Sancta Dei Genetrix

by Joseph Charles MacKenzie

Pure Mother of divine Simplicity,
Being-in-Himself now slumbers in thy creche,
For, thou hast tightly wrapped Infinity
In swaddling clothes and thine untainted flesh;

Perfection’s Prince, the self-subsistent One,
Is rocked within the cradle of thine arms;
In Him we see God’s Word, His only Son,
In thee we see the mirror of His charms;

And though He turns to hear thy lullaby,
He is Immutable, unchanged, at rest:
It is Eternity whose gurgling sigh
Bespeaks contentment at thy guiltless breast!

Wherefore I sing the Mother of my God,
Whom earth proclaims, and men and angels laud.

From Sonnets for Heavens Queen © Joseph Charles MacKenzie

A Rural Christmas

by James A. Tweedie

The first-born beam of winter-morning light
__A-shimmer on the ice-rinked pasture ponds;
__The grass a mass of frosty-feathered fronds,
__Each lace-wrapped blade a crystalline delight.
On cold-etched windows, frozen filigrees
__Are splayed across the glass in diamond threads,
__And chatty snow-birds flit and wag their heads
__Among the white-rimed branches of the trees.
We hear the children stirring as they rise;
__They see the stockings hanging in a row—
__The well-trimmed tree, the presents wrapped below—
__And run to us with wonder in their eyes.
Outside, the curling woodsmoke drifts for miles;
And in our creche the baby Jesus smiles.

 

The Day Before Christmas

by James Sale

The day before
There was gnosis but we had fallen
Into a cement mixer, all material,
Into a world that was grey, more sullen
Than what it should be: true and spiritual.

The day before He
Arrived was all so ordinary:
Camels and sheep trespassed where
Human habitations held enquiries
About their nature and what we share.

The day before He came
Down, revealing something of real heaven,
And were we ready? Ready, hell!
Inevitable as after six is seven,
And after illness, then all is well.

The day before He came down
We were not prepared, had no concept
Of what sublime might look like in the flesh:
One amazing baby, vulnerable as that no less,
Yet everything that could be, and we could wish.

 

The Bard Of Blue

by Sally Cook

Transparency held back the dark,
A velvet drape well fringed with trees.
This world, so beautiful, so stark
Was what we knew, and found it good.

My father’s footsteps made a mark
In snow, a fugitive, faint tease
As he trudged through the little park
Which, isolated in a wood,
Was what we knew as our front yard.
The box he carried held some light
To string upon a tree. A Bard
Of Blue was who he was to me.

All that in him made poetry
Glowed blue around our Christmas tree.

 

Under Christmas Eve

by Bruce Wren

Once more beneath this starry night, my Lord,
_Beneath the purple eves that winters weave,
Within these dreams that speak your silent Word,
_And all those dreams to which my heart would cleave,
_I search again on this new Christmas Eve
A love uncovered from a hidden hoard:
_A new-born child that bids those dreams to leave,
Or eyes that long ago once loved me, Lord.

It’s these I seek for in this starry light,
_And though my heart forever stays the same,
__It’s wonderful that in this world of change
Some things, like stars upon a Christmas night,
__As if your angel messengers, so strange,
_Can tame my blushing cheeks and my heart aflame.

Fr. Bruce Wren, born in 1962 in the small town of Cottonwood, Idaho, current serves as Chaplain of the Chicago Chapter of the Lumen Institute, Section Director to the Chicago Regnum Christi Men’s section, chaplain to the Catholic Professionals of Illinois, spiritual director for many religious and lay people, and helps regularly at several parishes in the Chicago Diocese. He also devotes regular time to the feminine congregations of the Missionaries of Charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Rosary Hill Dominican Sisters. He has published one book of poetry, “Fending off the Dragon Fire”, available at Amazon.

Alone at Christmas

by Martin Rizley

Upon a bed of sickness, here I lie
To count the evening hours as they go by,
With no one here to see me as a I grieve
My lonely state upon this Christmas eve.

