This week, all four candles are burning on the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree is up and decorated.
Bob Dolan asks if his gift from his brother, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, is under the Archbishop's tree. Banter about it being the bottle-shaped gift. [I've heard our Archbishop indicate he likes an occasional sip of Jack Daniels; don't know Bob's preference.] Our Archbishop tries to keep to tradition, decorating his tree [for real, not for the show] Christmas Eve and keeping it up through Epiphany. [I'd like that too, but lost on a 1-1 vote.] He's peeved to see Christmas trees out on the curb December 26th. [Maybe we could recycle the fraser firs, if any local churches use the Julian calendar.]
Our Archbishop says every Mass is like, or sort of, a rebirth of Christ. [He clarifies this in his closing reflection, but it might have been a go place for a retake.] His favorite Masses include the Christmas vigil, midnight Mass, Easter vigil, Ordinations, and the Chrism Mass.
Introducing the next segment on unwed and homeless mothers, Bob notes how the Blessed Virgin Mary was homeless. [Also clarified later, but another candidate for a retake.]
Prepared segment. In 1908 our Archdiocese founded a maternity hospital for unwed mothers. The women stayed there under pseudonyms. For today, they show us Rosalie Manor. Southeastern Wisconsin, they say, had one of the nation's highest rates of teen pregnancy. One single mother interviewed on camera says she'll wait until she's married next time
Lead-ins to commercial breaks now are a bible verse on a background of snowy branches. [A nice touch.]
We're back. Our Archbishop talks about the BVM at the first Christmas, with an untimely pregnancy and away from home. [Untimely in the world's eyes goes without saying? I suppose. At least the Nativity escapes the "plight of the homeless" template.] When he celebrated Christmas Mass at Wisconsin's womens' prison last year, his homily cited Mary as model of faith under life's challenges. He said that seemed to connect with the women inmates.
After commercials, we're back. [Will our Archbishop say "There's no place like Rome for the holidays"? ...Yes!] This week's guest is Monsignor Roger Roensch. The Monsignor is coming up on the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. He assists people making pilgrimages to Rome. For example, he helps get tickets for the Papal Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Apparently these are overbooked; 15,000 people might come, and the capacity is about 9,000. So arrive early if you want to get in. Less crowded alternatives for pilgrims are the Sunday before when there is the papal blessing of the infant Jesus figures for Rome's creches, the pope's Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi address, and the January 1st World Day of Peace. The creche in St. Peter's Square stays up until the Presentation, February 2nd. [The only time I was in Rome was later in February, Pope John Paul II was visiting Africa, and there was plenty of room at Sunday Mass in St. Peter's. As a souvenir, I bought a picture postcard showing the Basilica and Square after one of Rome's rare snowfalls.]
After commercials, we're back. Bob asks our Archbishop's favorite gifts given and received. One year, before Bob was born, Tim had about $1.70 for gifts. [The question comes up about Mom and Dad wanting to borrow it. Now that they mention it, I still think my First Communion money went to help finish paving the driveway.] He bought something for his Mom and sister and only had about 3 cents left. He went to Dad, who said if everyone else was taken care of, that was enough of a Christmas gift for him. Bob asks if 3 cents wasn't enough for Dad's usual Old Spice and cream drops. [Mr. Dolan seems to be part Mr. Parker and part Mr. Cleaver. If that's too good to be true, there are worse thing than your boys describing you that way.] As for gifts received, he recalled getting a bike and a baseball glove. [Some years back, though not for Christmas, I once asked someone to anonymously deliver him a can of real Budweiser.]
Bob recalled a year the two of them delivered hams to the needy for their parish, though Bob thinks between them they ate one of the hams in the process.
Emailed questions. Should Advent be more penitential, like Lent? While Advent and Lent are both preparatory, Advent is not so dramatically penitential. [I'd cite that kids would give up chocolate for Lent, and have a chocolate-a-day Advent calendar.]
Another emails asks about Midnight Mass before midnight. There are some literally Midnight Masses, at the Cathedral for example, but pastors tell him somewhat earlier makes it possible for more people to attend.
After commericials we're back with a closing reflection by our Archbishop. Rather that spending Christmas, or having Christmas, live Christmas. Christmas is not just history, it happens now, when Christ is reborn in the hearts of those who believe in Him. Mary was asked if through her Christ would be made flesh and brought into the world, and so, in another sense, are we.
Next week New Year's resolutions, Bob's, our Archbishop's, and the Church's. Special guest, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.