Thoughts On Beauty from Sick Bay On A Tuesday

Have you ever heard of François Villon? I never had, but I’m looking forward to finding out more about him. I’m home sick, drinking coffee and later on I’ll be dipping into the medicine chest for the “sniffling, sneezing, coughing, so you can rest medicine.” But first, I want to share with you what, in my unlettered opinion, is the Best. Preface. Ever. Written.

It’s all my friend John C.H. Wu’s fault, you know. For Christmas, I ponied up all of my cash Christmas gifts and bought John’s close to impossible to find The Interior Carmel: The Threefold Way of Love. Since I’m effectively confined to quarters, I started reading it a bit and began noting whatever references he made to other authors, adding their works to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf.

John is well read, and by reading my friend John, he points me to a lot of good stuff. That’s what friends do for one another, right? So I chased down a reference to a book written by one Pierre Champion, SJ entitled The Spiritual Teaching of Father Louis Lallement. By doing a search of the authors name, I was pointed to a book that quoted him, where I found this preface written by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, the author of a ton of books, including the one made into a movie a few times,  The Blue Lagoon.

Take a look at this and tell me what you think.

Preface to François Villon, His Life and Time, (1431-1463)
By Henry De Vere Stacpoole

Traveling in France you may often get a glimpse of something that England cannot show you—a chateau with slated roofs and towers pointed each like a witch’s cap.

The outline of a Chinese pagoda would not strike upon the retina more strangely than the outline of this veritable figure of stone, ambushed in valley or crouching on hill-top, and showing to the broad light of day the roofs that rose and the towers that took form when Amboise was building and before Bussy was a man. You pass on, the chateau fades from sight, but the picture of it will remain for ever in your mind. You have seen the Middle Ages.

My object is to present to you Francois Villon, one of the strangest figures in all literature, and one of the greatest of French poets. Were I to attempt to reach him immediately and entirely through the MSS. of the Bibliotheque de la Sorbonne, or the Bibliotheque Nationale, or the Archives of the Cote d’Or, and were I to take you with me, we would both be half asphyxiated by the stuffy smell of parchment, and we would part company, or arrive at our journey’s end cross and tired and without finding Villon.

You cannot find a man through manuscripts, unless they are in the handwriting of the man. Archaeologists and museum hunters may tell us all about a man’s surroundings, his companions, his status in life, and his morals, as they appeared to his contemporaries, but to find the man one must find the man, and we can only find him through the expressions of his mind. And that is why so many dead men are so utterly dead. They have left nothing by which we can weigh them as men. Literary men fall under this freezing law no less than others, simply because the large majority of them leave on paper their ideas, fancies, inventions, and so forth, but of themselves little trace. Villon had the magical power of turning himself into literature, and that is why I propose to rob archaeologists and students and all sorts of people on our road, so that we may find out in what sort of country Villon lived and something of the extent of his genius, but to discard or almost to discard these when we come to estimate Villon as a man—to discard everything but the literature which holds his mind and heart, and, almost one might say, his body.

Stand with me, then, on this French road in the year 1914 and, forgetting books and manuscripts for awhile, let that chateau with the pointed towers touch you with its magic wand. All those modern houses crumble to dust, the railway-track vanishes, mule-bells strike the ear, pilgrims pass, their faces set towards Paris, and troops of soldiers, soon to be disbanded and to join the ranks of the unemployed, the labourers, the mendicants, and the robbers.

It is the year 1431. War is smouldering in the land; only a few short months ago Jean d’Arc was burned at Rouen. Henry VI of England, his archers and men-at-arms, are advancing away there to the west slowly towards Paris. Paris is starving. Charles VII, recently crowned, is King of France but as yet only in name, and over the whole broad land the spirit of the dead Maid is welding together the Armagnacs, the Poitevins, the Bretons, and the Burgundians to form the French nation.

Side by side with this creation of a people is going forward—or soon to go forward—the creation of a national language.

Up to this, France has spoken almost entirely in stone; up to this the architect has been the man of letters; up to this all those scattered tribes, Angevins, Poitevins, Burgundians, Armagnacs, and Bretons, have found expression for the genius that lives in man, not in verse or prose or painting, but in the pointed arch and shrill spire, the cathedral, fortress, and chateau.

