1. Hi everyone, Merry Christmas, and welcome back to the blog. I hope you had a wonderful beginning to the Christmas season. For me, January is the reverse side of the neighborhood pariah coin that began after Thanksgiving. Just as our house was one of very few without Christmas decorations up during Advent, now our house will be one of the last to take them down when the Christmas season ends at the Feast of the Purification of Mary (Candlemas) on February 2.

The same contrarian attitude that eliminates our block from winning the neighborhood lighting award (given out near the first week of December) now will cause neighborly head-shaking throughout the remainder of the month. I can’t calculate just how many aspects of our family life would be considered as weird by normal people. It’s just as well.

2. In any event, I will still celebrate the season of Christmas until it’s over. In that light, it bears repeating that His Eminence Cardinal Burke will lead a solemn Te Deum this Saturday evening at 5pm at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. The occasion is thanksgiving for his elevation to the College of Princes of the Church. I am sure he is expressing his own thanks, but I think I speak for many when I say that we should all be thankful for the event. There will be a reception afterwards in the Church hall where the faithful can greet His Eminence.

3. Even before this happy occasion, the great Feast of Epiphany approaches. Twelfth Night is the night before (not the evening of) Epiphany, which itself falls on Thursday, January 6. At the Oratory, there will be low Masses at 8 am and 12:15 pm, and Solemn High Mass at 6:30 pm. Remember to get some of the blessed chalk and Epiphany water for use in sanctifying the home.

Click these links for some more information on Twelfth Night and Epiphany customs.

4. I finished my birthday present from Sharon, The Sword of Honour trilogy, by Evelyn Waugh. It is so satisfyingly good I can’t describe it. Maybe the best thing about it is that I can’t quite lay my finger on just what it is about it that resonates. The whole thing in its entirety, I guess. It just feels Catholic, is all I can say, though it is less about Catholicism than Brideshead Revisited is. I guess it really is that the hero, a Catholic, just acts like a Catholic, which can be mystifying to others much of the time.

5. The Saint Louis Cathedral has a new Director of Sacred Music. No formal announcement has yet been made, but sources indicate it may be a step in the right direction. Perhaps he will be installed prior to the inaugural Musica Sacra Saint Louis Conference, which will take place in February 24-26, 2011 at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in South Saint Louis. From the coordinator:

The Musica Sacra Saint Louis Conference will give special focus to the treasury of Gregorian Chant, Polyphony and their modern vernacular adaptations employed in use in the sacred Liturgy today. Keynote addresses will discuss What is Liturgical Music, The Importance of Singing the Mass, & Resources for Parish Musicians. In addition, several workshops will be offered. The conference is for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Music, Organists, Cantors, Choirs, and all those either responsible for sacred music within the Church or those who have a love for the vast treasury of sacred music in the Church. Included in the faculty are Mr. Nick Botkins, Director of Sacred Music/Master of the Choirs at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (Advanced Chant/Polyphonic Choir) and Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, Director of the Institute of Sacred Music, Archdiocese of Saint Louis (Beginning Chant/Speaker). The combined choirs will sing for the 4:30 pm parish Mass on Saturday, February 26.

The registration fee for the conference is $125.00 and will include tuition, music packet, Thursday dinner, Friday & Saturday lunch. Registration is now open. Registration is limited to 75 participants.