories.

First is an account from an old veteran Scouter, an American living in Mexico.

"While visiting my present Mexican hometown several years ago, I got an urgent message to call collect to an unfamiliar number in Chicago. Turned out it was the FBI, hoping I could help them; did I know anyone in México named 'Chuy,' a common nickname for anyone, male or female, carrying the name Jesús. When I told the agent yes, explained that there were seven in the village where I was staying, including the sheriff, he responded, 'Oh, you mean there's more than one?'"

And of course, I have one of my own.

Once I had a confessor who gave me very good advice, for those occasions when I would, shall we say, use a very short form of the Jesus Prayer in an inappropriate context. He advised me that I say immediately afterward, “Blessed be His holy name.” It's no substitute for recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, but it's a rather handy form of reparation.

Whatever works.

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* At one time combined with the Feast of the Circumcision on 1 January, before the 1913 calendar reforms of Pope Pius X, thus the revisionist conspiracy is even worse than many are led to believe. And for those who think they know it all, the controversial liturgist Annabale Bugnini was only born the previous year, calling his own part in said conspiracy into question.

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

Friday, January 01, 2021

Christmastide: Day 8 (Circumcision/St Basil)

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight maids a-milking ...”

As the Federal minimum wage remained unchanged, so does the cost for the Eight Maids-A-Milking, holding steady at $58.00 this year. These lady laborers are happy to oblige, assuming social distancing practices are in place and face masks are a-plenty this holiday season.

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The world knows it as New Year's Day. The Church knows it by several other names.

First and foremost, it is the “Octave-day” or eighth day of Christmastide. Such was its name in the earliest liturgical books, thus remembered as the day of Circumcision, when a son of Israel was marked according to the Law. (It hurts just thinking about it.)

In both forms of the Roman Rite, the brief account from Luke is proclaimed:

At that time, after eight days were accomplished, that the Child should be circumcised: His Name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. (2:21)

In the reformed Missal, the day is primarily known as the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. While appearing as a break in tradition, it is a reminder of the Marian emphasis of the Feast, as found even in the orations of the pre-conciliar Missal. It was the tradition in Rome, that the Pope would go to one of the many churches in the city, whichever was the "Station" for that particular feast -- in the case of this one, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

But wait, there is one more ...

In the East, today is known not only for the Circumcision, but as the Feast of Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, and one of the great Fathers of the Eastern Church. Today is when the Greeks would traditionally exchange gifts. For many years, when I couldn't meet with Paul for Christmas (and as he was raised in the Byzantine Rite of his mother), I would make an occasion of this day.

With all that arcane information, you still have to admit that four names for one day are a lot. And to think the year is just getting started.

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