Howdy.

We are immensely pleased to report that, in our first week, nearly one-hundred fifty people have taken out subscriptions to The Lamp. It is deeply humbling to have inspired the interest of so many of you, and we are excited to share our first issue (of many!) at the end of January. For those who have not yet subscribed but wish to do so, subscriptions can be purchased here for sixty dollars.

Which reminds us: For an upcoming issue, we have been inspired by a certain well-known theologian to hold a symposium on the subject of hell. We plan on soliciting the views of a wide variety of persons: austere learned friars, ordinary parish priests, philosophers of religion, historians, poets, movie critics, Stephen King, Kanye West, and so on. If you can think of someone we should ask to contribute a paragraph or so on eternal punishment, let us know!

As before, if you have any questions about subscriptions, please send us an email at subscriptions@thelampmagazine.com.

On to the polls. About two fifths of you have never participated in any sort of neighborhood Christmas tradition. This saddens us greatly. Another two fifths of you have done so in the past, but no longer. Only one in five of you has a living neighborhood Christmas tradition you take part in. So what do you do? Many of you go caroling. Others bake for a neighborhood cookie exchange. Some take tours of specially decorated houses nearby. In one neighborhood, everyone places a small Christmas tree by the curb. Several of you celebrate Las Posadas.

This week’s poll can be found here.

As always, feel free to send us questions here or newsletter items (especially your prayer requests) here. Follow us on Twitter at @thelampmagazine.
 

Numbers:

Ninety-five percent of those discharged from hospitals are given digital access to their medical records, but only ten percent make use of them.

The average Marylander spends over two thousand dollars on the Christmas season; the average West Virginian, just sixty dollars.

About ten percent of California gun-owners possess more than ten firearms, and collectively account for nearly half the state’s total guns.

• A critical brain region, the hypothalamus, has been found to be significantly smaller  in women who take oral contraceptives than in other women.

• Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state’s oil company, is the world’s first two-trillion dollar company.

• More than half (fifty-one percent) of parish priests in Belgium are over the age of seventy five.

***
 

News:

• More than ten million pilgrims made the trip this year to the basilica in Mexico built upon the spot where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared. By comparison, St. Peter’s in the Vatican sees about eighteen million visitors all year. 

• The local Catholic church in the Dutch village of Afferden has been converted into a Buddhist temple by the Thai monks to whom it was sold.

• The Mexican diocese of Cuernavaca has suspended all evening Masses indefinitely due to concerns about the safety of its Mass-goers. Catholics in the region, which lies just south of Mexico City, are fearful to leave their homes after dark due to the cartel violence in the area. 

• Indonesian authorities plan to double the amount of security personnel deployed to protect churches and and other Christian sites during the Christmas season this year. 

• Seven Texas towns have adopted laws declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn,” effectively outlawing abortion within their city limits. 
 

Lines (prose and verse):

Shut up in their own constricted world of forest, lake, and swamp, the Novgorodski and neighbouring Slavs would get, by means of these waterways, glimpses of other worlds, distant as the three points of a triangle, and as varied in manners, customs, and products; news of Sarkel, Itil, and the Great City, Bolgary, and strange countries yet farther east, where men dwelt in tents and rode on camels and hunted the panther, whose spotted skin was more richly marked than that of any forest lynx; visits from mariners of perhaps their own nationality, bringing tales of northern seas, of ice-floes, walruses, sturgeons, and whales; of Wends who preyed on the vessels driven on to their inhospitable shore; and, more important still, of Varangian sea-rovers who were beginning to force themselves on the Finns and Slavs of the sea-coast; above all, tidings from bands of merchants of the City of Wonders that guarded the entrance to the Farther Sea, with its gates and palaces, and temples and gardens and marts, its emperor and saints, and miracles and ceremonials, like unto nothing they had experience of themselves.

– Sᴀᴋɪ

***

God, who had predestined the holy Virgin Mary to be associated with the most pure work of our regeneration, inspired in her so great a love of virginity that she not only vowed it, but, even after the angel had declared to her what son she was to conceive, stood ready to refuse the honor of being his mother at the price of her virginity. She thus responded to the angel, “How can this be, because I know not man?” (cf. Luke 1: 34)—that is to say, I have resolved for all time not to know one.

This resolution is a mark of Mary’s exquisite taste for chastity, which made her proof against not only all the promises of man, but also those of God. What could he promise greater than his Son? Yet she is ready to refuse him if it will be necessary to lose her virginity in order to receive him. But God, whose heart is won by this love, has the angel say to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1: 35). God himself will take the place of a spouse; he will unite himself to your body.


For this you must be purer than the rays of the sun. The most pure can be united only to purity. He conceives his Son alone in his paternal bosom, not sharing his conception with another, and he does not desire, when the Son is to be born in time, to share it except with a virgin, nor to suffer that he should have two fathers. Virginity: what is your price! You alone can make a mother of God.

– Bᴏssᴜᴇᴛ

***

When that the Eternal deigned to look
On us poor folk to make us free
He chose a Maiden, whom He took
From Nazareth in Galilee;
Since when the Islands of the Sea,
The Field, the City, and the Wild
Proclaim aloud triumphantly
A Female Figure with a Child.

These Mysteries profoundly shook
The Reverend Doctor Leigh, D.D.,
Who therefore stuck into a Nook
(Or Niche) of his Incumbency
An Image filled with majesty
To represent the Undefiled,
The Universal Mother— She—
A Female Figure with a Child.

His Bishop, having read a book
Which proved as plain as plain could be
That all the Mutts had been mistook
Who talked about a Trinity
Wrote off at once to Doctor Leigh
In manner very far from mild,
And said: “Remove them instantly!
A Female Figure with a Child!”

Envoi
Prince Jesus, in mine Agony,
Permit me, broken and defiled,
Through blurred and glazing eyes to see
A Female Figure with a Child.

– Bᴇʟʟᴏᴄ
 

***

Touch no hair of him,
Not that fair hair with which the wanton winds
Delight to play, and love to make it curl,
Wherein the nightingales would build their nests,
And make sweet bowers in every golden tress,
To sing their lover every night to sleep.

– Pᴇᴇʟᴇ
 

The mail:

Dᴏɴᴀʟᴅ writes: “By coincidence or providence, this morning I was reading Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi, which speaks to the anonymous reader’s concern about not wanting eternal life:

But then the question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable. This is precisely the point made, for example, by Saint Ambrose, one of the Church Fathers, in the funeral discourse for his deceased brother Satyrus: “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin … began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing”. A little earlier, Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation”.

We ask readers to pray for the clergy, for the intentions of the Holy Father, for the faithful in Mexico, for all pilgrims and travelers, and for those uncertain of their dwelling during this Advent season.

— W.B., M.W.