Dead Week

Just today I learned that the week between-the-holidays is known in journalism circles as “Dead Week.” Between the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the recent AirAsia crash, the label strikes me as a bit tasteless, but that’s journalism for you. Nothing is supposed to happen this week, not because the stars have aligned just so or that the rulers of this world are of the mind to honor a quiet truce; nothing is supposed to happen because the government is on break (as it has been for some time); commercial operations typically slow down (unless you’re in the liquor business); there are parties to plan (or avoid); and so many of us like to believe that the forces of nature, the occurrence of chance, and the law of averages shall be suspended so that we may “reflect” or, rather, flood social media with banal recaps of “Our Really Great Year.”

Back and Forth

I am battling a touch of sickness and lack of sleep, so the glib, tongue-in-cheek follow-up to yesterday’s post, “1962 > 1954,” shan’t be coming down the pipe—at least not in the form I intended originally. With the Feast of the Circumcision only days away, it seems appropriate to reflect on the past year while making predictions, some wild and some sane, about what 2015 has in store for not only yours truly, but the world at large. However, I prefer, at this moment, to be inappropriate; because I really do not have anything to say on these things that you can’t find from other bloggers who far more adept at prognostication and reflection than I. Perhaps if my wife had given birth or the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, I’d have something meaningful to jot down. Oh, sure, the family did many delightful things this past year. I have the great blessing to be wedded to a lady who exemplifies the expression “better half,” along with being furnished with four youngsters who never cease to amaze me; it’s just that the everyday joys I hold dear in my heart aren’t likely to carry any sizable interest outside of a narrow circle of close friends and family. And as for sports, there’s nothing memorable to report, except that Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.

Some “public stuff” did happen along the way, too. My book, which I now think of as my last testament on the arcane world of aviation law, came out. I also took some modest steps away from blogging by writing articles for various outlets—something I am quite pleased with, actually. (And so “Thank You!” to those who gave me that opportunity; I am very grateful.) Oh, and much to my mother’s delight, I appeared on the local NBC affiliate to discuss that terrible tragedy in Ukraine. The one that everyone seems to have already forgotten about.

As usual, I plan to do a few things, maybe even many things, differently next year. To circle back to the original plan for this post, I am, to the best of my abilities, going to commit to praying full-time out of my 1945 Benziger Brothers Breviarium Romanum with the assistance of the St. Lawrence Press’s Ordo Recitandi. It may just happen that by year’s end, I, too, will be shouting condemnation upon “1962.” I just hope no one accuses me of crypto-sedevacantism, especially since one of the primary motivations for this “shift” is to get myself praying more. Regrettably, I need all the help I can get in that department.

To close, allow me to thank all of you who take the time to read, and sometimes comment upon (or ruthlessly criticize), Opus Publicum. I pray that the remaining days of 2014 prove peaceful to you and your families.

1962 > 1954

St. Lawrence Press has done a great service in the mighty cause of exonerating, nay, privileging the Missale Romanum and Divine Office of 1962 over the manifestly inferior “1954 books” (or — *shudder* — “1939 books”). As I flipped through the Press’s 2014 Ordo Recitandi for one of the last times this year, I was appalled to discover that there was a dark time, not too many decades ago, when this, the Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity, was displaced by the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Imagine my relief when, just before hearing today’s Mass, the priest ascended the pulpit to calm the crowd by reminding them that in the holy, indefectible, and manifestly superior 1962 liturgy, we would indeed be celebrating the Lord’s Day while commemorating the Holy Innocents. On this point even the Byzantines agree as they today celebrate the Sunday After Nativity; they would never countenance preempting and transferring such a day as this, even for  a venerable body of witnesses like the Holy Innocents.

Moreover, the faithful who had made the trek and sacrifice to attend Mass today could breathe a sigh of relief that unlike their forebears, they would not have to endure the abomination of seeing a Sunday Mass celebrated on the next available feria, which is December 30. No, sir; no church of mine “is going up on a Tuesday.”