We are in the land of the gargoyle. That chateau before us is the mind of the Middle Ages epitomised in stone, severe, narrow-windowed, armed, and above all fantastic. When we reach Paris along that road on which the pilgrims are straying, you will see that chateau broken up and repeated in a thousand different forms, you will see its pointed roofs in La Tournelles, its weathercocks on the Hotel de Sens, its towers on the Bastille, its portcullis as you cross the Petit Pont, and its fantasy everywhere.

And what you see here and what you will see in Paris is not a collection of stones cemented by mortar, but the carapace of the mind of the people. You are, in effect, looking at the literature of France in the year 1481.

As I have hinted before, France has not learned to express herself fully in poetry or prose. She has not yet learned properly to write, the mind of the people is pregnant with artistic speech, but as yet it can only murmur in verse and in tapestry or cry out in stone, yet even in these tapestries you may see the prefiguration of French literature, and even in these stones.

Over there at Bourges you will find the first verse of Villon’s Ballade of Jean Cotart, not yet to be written for thirty years, on the main porch where Noah lies drunk and naked, and you will find his ballade of the Contredicts de Franc Gontier hinted at in the sculptures of the Salle des Cheminees of the Palais de Justice in Paris. You will find Rabelais everywhere, from the Abbey de Bocherville to the Church of St. Jacques de la Boucherie, though Rabelais is not yet to be born for many and many a year. Grim humour, gross humour, fantasy and a vague gloom, arising from the skull which is the basis of Gothic art, are found everywhere; we find facades that sneer, porches that criticise, bas-reliefs filled with pointed stories, a whole literature petrified and inhuman. The attempt, in fact, of the human mind to express itself in stone.

To Villon, who was born last month, will fall the high mission of helping to give the human mind expression in speech. The mocking verses of his Testaments will give voice to the spirit of mockery whose expression can now only be found chiselled in the lavatory of the Abbey de Bocherville, or in the sculptures of Guillaume de Paris; his tenderness, his humanity, his tears can be found as yet nowhere, for stone cannot give expression to these.

Leaving aside the genius and directness of vision of this man who has just been born into the world—or rather perhaps because of them— Villon’s highest mission will be to tell future ages that the inhabitants of the land of the gargoyle were living and human beings, not mediaeval figures. That will be the highest mission of one who, with Aristophanes and Homer, holds the position, far above all royal positions, of a world-link—the man whose destiny it is to be ever living in a world ever dying.

So, standing here on this French road in the year 1431 before that isolated chateau and under its spell we may gather some hint of the rigid world into which our poet has just been born, some idea of that huge edifice of stone which Art has constructed as a mode of expression for the dreams and the humours of man, and which has turned into a sarcophagus for the corpse of thought—a sarcophagus to be shattered by the voice of that infant over there in Paris and by the voices of others still unborn.

Trust me, I’ll be reading more of Stacpoole’s book on François Villon. How could I not?

To Pray for the People of Egypt

Back when I was really young, and when I knew everything, I was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. I was one of the Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy there, back in the mid 1980’s.

The War on Terror had begun, for me anyway, when the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was blown up. [Read more…]

Because There Is No Statute Of Limitations On Truth

You may have missed this piece in the Washington Post yesterday about the historian accused of altering a document signed by President Abraham Lincoln. I work in an archive and I know that among historians and archivists, altering historic documents is just plain wrong. After all,

The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. (Luke 16:10)

The document in question was that of a Presidential pardon for a Union soldier who had been court-martialed and sentenced to be executed for desertion. The accused historian is Thomas P. Lowry, M.D., a psychiatrist by trade and an amateur historian who “discovered” this document 13 years ago while on a visit to the National Archives in Washington D.C.

Dr. Lowry, for a reason that only he knows, altered the document so that the date would read 1865 instead of 1864. He has admitted this, but he can’t be prosecuted. The statute of limitations for his crime is only 5 years, and that has long passed by. As the Washington Post article explains, Dr. Lowry became famous for the find of this last charitable act President Lincoln accomplished before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. You can read the Post article for yourself and watch the video on YouTube (see below) as well.