Outside my window, ghostly snowflakes fall,
Yet no kind nurse keeps vigil in the hall,
For all throughout the house, in every room,
Dwell only silent emptiness and gloom.

I hear the sound of carolers in the street
Who go from house to house their friends to greet
With yuletide songs that fill the crisp night air,
But not a footfall sounds upon my stair.

For in this cave of sighs, I am alone
Among dark shadows deaf to every moan,
Confined by fever to this desert isle
Obliged to lie here prostrate for a while.

My narrow bed is like a tiny boat
That drifts past islands, shining and remote
Viewed from afar, across a midnight sea,
Where happy souls engage in revelry.

There families gather by a roaring fire
Their hearts ablaze with mutual desire
To celebrate this special time of year,
With merry feasting, singing songs of cheer,

Exchanging gifts, renewing family ties
With festive joy that now beyond me lies,
For such bright scenes, I must this year forego,
Adrift in darkness, on this bed of woe.

Yet as I lie despondent on my bed,
A lone star casts its light upon my head,
I watch it shining brightly in the sky
And find my mood is lightened by and by.

For that star, streaming light from up above,
Reminds me of the condescending love
Of Him who deigned to come from heaven to earth,
His brightness robed in flesh by virgin birth.

He came in silent solitude by night,
Was born in darkness as the world´s Light
Defenseless, needy, frail as there he lay
Upon a cold and lonely bed of hay.

He came to spend the fleeting years of youth
Performing righteous deeds and speaking truth,
Resolved to walk a solitary path
And bear alone the Father’s holy wrath.

He came, that those upon His hands engraved,
Might from eternal loneliness be saved,
That through His painful loss, they might be won,
Redeemed from endless darkness by the Son.

So now, the night of weeping may give way
Before the breaking dawn of endless day,
As millions enter in God’s reign of grace
Drawn by the glory streaming from His face.

A distant church bell tolls the midnight hour
Ere long, the light of Christmas morn will flower,
Remembering what my Lord for me has done,
I may rejoice, for day has now begun.

Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe.  He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter.  Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.

Census in Bethlehem

by Joe Spring

JOSEPH
My older cousins got here first
and even filled the shed,
but uncle says he’s got a cave
where we can lay our heads.

He cleaned it out, but had no other
place to put his ewe,
but that’s okay, we’ll be alright;
we’ll leave ‘fore Mary’s due.

JUDEAN
Aha! The gods have smiled on me;
the gov’ner’s called mankind
to gather here, they’ll hungry be
and business comes to mind:

They’ll pay for nuts at twice the price
and sleep behind my stall.
Ah, David, it’s a providence
that softer beds are full.

It’s money time, salvation’s here,
the night is swelling loud.
I hear that some are even
letting stables to this crowd.

SHEPHERD
I’m glad we’re on the suburb hills
beyond the city’s walls,
For, though the thrum and music drifts,
it’s quieter, all-in-all.

And here of course we see more stars –
their gentle, painted light –
Yes, this we have, and richer sleep –
not so the urbanite.

But now! What terror, growing star
is falling to the ground!
An angel and a heav’nly host!
So bright and closing round!

And so at last God’s wrath has come
to splay us on these rocks.
As payment for our daily sins
He’ll feast upon our flocks.

ANGEL
No, no, dear man, be calm and still:
Fear not, for you dear men,
are first to hear our news of joy
that lands in Bethlehem.

Within that town, that bustling place,
there comes a treasure true;
“The heel that crushes and is bit”
is given now to you.

Look down into the yellow streets
beyond the loud bazaar,
and find a babe in cloth and trough
beneath the newest star.

Then rising in the skies they sang:
All glory be to God
and peace to all with whom he’s pleased
upon this earthen sod.

Now running through the town they found
that blessed stable ward
with newborn child, Emmanuel,
Jesus Christ the Lord.