So, at last, we need not hear anymore of this 1954 (1939) contra 1962 nonsense. The matter has been settled. The controversy is closed. While I look forward to thumbing through my freshly received copy of the 2015 Ordo Recitandi, reflecting on the celebratory horrors and confusions my poor ancestors once endured, that pales in comparison to the mirth which now consumes my soul over the knowledge that never again shall I bear witness to trad-on-trad polemical violence stirred up by such a minor, indeed hardly noticeable matter, as the perfect books of sweet, sweet ’62.

Christ is Born

Consider that after so many centuries, after so many prayers and sighs, the Messiah, whom the holy patriarchs and prophets were not worthy to see, whom the nations sighed for, “the desire of the everlasting hills,” our Savior, has come; he is already born, and has given himself entirely to us: “A child is born to us, and a son is given to us.”

The Son of God has made himself little, in order to make us great.

He has given himself to us, in order that we may give ourselves to him.

He has come to show us his love, in order that we may respond to it by giving him ours.

Let us, therefore, receive him with affection. Let us love him, and have recourse to him in all our necessities.

“A child gives easily,” says St. Bernard; children readily give anything, that is asked of them. Jesus came into the world as a child in order to show himself ready and willing to give us all good gifts: “The Father hath given all things into his hands.”

If we wish for light, he has come on purpose to enlighten us.

If we wish for strength to resist our enemies, he has come to give us comfort.

If we wish for pardon and salvation, he has come to pardon and save us.

If, in short, we desire the sovereign gift of divine love, he has come to inflame our hearts with it; and, above all, for this very purpose, he has become a child, and has chosen to show himself to us worthy of our love, in proportion as he was poor and humble, in order to take away from us all fear, and to gain our affections.

“So,” said St. Peter Chrysologus, “should he come who willed to drive away fear, and seek for love.” And Jesus has chosen to come as a little child to make us love him, not only with an appreciative but even a tender love.

All infants attract the tender affection of those who behold them; but who will not love, with all the tenderness of which they are capable, a God whom they behold as a little child, in need of milk to nourish him, trembling with cold, poor, abased, and forsaken, weeping and crying in a manger, and lying on straw?

It was this that made the loving St. Francis exclaim: “Let us love the child of Bethlehem, let us love the child of Bethlehem. Come, souls, and love a God who has become a child, and poor, who is so lovable, and who has come down from heaven to give himself entirely to you.”

– St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church and the Founder of the Redemptorist Order

2014 Year in Movies

I am not a big film buff, and ever since I left Chicago and the early morning discount at the AMC downtown, I am typically disinclined to visit a movie theater. For what it’s worth, here are the top 15 new movies I saw in 2014. Some titles released in late 2013 are on here as well. Oh, and I have seen neither The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies nor Exodus: Gods and Kings. I don’t anticipate that I will ever see the latter, actually.

2014 Year in Books

I’m always making lists. Below are the top 15 new books I read in 2014, with the caveat that a couple of titles published in late 2013 made it on as well. The numbering reflects roughly my sense of the book’s overall worth as determined by a number of idiosyncratic criteria, including whether or not I threw the volume across the room and/or allowed my 18-month-old to play with it.

The Myth of Hart

David Bentley Hart’s essay, “The Myth of Schism,” which was published nearly seven years ago, won’t go away. Though given little notice by the Orthodox community at the time of its release, it has since become one of the lynchpins of Catholic (and some Orthodox) ecumenical hopes and dreams. Just when I assumed the essay had been mined (and criticized) for all that it is worth, along comes Mark Shea to quote the essay’s most perplexing, and some might say mythical, paragraph. Here’s a sample:

I like to think—call it the Sophiologist in me—that the tribulations that Eastern Christianity has suffered under Islamic and communist rule have insulated it from some of the more corrosive pathologies of modernity for a purpose, and endowed it with a special mission to bring its liturgical, intellectual, and spiritual strengths to the aid of the Western Christian world in its struggle with the nihilism that the post-Christian West has long incubated and that now surrounds us all, while yet drawing on the strengths and charisms of the Western church to preserve Orthodoxy from the political and cultural frailty that still afflicts Eastern Christianity. Whatever the case, though, we are more in need of one another now than ever.