After this “find”, Dr. Lowry proceeded to write a bunch of books about the Civil War, all mostly from the seamier side of the event. After all, as any Madison Avenue executive will attest to, “sex sells.” Check out the titles,

Love and Lust: Private and Amorous Letters of the Civil War- Thomas P. Lowry

Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War- Thomas P. Lowry

Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools: The Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels- Thomas P. Lowry

Tarnished Eagles: The Court-Martial of Fifty Union Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels- Thomas P. Lowry

Venereal Disease and the Lewis and Clark Expedition- Thomas P. Lowry

The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War- Thomas P. Lowry

Tarnished Scalpels: The Court-Martial’s of Fifty Union Surgeons- Thomas P. Lowry

The Civil War Bawdy Houses of Washington, D.C.: Including a Map of Their Former Locations and a Reprint of the Souvenir Sporting Guide for the Chicago, Illinois, G.A.R. 1895, Reunion- Thomas P. Hardy

Utterly Worthless: One Thousand Delinquent Union Officers Unworthy of a Court-Martial- Thomas P. Lowry

Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Military Justice- Thomas P. Lowry

The Attack on Taranto: Blueprint for Pearl Harbor- Thomas P. Lowry

The Clitoris- Thomas P. Lowry

The last book on this list possibly was his first effort, prior to the “find,” and was published back in 1976. A catchy title.

The outrage of this act, the changing of a “4” into a “5” has produced over 120 comments on the article at the Post. Comments such as,

the issue for historians is the duty we have to be ethical and beyond reproach when we access and utilize archival material…in a moment of ethical weakness he altered a historical document for personal gain.

And this one from my own place of employment,

Here’s a story of a noted researcher who changed an important Lincoln document at the National Archives to make it more historically significant so he could advance his career. Now, everything he has done must be called into doubt and his reputation is ruined.

And as one of my friends opined,

Tampering with history is something I’ll never understand. It’s like desecrating something sacred.

Which is exactly why am I writing about this. Because the bottom-line is we, as people, don’t trust those of us who alter historical documents to serve their own purposes. We know that this is just flat wrong. Which is why when I found out that Martin Luther added the word “alone” after “faith” in his German translation of Romans 3:28, my “this guy is a stinker” alarm went off.

Good news though! Even Martin Luther didn’t change the original manuscripts of the Sacred Scriptures, because he was working off a copy anyway. But still, a guy who adds a word, or two to his translation to make a point is someone I’m leery of. Especially when he also physically removes seven (7!) books from the Canon of Holy Scriptures altogether. The Canon had stood sacrosanct for over 1100 years before he decided to remove a few documents. In an archive, just like anywhere else, that is stealing. Even the original King James Version of the Bible contained the books Luther eventually removed.

Again, I’m not saying I’m perfect (Heaven knows I’m not) but I’m definitely not lining up behind the guy who added words and pitched books from the Bible that didn’t meet his own specifications either. You may say, “So what if these books had been in the Canon and had even been in the Jewish Canon when Christ pitched His tent among us. So what! Luther ain’t Lowry, and Lowry ain’t Luther.”

Well often times, actions speak louder than words, don’t they? And sometimes people with underlying motives in a hurry cut corners, or fabricate things in order to push their own agenda. Charles Péguy said it well when he stated,

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.

Good advice, that. Thankfully, there is no statute of limitations on truth.

For Faith In Action: The March For Life (Part I)

This ain’t no school bus, gang.

Chapter I: Mission Impossible? Not When It’s a Mission from God

What possesses a man to embark, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, on an unplanned trip that will take 36 hours, 1000 miles of driving, and absolutely no idea how he will pull it all off? Faith and prayer is what I chock it up to. That, and having a wonderful wife. Oh, and did I mention I took my entire family with me, and at a moments notice?

I just felt like we needed to be at the March for Life, is all. [Read more…]

For Thoughts On Freedom Like These By Fulton Sheen

A little while ago, I shared a few of the Catholic ideas that have been consistent since Our Lord’s Advent and yet are paradoxical. Today, when you have a spare half-hour, have a listen to Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the audio clip below.

Don’t let the title fool you though, because this talk is about freedom.

