New Year’s Titanic Gods

Since other writers on this site have already declared their indifference to or hostility towards New Year’s celebrations, I suppose I should avoid doing the same, if only for variety’s sake. The truth is, though, that my family never observed the day when I was growing up, and always made a point of going to bed well before midnight on New Year’s Eve… . Continue Reading »

Visions of Mary

I am not sure what my own first vision of Mary was, but from an early age I was aware of two images: one a literal picture, the other an imagined scene; and both remain with me half a century later. The picture was a gilded reproduction of an icon, the original of which is displayed in Rome in the Church of Saint Alfonsus Liguiri … Continue Reading »

Our Pagan Ritual

It was cold, very cold that New Year’s eve in the Adirondack Mountains, perhaps twenty below. A fine, imperceptible snow was almost hovering like a thin mist as I fumbled with the small backpacking stove, unable to manipulate the little knobs. So I took off my mittens, and the harsh cold of the frozen metal pierced through my thin silk inner gloves, making the tips of my finger almost instantly numb… . Continue Reading »

Why the News Makes Us Dumb

The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often described as a “slow-news week.” We use that phrase without considering that world-historical events seem to take a vacation during the period when journalists are on holiday. Could it be that most of what is considered news is a product created for consumption when we are most likely to be paying attention? … Continue Reading »

New Year’s and the Lord of History

The contrarian rule I have long tried to observe with respect to New Year’s Eve—get to bed by 10 p.m.—was confirmed by its breach on the night of Dec. 31, 1981. Perhaps the inspiration came from watching too many episodes of The Duchess of Duke Street, … Continue Reading »

For 2011: Unwrap the Silence

Christmas has, in too many ways, become the equivalent of an overdone theme-park vacation. By its end, one is knock-kneed with exhaustion and desperately in need of a genuine opportunity to rest. A Christmas snow, like the one we’ve just had, does wonders to cull the silence… . Continue Reading »

Mary Looked Downward

Not, I admit, exactly a column, or at least not an original column. But curious to see what we’d said about Christmas in “On the Square,” I found some quotes I liked and wanted to pass on. Three are by Father Neuhaus, the fourth by a Lutheran pastor, Paul Gregory Alms. The sources of the full articles appear at the end … Continue Reading »

The Incarnation

It’s easy to step back and denounce the excesses of the Christmas season: the orgy of spending, too much food, too much drink, too many parties, and expensive ski vacations that bring aching credit card hangovers. Easy, but mistaken… . Continue Reading »

Meditations for the End of Advent

Advent is the season of hope and reflection. It is a time of prayerful expectation for Christians who await the Second Coming of the Lord, just as they celebrate his birth at Christmas. Many, however, do not really appreciate its significance, or see Advent as a dramatic call upon their lives… . Continue Reading »

Being on God’s Side: An Open Letter to the Religious Right

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was purportedly asked if God was on his side. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said the President, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Although Lincoln is often praised for this remark by those who oppose the mixing of religion and politics, it contains three of the most controversial ideas in American politics … Continue Reading »