About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

De Nomine Festi Nativitatis Domini: Christi Missa

In three short weeks, that day will come again when little children will excitedly clamber out of their beds on Christmas Day, the sugar canes dancing in their dreams replaced by the genuine articles pouring out of their stockings, accompanied by their shouts of glee to see what Santa has brought them this year.

As we lead up to that happy morn, we are once again faced with the unfortunate tendencies of modern political correctness to sterilize that day of any religious meaning. It’s no longer to be a “Merry Christmas,” but merely a “Happy Holidays,” and the presents Santa has stashed will no longer lie beneath a “Christmas” tree, but only under a “Holiday” one. Once again, we would like to register our disappointment that our society feels the need to cleanse this day of cheer and glad tidings with bland titles expressive of anything but the true joy that only Christmas can bring.

Indeed, Christmas, the day on which we commemorate the sublime day of Christ’s noble birth, is a day of hope and joy for all mankind. It is sad that secularists are so frightened by the Christian message that they feel compelled to deny it even in its most inclusive and hopeful season.

The Christmas message is simple: on this day, a child was born in Bethlehem, a child whose only mission was to love and cherish every single human being to ever walk this good earth. This is no message to frighten: it is a message to comfort even the loneliest heart, the most sorrowful soul. It is a message of purest joy, given to every man and woman, to young and old, of all creeds, of all colors, of all orientations.

Come, friends, let us rejoice and be glad; let us remind each other of this greatest gift ever given; let us call out to each other a hearty “Merry Christmas,” regardless of our own creed, for the cheerful day on which the Prince of Peace brought peace to all men of every creed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

In Tempore Adventus Domini: Preparing for the Christ Mass

The Christmas decorations went up fast this year; in fact, the Christmas wreath on the Dustbowl corner of McElroy was hung before Thanksgiving (it seems now that Christmas starts sometime in November). The lights are burning on the trees, the boughs tied to the railings of the staircase, and finally, we woke up to snow yesterday morning (though it was so very short lived).

But something has gotten lost in this hubbub and humming of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. Now, we’re not ones to tread on the Christmas spirit of others, but for many people, that Christmas spirit seems to have neglected a very key component, that the season of Christmas (which actually begins on the evening of December 24th) is preceded by the season of Advent.

What modern society seems to celebrate as “Christmas” is actually the time of preparation for the coming of Christ in the one Mass of the year specially named for Him. Advent is a time for recollection and renewal, a time to turn inwards and to examine ourselves in the light of the oncoming Incarnation.

Although the incomparable joy that awaits us on Christmas day is omnipresent, we nevertheless are called in these four weeks to look back at our lives, both now and over the past year, to see in what ways we have succeeded and in what ways we have failed to live out the promises of the Incarnation in our everyday lives. We joyously look to the glory of the Lord prophesied by Isaiah, but we must equally be mindful of the gross darkness of sin that covers us, the black pitch of iniquity from which the coming of the Lord of Hosts is to free us.

Let us attend, therefore, to the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” For indeed, as John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, so it is for that reason that the virgin conceived and bore a son whose name is Emmanuel. Let us reflect on the words of Isaiah, who tells us, “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” (Is. 3:8-9) He seems especially to have been talking to BC students when he said, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! ...but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.” (Is. 5:11-12)

But even as we recognize the sin into which we have fallen, let us not lose sight of the pivotal and eternal mystery of God’s intervention into human history, “for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”