 

 

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31 Responses

  1. Bruce Wren

    Very nice selection, thanks for including mine. Not a one I didn’t appreciate…

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      In Bruce Wren’s masterpiece, “Fending Off the Dragon Fire,” the poem posted above appears under the title, “On [as opposed to “under”] Christmas Eve.” I rather prefer the original title. The poem itself contains all that the alternate title is trying to render explicit.

      “Fending Off the Dragon Fire,” is also one of the first fruits of the Ars Poetica Nova and Bruce Wren one of the first and most important lyric poets of this movement. I am very grateful to Mr. Mantyk’s for having referenced this title.

      The same intimacy and interiority that readers at this very moment are enjoying in Bruce Wren’s marvelous Christmas sonnet happens to be the hallmark of his entire collection which, as I have insisted elsewhere, really should be in the hands of every reader who truly appreciates the self-reflective—as opposed to self-centered—aspect that is proper to the best lyric poetry, in particular that of the late 19th century all the way through to the end of the First World War.

      In the near future, I would like to see Wren’s “Saint Agnes” published, perhaps on January 21st, in this venue, as I think this will offer greater insight into the poet’s temperament, his chaste and sober dispositions, and his depth.

      I myself have this book ever by my desk. Beyond the poems of Leo Yankevich and Joseph Salemi, I have not seen anyone able to hold a candle to Bruce Wren and cannot more highly recommend, as the perfect gift for any time of year, “Fending Off the Dragon Fire” a review of which I will be completing very soon.

      Reply
  2. James Sale

    A wonderful selection, thank you Evan, and also for including my poem too. I especially like Sally Cook’s Bard of Blue – what a lovely and warm poem, and I love the way the syntax moves towards that concluding couplet. Plus, I love Bruce Wren’s heart-felt sonnet whose simplicity communicates such powerful emotions, including one of the most salutary of all: gratitude. Thank you – a real delight on Christmas day to take a moment away from the delicious food my wife has made and reflect on the Advent of Meaning.

    Reply
    • Joe Spring

      An enjoyable collection! I liked Sally Cook’s but don’t know if I’ve missed meaning in Bard of Blue. Can it be as simple as blue Christmas lights (which are not common where I live) or is there other meaning hidden there?

      Reply
      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        I find it hard to enjoy Day Before Christmas with its gimmicky expanding first lines of the stanzas (creating all kinds of imbalance), the imperfect or even just plain false rhymes, the chaotic, broken syntax, and wit replacing substance creating a general dashed-off feel.

        The word “forced” was made for verses like: “Inevitable as after six is seven,” to rhyme with the word heaven.

        It didn’t quite strike me as a Christmas poem, but more of a “Brit-Wit” display. The Holy Infant is surely more than just sublime, a word that can be applied to all kinds of other things.

    • Sally Cook

      Dear Joe Spring,

      Thanks for thinking below the surface on my poem, and for inquiring about it.

      I agree — blue lights are not particularly plentiful on Christmas trees in any venue.

      My father expressed his poetic (or symbolic) bent by searching out a different idea; all blue lights and ornaments’ In creating a unique Christmas offering, and at the same time he taught his children something about the arts. This simple lesson has stayed with me.

      Dear Joe Spring,

      Thanks for thinking below the surface on my poem, and for inquiring about it.

      I agree — blue lights are not particularly plentiful on Christmas trees in any venue.

      My father expressed his poetic (or symbolic) bent by searching out a different idea; all blue lights and ornaments’ In creating a unique Christmas offering, and at the same time he taught his children something about the arts. This simple lesson has stayed with me.

      Dear Joe Spring,

      Thanks for thinking below the surface on my poem, and for inquiring about it.

      I agree — blue lights are not particularly plentiful on Christmas trees in any venue.

