Thursday, December 22, 2005

Egan Gets Even More Sirius

Here's a seemingly counterintuitive statement: If you want to stay attuned to things Catholic this Christmas, fetch yourself a Sirius Satellite Radio.

Two weeks before Howard Stern makes his much-hyped debut on the space-beamed technology (which I have, and love), Sirius announced yesterday that it will broadcast the Christmas Midnight and 10.15am Masses live from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Both liturgies, to be re-aired three hours after their live time for the convenience of West Coast listeners, will be celebrated by Edward Cardinal Egan.

As Sirius also carries EWTN, it'll also be the only radio outlet to carry the Pope's Midnight Mass from St. Peter's, with the superlative English commentary of Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (and our beloved Philadelphia brother).

A couple notes on New York, where I once visited... and ended up staying a year.

The further along time passes (almost six years now) since we lost the great John Cardinal O'Connor, the more prophetic and remarkable he gets -- considering the man's sterling and heroic work in life, and the gaping void created by his death, that's saying something. Uncompromisingly pro-life, charitable to a fault, compassionate and kind in ways which indelibly marked thousands of lives, pro-union, pro-little people. He was the bishop, the priest, the Christian of an epoch, and we'd be in much better straits if he were still among us.

Of course, Bernard Law had to lift up a leg on it all and grandstand at the funeral, getting the big applause line about "What a great legacy he has left us in his consistent reminder that the Church must always be unambiguously pro-life."

Yeah. And time only showed how true that was, didn't it, archbishop-emeritus of Boston? (O'Connor had to stand up to Law when the latter wanted to send Paul Shanley to New York.) Moral of the story: Bernard Law talking pro-life is like PETA having its Christmas party at Kentucky Fried Chicken. But I digress.

Uncle Jack's most cherished Midnight Mass guest was Ed Koch, the city's former mayor, who showed without fail year after year and would be warmly welcomed by name from the pulpit by the archbishop. As O'Connor didn't exploit the occasion to assail Koch for being: 1. Jewish, 2. pro-choice and 3. a Democrat, I fear that, were the cardinal still with us, loud (Bernard Law-loving) protestors would import themselves from Boston to rail at the good congregants about O'Connor's "heterodoxy" and denounce him as a tool of The Real American Pope, Bryan Hehir.

In case you're late to the party, such is the depraved state of the church in the United States right now. It's not hyperbole to say that the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Boss Upstairs, it'd be a real good time for a Second Coming. Think it over, OK? Please?

Lastly, I've written a bit about this before, but I pride myself on being a good mimic. And my Egan intonation is among the best in the catalogue. I know this as, noshing once with a senior American prelate, he almost choked from laughing on his Boston Market lunch when I pulled the Vincent Price-esque voice out, launching into the pontifical blessing.

His Excellency's not the only one to have had such a memorable reaction; it was, however, one of the less visceral ones.