The historiography of the American founding is an ever-changing landscape, as historians look at evidence that was previously ignored or minimized, and, just as importantly, as a new generation of historians brings the questions of their own times to the data of previous times. Few periods are as studied as that of the revolutionary and founding generations, yet historians continue to see things that were opaque before, filling out our understanding of our shared past. It is important work not only for historians but for all of us.
It has been commented upon by several people that, this year, the death of the Holy Innocents came before Christmas and that for many, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut made it difficult for people to feel the usual joy we associate with this season. Here is the text of a sermon delivered this past Sunday, at the National Shrine here in Washington, by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., that powerfully connects the tragedy and the holiday:
I mentioned that this was a bizarre Christmas for me. At one point, I toyed with the idea of having what my Jewish friends call "Jewish Christmas - Chinese food and a movie." I actually liked the idea of the Chinese food, but there was one tradition I could not bring myself to overcome, the tradition of not engaging in commerce on Christmas Day. Actually, it is better to say, engaging only in the commerce that matters, the commerce between Heaven and Earth. That is commerce enough for the day and, in the end, the only commerce that ultimately matters on any day.
In case you missed it on the homepage, NCR has announced its Person of the Year: John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States.
I had anticipated a typical Christmas this year. Make my Christmas cards and get them sent. Drive to Connecticut with my niece, a friend, and the three dogs. Get the tree and decorate it on Christmas Eve. Midnight Mass. Dinner with friends and family. Restful (apart from the drive), focused on the liturgy not the gift giving, days filled with traditions, and the mental associations they recall.
We associate the phrase "felix culpa" with the Easter Vigil, where the words appear in the Exsultet. Over at Commonweal, Father Imbelli discovers a happy fault at Yuletide.
I once asked a learned theologian to explain to me the essential difference between the theology of Karl Rahner and the theology we associate with the Communio school. My learned friend replied, “It takes on many different expressions, but fundamentally, Rahner considers the Incarnation as a theological category and the Communio school considers the Incarnation as an event.” I still try to get my unlearned theological mind around that sentence, but, at Christmas it begins to make sense to me and I discern why I like the Communio school so much.
Here is the link. I will write in detail about this speech subsequently. I am sure the Holy Father's remarks about gender as a given and not as a social construction will earn him some scorn.
Everybody likes to talk about their political challenges in martial terms: a war on women, a war on religion, a war on drugs, etc. This report by Alessandro Speciale at RNS describes one battle worth having, the effort by the Italian bishops, trade unions and associations of small businesses to keep Sunday as a day of rest. This touches the deepest struggle in our culture, the struggle to resist the encroachments of the ideology of the market into all of life.