Friday, December 30, 2005

An outrage to St. Nicholas!

Well, in the spirit of the non-sectarian holidays, I offer this tidbit from "Asia News," published by the P.I.M.E.

7 December, 2005
Church of St Nicholas open to local mufti, but closed for mass on the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas
by Mavi Zambak

Although the church belongs to the Orthodox Patriarchate, the authorities have turned it into a museum where the Eucharist cannot be celebrated. The local mufti can however use it for his Santa Claus association.

Demre (AsiaNews) – In a warm and fertile land where a turquoise sea gently splashes against a beautiful shoreline rises a small Turkish town, Demre, which would have been lost to history were it not for the fact that it once was the Episcopal See of Saint Nicholas, the same Saint Nicholas whose venerated mortal remains now lay in the Cathedral of Bari (southern Italy), the same Saint Nicholas known to the many as Saint Nick, Old Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Santy, or simply Santa—whose home is usually given as either the North Pole in the United States (Alaska), northern Canada, Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland, Dalecarlia in Sweden, or Greenland, depending on the tradition and country—, the same old, bearded man who on Christmas Night travels the world in his red and white costume bringing gifts to children.

According to one tradition in fact, the practice of gift-giving comes directly from Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who put three bags of gold in stockings left to dry belonging to three young women, who had no dowry, so that their father may not sell them into prostitution.

A recently renovated church in Demre is dedicated to the same Saint Nicholas, a church, according to tradition, that was built in the 4th century, when the town was called Myra and Saint Nicholas was its bishop.

Despite complaints, the church has now become a museum open to the local mufti and his Santa Claus Association but closed to the Eucharist by a decision of the local authorities. Gone is also the statue of the Saint.

The Saint, who was buried in the church until a group of merchants from Bari spirited his remains away in 1087, had fame as a thaumaturge, drawing pilgrims and believers from around the region.

According to ancient chronicles, pilgrims came to the shrine, poured oil into the tomb and collected it after it was sanctified by contact with the Saint’s bones so that it could be used on the sick.

Today, although the building is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church (but known to local Turks as the Santa Claus Church), it is used as a museum. The Saint’s sarcophagus may be empty but tourists are charged a fee to visit the burial chapel

And it is this church, the church of the bishop of Myra, famous for his generosity and piety that has become a bone of contention and a source of conflict.

The statue of Saint Nicholas, a bag full of gifts over his shoulder, surrounded by children, which was a gift of the Russian Orthodox Church, no longer stands in the square in front of the building. It has been replaced since last spring by order of the town’s mayor, Suleyman Topcu, with a modern and multicoloured painting of Santa Claus.

Furthermore, for the past two years, the Eucharistic celebration has been banned on the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas.

Yesterday, the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, Orthodox Christians had to meet in a private home for mass despite repeated formal requests by Patriarch Bartholomew I they be allowed to use the church.

The church-turned-museum was instead made available to the city’s mufti who had organised a “prayer for peace” during which, and this takes the cake, the local Turkish Santa Claus association handed out its annual Santa Claus Peace Prize to Jeannine Gramick, an American Catholic nun, who was being acknowledged for her ardent defence of gay and lesbian rights, Turkish newspaper Radical reported.

In her acceptance speech, the 63-year-old nun asked for forgiveness for the Pope and believers who do not respect homosexuals.

Local Christians were left dumbfounded and baffled over what the Turkish state is trying to achieve with such impudent and contradictory actions.

Now, there is little that can be done vis-a-vis the Turkish authorities. But Sister Jeannine is another matter. As an American Sister of Loretto, she is definitely over here. Write her community, and demand that they issue an apology to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for her apparent encouragement of this outrage. Their address:

Loretto Motherhouse
515 Nerinx Rd.
Nerinx, KY 40049-9999
(ph.) 270-865-5811
(fax) 270-865-2200

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas is still here!

Ah, dear old Christmas is with us still. Having kept Advent without booze, meat, or tobacco, I was ready for Christmas Eve! After getting and trimming the tree, and putting the Christ-Child into his place in the Nativity scene, I watched the Pope's Midnight Mass. Then I scarfed up some of the leg of lamb I had had roasting for the last several hours of the Eve.

Christmas Day, I went to the Tridentine Mass, then out to brunch with friends. When I got home, I read the Christmas messages of the King of Spain, the Queen, and various other worthies. After reading Lovecraft's poem, "Old Christmas," I served ham, lamb, turkey, and tamales to still more friends, the whole washed down with champagne.

St. Stephen's Day was spent driving around visiting yet more acquaintances (mostly different people I have known since childhood).

St. John's Day was a recovery day!

Holy Innocents has been spent receiving messages from people, shopping, watching TV, and resting.

I expect a quiet time with St. Thomas of Canterbury, but my New Year's festvities begin on Friday.

I do love this time of year. What has made it better is that for the first time in my memory folk have begun to rebel against "Happy Holidays." Of course, I have to explain to people that I have no animus against Hanukah, just surprise that the Jews celebrate it. After all, the events it commemorates occur in a book of the Bible accepted only by the Catholics and Orthodox, and not by the Jews or Protestants!

At any rate, I will do my best to fend off what passes for reality until the Epiphany. This is the time of year to return ourselves to what we believe in, and to shed the dross of an anti-Catholic society. It is a sort of retreat, if taken in the right spirit.

At any rate, I want to wish my fellow bloggers, and all internauts, a very Merry Christmas, and an excruciatingly happy 2006!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Filled with admiration!

I see that there is a whole world of blogging out there, which my lack of skill effectively keeps me from! No matter; it is thrilling to read the work of such as Jovan, Der Tommissar, the Inquisitor, W, and so many others.

But how do they find the time? What they write is not only good --- it ought to be paid for! But who would do it? Blogging gives alternative voices, all right, and ensures that things that ought to be written are. But presumably the demi-gods who reign over us in Church and State need not care. Well, never mind! Write on, O friends! Keeping ideas alive sometimes leads to their eventual triumph!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas is coming!

Well, it has been about a month since last I posted --- and what a month! All the feasts I wrote of earlier, and of course Advent. The annual "Happy Holidays" struggle is underway, with, I am happy to report, more noise and thunder from the pro-Christmas side!

The Queem has received her Glastonbury Thorn flower, and the world is its usual screwy self. The new Archbishop of San Francisco is a classmate of Cardinal Mahony's, so supporters of the status quo should be able to breathe easier. Despite hopes for change, it looks like all will remain in its current antique state; so, Catholics everywhere, don't throw away those "Peter, Paul, and Mary" albums just yet.

The old year 2005 is tottering on to its death, and 2006 will arrive shortly. Where, indeed, are the snows of yesteryear?