Friday, November 28, 2008

The Voice of Christmas... and Thanksgiving, Too

With a month to go 'til his 25th appearance in the Basilica Booth for the Pope's Midnight Mass, the original Philly Phanatic (and now, in light of recent events, his hometown's proven Cursebreaker/Liberator) Cardinal John Foley celebrated his customary Thanksgiving Mass yesterday for Rome's American community at the Urb's Yank national parish, Santa Susanna.

With thanksgiving to Zenit, the homily fulltext:
My brothers and sisters in Christ:

Happy Thanksgiving! Even though Thanksgiving Day was officially celebrated in Italy several Sundays ago, the observance cannot begin to match an American Thanksgiving Day, the most American of all holidays, especially because it is celebrated by people of all faiths and of all political parties. It is the one day which unites us all.

We may be at war on two fronts: Iraq and Afghanistan; we may be in the midst of the greatest world economic crisis in at least thirty and perhaps seventy years and we may -- according to not always reliable polls -- be disliked more than we have been at any time in our history, but we still have much for which to be grateful.

We have our lives, our families, our faith and many material and spiritual gifts -- not one of which is more important than the Mass.

It is truly a joy to be with you here today, because I do not think that there is a better way of marking Thanksgiving than beginning the celebration with the Eucharist, which itself means "thanksgiving."

In the opening prayer, we have said that we come before God with gratitude for His kindness and we ask Him to open our hearts to our fellow men and women so that we may share His gifts in loving service.

I have always been impressed by the preface developed for the celebration of Thanksgiving Day:

“Once you chose a people
And gave them a destiny
And, when you brought them out of bondage to freedom,

They carried with them the promise
That all men would be blessed
And all men could be free.

What the prophets pledged
Was fulfilled in Jesus Christ,
Your Son and our Saving Lord.

It has come to pass in every generation
For all who have believed that Jesus
By His death and resurrection
Gave them a new freedom in His Spirit.

It happened to our Fathers
Who came to this land as if out of the desert
Into a place of promise and hope.

It happens to us still in our time
As you lead all men through your Church
To the blessed vision of peace.

And so, with hearts full of love,
We join the angels, today and every day of our lives,
To sing your glory in a hymn of endless praise.”

I pray that, as Americans, we may truly be united in giving thanks to God for our fabulous and fruitful land, a land to which -- despite our alleged unpopularity -- people still wish to come in great numbers. I pray that, as Americans, we may be united in giving thanks for our democracy, for our political system; some, myself included, might be deeply concerned about the morality of policies which may be implemented after our recent elections, but no one can deny that probably in no other nation but the United States of America could a man of mixed race who had lived in so many different places have been elected to the highest office in the land. It is a great tribute to American democracy and it is truly a historic occurrence. We give thanks for American democracy, but at the same time we pray for future American policy.

And that is a great fact for which to be thankful. As Americans we enjoy freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We can advocate what we believe to be right, in keeping with our Founding Fathers, that all persons are endowed with the right to life, and we can pray that God may touch the hearts of our newly elected President, of the members of Congress and of our judges to give recognition in human law to what we believe is guaranteed in divine law, the right to life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.

Today, as we give thanks for our lives, for our faith, for our freedom, and for our nation, our concluding prayer can be the prayer of our newly elected president: “God bless all of you and God bless the United States of America.”
* * *
Meanwhile, back home in the River City, this "Black Friday" marked the traditional opening of this town's grandest Yuletide ritual: the Light Show at the place that might currently bear a foreign (i.e. New York-based) name, but will forever be known as Wanamaker's.

Now in its 53rd year, the production's evolved over the last decade as successive owners saw fit to cut some of its most-cherished trappings.

Put bluntly, while the loss of the dancing waters -- and, OK, the Magic Christmas Tree, too -- was a crime against humanity, just as sacrilegious was the scrapping of the show's original narration, recorded by John Facenda in 1956.

Macy's might've opted for the predictable flash-value in turning the telling over to Julie Andrews... but no shortage of the hometown crowd still thinks "His Foleyness" should have the honor instead.

PHOTO: St Joseph's Preparatory School