Sure it was recorded back when the Cold War was getting warm, and Communism was the scare of the era. And it was scary for good reasons, as the blood of those who were put to death in this political system’s path of “progress” testifies to. But freedom is the what Archbishop Sheen speaks of here so eloquently. Freedom as it is understood in the Catholic, and therefore in the Christian, tradition.

I have spoken recently with some who has said, I can’t be a Catholic because the Church is a tyrannical system. One that squelches all freedoms: religious, political, spiritual, artistic, sexual, etc, etc. If you have had these same thoughts, or know someone who does, listen to the clip below. After you do, the citation taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 795) below will be understandable.

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.

http://www.gloria.tv/media/110466/embed/true

Catholic thoughts are always of the “fully baked” variety.

Because To Me, This is a Christmas Song

But maybe that’s just me…

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, کریسمس مبارک, Selamat Hari Natal, חג מולד שמח, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, मेरी क्रिसमस, Maligayang Pasko, عيد ميلاد مجيد, Froehliche Weihnachten, 聖誕節快樂, Joyeux Noël, С Рождеством, Buone Feste Natalizie, 메리 크리스마스, Feliz Natal, メリークリスマス, Sawadee Pee Mai,

For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. (John 3:17)

Beautiful Day, U2.
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Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
Hyde Park, London stretched out in front of you
Dublin, Rome, Paris France
Philadelphia this is not romance
Moscow, Toronto, Tokyo
Africa we’re coming home
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day

Let’s make it a two-fer!

In the Name of Love.

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For Poems Like This For Christmas: “Messiah” by Alexander Pope

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Three simple, but profound words. Three words that appeal to all mankind. Catholic words are these, albeit with a small “c.” The impact that the Catholic Church, with a capital “C,” has had on the arts, though, is enormous.

The Church has unswervingly held that mankind, and the works of his hands, and mind, are to be praised and turned to the benefit of all. Because to do so redounds to the Glory of God. Since the earliest of times, the Church has encouraged sacred art for this purpose. This isn’t just my personal opinion either.

Just look in the Catechism,

VI. TRUTH, BEAUTY, AND SACRED ART

2500 The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty. Likewise, truth carries with it the joy and splendor of spiritual beauty. Truth is beautiful in itself. Truth in words, the rational expression of the knowledge of created and uncreated reality, is necessary to man, who is endowed with intellect. But truth can also find other complementary forms of human expression, above all when it is a matter of evoking what is beyond words: the depths of the human heart, the exaltations of the soul, the mystery of God. Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos-which both the child and the scientist discover-“from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator,” “for the author of beauty created them.”

What follows is my Christmas gift to the readers of this blog. I didn’t make it, mold it, or shape it. I simply found it and wish to share it with you. In a way, it’s like when I picked dandelions and brought them to my mother when I was a child playing in a field. A worthless weed of a flower, and yet she always accepted it like I was handing her bars of gold.

In a sense, this is like a manifestation of the gifts that we bring to God, the creator of all that is seen and unseen. Worthless, and yet…priceless. After all, He became one of us in order to give us the opportunity to become like Him.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

This poem by Alexander Pope, a Catholic muse non pareil, embodies the three words I began this post with. Because the promised Babe that he writes of here, brought, and still brings, these three words to life, and into our lives. Thanks be to the LORD.

