It is pre-dawn, the darkness and silence before the dawn of Christmas Eve, 2020. The silent morning before the Silent Night. How silent, ever, is that night, when, year after year, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee….” ?

There will be some unpeaceful musings in what follows, for which I apologize. It is a time, as Christmas dawns, to love, forgive, pray and unite. But I have these fears…

Fears — and who can doubt it, reality being reality — that as we edge ever closer to the end of this year, our pandemic or political woes are certainly following us like a stalking beast and will stay with us across the New Year meridian. For some of us who care about religious freedom and conscience rights, the intense political fears are just beginning, for we shall see inaugurated the putatively “Catholic” rosery bead-rattling Joe Biden, a visibly border-line senescent past-his-prime pol, pretender and (forgive me) well-known blow-hard , along with his running-mate, our future co-leader of the free world, the latter a culture-bound California liberal who can giggle and charm her way through an on-air interview with hip-hop DJs and sing the joys of pot but who apparently regards membership in one of the worlds largest religious charitable organization, the Knights of Columbus, to disqualify one from public service, especially the federal bench. I’d venture to say that while Kamala Harris is very familiar with Snoop Dog,et al., she’d never formerly heard of the Knights until she learned that a judicial candidate from Nebraska, whom she was in the process of grilling, was a member of the Knights and therefore suspected, by virtue of that membership and his Catholicism, to be oppose to a woman’s sacred right to chose to abort her unborn child. She would never believe any judge could separate their personal beliefs from their judicial obligations to follow the law — simply because her idea of a judge, I suspect, is precisely someone who’s liberal political preferences must override any law. (The right to an abortion is, I acknowledge, the law of the land — but so too is a judicial candidate’s right not to be subjected to a religious test when he or she seeks federal employment.)

Future President and Vice-President Biden and Harris plan to pack the court, if at all possible, until it reflects, not the rule of law, but political preference. If the results of two Georgia election run-offs go the Democrat’s way, they will have the power to do that and ever so much more.

But I digress, bitterly and out of the hopeful spirit of the season and this Christmas moment. Sorry. Yesterday, backing out of my driveway, I looked left as I rolled slowly back, unaware that an unknown neighbor in this basically very friendly community was coming — perhaps a little too fast — from the right. He leaned on his horn and yelled something unpleasant. I don’t know what; just know it wasn’t pleasant. That moment, in my mind, dimmed the coming glow of the Christmas lights that had yet to be switched on and illuminate street after street. I wanted to yell at the vanishing fellow motorist, “Merry Christmas!”

I will drive north to Tallahassee, Florida today — about a five hour drive up long, peaceful stretches of U.S. 19. I will spend Christmas Eve in the pleasant company of friends close enough to be, for all intents and purposes, relatives. I will attend Christmas mass somewhere on Christmas Day.

Hope will conquer fear, I pray, for those hours. We must keep praying, all of us, that hope goes on conquering fear, hour by hour for as many hours as their are in a year or a lifetime. And I must open my heart to the hope that those I see as arrayed against me, politically, socially, culturally, religiously — against me and all those who share my hope and my beliefs — will undergo a conversion of heart and, heart joined to heart, truth and love triumph.

Too much to hope for? Christmas is always about hoping beyond the visible horizon. Just ask any child.

Merry Christmas!!

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