Welcome to an abbreviated edition of Wisdom Wednesday. This week (and next week too), we offer a few items for Christmas and New Year consideration. This week, a pope’s present with a message and a women’s college present taken back, and a column on the naughty and nice. We begin with reflection on the God who dwells among us.
The Christmas story
Fresh from the annual focus on the 90-mile journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, NCR writer Mary M. McGlone notes that Jesus was born in desperate circumstances. His parents, like the 100 million people forced to be on the move today, had no insurance policies, no AAA roadside help and no credit cards to buy their way in somewhere. With no insulation from ever-present difficulties and danger, they were dependent, hopeful for the kindness of strangers.
Bethlehem’s Christmas economy bleeds from Gaza war
The West Bank city loses Christmas tourism amid daily Israeli raids and the continuing assault on the Gaza Strip. The report from Al Jazeera.
A Christmas present from the pope
Pope Francis gave a Christmas gift to senior members of the Curia, a book entitled “Holy, not Worldly. God’s Grace Saves Us from Interior Corruption.” At La Croix International, writer Loup Besmond de Senville says sometimes a gift can send a pointed message, as the pope warns his curia against the illusion of omniscience.
Naughty or Nice
Who was on the “Naughty” or “Nice” list prepared by Michael Sean Winters? Which side is Cardinal Burke? El Paso Bishop Seitz? The Colorado Supreme Court? Archbishop Chaput? Check the list (twice if you like) at the National Catholic Reporter.
A children’s book, some adult reflection
A children’s Christmas book written by satirist Kurt Vonnegut inspires opinion writer Stephen Copeland to examine the radical absurdity of the Incarnation. The article comes from NCR online.
That’s a phrase offered on many a Christmas card, without specifying who are what is to be blessed. Pope Francis offers a collection of some surprising recipients, same-sex couples and couples in “irregular” circumstances. “The World Needs Blessings,” says a Commonweal headline.
Clearly, Fiducia supplicans does not go as far as many LGBTQ advocates would like, but it would be a mistake to dismiss this doctrinal declaration—the first since 2000’s Dominus Jesus—as inconsequential, as some Catholics, both liberal and conservative, have already done.
Was it a gift taken back?
St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame had decided to join all other Catholic Women’s colleges to accept trans students. But in a Dec. 21 letter, St. Mary’s said “the position we took is not shared by all members of our community.” NCR reports that Franciscan Fr. Daniel Horan, director of the Center for the Study of Spirituality and professor of philosophy, religious studies and theology at St. Mary’s, said he was “disappointed” in the latest decision.
A Christian nation?
The observance of Christmas often brings into focus the argument that our nation’s founders intended to establish a Christian nation. The Guardian reports that links between the new Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson, and key Christian nationalist leaders have sparked fears the devout Louisiana congressman might seek to erode elements of the first amendment, which protects key US civil liberties including freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
First Christmas for new priest and family
Christmas 2023 was the first Christmas for a newly ordained priest with his wife and nine children. Jean-Claude “JC” Duncan, an African-American former Methodist minister in Minnesota, was ordained a Catholic priest on December 9 for the Diocese of St. Cloud. The feature story from Black Catholic Messenger.