The Messiah – A Sacred Eclogue

Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:
To heavenly themes sublimer strains belong.
The mossy fountains, and the sylvan shades,
The dreams of Pyndus, and th’ Aonian maids,
Delight no more—O Thou, my voice inspire
Who touch’d Isaiah’s hallow’d lips with fire!
Rapt into future times the bard begun:
A virgin shall conceive, a virgin bear a Son!
From Jesse’s root behold a Branch arise,
Whose sacred flower with fragrance fills the skies:
Th’ ethereal spirit o’er its leaves shall move,
And on its top descend the mystic dove,
Ye heavens! from high the dewy nectar pour,
And in soft silence shed the kindly show’r!
The sick and weak the healing plant shall aid,
From storms a shelter, and from heat a shade.
All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail
Returning Justice lifts aloft her scale;
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
And white-robed Innocence from heav’n descend.
Swift fly the years, and rise th’ expected morn!
O spring to light, auspicious Babe be born!
See, Nature hastes her earliest fruits to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring;
See lofty Lebanon his head advance,
See nodding forests in the mountains dance:
See spicy clouds from lowly Sharon rise,
And Carmel’s flowery top perfume the skies!
Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers;
“Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!”
“A God, a God!” the vocal hills reply;
The rocks proclaim th’ approaching Deity.
Lo, Earth receives Him from the bending skies!
Sink down, ye mountains, and, ye valleys, rise!
With heads declined, ye cedars, homage pay!
Be smooth, ye rocks! ye rapid floods, give way!
The Savior comes, by ancient bards foretold:
Hear him, ye deaf; and, all ye blind, behold!
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray,
And on the sightless eye-ball pour the day:
‘Tis he th’ obstructed paths of sound shall clear,
And bid new music charm th’ unfolding ear:
The dumb shall sing, the lame his crutch forego,
And leap exulting like the bounding roe.
No sigh, no murmur, the wide world shall hear,
From every face he wipes off every tear.
In adamantine chains shall Death be bound,
And Hell’s grim tyrant feel th’ eternal wound.
As the good shepherd tends his fleecy care,
Seeks freshest pasture and the purest air,
Explores the lost, the wandering sheep directs,
By day o’ersees them, and by night protects;
The tender lambs he raises in his arms,
Feeds from his hands, and in his bosom warms;
Thus shall mankind His guardian care engage,
The promised father of the future age.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover’d o’er,
The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more;
But useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad falchion in a ploughshare end.
Then palaces shall rise; the joyful son
Shall finish what his short-lived sire begun;
Their vines a shadow to their race shall yield,
And the same hand that sow’d shall reap the field.
The swain in barren deserts with surprise
Sees lilies spring, and sudden verdure rise;
And starts amidst the thirsty wilds to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.
On rifted rocks, the dragon’s late abodes,
The green reed trembles, and the bulrush nods.
Waste sandy valleys, once perplex’d with thorn,
The spiry fir and shapely box adorn;
To leafless shrubs the flowering palm succeeds,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weeds.
The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead,
And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead;
The steer and lion at one crib shall meet,
And harmless serpents lick the pilgrim’s feet.
The smiling infant in his hand shall take
The crested basilisk and speckled snake,
Pleased, the green lustre of the scales survey,
And with their forky tongue shall innocently play.
Rise, crown’d with light, imperial Salem, rise,
Exalt thy towery head, and lift thy eyes!
See a long race thy spacious courts adorn;
See future sons and daughters yet unborn,
In crowding ranks on every side arise,
Demanding life, impatient for the skies!
See barbarous nations at thy gates attend,
Walk in thy light, and in thy temple bend!
See thy bright altars throng’d with prostrate kings,
And heap’d with products of Sabsean springs!
For thee Idumea’s spicy forests blow,
And seeds of gold in Ophir’s mountains glow.
See heaven its sparkling portals wide display,
And break upon thee in a flood of day.
No more the rising sun shall gild the morn,
Nor evening Cynthia fill her silver horn;
But lost, dissolved in thy superior rays,
One tide of glory, one unclouded blaze
O’erflow thy courts: the Light himself shall shine
Reveal’d, and God’s eternal day be thine!
The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away;
But fix’d His word, His saving pow’r remains;—
Thy realm for ever lasts, thy own Messiah reigns.

I pray that you and yours have a Blessed Christmas. Amen.

Because Unto Us, A Child Is Born! (Music for Mondays)

Christmas is upon us. We have passed through the 4th Sunday of Advent and in a few more days we will celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior. The mystery of the Incarnation is a profound one. As St. John writes in his gospel, and as the words parsed into English literally mean, “He pitched his tent among us.”

You don’t have to be a Marine to appreciate those words, but it doesn’t hurt. Our prayers are answered and Emmanuel comes! After all, leadership by example is always appreciated in the circles I travel in. He comes as promised and yet in an unexpected way. Poor, weak, and vulnerable. And as I hope the following music selections will show, in a very inspiring way too.