      My father expressed his poetic (or symbolic) bent by searching out a different idea; all blue lights and ornaments’ In creating a unique Christmas offering, and at the same time he taught his children something about the arts. This simple lesson has stayed with me.

      Reply
    • Bruce E. Wren

      Thank you, Mr. Sale. I enjoyed your poem in this selection, and have often enjoyed other of your works. Do you have a book out, or an anthology?

      Reply
      • James Sale

        Hi Bruce, Thank you so much for your kind comments. As you know, I have liked your poetry for a while now: it has a gentle kindness and deep sincerity about it (as does Amy Foreman’s work), which is appealing and attractive and very readable. I am glad that you like my poem and may want to read more. My latest collection of poems is called The Lyre Speaks True and it contains the poem, The Day Before Christmas. It is available from Amazon and in the USA from Barnes and Noble too. A good review of it appears on the pages of the SCP by Mr Mackenzie: http://classicalpoets.org/review-the-lyre-speaks-true-james-sale-2016/. Clearly, all poets want discerning readers of their poems, so if you do read it, please post your thoughts either on Amazon or SCP – I would be very grateful!

        On another note, I see you are based in Chicago, which is quite a way from England and even from New York! But I am going to be in NY for a fortnight in June 2019, so if you happen to be that way then, good to meet up for a coffee/tea and chat! Thanks again.

      • James Sale

        Thank you Shari Jo – it’s good to have you back on these pages and I hope to see more of your work soon. Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to have been away awhile? It’ll be really good to get some more excellent and supportive poets on these pages; the readership for poetry generally is so small that there is no danger – as I think some poets think, and so get competitive about it – that there aren’t enough readers to go round! On the contrary, we must all strive to excel in our writings so more of the public want to read us. And readership for one good poet sparks off interest in another, so let us do what we can to help each other in this way. What I have said to David Wren, of course, applies to you – if you are in New York in June my wife (the artist, Linda E Sale) and I would love to meet you. All the best – James

  3. Amy Foreman

    A great selection, Evan. Lovely work, everyone! These were a pleasure to read aloud to my family this morning.

    Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Joe Spring’s “Census in Bethlehem,” sets itself apart in that it is an in persona poem in which different players in the Nativity speak.

      St. Thérèse of Lisieux employs the same device in her Christmas poem, “Angels of the Crib” :

      THE ANGELS OF THE CRIB

      THE ANGEL OF THE CHILD JESUS

      Thou Word of God, Thou Glory of God!

      In awe I gazed on Thee above;

      And now I see that Glory of God,

      That Word of God, made Man through love.

      O Child, whose light doth blind the sight

      Of angels in high heaven divine!

      Thou’rt come to save the world tonight,

      And who can fathom that love of Thine?

      In swaddling bands

      The Child-God ties.

      Lord of all lands!

      Trembling before Thy face I veil mine eyes.

      Yes, who can fathom this marvellous thing?

      God makes Himself a little Child,

      He, the eternal, almighty King,

      Afar from His own heaven exiled!

      Fain would I give Thee love for love!

      Thee will I guard by day and night,

      My utter fealty to prove,

      Thou tiny Jesu, Light of Light!

      Thy cradle so dear

      Draws angels anear.

      O Child-God! now

      Trembling before that humble crib I bow.

      While earth has power from heaven to bring

      My King to want and cold and woe,

      Heaven holds no longer anything

      To keep me from that world below.

      My wings shall shield Thy Baby head;

      Thee will I follow everywhere;

      Beneath Thy tiny feet I’ll fling

      The sweetest flowers and most fair.

      Oh, would some radiant star might fall,

      To form Thy cradle, Baby bright!

      Would I the dazzling snow could call,

      To be Thy curtains pure and white!

      Would all the lofty hills might bow

      In lowly homage at Thy feet!

      Oh, would the fields might bloom for Thee,

      Celestial blossoms heavenly sweet!

      For all the flowers are smiles of God,

      Are distant echoes from His throne,

      Are notes that wander far abroad

      From that great harp He holds alone.

