Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Happy Christmas

As Advent draws to a climax, I think it's time to wish my readers Nollaig Shona Daoibh as I probably won't post again between now and 2024.

It's been a strange year. Much of it was occupied with accommodation woes which, when told about them, provoke many people to say things like: "You should write a book about that", "You should make a podcast about that", or even stronger statements which I won't reproduce here.

Thankfully myself and Michelle are now safely back under the roof where we began the year, after several weeks spent sleeping in a hallway some months ago. We were the beneficiaries of extraordinary kindness from neighbours and friends, for which I am very grateful.

The year also involved getting caught up in a riot in O'Connell Street, and soon after that, finding myself a guest in Áras an Uachtaráin. So definitely a mixed year.

The Francis Wars continue in the Catholic Church. For my part, I'm always going to be loyal to the Pope and the Magisterium, perhaps even erring on the side of loyalty. But I think we could all have a lot more charity when it comes to such debates. I think many people come to very different positions with equally good intentions, following their conscience in good faith and striving to be loyal to the teaching of the Church.

God bless Pope Francis, God bless those who feel called in conscience to constructive criticism of him, God bless those (on both sides) who have strayed into bitterness and acrimony, God bless all of us.

Meanwhile, in our troubled world, the carnage continues in the Ukraine and Gaza. May the year 2024 bring peace, or at least an improvement, to these afflicted lands. And thank God that (relative) peace holds in Northern Ireland, and that we haven't seen a return to the horror of the Troubles.

In Ireland, the government becomes ever more authoritarian, seeking to clamp down on free speech and civil freedoms and to impose their woke agenda on the country. We all need to push back against this as much as we reasonably can. Thank God for people such as Professor Gerard Casey who are leading the defence of freedom. You should follow him on Twitter (or X, if you prefer).

The library is closing on Friday. I always get a bit sad as the holidays draw in. In truth I probably like Advent more than I like Christmas. I like the trees, the lights, the chocolates, the strangers wishing each other Happy Christmas. I like the public aspect.

I'm going to end with a Christmas poem which was the first poem I ever sent Michelle, indeed one of our very first communications. It wasn't written anywhere near Christmas. It may not be a great poem but I like it for sentimental reasons, and also because I smuggled lots of my favourite words into it. I'm sure I've posted it before. Happy Christmas!

(The image below is the crib in the church in UCD.)

On a Christmas Bauble

Gaze into the flickering flame
Of a homely hearth
Gaze through the world-creating frame
Of any window on the Earth.
Gaze in a grey or a hazel eye;
Gaze all night at the spangled sky;
But gaze at last, for a greater joy,
At the glow of a Christmas bauble.

This is the very mirror of mirth;
A light to proclaim
A winter's tale of a Virgin Birth
Making the world a fantastic game.
"God is the giddiest thought of all",
Says the tinsel hanging on the wall
And the twinkling of that jolly ball,
The glow of a Christmas bauble.

The season that bears the Holy Name
Is sending forth
The tidings we were born to proclaim;
The infinite worth
Of the soul of man, and the world of things;
The wild delight of all carollings
For the happiest hymn to the King of Kings
Is the glow of a Christmas bauble.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Burning Babe, with a Sting in the Tale

Anyone who reads this blog (and I'm grateful to them all) knows that I'm a sucker for traditions, and that the Christmas tradition on Irish Papist is to post St. Robert Southwell's great Christmas poem "The Burning Babe".

But tradition and innovation don't have to be mortal enemies!

This year, rather than simply posting the text, I am inviting my good friend Sting to give his rendition. Afterwards we are having mince pies and a sing-along. Dirk Benedict might show up as well. You can never tell with Dirk.

You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

On The Seventieth Anniversary of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Merrion Road

Our Lady Queen of Peace has been my local church for the last four years or so. Since it's fairly close to UCD I'd often attended it before that, as well. It offers a nine p.m. Mass on Sundays which is very helpful.

It was opened and blessed by the unfairly much-maligned Dr. John Charles McQuaid on the 13th December 1953. You can read its history here.

I wrote this sonnet on the commemoration the other day. I sent it to the parish and got a two-line acknowledgement. Oh, well. My blog readers might enjoy it.

Seventy years ago, the staunch McQuaid
Raised up a round tower as our forebears did
To boldly show the Faith our forebears hid
From Cromwell's soldiers and the Viking's raid.
But Satan never sleep; for in that hour
Of triumph, new and subtler foes waged war
On all our saints and martyrs suffered for
And now the land is darkened with their power.
The battle never ends; but neither shall
The grace the Triune God pours on us cease.
Amidst this strife, let us make festival
Trusting our Master Christ will bring increase
From every wound and woe and seeming fall
And let us praise our Lady Queen of Peace.

Friday, December 8, 2023

For The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The first fall of snow.
A candle's pure glow.
The white morning mist.
A glory unguessed.
Bring us to your son
Oh, Immaculate one.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

My Poem in Totus Tuus


My poem "Father G" has appeared in the Christmas edition of Totus Tuus magazine, edition 35.

It's a comic-serious poem and all of it is taken from real life, down to the last detail.

Speaking of poetry...

A new colleague in the library said to me today: "There are some good books in the book return."

I was feeling a bit feisty so I said: "The only good books are poetry. Everything else is just entertainment."

An exaggeration, of course, but not an entirely unjustified one. There followed my usual twenty-minute spiel on the decline of poetry (can be extended on request, or even without request).

Long before TikTok or reality TV or Beavis and Butthead, cultural decline had already well set in. Give the poor millennials a break. We are all savages these days.