Soon it will be Christmas Day. . . .
Mary Ann gave me communion this morning with serious face. She did not greet me as if I had just arrived with six paying customers at her restaurant, grinning and seeking strong eye contact. I took the host with gratitude, to her as well as to the Savior who died for my sins.
Fr. John M. began his sermon with his walking the Brooklyn Bridge recently. I related to this, having walked it some months back myself. He pictured a sort of community forming, people going in the same direction as dedicated Christians do. Alas, my mind wandered as a cloud. Reader, I fell off that bridge before Fr. J. got to the end of his sermon. Maybe next time . . .
We prayed for those who "accepted the call to lead the church," and for a dreadful moment, my hearing failed me, and I thought the lady said "leave." That will be the day, when we make that prayer. However, the devil was at work in me in other ways, leading me to ponder those who angle and play cards right to make bishop. There have always been those among us. In fact, Our Leader warned us, did he not? Beware wolves in sheep's clothing?
Meanwhile, the parish came up in the black this year, by $51,000, while supporting the parish school, which had almost closed 18 months ago. The school's $198,000 deficit was borne by the parish, or -- for financial report purposes -- the church. Of the three categories, church, school, and religious education (of public school kids), only the church is in the black. Which is another way of saying that the parish's education ministry has been taken on by the parish.
And why not? Andrew Greeley, featured in a Sun-Times interview story today with the Lutheran church historian Martin Marty, once inveighed against Catholics who were ready to jettison parish schools. He convinced me but hasn't said anything about it lately, not in his newspaper columns at least, where George W. Bush and the Iraq war has been his focus. He and Marty were born on the same day, Sun-Times tells us. It was a good day for liberals.
They are called "icons" in a head, by the way. But Chi Trib uses "icon" today for the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose icons (images) are widespread in the Mexican community. If Greeley and Marty are icons, what the heck is the Virgin?
To return to preaching, where we began, Fr. Kilbridge, O.P., at St. Vincent's (another parish) the other day, preaching on the Immaculate Conception of that very Virgin, Mary -- out of Gualupe or otherwise -- quoted Wordsworth. In a throwaway reference, Fr. K. called her "our tainted nature's solitary boast." Boy. Here I am used to truly pedestrian references from the pulpit -- and I do not refer to walking the Brooklyn Bridge, which has great possibilities -- and this man quotes Wordsworth. W. was no Catholic, of course. He used the phrase in his poem, "The Virgin":
Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast; . . .
W. died in 1950, four years before the pope "defined" the Immaculate Conception as a sure thing. No connection, we may be sure, except that W.'s using that language lends credence to the widespread belief that founded the definition.