      Those notes of harmony divine

      Relate His goodness unto men,

      And in their melody combine

      To tell His saving love again.

      O that sweet melody,

      Exquisite harmony,

      Silence of flowers

      Ye tell His greatness, His wonders, His powers!

      Well know I, Jesu! that Thy friends,

      Thy dearest friends, are living flowers.

      Thou travellest to earth’s farthest ends,

      To cull them for heaven’s fadeless bowers.

      Souls are the flowers with beauty rife

      That draw Thee from the heavens high;

      Thy tiny hand first gave them life,

      And Thou for them wilt gladly die.

      Mystery ineffable!

      Thou, Word adorable,

      Surely shalt one day weep

      When Thou the harvest of those flowers shalt reap.

      THE ANGEL OF THE HOLY FACE.

      Yes, from the morning of Thy days, dear Child!

      Thy blessed Face is bathed in burning tears.

      Those tears upon that Face all undefiled

      Still shall flow on throughout Thy earthly years.

      O Face divine!

      So fair Thou art

      From angel eyes

      The glories of the skies depart.

      Under its veil of anguish sore and dread,

      I see Thy loveliness all charms above;

      In Thy worn, pallid Face, O Jesu dead!

      I see Thy Child face in its perfect love.

      For pain to Thee, my Jesus! was so dear

      That even Thy Baby eyes the future saw,

      And Thou didst long to drink the chalice drear,

      Thy very dreams could Thee to Calvary draw.

      O wonderful dream!

      Thou Child of a day,

      From Thy face but one beam

      Thrills my heart with its ray.

      THE ANGEL OF THE RESURRECTION.

      Angel of man’s Redeemer! weep no more.

      I come with comfort for sad hearts and sore.

      This Child shall yet gain

      All men’s hearts as their King;

      He shall arise and reign

      Almighty, triumphing.

      O God! concealed in childish guise before us,

      I see Thee glorious,

      O’er all things victorious.

      I shall roll back the great tomb’s rocky door,

      I shall behold Thy lovely Face once more,

      And I shall sing,

      And I shall then rejoice,

      When I shall see my King,

      And hear again His voice.

      Thy childish eyes, though dim tonight with tears,

      Shall shine with heavenly light throughout the eternal years.

      O Word of God!

      Thy speech, like burning flame,

      Shall sound one day abroad,

      And all Thy love proclaim.

      THE ANGEL OF THE EUCHARIST.

      Gaze on, dear Angel, heavenward‑flown,

      Gaze, while our King ascends on high;

      But I, to seek His altar‑throne,

      Down to the distant earth will fly.

      Veiled in His Eucharist I see

      The Almighty Lord, the Undefiled,

      The Master of all things that be,

      More tiny than the humblest child.

      Here will I dwell in this blest place,

      The sanctuary of my King;

      And here, before His veiled Face,

      My hymns of ardent love will sing.

      Here, to my heaven strung angel lyre,

      My praise I’ll chant, by night, by day,

      To Him, the Feast for saint’s desire,

      To Him, the sinner’s Hope and Stay.

      Would that by miracle, I too

      Could feed upon this heavenly Bread;

      Could taste that Blood forever new,

      That Blood which was for all men shed!

      At least, with some pure longing soul,

      I’ll share my fires of love divine,

      That so, all fearless, glad and whole,

      It may approach its Lord and mine.

      THE ANGEL OF THE LAST JUDGMENT.

      Soon shall the awful day of judgment come,

      This wicked world shall feel the avenging flame;

      All men shall hear pronounced their endless doom,

      And these to bliss shall pass, and those to shame.

      Then shall we see our God in glory bright,

      No longer hidden in this cradle small;

      Then shall we sing His triumph after fight,

      And then proclaim Him Lord and King of all.

