Monthly Archives: December 2016

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Quite a Year

No, I’m not going to bore you with more on Trump, Brexit and the like.  It’s been quite a year for the Church too.  There was the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Good Friday landing on the Feast of the Annunciation, and now we have Christmas Eve coinciding with the start of Hanukkah.  I don’t think those coincidences happen together very often.  According to the most reliable 😉 of sources, the Internet, the first coincidence has also happened in 1910, 1921, 1932, 2005 and won’t happen again until 2157.  The second coincidence happened in 1902, 1940, 1978 as well as 2016.  Add in the Jubilee Year, and it seems to be a very rare conjunction.

Church tradition tells us that Jesus came into the world (at the Annunciation) on the same day that He left it (Good Friday), so when these two dates collide in the liturgical year it is seen as significant (or at least it used to be).  The Internet (that most reliable of sources) will tell you that the Church picked the 25th December for the date for Christmas because it wanted to co-opt a pagan festival.  It is actually the other way round, and you won’t have to search hard to find more information on that.  It seems much more likely that the 25th was chosen because Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew lunar calendar date of 25 Kislev; Kislev coincides roughly with December.  Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  The early Christians lost touch with the Hebrew calendar and adopted the calendar of the Romans instead.  It would have seemed natural to them to celebrate the birth of the living temple (John 2:19) on the 25th of the month which corresponded to Kislev.  (By the way, the Annunciation is celebrated on the 25th March, nine months before Christmas.)

And if you’re interested in further Christian coincidences in 2016 you might like this article.  I’m not drawing any conclusions except that 2016 is quite a year, and 2017 might be a doozy.


Screenshot of my astronomy app showing the sky on 23 Sept 2017

Beautiful Advent Reflection

For me, English carols hold the deepest resonance, seeming to rise from ancient mist, and rain, and soil, and sea. It is freshness of light piercing dark for the first time, of song piercing the silence, and the sky being rent by angel trumpets and an infant’s wail. It is the town crier making his rounds: “Past 3 o’clock, and a cold frosty morning! Past 3 o’clock! Good morrow, masters, all!”

Read the whole article at

Facing Reality

Well, I thought I was going to be able to finish this project before Christmas but that doesn’t look very likely now. Somebody asked me to do a standalone (as opposed to tile-able), digital version of my Holy Face design.  Here, below, is the work-in-progress.  I’ve adapted the border from my Tree of Life design.  The spiral background will be modified so that it fits the new border and joins with it at top and bottom.  (You’ll see what I mean when I’m finished.)  I’m experimenting with the colours.  Believe it or not, the colour scheme below is based on the colour scheme on a halo in the Book of Kells.  It looks very carnival to me.  I had a lot of trouble adding colour and shading to the face without straying off a very fine line between bad manga and bad realism.  It might still need some tweaking.  I’ve taken the opportunity to make the central trinity spiral a bit more circular.  My pencilled spiral was quite triangular.


Knock Crosses

I took these three photos just before Mass this morning because these scenes fill me with joy, and I wanted to share them.

You might think that it is a strange time of the year to be thinking about the cross, and I was wondering about that too.  However, when I found out at Mass that today is the Feast of St. John of the Cross it started to make more sense.  When I came out, I decided to give you an idea of just how many crosses there are in Knock.  As in life, so in Knock – it is hard to escape the cross.

Best Christmas Gift Ever

I’m nearly ready to show you my latest artwork but in the meantime I wanted to ask my Christian friends something.  I recently introduced you to my new hero His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke.  This morning I received an email (excerpt below) asking for spiritual gifts to offer to His Eminence to support him in his battle for the faith.  I wonder if you would offer up a prayer for His Eminence, or, even better, join the Rosary Warriors and offer him a spiritual gift this Christmas.

It was a sunny day, so the stained-glass windows created a kaleidoscope of color throughout the church.

The lighting seemed perfect. Everything was quiet and reverent. The church was ready for the priest to arrive at the altar for noon mass.

Then there was a click. Then another. One by one a hidden hand turned on the lights in the sanctuary. The shadowy reverie disappeared. The brass candlesticks, the tabernacle, the white linens turned radiant. Everything was bathed in brilliance.

A happiness came over me as the priest walked out to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Then it hit me.

Our daily lives and our spiritual ones are much like a church cloaked in penumbra before Mass. God’s grace reaches us like sun beams through a stained-glass window. But we long for more…more Light.

Our souls seek the Light of Truth in all its brilliance! Orthodoxy, truth and clarity of the Church’s doctrine lights up our Faith!

Truth and orthodoxy spoken by a pious pastor caring for his flock such as his Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke.

His example of orthodoxy illuminates as it encourages, inspires and lets us feel the elation of the gift of our Faith no matter the darkness in our lives.

Click here to pledge your spiritual gift to Cardinal Burke! <>

Truth be told, this year the winds of chaos have blown ferociously. From mixed messages in the Church regarding Amoris Laetitia to the unprecedented contentious presidential race, you and I as Catholics have been battered for holding firm to our orthodox beliefs.

But we are not the first in the history of the Church to walk in darkness. Two thousand and sixteen years ago, the world was cloaked in a similar darkness like you and I feel today.

It was in the darkest hour that God chose to bring the Light of Truth to the world in the Person of His only begotten Son at the first Christmas!

Today, as you and I approach yet another Christmas, let us remember that Christ is always with His Church.

The Holy Spirit is breathing a wind into the sails of those like us who are willing to stand and fight to be faithful.

And the Holy Spirit is inspiring leaders like his Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke to humbly stand up and continue to teach the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth of the Catholic Faith.

But just as you and I feel overwhelmed sometimes, we should remember that Cardinal Burke too feels the weight on his shoulders of the crisis facing the Church today.

Moreover, the obligation that befalls him not only as a pastor but as a humble counselor to the Pope weighs just as much.

He, along with the other members of the College of Cardinals, has a grave responsibility in the leadership of the Church, especially in advising the Holy Father. And he takes that responsibility seriously, no matter the consequences.

That is why I have come up with an idea for a prayerful Christmas gift for Cardinal Burke that you and I can present to him to encourage and support him.

It is a Spiritual Treasure Chest that can only happen if you join me in creating it.

To make it truly an amazing gift, I need you and thousands of other Rosary Warriors to put spiritual gems of prayerful action into this Spiritual Treasure Chest. You can choose to pray a Rosary, have a Mass offered for Cardinal Burke’s intentions, or offer a small sacrifice in your daily life.

Can I count on you to help create and send this uplifting Christmas gift to Cardinal Burke?

Let’s you and I, together with thousands of Rosary Warriors show Cardinal Burke that we understand and appreciate his leadership and ongoing efforts to defend Truth and encourage the disheartened.

May the Holy Family during this Advent and throughout the Christmas Season bless and keep you and yours close to their Immaculate and Divine hearts and under the mantle of St Joseph. Thank you!

Your friend in Jesus and Mary,

Thomas J. McKenna
Founder and President