The Beauty of Geography

Recently, I was thinking about how I came to be Byzantine Catholic, and I realized that the easiest way to explain it is that it’s an accident of geography. My dad’s maternal grandparents came to America from a part of Europe that was Slovakia at the time and settled near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; they eventually ended up in the metro Detroit area where my Byzantine Catholic grandmother married my never-baptized but ostensibly Protestant grandfather and had four children. (Happy side note: My grandfather was baptized in a Byzantine Catholic Church about a year ago at the age of 92. I still get teary-eyed with joy thinking about it.) Then, my Byzantine Catholic father, the youngest of those four children, married my Roman Catholic mother who embraced the Byzantine Catholic Church, my brother and I were born, and they raised us to know and love that Church.

There’s a lot that feels a bit random in that narrative. My dad’s grandparents happened to be from a Byzantine Catholic region of Eastern Europe. Give or take a few miles, and they’d have been Orthodox or Roman Catholic. But by what some might call an accident of geography, they were Byzantine Catholic. I don’t know how strong the catechesis of my ancestors was. I don’t know how much they understood about their faith, but that doesn’t matter. They continued the motion of a chain of events that led to me being Byzantine Catholic.

The reality is that none of this is random. God doesn’t deal in coincidences or accidents. It was not actually due to an accident of geography that I was born into a Byzantine Catholic family. I was born into this family and this Church because it was where God wants me. There is a reason that I was born into this Church and not into the Roman Catholic Church or an Orthodox Church, and that reason is the will of God.

In my experience, the Eastern Catholic Churches sit in a complicated position. Not everyone loves our existence. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked when I’m going to get off the fence and become Orthodox or Roman Catholic. I’ve been told that it would be easier to just become Orthodox. Perhaps it would. But easier isn’t always the best option or the right one. God has a purpose for the Byzantine Catholic Churches. In a talk he gave last September, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church defines the Byzantine Catholic Churches as living out the spirit of the first Christian millennium; that is we live out an Orthodox spirituality and theology while living in communion with the See of Rome. He sees us as living out the call of Christ for His people to dwell in full and loving unity. Diversity ought to be allowed, accepted, and embraced.

I could go on about that for ages, but that’s a digression. I believe that the Byzantine Catholic Churches have a beautiful purpose in our world. I believe that we need to be vocal in showing the world the beauty of our Church. We are a living and active representation of heaven on earth, and we must live that out in a way that radiates into the lives of those around us. I firmly believe that we are called to show the beauty of unity to the world by our lives. Yes, we hold a complicated position, but it does not follow that this position ought to be abandoned because of difficulty.

There is beauty in this difficulty. I’ve talked before about the difficulty of being an Eastern Catholic both in an ecumenical environment and in strictly Catholic environments. It is not easy to be the minority or the other. And at times it does feel as though some obnoxious accident of geography put me in this place. But it wasn’t an accident that put me in this place. It was God, and if God put me here, then there is beauty in this complicated place.

It may not always be obvious beauty. It may not always be easy to look past external complications. Yes, Byzantine Catholicism is aesthetically pleasing. I love the sensory experience of my church. It is is a gorgeous place to be. The music is beautiful. The people (at least in my experience) are wonderful. However, the disunity of the Christian body can be discouraging and ugly.

It is hard to know leaders of other Churches believe that my Church is the greatest obstacle to unity between the Christian East and Christian West. It’s hurtful to be called a “uniate.” On the other hand, I can understand that it is hurtful to other Churches that my Church reestablished communion with the See of Rome several hundred years ago. Yes, we acted from political reasons more than religious/spiritual, and I can easily see why that’s hurtful to others. We have to accept that and work with it; we cannot ignore the hurt in the hopes it will go away. The wounds need to be acknowledged and discussed.

Christian unity is a complex thing. Yes, we are called to unity, but we are called to unity in diversity as St. John Paul II said. It’s important to highlight our common ground, but it’s also important to acknowledge our differences and discuss them. We need to embrace our brokenness and take it to the Cross, to the One who heals all wounds. Christ alone can heal the brokenness of our Church. He can bring great goodness into this situation and out of it.

In closing, it is the beauty of geography that made me Byzantine Catholic rather than Roman Catholic or Orthodox. The geography that wrought this situation is beautiful because it was made by God. God the Father may not have willed the brokenness of His Son’s body. He may not rest well pleased with the wounds within the Church. But that absolutely does not mean that He will abandon His Church, the Bride of Christ to perish in brokenness. No, Jesus comes to make all things new (Rev. 21:15), and He will use anything to do that. He will use politics, geography, humble prayers, conversations, ecumenical action…God will use anything that comes from a sincere desire to serve His Kingdom to make this thing new.