      As stars shine out when furious storms are passed,

      His eyes shall shine, now veiled in blood and tears;

      And His eternal splendor shall at last

      Appear again, after these anguished years.

      Upon the clouds our Jesus shall be borne,

      Beneath the standard of the cross on high;

      And evil men who hailed Him once in scorn

      Shall know their awful judge is drawing nigh.

      Ah, ye shall tremble, habitants of earth!

      Ah, ye shall tremble on that final day,

      No longer able to withstand the wroth

      Of this dear Child, the God of love to‑day.

      For you He chose to tread the path of pain,

      Seeking your hearts alone, to Him so dear:

      But when at last He comes to earth again,

      How shall ye quail before His Face in fear!

      ALL THE ANGELS, with the exception of THE ANGEL

      OF THE LAST JUDGMENT

      O Jesu, deign to hear the prayer,

      That we, Thy Angels offer Thee!

      Thy people save, Thy people spare,

      Thou who didst come the world to free!

      With Thy small hand avert this dart,

      Appease this Angel with the sword;

      Save every meek and contrite heart

      That seeks Thy mercy, dearest Lord!

      THE CHILD JESUS

      My faithful Angels, tried and true!

      Far from the heavenland of your birth,

      Hear, for the first time, speak to you

      The Eternal Word made Man on earth!

      I love you well, O spirits pure!

      Angels from heaven’s high courts above!

      Yet men I love with love as sure,

      Yea, with an everlasting love.

      I made their infinite desires,

      Their souls were made at My decree;

      A heart that kindles with My fires

      Becomes a heaven on earth for Me.

      The Angel of the Infant Jesus asks Him to gather upon earth an abundant harvest of inno­cent souls, before they have been tainted by the impure breath of sin.

      ANSWER OF THE CHILD JESUS.

      Dear Angel of My childhood’s hours!

      I grant the answer to thy prayer.

      Many shall be the innocent flowers

      I will preserve all lily fair.

      Yes, I will cull those blossoms gay,

      Fresh with their pure baptismal dew;

      And they shall bloom in endless day,

      In ecstasy forever new.

      Their fair corollas, silvery bright,

      More brilliant than a thousand fires,

      Shall be the Milky Way of light

      ‘Mid all the starry heavenly choirs.

      I must have lilies for My crown,

      The Lily of the Field am I!

      And I must have to grace my throne,

      A sheaf of lilies in the sky.

      The Angel of the Holy Face asks pardon for sinners.

      ANSWER OF THE CHILD JESUS

      Thou who dost gaze upon My Face

      In ecstasy of seraph love,

      Leaving for love of it thy place

      Of glory in My heaven above!

      Thy prayer I hear, I grant thy plea.

      Each soul that on My name shall call

      Shall find relief, shall be set free

      From Sin’s dark curse, from Satan’s thrall.

      Thou who dost seek to honor here

      My Cross, My Passion, My bruised Face:

      Learn now this mystery, angel dear!

      Each soul that suffers shares thy grace.

      The radiance of its pain borne now,

      In heaven upon thy face shall shine;

      The martyr’s halo decks thy brow,

      His glory shall be drawn from thine.

      The Angel of the Eucharist asks what he can do to console our Lord for the ingratitude of men.

      ANSWER OF THE CHILD JESUS

      Dear Angel of the Eucharist!

      Thou, thou dost charm Me every hour;

      Thy song, by heaven’s own breezes kissed,

      Over My suffering soul hath power.

      Ah, the great thirst of My desires!

      I crave, I crave, the hearts of men.

      Dear Angel, melt them with thy fires,

      And win them to My Heart again!

      Would each anointed priest might be

      Like Seraphim beyond the skies,

      What time he comes to offer Me

      My pure and holy Sacrifice

      To work such miracle of grace,

      It needs must be that night and day,

      Souls near the attar seek a place

      To watch and suffer, weep and pray.

      The Angel of the Resurrection asks what will become of the poor exiled ones left on earth when the Saviour shall have ascended into heaven.

