Bulletin (January 2, 2005)

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, the visit of the Three Kings or Wise Men to the Child Jesus. Their designation as magoi (magicians or magi) brings up the topic of the relation of magic to Christian faith. The topic fascinates children (witness the popularity of the Harry Potter books), but it intrigues many adults as well. A succinct statement on the relation between faith and magic can be found in another children’s book, The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis. Jill and Eustace want to get out of difficult situation and consider resorting to magic:

“You mean we might draw a circle on the ground – and write in queer letters in it – and stand inside it – and recite charms and spells?” asked Jill. “Well,” said Eustace after he had thought hard for a bit. “I believe that was the sort of thing I was thinking of, though I never did it. But now that it comes to the point, I’ve an idea that all those circles and things are rather rot. I don’t think he’d like them. It would look as if we thought we could make him do things. But really, we can only ask him.” (The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis)

What we can see here is that magic is the attempt to control spiritual forces, while faith involves submitting to God, allowing him to control us, and then asking for what we need. The Magi did that when they found the Child Jesus, together with his Mother Mary, and laid their gifts at his feet, worshiping him. Some are concerned that the Harry Potter books will draw young people into the occult. It could happen, but I see a more subtle danger: The Harry Potter cult might reinforce the expectation that many people, both adults and children, already have regarding technology and science, namely, that they will deliver greater marvels (“miracles”) than magic or religion ever dreamed of, right here on earth. Vice presidential candidate John Edwards played on that expectation by claiming, "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." What he meant was that if they were elected, they would have promoted massive government expenditures for experiments on human embryos with the hopes of finding cures for cancer, diabetes, heart attacks - and perhaps eventually for all human ailments. (I am not picking on the Democrats. Many of them find abhorrent the idea of experiments on human embryos. And many Republicans share the illusion that science and technology will create paradise on earth – and often show the same willingness of sacrifice other humans in an attempt to bring about that false dream.)

On a bit more mundane level, Archbishop Brunett sent a letter regarding the spreading of germs during the Sign of Peace and Communion Rite. He notes that some are concerned about receiving the Precious Blood of Christ from the common cup. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), however, has made the following statement: “No documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup.” A more likely way of spreading germs is through shaking hands. I ask you to please respect those who extend the sign of peace in a less tactile way (e.g. by a smile, nod, bow, wave, etc.). Also the Archbishop recommended some precautious that celebrants and extraordinary Eucharistic ministers should take, which we will impliment.

This Sunday we begin the prayer for our Capital Campaign. It should be noted that we have already begun to make significant improvements: the new roofs on our church and school – as well as many smaller improvements to our buildings, such as repairing doors of the church and Ailbe House and fixing many other parts of our buildings which have been in need of repair. The Capital Campaign will enable us to consolidate those improvements and to move ahead on other areas of great need.

Finally: to help the Tsunami victims, you may make a check to Holy Family Parish with “tsunami” in the memo and we will send it to Catholic Charities which is already on the scene in many countries, helping the victims of this terrible disaster.