Sunday, January 1, 2017

Family in Exile

From Mary Victrix:
In Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, we find at one end the spectrum, Ebenezer Scrooge, the cold, isolated curmudgeon, who gave up on love long ago, who is a man without a family.  And on the other, there is Bob Cratchit, who suffers, not so much because his family is in want at Christmas time, but because he and his wife face the prospect of a Christmas without their son, Tiny Tim, who was sick and dying.

For Dickens, Scrooge is a two-dimensional figure for all that is wrong with heartless, industrialized, 19th century Britain, which devours its citizens, like the Cratchits. For Waugh, Sebastian stands in for all those estranged from God and men, and who struggle to find God because of their own frailty and because of the failures of those they depend upon most.

In Waugh’s story, Brideshead is the luxurious estate of the wealthy noble Flyte family. Nevertheless, Sebastian calls it not a home but the place where his family lives—a family for whom he largely has contempt. In Dicken’s story, the Cratchits have virtually nothing, but they have each other and their biggest worry is the potential loss of someone loved within that communion of persons.

And this brings us to the exile of the Holy Family in Egypt. Jesus, Mary and Joseph had virtually nothing. They did not even flee from their home in Nazareth. They were destitute travelers in Bethlehem, which was not their home, and where there was literally no room for them in the inn. They fled from destitution in Bethlehem to destitution plus exile in Egypt. But St. Joseph took up his family and fled to Egypt in order to protect the Child and His Mother—to keep the family together. They had nothing, but they had each other. And at the center of this family was the Word made flesh. (Read more.)

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