— 1 —
Last night I noticed a title on my DVR list that I’d recorded and forgot: a short film called Janey Mary. Filmed in 2007 the film is based on the original short story by Irish author James Plunkett about a young five-year old girl in 1940s Dublin who is sent out by her mother onto the cold and wet winter streets to beg for food.
The film is 19 minutes long and outside of The Butterfly Circus is one of the greatest examples of storytelling in film that I could cite. It is also something that I would not recommend someone watch if they are, like me, still nursing a very deep grieving after the events of just one week ago in Connecticut. It could be said that it is a metaphor for our culture, with adults trampling on children to satisfy their needs. It is a beautiful little film that led to my wife finding me a sobbing wreck last night on our sofa as the credits rolled.
Do not let my reaction discourage you from its viewing should you be able to watch the entire film. All I ask is that when it is over you spend more than a few seconds or minutes thinking about what it portrays. There is much to meditate upon and I’m willing to bet that like me, you will fall in love with little Janey Mary and recognize that there is much truth in Plunkett’s fiction.
God bless good storytellers, and may He give us more of them.
Website for Janey Mary: www.janeymary.com
— 2 —
Two ladies who are excellent storytellers in their own right are the Writing Sisters. If you haven’t subscribed to their Facebook page you should, as more times than not you will be blessed with little snippets to launch your day. This morning’s was no exception as they shared something by Sharon Jaynes. It is 1 Corinthians 13 for Christmas, and I won’t post it here because I want you to check it out on their blog right here. After you do, take a look around. Laurie and Betsy do what as yet alludes me: create beauty in brevity.
— 3 —
While driving in to work this morning and listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the following lyrics from the song Old City Bar struck with much clarity:
If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask
— 4 —
A woman who has been a favorite columnist of mine for over a decade is Alicia Colon. In her column on December 18 she touches on the subjects of faith and belief, and the sneering condescension with which both traits are met by the so-called “intelligent” secularists of our age. As always, Ms. Colon is worth reading in toto, but I’m going to focus on one part below because she correctly gets to the heart of the one thing that separates people of faith from those who profess to have none:
People of faith have no problem believing that there is evil personified in the Devil but the way more ‘intelligent’ secularists think he’s a myth. Christians have been taught to regard Satan as an entity that loathes humanity and delights in our anguish and unlike the Rolling Stones; I have no sympathy for him.
While I was at Mass on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I listened to a reading from Genesis and another reading was about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary telling her she would become a mother and I thought, “Boy, is that hard for some to swallow.” Such a fantasy – a virgin birth – a legend and yet, one that is the core of my faith. It then occurred to me that belief in the supernatural and otherworldly events requires one to be humble. Humility is probably the hardest virtue and Pride probably the most deadly sin. To surrender to a higher power and feel its love is a gift that is there for us all and it is in the Christmas season that we are reminded that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son.
Pride and its antithesis: Humility. If you’ve the time I invite you to listen to a twenty minute homily given last Sunday by Bishop Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin. In his talk he uses the question asked of John the Baptist in the Gospel, What should we to do?, to reflect on last Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. There is only one explanation: Satan. And there is only one solution: turn back to God, and turn back to beauty.
I’ll put it this way: while I have admitted to avoiding much of the media this past week I have seen enough to know that there is no wisdom in what explanations they are struggling to feed the public. Of all I’ve seen or heard since last Friday, Bishop Morlino provides the most clarity I’ve encountered.
Lord, grant us humility this Christmas.
— 5 —
One more lyric from Old City Bar: “If one could be home, they’d be already there.”
This week I touched upon the following: truth, beauty, and humility.
One more: Home.
Home sweet home. Dolce Domum. I hope that this Christmas season finds you home, wherever your home may be. Whether home is a physical place or one of spirit, may you travel safely there for a time and warm yourself by the fire of its hearth.
And after the gifts have been opened and should you find yourself looking at all of the wrapping paper, bows and ribbons scattered about, remember the gift you received that was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger.
From TAN Books and Saint Benedict Press yesterday came a message to its customers from publisher Robert M. Gallagher. I present a portion of it here, and close this Friday Five with his thoughts on Our Gift, that when read in the light of the pride that Alicia Colon touched upon gives me much to contemplate this season with regards to that Gift, and to remember that despite mankind’s efforts to defeat God the message of faith, hope and love that the babe of Bethlehem proclaimed throughout His life is still being conveyed by men and women around the globe.
Merry Christmas to you all. “Rejoice and be glad for today is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.”
Therefore the birth of Jesus that we are preparing to celebrate is the most unimaginable of gifts: God the Creator offering Himself to His creatures out of pure unselfish love.
And, what have we done with this gift?
Today our secular culture attacks not only the meaning and public celebration of His birth, it attacks the very mention of His name. As brazen attacks increase against the Christ child and the Church He established, I must remember that attempts to destroy Jesus started not long after His birth, with Herod’s massacre of the Holy Innocents.
Then I am heartened by the fact that for almost two thousand years this old world of ours has tried to stamp out the Christ child and the meaning of His life, death and resurrection; and, for two thousand years every attempt has failed.
Herod could not kill Him as a baby; the grave could not hold Him as a man; and all the might of the Roman Empire could not destroy His message or the establishment of His Church. From the blood of His martyrs, which stained the floor of the ancient coliseum, the Roman Empire itself was converted to Christianity in less than four hundred years. Today, the ruins of that ancient coliseum stands in the shadow of St. Peter’s where His vicar still resides.
Throughout history many have tried and failed to stamp out His message. Within our own memories, the Nazis have tried and failed and the Communists have tried and failed. Today even our own government is trying to suppress His message, and force His Church to violate its own principles or subject it to unconscionable fines. Our government too shall ultimately fail in its attempt.