I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers an early Merry Christmas--or, for you sticklers, a happy last couple days of Advent!
Well, sort of. Actually I had a funny dream last night, and even though there is statistically nothing less interesting to other people than other people's dreams, I'm going to share it anyway, because it's my blog and I can, so there.
I dreamed I was in a church hall--it was sort of my parish, and sort of not, the way dreams are. A dear friend was hosting a children's craft activity, and I was sort of helping, which is funny considering that I'm the least crafty person in the world. There were random side plots going on too, but they're not important. Anyway, as the craft activity finished, an irate woman came marching up to my friend and me. Here she thought, she said, that two homeschooling Catholic moms could be trusted not to undermine her efforts to raise her children as True Catholics. Yet here we were letting them do Christmas crafts before Christmas--and, to make things worse, in a church where the altar had already been decorated for Christmas, even though it was not yet December 24, let alone late afternoon on December 24, which is when, as every real Catholic knows, it is only appropriate to begin decorating for Christmas! How dare we! and so on.
In vain did I try to explain to her that my poor pastor, with two churches to look after, could hardly wait until December 24 to put up the Christmas decorations in both churches; in vain did I try to explain that our mission Church did not as yet have daily Mass and so no one would see (and be affronted by) the Christmas decorations before the Christmas Mass; in vain did I try to get her to be reasonable about it. She was just Offended, with a capital O.
I woke up and chuckled at the dream--but then, being me, I thought about it. Was it really all that farfetched? Isn't it true, sadly so, that we really have become that polarized in our expressions of the Catholic faith here in America in the year 2011?
Go to one Catholic blog, and you'll learn that True Catholics will only support Candidate A for president. At another blog, you'll learn that True Catholics will never, ever vote for A but might possibly vote for B. A third blog denounces B as the Catholic choice and sneers at any Catholic naive enough to support B, when C is still in the race...
Or, at one Catholic blog, you'll learn that the EF Mass is the only choice for a Real Catholic; at another, the OF; at still another, the OF but only the former translation; at yet another...
Or, at one Catholic blog you'll learn that parish religious ed. must be supported by all right-thinking Catholics; at another, than Catholic schools are the only way to raise decent kids; at a third, that homeschooling is the only morally correct choice...
Or, at one Catholic blog you'll hear that shorts and jeans are fine for Mass; at another, that the biggest issue facing Catholics today is immodesty in dress; at another, that women who fail to adopt the sola skirtura as their way of life are failing to follow the Blessed Mother and are prideful and indecent; at still another, that veils are still actually mandatory for Mass and the evil modernist pseudo-church has suppressed this truth...
Maybe my dream's not so funny. And maybe we've got a long way to go, just inside the Church, just us Catholics, before "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men" isn't an impossible ideal.
So, whether you will attend Midnight Mass in Latin or the five p.m. vigil with guitars, whether you will dress for Christmas Mass in velvet and lace or a suit or in slacks and a warm sweater, whether you are at Mass every Sunday or not quite, whether your children are eagerly joining you in the parish choir (as mine are) or are being dragged unwillingly to Mass for Grandma's sake, whether your house has been decorated like the North Pole since Thanksgiving or whether you've draped a suspiciously tree-shaped lump in the living room in swaths of purple fabric until after Midnight Mass, whether you will vote for Gingrich or Paul or Santorum or even Obama (though I hope not because of his anti-life policies, but despite them): I wish all of my Catholic brothers and sisters a most Merry and Blessed Christmas.
And I wish the same for my Christian brothers and sisters in the Christian family.
And the same for my non-Christian brothers and sisters, in the family of believers, as fellow children of God.
And the same for my non-believer brothers and sisters, in the human family, because from my perspective we still have the same Father.
Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one!