Light in L’Enfant / Festivity in Foggy Bottom

Light in L’Enfant / Festivity in Foggy Bottom

Thank you again to all of those who attended and shared my post on New Liturgical Movement about Advent Stations with the Dominicans at St. Dominic’s Church in the L’Enfant Plaza neighborhood of DC. This is the second year that the friars have held what they hope will become an annual event here in the Nation’s Capital, and appropriately enough the size of the congregation doubled from last year. (I suppose it is too much to expect that the attendance will therefore triple next year, but who knows?)

You can see some mediocre photographs I took over on my Instagram account, but you can see some superb ones by my friend Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., over on the New Liturgical Movement website.  

It was a beautiful evening of light, music, scripture, prayer, and preaching, and one which I highly recommend that you put on your advanced planning calendar for next year.

For those of you who will be in the Washington, D.C. area over Christmas, and are considering where (or if) to attend services, I want to put in a plug for my parish of St. Stephen Martyr in Foggy Bottom.

As I regularly observe on social media, our choir and organist/music director are stupendous, which is no exaggeration. Friends from social media who are not Catholic OR Christian have joined us for Mass at St. Stephen’s, and come away astounded by how beautiful the music is. On Christmas Eve we will be having carols at 6:00 pm, followed by Mass at 6:30 pm, and you are most welcome to attend and celebrate with us. Given the very warm weather we will be having – the forecast high for DC on Christmas Eve is 76 F – and the relatively early hour, you can join us and still have time to go to dinner, put the kids to bed for Santa, or start watching that “Elf” or “Christmas Story” marathon. As an aside, I will be giving one of the Scripture readings from the Acts of the Apostles, so if you do attend I hope you will take a moment to say hello.

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Photo of St. Dominic's by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

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Three Upcoming DC Events to Calendar

For those of my readers who are in, or who find themselves in, the Nation’s Capital over the next few weeks, there are three upcoming events that I would like to draw to your attention. All are free and open to the public…and may I hasten to add, this includes the non-Catholic public. Plus, at the first you will have the chance to see me make a mockery of myself in public, which is always a very good thing.

Wednesday, December 9th
6:00 pm
Christmas Poetry in DC
Catholic Information Center
1501 K Street NW
(Metro: McPherson Square)

The Thomas More Society of America is sponsoring its annual “Christmas Poetry in DC” evening at the Catholic Information Center, and I’m honored to have been asked to return once again and give a reading. Over the past few years of participating in this event, I’ve become something like the comic relief portion of the program, but then I’m always happy to poke fun at myself. This is always a fun evening with a great turnout, and a wonderful opportunity to meet people, including some of the readers whom you may recognize from media, law, and so forth.

http://thomasmoresocietyofamerica.org/join-us-for-the-3rd-annual-christmas-poetry-in-d-c/

Sunday, December 13th
7:30 pm
Advent Lessons and Carols
St. Luke’s Ordinariate Community
1315 8th Street NW
(Metro: Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center)

It’s been several years now since the Episcopalian parish of St. Luke’s came into communion with the Catholic Church via the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, thanks to the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI. Now established at Immaculate Conception Church, located directly behind the DC Convention Center, the community is hosting their annual service of Advent Lessons and Carols with music by Palestrina, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and François Poulenc, among others. I was fortunate to attend last year, and was impressed (though not surprised) by the beauty and good taste of the music, but also with the magnificence of the Gothic Revival-style church itself, which I had never visited before. It was built between 1864-1865, and has been beautifully restored to its Victorian glory. Even if you are not Catholic, but appreciate fine architecture and sacred music, do plan to attend if you can.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1517901175187680/

Saturday, December 19th
7:00 pm
Advent Stations
St. Dominic’s Church
630 E Street SW
(Metro: L’Enfant Plaza)

Those who are regular readers know that I am a self-proclaimed fanboy of the Order of Preachers, a.k.a. the Dominicans. We are very fortunate here in DC to have not only the Dominican House of Studies and Priory of the Immaculate Conception, but also the parish of St. Dominic’s, a gorgeous Gothic Revival church built in 1875 and run by the Dominican friars. Chances are if you’ve been on 395 heading to or from Capitol Hill, you’ve seen the huge, stone steeple of St. Dominic’s from the highway. This is the second year in which the friars will be hosting Advent Stations in the church, and you really want to make the time to attend this if you can. The entire service is conducted in a completely darkened church, lit only by quite literally thousands of candles lining the altars, stairs, floors, and held by the attendees. It is really an experience, and the atmosphere is like stepping back a thousand years or more. There will be readings/preaching, as well as superb music, followed by a reception in the church hall afterwards.

http://stdominicchurch.org/advent-stations/

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Immaculate Conception Church, DC

If You Think DC Is Snobby, Wait Until You Read This

Did you appreciate that title? Well unless you are one of my subscribers, you had to click on it to get here, so we must suppose the answer is, “Yes.” As you‘ve taken my clickbait, let’s consider the issue of clickbait itself, in light of an article published this morning which is already causing commentary across the country. It’s a perfect example of why clickbait is so effective in achieving its ends, but also so ineffective in fostering higher standards of media creation and content.  

If you haven’t yet read the piece, today’s post from roadsnacks.net purports to list the “snobbiest” cities in the United States. Washington, D.C. turns out to be one of the worst offenders, based on the “science and data” which was reviewed in order to come up with these rankings. DC is the only city on the East Coast to make the top ten, coming in at #7 – just behind Irvine, California, and ahead of Costa Mesa, California.

A quick glance at the Road Snacks site reveals the sort of media content it produces. There are pieces such as “These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities in Delaware”, which of course will encourage those individuals whom Road Snacks considers to be “rednecks” to read about how the places they live are terrible clichés. The same no doubt holds true for the residents of “The 10 Most Ghetto Cities in Florida”, who apparently also get their time in the sun. Not having taken the bait to click on these, or any of the other similarly titled pieces on the site, let’s return to the “Snobbish Cities” list in question.

In truth, the piece itself is a masterful example of what has come to be known as “clickbait”. By my reading about the controversially-titled piece on a mainstream media site, then clicking through to read the original post, and finally passing that post along to you, the owners of the site have made some dosh through my efforts, without their having to compensate me personally, and without their actually contributing anything whatsoever to a meaningful consideration of the question presented. This is, of course, precisely why these sorts of pieces are written.

The snobbiness or otherwise of Washington, D.C. is something which ought not to concern anyone outside of the D.C. tourism board, which no doubt will be preparing a press statement in response to the piece. True, the author states at the outset that, “[t]his article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.” While I cannot speak for my fellow Washingtonians, I found little information and no entertainment in reading what, in the end, is little more than a Regina George “Burn Book”.

We may all very well say to ourselves, “Well, I don’t read clickbait,” and perhaps for the most part that may be true. Yet if a significant number of people did not read such pieces, at least on occasion, then they would not continue to be published. If we keep feeding it, we have an insatiable appetite for sensationalism, as evidenced by the media career of the entire Kardashian-Jenner family. And that nadir of media content, gentle reader, is most assuredly not a good thing.

Admittedly, taking the time to write about a piece of clickbait means that I, too, am contributing in some way to the cesspool from which it sprung. Yet perhaps by regularly questioning its value, we can at least try to recall what we are doing to ourselves when we break down and click. We may not be able to fundamentally alter human nature, but without holding up media providers to higher standards, we all end up rolling about in the gutter, however snobbish our zip code may be.

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