Saturday, December 26, 2015


Feast Day

St. Stephen, Assisi, Italy

December 26 is the Feast Day of St. Stephen,
the first Christian martyr. By placing his celebration just one day after Christmas, the Church reminds us that proclaiming our faith will not always be easy, nor will it always be popular.

We celebrate our martyrs because we are called to emulate their example. To be faithful is not without cost...

For my own part, I have a special fondness for Stephen because it was a powerful and eloquent speech he gave which finally led to his death. For someone like me who spent his life teaching the techniques of persuasive rhetoric, spoken and written, Stephen is an easy figure to admire.

Christmas Movies & TV Shows

Original 1983 "one sheet" poster
When it was released in 1983, director Bob Clark's nostalgic A Christmas Story didn't make much of a splash at the box office. I was living in Wyoming at the time, and I have no memory of it even making it into the theaters there that year.

Based on stories by humorist Jean Shepherd (who co-wrote the screenplay and provided the voice narration), the film found its audience when it was released on video and began to be shown on TV during the Christmas season. Eventually, it became as much a part of the holidays as A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the various incarnations of A Christmas Carol.

The film is a charming portrayal of not only what the Christmas season was like for those of us who grew up in that era, but many other fondly-remembered aspects of being a kid in those days as well. And the final scene gets me every time...

The TNT Network has been featuring a 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon beginning on Christmas Eve for many years. I became a fan in 1997 because it was the favorite Christmas film of my best friend at the time.

"I miss him SO much this time of year..."

I know you too...

Rethinking My Disdain for Egg Nog

From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the fringe benefits of growing up Catholic and attending Catholic schools is that you acquire a body of arcane knowledge about the Church that occasionally allows you to impress non-Catholics. When I was in high school, for instance, I was able to explain to a girl I liked what the phrase "...on the Feast of Stephen" meant in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas," which she was practicing with the school's choir. She was impressed, but she still wouldn't go out with me...

As is often the case, the provenance of the carol is a piece of music from one period of history (in this case, a 13th century Finnish song) being paired with lyrics from an entirely different period (in this case, words written by English hymn-writer John Mason Neale in 1853). It is a popular carol this time of year because the story of St. Wenceslas
is a timely reminder of the blessedness of charity toward those less fortunate than ourselves.

In 2014, the Canadian roots-rock band Skydiggers released Angels, an album of Christmas music which included their take on "Good King Wenceslas."

Today's send-off is their simple but charming rendition of the classic carol, paired with some evocative winter photography. Enjoy...

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