Venite Adoremus Dominum
Last night I was privileged to attend the annual Christmas concert at the Catholic primary school my two sons attend. For those readers who don't live in Upper Canada (Ontario) a little context is required. (I know, I know, my preambles are ballooning and my main points are truncating.)
One of the anomalies of the Canadian constitution is that Catholics in this province have the written constitutional guarantee for public funding for a Catholic school system. Accordingly, there are parallel public and Catholic school systems in both primary and secondary levels. Each system has its own school boards and, within the curriculum guidelines established by law and the provincial ministry of education, each board sets its own policies.
.... an aside to my aside ...... As far as I know, democracy has not crumbled away to dust in Ontario because we aren't obsessive about separating church and province. You "progressive" Americans who look wistfully at our system as being more liberal than yours, please take note. All liberal combatants in the war to expunge Christianity from all public schools (e.g., the American Civil Liberties Union) might learn a thing or two from this, if learning is what is behind the obsession, .... which I sincerely doubt.
Anyways, the constitutional guarantees for religious schools arose because of the historic fears of Protestants in (then mostly French Catholic province) of Lower Canada (Quebec), that the school system there would be inculcated in Popery through the rigorous application of the thumbscrew and the rack, by wild-eyed, Spanish Dominican friars.
Conversely, the (then) Catholic minority in Upper Canada (largely refugees from that horrible republican revolution you had down south) feared that the schools in Ontario would be used to proselytize young Papists in Protestant heresy and thereby be damned for all eternity to awful poofed hairdos and endless reruns of the pastel suited TV evangelist Ernest Angely. (.... out foul spirit of John Kerry .... )
The resultant support for the respective religious school systems was one of the compromises struck in 1867 to create the Dominion of Canada and thereby protect both Catholic and Protestant British North Americans from the evildoers George Bush and Dick Cheney which, the Book of Revelations otherwise known as the NY Times, prognosticated would eventually steal power and lie to us all about weapons of mass destruction. Of course back then, weapons of mass destruction were a real threat, as the Aboriginal recipients of whiskey and smallpox ridden blankets learned to their great discomfit.
(Anyone seen my main point wandering about this post ... ?)
Oh yes. The Christmas concert.
There they were. Mary and Joseph looking reverently down at the baby Jesus in the cradle, only somewhat distracted by parents waving frantically at them from the fields around the manger. There were three wise men with crowns and several sheepish shepherds in bathrobes watching over their classmates in sheep's clothing. Also, a cow and the angelic choir with appropriately bent halos.
And carols. Lots and lots of real Christmas carols sung with great gusto by the choirs from junior and the senior kindergartens and the first, second, and third graders wearing dads' white shirts on backwards. There was even a choir of senior students at the side of the gym who sang during those interludes between stage performances when the curtain slammed shut and the clumping of feet could be heard amidst the strains of "Angels we have heard on high, gently singing o'er the gym." And in the background manning the lights and sound were the Grade eight roadies, with cool sunglasses and sophisticated but carefully careless demeanours.
I tell you most solemnly that the concert was a triumph innocent charm over the cynical strictures rhythm and melody. And a certain Master Brendan of grade two was the cutest and sung the best. I would not fib about such things.
Christmas is coming and if you aren't in the spirit yet, now is the time to join in the joy.
Despite the religious theme, no one fainted. The Government did not fall (That happened a couple of weeks ago for entirely more wretched reasons.). There is one negative note though. Unfortunately, that pernicious message of two millennia ago did mange to prevail. You have likely been subjected to it at one time or another. We all cringed as we heard it.
Gloria in excelsis Deo and peace to people of good will.
Amen to that.