Adoration of the Shepherds

Gerard van Honthorst. Anbetung der Hirten (Adoration of the Shepherds). Oil on canvas, 1622.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
—Isaiah 9:6 ESV

Merry Christmas!

It’s been a busy season, though thankfully not as frantic as it has been in recent years. We are mostly staying put for once. I am home with my family, and we are having most of the family Christmas gatherings at our house. Friday night we had the extended family Christmas party, which brought the most people this house has seen in twenty years. Last night, Christmas Eve, was a quiet evening with the immediate family. I attended a vigil Mass at the local parish. This morning I opened gifts with the immediate family (way too much stuff for my liking, but I can’t complain), and my aunt and uncle and cousins are coming over for Christmas dinner and festivities with my mother’s side of the family. Tomorrow we will travel to have Christmas with my father’s side of the family.

My family is apparently still uncomfortable buying Catholic gifts for me. My dad did, however, give me an ESV Bible with Apocrypha, which I discovered only a week or two ago. The English Standard Version is my favorite Bible translation; my good (Protestant) study bible is ESV. One of these days I’m going to write about Bible translations here. The ESV wasn’t originally translated with the Apocrypha (including the Catholic Deuterocanon), and its absence was one of the main things that gave me pause about keeping the ESV my primary translation. Now (well, 2009) Oxford University Press has organized and published an ESV translation of the Apocrypha, and my translation is complete.

Thrifting Harvest, Christmas Eve 2011

My Christmas Eve thrifting harvest (zoomable)!

I also had a glorious thrifting harvest yesterday! One of the local Catholic parishes, I’ve discovered, clears out their “dated” books fairly often and brings them to one particular store. And apparently there is a paucity of Catholic nerds who frequent that store: I always rack up. Among my acquisitions this time: a four-volume set of The Liturgy of the Mass by Fr. Pius Parsch, a leading figure of the Liturgical Movement; a cool illustrated catechism; a Challoner-Rheims New Testament; a pretty picture book about Fatima; a scholarly examination of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; a collection of St. Paulinus of Nola‘s poems; and books by St. Augustine, St. Alphonsus Liguori, Cardinal Newman, Fr. Merton, and more. Also, some pretty great Protestant books: a synopsis of the Gospels by Kurt Aland; a survey of Protestant thought and writings by Alister McGrath; and a defense of the Resurrection by Norman Geisler. Whew!

This parish, in my hometown, is only the second one I’ve been to as a nascent Catholic; I visited here once before a few months ago. I am not here to be critical, but I much prefer my spiritual home at school. The music here was a mess. But the Mass is still the Mass. The words of the liturgy are powerful, no matter who intones them; Christ visits us in the Eucharist, no matter what priest celebrates it and no matter where we ourselves may be visiting. This is one of the things I love about Catholicism most of all: it is not about the man at the front of the church; it’s about the Man at the Head of the Church. I go to Mass not to hear a likable preacher or enjoyable music; I go to partake in Holy Communion with Jesus Christ.

May you all have a blessed Christmas.