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Issue 14 – Christmas 2022



Odds and ends from the staff of The Lamp.


✥ Around Christmastime, it is our custom to take long walks through cemeteries, which, especially in the older parts of the United States, are filled with the graves of so many whose lives occasion prayers for the dead. So often these tombs are for people whose work was left unfinished and left this world unsatisfied. In Rockville, we find F. Scott Fitzgerald, who died in such a sorry state that his family could not find a priest willing to bury him. In Kalamazoo, we stop by Edward Israel, the astronomer on the disastrous first American polar expedition, who starved to death three weeks before a rescue party found the rest of his crew. We linger the longest not at one particular grave, but a whole cemetery lined with identical markers. These plain, white headstones near the waterfront in Washington, D.C. mark the final resting places of the sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Mary. The uniformity of the stones is a stark reminder that in death we stand before God without any adornments covering our actions or our intentions. That’s only fair, as He came into the world—and left it—in much the same way. As we leave the cemetery, we cross an empty meadow. The place is not yet full, and, God willing, many more religious sisters will be laid to rest in it through the years and decades to come.     

✥ We should add that just behind this cemetery, Georgetown University provides one of the most valuable services to city: the last Sunday Mass, celebrated at 10:00 p.m. in its campus chapel. As far as we know, it is the latest regularly scheduled public Mass celebrated in any American city. New York’s last Mass is at 8:30 p.m. at Holy Family. Chicago’s is at 8:00 p.m.  at Old Saint Patrick’s, which happens to be the oldest standing church building in the city. Los Angeles doesn’t seem to have any Masses later than 7:00 p.m.  Of course, both in the U.S. and all over the world, many more Masses are celebrated both in public and in private at every hour of the day.

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