We’ll start with something from my favorite composer/priest, see the story unfold before our eyes in music and song from diverse languages and cultures, and wind this all up with a few modern classics. Rejoice!

Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax, etc., by Father Antonio Vivaldi. Played and sung brilliantly by these anonymous folks here. Vivaldi really enjoyed fast tempo music, blasting through chords and riffs like a Shelby Cobra ripping through a road course. Blazing speed. And these good folks are up to the challenge. Baroque or bust!

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The Nativity of Jesus. I love this, simply love it. And what a great little movie! You simply can’t beat the sound track to it either. Check out these costumes! The camels! The gifts!

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Kontakion of Christmas. A brief sample of the work of St. Romanus the Melodist. Stunning and majestic. Romanus had a vision of the Blessed Virgin once. That event changed his life forever. And get this…this version is even in English.

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Christ is Born!Xristos Yennatai! St. Romanus the Melodist isn’t the only game in town either. How about this kontakion credited to a St. Cosmas. I’m not sure about that, but maybe one our Orthodox brethren know for sure. Sound off if you do. I only know one thing: it is beautiful.

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An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity). This is a wonderful compilation of images and wonderfully haunting music. I lived in Egypt for a time and learned to speak a little Arabic while I was there. Not enough to be fluent, or read it, but enough to appreciate beauty when I hear it. Christians speak Arabic,see? And they sing the Nativity story as majestically as anyone else, if not more so.

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O Holy Night, in Mandarin. What more can I say except that Christ came for the salvation of all. I only wish I could plug a video in here for every language on the planet. Christianity is spoken here!

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Christ Is Born – Hwelih Isho’, Chaldean Hymn. Beautiful iconography and art accompanies this video. Chaldean Christians have endured some of the worst persecution for the faith imaginable. In the Kingdom of Heaven, I suspect they will be rewarded greatly.

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And now to the modern and a couple of my personal all time favorites.

Little Drummer Boy, David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Yes, yes, the entire scene is contrived. And if Bing isn’t the “poor relation from America” then I’ll fill that role for him. These two together, singing this particular song, became an instant Christmas classic.


Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Duet
Uploaded by beautifulcynic. – Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Nutcracker Suite, Tchaikovsky by the Brian Setzer Orchestra?! So it isn’t religious. So what? I like it anyway. If it wasn’t for Christmas, Tchaikovsky wouldn’t even have bothered. Brian and his band set this classic to the boogie-woogie beat. I dare you to say it doesn’t get your toes a tappin’.

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Medley: The First Noel/ Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/ O Come, All Ye Faithful/ We Wish A Merry Christmas; Ray Coniff and his Singers. One of my wife and my favorite CD’s to be played this time of year. And though I don’t ever remember watching this special on television, I’m glad there was one and that Ray & Co. sang these great Christmas spirituals.

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Have a Blessed Christmas everyone!

For Your Saturday Night at the Movies: The Sound of Music

Neophyte nun meets naval captain widower with 7 children. “Salzburg Austria in the last golden days of the 1930’s.” Unsure of Maria’s vocation, the Mother Superior of the abbey assigns her to the von Trapp household as a governess.

I held out against seeing this movie for the longest time. Until 2003 as I recall. Now it’s one of my favorites! Me and the kids know all of the tunes and break into song with the von Trapps with reckless abandon! Well, I still do anyway (how embarrassing!).

Beautiful scenery, great music, several love stories, kids that are a handful, Nazi sympathizers, the Anschluss, bosuns whistles, play clothes made from drapery cloth, Maria’s vocation problem is resolved, nuns removing ignition coils. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Check out the trailer!

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A Few of My Favorite Things.

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An apology and The Lonely Goatherd, my favorite!

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Because Catholics Can Have Fun: The Nativity via Social Networks circa 2010

Father James Martin, SJ, author of My Life With the Saints, posted this on his Facebook account a few minutes ago.  I predict it will be going viral, but as of this posting, the following video only has 360 views.

Let’s ramp that number up, shall we? But just remember that Herod the Great might be on-line too. We will need to jam his access to the web for a couple of hours. I know some people.

Don’t you dare smile!

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Update! Another version with a hat-tip to Tom Peters and Brandon Vogt.

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