1. There’s a dispute on another FIRST THINGS blog on where the word “Easter” came from. No matter who’s right, I have to admit that, unlike “Christmas,” it has no distinctively Christian connotation. Still, “He is risen . . . ,” and let’s hope Rand Paul can’t trick us conservatives into being pro-choice about THAT. One good thing about Easter it can’t get “subsumed” (as Walker Percy says) into some generic season of “Happy Holidays.”
2. In the spirit of Pope Francis, my wife and I attended the Good Friday service at St. Bernadette’s of Cedartown, GA (only about 20 miles from where we live). It’s a tiny church that seats 110. But now it has around 500 families, roughly 80% Guatemalan. So the service was a Stations-of-the-Cross procession of about four blocks from the church to an enormous “Prayer Hall” that’s now used every Sunday to handle the crowd. The procession included very realistically costumed Roman Centurions (complete with whips) and so forth, and even or especially the children and a few classy “Anglo” southern women were really into it. The Guatemalans are almost all “Indians” from the lowest class in their home country, are short of stature, have large and obviously loving families, and are known for being ferociously hard workers. They are clearly very gentle and deeply pious people. They came to Cedartown to work in a meat-packing plant that closed sometime ago. So now they go where they can to work in small factories—often literally sweatshops—around Northwest Georgia. Their legal status, of course, is often murky or nonexistent. But they’re usually doing work that nobody else would do. So it’s days like this that makes it tough for me to be tough on the immigration issue. But I still agree with Pete: DON’T BE SUCKERED BY RAND PAUL!
3. Meanwhile, the single “Anglo” priest at St. Bernadette’s (a tank-guy veteran who served in Afghanistan) knocks himself out in both Spanish and English. He started his “clerical career” as a member of the Franciscans of Primitive Observance (GOOGLE them!). More soon.