      ANSWER OF THE CHILD JESUS.

      Back to My Father I shall go,

      Thither to draw the men I love;

      And heaven’s long bliss they then shall know,

      When I shall welcome them above.

      When the last hour of time appears,

      My flock shall come again to Me;

      And I shall be, for endless years,

      Their Light, their Life, their Ecstasy

      THE ANGEL OF THE LAST JUDGMENT.

      Goodness supreme and dost Thou then forget

      Sinners must meet at last, the doom decreed ?

      Dost Thou forget, in Thy great love, that yet,

      Their number is nigh infinite indeed ?

      At the last judgment I shall punish crime,

      Evil before My wrath shall shrink and bow;

      My sword is ready Jesu! ’tis the time.

      My sword is ready to avenge Thee now.

      THE CHILD JESUS

      Great Angel, turn aside thy sword

      I am the Messenger of Peace.

      The nature taken by thy Lord

      ‘Tis not thy work to judge. O cease!

      ‘Tis I shall judge the human race,

      Jesus My name, all names above.

      I grant My elect ones boundless grace.

      For men I died, and I am Love!

      Dost thou not know that, every day,

      The blasphemies of faithless lips

      Before one love glance pass away,

      And find therein assured eclipse?

      The souls I choose, the souls I spare,

      Shall reign in glory like the sun.

      ‘Tis Mine own life I give them there,

      And they and I shall there be one.

      THE ANGEL OF THE LAST JUDGMENT.

      Before Thee, Child divine, the Cherubim bow lowly,

      Lost in amaze as they Thy love all boundless see.

      Fain would we die like Thee, on Calvary’s summit holy,

      Fain would we die like Thee!

      REFRAIN

      Sung by all the Angels.

      How great the bliss of man, Thy low and humble creature.

      In ecstasy would fain each seraph undefiled

      Put off, O Jesus sweet, his grand angelic nature,

      Would fain become a child!

      Reply
  4. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Mr. Mantyk is to be applauded for posting at the head of this selection the great masterpiece of Peter Paul Rubens, “The Adoration of Magi,” which directly juxtaposes the Redeemer with His Immaculate Mother whose one word, “fiat,” “let it be done,” literally and historically fulfilled the great prophecy of Isiah:

    “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.”

    Rubens, as a sacred iconographer, could not be more explicit in juxtaposing the Virgin with her Divine Infant, going so far as to make her the living back-support, as it were, of the Christ Child’s throne, with her head placed directly above His in a powerful suggestion of the Immaculate’s role in the economy of grace. And just to emphasize that Mary is the virginal temple of the Messiah, Rubens has placed a pillar in the same vertical axis as that in which Mary is standing above her Son.

    Here too, Rubens depicts the Most Holy Virgin in one of her greatest titles, the “Speculum Justitiae,” Mirror of Justice, as the light emanating from the Christ Child is directly reflected in her virginal face.

    For, could any human being on this earth imagine anything so strange, so disappointing, so utterly flawed, as a depiction of the Nativity, be it a household manger scene, a painting, or any such image, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is omitted?

    Similarly, as a poet, I cannot personally conceive of writing a Christmas poem which would exclude the very person without whom there would be no Christ, no Emmanuel, no Redemption, no grace, indeed, no peace or even hope of peace on earth. Such a poem, again for me (I have learned to drop all expectations for others), would amount to only a pathetic heap of chaff, pretty perhaps, but nothing more. Was Mary cut out of the first Nativity?

    A Christmas without Mary is no Christmas at all.

    Sancta Dei Genetrix, ora pro nobis!

    Reply
  5. Charles Southerland

    Without Eve, there is no Mary, Christ, or Harry.
    Without Eve there’s no perfection, Adam, Christmas or confection.
    Without Adam, Eve, or Cain or Abel, Seth or sisters, there’s no stable.
    Without God’s true Elect, none of us would walk erect.
    Without God’s Sovereignty, there wouldn’t be a you or me.
    God sent Jesus for us all, for Mary too, as I recall, without exception.
    More than this is pure deception.

