The history of salvation is not a small event on a poor planet, in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing that happens by chance on a lost planet. It is the motive for everything, the motive for creation. Everything is created so that this story can exist, the encounter between God and his creature.

Pope Benedict XVI, address at the opening of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 6,2008

We must keep this in mind as the back story to all that “holiday” noise — how, Christmas-in-Christmas-out we hear Burl Ives’s splendid voice, like that of a rotund, fondly-recollected uncle who always played Santa Claus at Christmas, pouring down on us from the CVS Musak system.

He, Christ, the God Man, the Alpha and Omega — is coming to be born again in very squalid circumstances on a cold desert night.

It is often tough to go on clinging to that believe in this dark, hostile, yes, noisy age — an age that began over two thousand years ago where we have had, as Matthew Arnold noted in “Dover Beach” neither joy nor love nor light nor certitude nor peace nor help for pain…on a darkling plain.

Or So Arnold saw it, perplexed and skeptical as he was in a rationalizing, skeptical century now one and a half centuries away from ours.

Sing on, dear, late-lamented Burl though we grow weary of your musical salutation and well-wishing, because, Hark, the Angels are also Singing….

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