About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“Then, when the later great Germans arrived, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven—all secular composers—and tried their hands at sacred music, they set Roman Catholic words to music which in form and spirit is Protestant.”
— Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1912)

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Scrooge, Newman and Chesterton
published 23 December 2012 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

Every year part of my family watches the fantastically brilliant Scrooge film – Albert Finney as the portrayer of Scrooge. Every year I sit watching it torn between delight and misery.


The production is magnificent and Albert Finney’s acting is ingenious, and, of course, I am for charity vs. tight, cynical hatred of humanity. But…if you have seen this film you will notice that Jesus is not mentioned once. There is a cleverly made hell, the word redemption appears in passing, and, at the very end, we have 2 minutes of people coming out of an Anglican Church with a priest marginalized in the background and colorfully dressed altar servers.

Grimly, as we watch the film as a family, I remind all and sundry, that the word Christmas obviously related to Christ and Mass, not primarily to gift-giving and holiday treats, especially wishing the members of the family, well in the majority, who don’t go to Mass would return to the Church.

This time, I had another train of thought, as well. Newman, who lived in England at the same time as Dickens, wrote sermon after sermon about how England was becoming more and more worldly with the faith watered-down to sentiments about kindness rather than strong conviction of the total centrality of the Trinity and all of the Creed to the meaning of our lives. Yet, Chesterton, also an English convert to the Catholic faith, wrote a little known book trying to prove that the gist of Dickens was really Catholic in spite of Dickens lack of explicit creedal statements. Items would be Dickens’ clear depictions of virtues as beautiful and vice as ugly.

As I mull this over each year, I usually wind up meditating on how the devil uses my highly developed critical mind to keep me from savoring everything wonderful in Dickens or in our own present-day culture. Do I become a sour Scrooge like person when cynicism about the commercial Christmas blinds me to all the real love going around in the usual mixture of motives characteristic of everything “after the Fall”?

As a penance for sins of harsh judgment let me take the time to list some of the good remnants of Christian culture even if they are often lacking in what we Watershed people have in fullness as magisterial Catholics:

1. The invention of the radio which makes it possible for us to hear the exquisite Christmas music written centuries ago and the invention of the computer and the web that makes it possible to listen to contemporary composers such as our Watershed musicians.

2. All the people who do drop money into the Salvation Army bucket or to various Catholic Charities at Christmas, and the many volunteers and stalwart works for such organizations.

A All the people, prompted by grace, who force themselves to forgive others in order to make Christmas reunions even possible.

The sacrifices of all those who buy gifts for others and spend hours cooking holiday meals.

Want to add a few of these yourself?