    Reply
      • James Eliot

        I think you are being a little too kind, Mr. MacKenzie, honestly.

        You would think that on Christmas Day Mr. Southerland and company would be able to refrain from insulting Catholics and many others, like myself, who love the Virgin Mary.

        But we know that such insults come from Legion.

        S. and his sidekicks have deep problems as I think we’ve seen in other discussions on this site. My advice to you would be to ignore them. These guys live for attention. Responding to them makes them feel alive or that they are worth responding to. Their goal is to bring this site down to their level.

        P.S. Your thoughts about Rubens are elucidating.

      • Charles Southerland

        Psssst: J.C.M. is also James Eliot, just one of many of McSkirt’s little Christmas helpers.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      MARTIN LUTHER ON THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

      1) Mary is far greater than Eve.

      “No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity.” (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

      2) Mary has no equal among creation.

      “She became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed on her as pass man’s understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in heaven, and such a Child….

      “Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God…. None can say of her nor announce to her greater things, even though he had as many tongues as the earth possesses flowers and blades of grass: the sky, stars; and the sea, grains of sand. It needs to be pondered in the heart what it means to be the Mother of God.” (Luther’s Works, 21:326, cf. 21:346)

      3) Mary was without sin.

      “God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins, for she has conceived and borne the Lord Jesus.” (John Nicholas Lenker, ed. Sermons of Martin Luther. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, p. 291.)

      3) Mary was a perpetual virgin.

      “Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb… This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. […] Christ… was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him.” (Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539)

      4) On the veneration of Mary.

      “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” (Sermon, September 1, 1522)

      5) Mary is the mother of all Christians.

      “Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother.” (Sermon, Christmas, 1529)

      6) You can never honor Mary enough.

      “[Mary is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ… She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.” (Sermon, Christmas, 1531)

      Quote: “That about sums it up, doesn’t it, folks?”

      Reply
      • Charles Southerland

        Without Eve, there is no Mary, Christ, or Harry.
        Without Eve there’s no perfection, Adam, Christmas or confection.
        Without Adam, Eve, or Cain or Abel, Seth or sisters, there’s no stable.
        Without God’s true Elect, none of us would walk erect.
        Without God’s Sovereignty, there wouldn’t be a you or me.
        God sent Jesus for us all, for Mary too, as I recall, without exception.
        More than this is pure deception.

    • Charles Southerland

      That about sums it up, doesn’t it, folks?

      Thanks, Joe T. I woke up this morning thanking Jesus for everything,

      even McSkirt’s truncated self-description.

      Reply
  6. Charles Southerland

    McSkirt–

    I’m confused; are you a Lutheran or a Catholic?

    I know you declare the Pope not your pope. Have you converted?

    Surely there is only one Pope at a time. I just saw his Christmas address. Yep, it was Francis.

    Reply
  7. David Watt

    A fine selection of Christmas poems! Thanks Evan for posting these, and to each of the poets for their festive contribution.

    Reply
  8. Bruce E. Wren

    I thank Mr. McKenzie for his always gracious words and wish all a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year.

    Reply
    • Joseph Tessitore

      And to you as well, Bruce.

      May we all consider getting over ourselves for a New Year’s resolution.

      May we all wonder if Our Blessed Mother is happy about any of it.

      Reply
    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      May yours, Bruce Wren, be a holy and happy season of Epiphany. As this is part of the ongoing liturgical cycle of Christmastide, your good wishes are by no means belated, but received in due time with deepest thanks and admiration.

      Reply
  9. Joseph Tessitore

    May we all be grateful for the wonderful gift that we share and may we encourage each other in its use.

    May we be grateful for those who are more gifted than we are, and realize that they are an example for us.

    Reply

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