Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Happy Christmas

And is it true? and is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant.

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

(from 'Christmas' by Sir John Betjemin)

I wish everyone a very happy and blessed Christmas!

I'll wish you a merry Octave too, for I'm not sure when I'll next be posting. Most of Christmas Day will be spent in church and presbytery dining room (where nine of us will be sitting down to turkey et al, including five priests). Then on St Stephen's Day I'm going home for my second Christmas meal. I'm staying there a few days and may post something, though my father's ancient dial-up connection is painfully slow.
Update: We have a rather bare, modern (1964) church, so we did our best in decorating it for the great feast. At least there is a central tabernacle and plenty of space on the sanctuary, both behind and front of the altar.



Blogger Mac McLernon said...

Happy Christmas Fr Nicholas!

2:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessed Christmas Fr..looking forward to your future posts..

9:40 am  
Anonymous Aquinatic said...

Dear Fr Nicholas,

I didn't think an orthodox priest would offer for our admiration "and lives today in Bread and Wine". The inroads that Lutheran doctrine has made in the Catholic Church are truly depressing. A built-in sensitivity to the teaching of Trent would immediately make Betjeman's line seem repugnant. The real presence of Christ means the real absence of bread and wine.

9:06 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Happy Christmas to you all!

11:08 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Aquinatic - thank you for your kind comment and a very happy Christmas to you.

I wasn't treating Betjemin's poem as a theological treatise. Christ is truly present in the Blessed Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity. The accidents of bread and wine remain, though they are now of Christ's Body and Blood. I think an orthodox Catholic can still appreciate Betjemin's poem (and it is only that) if you read the last line from this perspective.

11:30 pm  
Blogger Miguel José Ernst-Sandoval said...

Merry Christmas from the States!

BTW, ever considered a damask wall hanging behind the altar? Perhaps some riddle posts too?

9:55 pm  
Anonymous Fr. N said...

Do people in Britain use the term "Merry Christmas" or only "Happy Christmas"? I am curious as to the difference between us on that trivial point.
Anyway, and very merry, happy, and blessed Christmas to all.

1:43 am  
Blogger The Lost Pilot said...


Depressing indeed that our Catholic Church no longer sees fit to teach Catholic doctrine. However, I think Fr Nick's riposte was fair play: there is a difference between doctrine and poetry.

You should try attending Mass in Guildford where, this evening, for our edification, the choir sang a hymn with an almost identical line! My wife, bless her, nearly wept.

10:58 pm  

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