And maybe we won’t see the Church fully restored on this side of Paradise, but we have not been abandoned. He is a God of restoration and renewal, not a God of accidents. He makes beautiful things out of us. He wants this Church, His Church to be whole. And to do that, he’s going to use all of us-Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Protestants…we’re all called to this table. We’re all called to unity. We are called to be One as the Trinity is One.

Father God, heal and restore Your Church. Make us One as the Trinity is One. Renew and restore Your people. Break down walls, and heal wounds. Give wisdom to Church leaders, and give hope to Your people. Father, make us one. 


(This is the other well-known article about the region of Europe from which my ancestors came. March 15, 1939 was our big day; we should celebrate that more.)

Austentatious Cocktails

I was just sitting there when a thought popped into my head. “What kind of cocktails would Anne Eliot drink? Like, imagine that the Austen characters lived in the twenty-first century, and they went to bars or whatever. Let’s say that Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, and Anne Eliot were at the bar waiting for Lizzy Bennet to show up. What are they drinking? Mr. Darcy is drinking a g&t. Wentworth has a dark beer-probably a porter. What is Anne drinking?”

So naturally, I did went any normal Austentatious lass does at nine o’clock on a Friday night. I went on facebook and posted the following on my friend’s wall: Am I weird or do other people spend time thinking about what modern cocktails are best suited to various Austen characters too?

She told me to write a blog post about it. Here you go, Katie.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: An old-fashioned; it’s classy with a lot of character. You have to know your cocktails and whisk(e)y if you want to get a good one. (He does not appreciate frou-frou fruit in his. A simple orange rind garnish will do, thank you.)

Elizabeth Bennet: Gin and tonic with just a lime; it’s not overly sweet, hard to mess up, and casual with a touch of sophistication.

Charles Bingley: A Jack-Rose; something warm and sweet

Jane Bennet: Three dollar daiquiris; the sort that can’t really have anything in them, but Jane is perpetually worried about getting drunk.

Mary Bennet: Negroni; people don’t get it, but she likes it. It’s a strong taste and not everyone likes it, but it fulfills her. It’s an acquired taste.

Lady Catherine DeBourgh: Rob Roys; she loves her Scotch, and she has very strong opinions about The Right Kind of Scotch-both age and producer. (She’s actually usually wrong, but her nephew Colonel Fitzwilliam [the real Scotch expert of the clan] won’t argue with her about that. It’s not worth it.)

Mr. Collins: He will drink whatever his esteemed patroness, Lady Catherine DeBourgh, tells him to drink even if he doesn’t like it. Sometimes she makes him drink a Tom Collins because she thinks that’s funny.

Charlotte Collins: Lady Catherine DeBourgh has many recommendations for her, and Charlotte listens gracefully and accepts what she is given without complaint. However, when she has her druthers, she really enjoys mint juleps. Mint and bourbon? It’s eccentric enough for her.

Lydia Bennet: Shots of lemon drops followed by tequila until she is blackout hammered; straight….mildly bad ideas leading to really bad ideas.

Emma Woodhouse: The Last Word; the name fits, and also at first it can be too much if you’re not braced for it. It’s very strong things that are balanced, which she isn’t at first, but she becomes so.

George Knightley: Dark and stormy; it suits his soul well.

Edmund Bertram: Port-really good port; he has deep theological conversations with Edward Ferrars over port.

Fanny Price: Sherry or wine that has a pretty low ABV.

Marianne Dashwood: She wants to drink the fanciest, fussiest shit out there, and she doesn’t actually understand the flavors, but she wants the essential experience of the fanciest hipster shit. She’s also open to suggestions from whatever guy (John Willoughby) wants to mansplain cocktails to her.

Colonel Christopher Brandon: Cognac; it just suits him.

Elinor Dashwood: Normally, she’s the DD, but when she’s with friends (and not Marianne) or Edward, she likes strong liquors. Sometimes she prefers fruity drinks, other times more bitter drinks. And sometimes, she just needs to shoot tequila.

Edward Ferrars: As portrayed by Dan Stevens, he drinks a sidecar-classic but easy-going; it’s the intelligent choice. As portrayed by Hugh Grant, he orders a rum and coke; he can’t think of anything else to order.

Captain Frederick Wentworth: Dark beers; he especially enjoys a good porter. (Please do not ask about the fussy little drinks that Louisa Musgrove tried to get him to drink.)

Anne Eliot: She likes absinthe. She will drink straight, but she also enjoys sipping a nice Sazerac or Corpse Reviver #2.

George Wickham: Absolut in various flavors…and then he collects the bottles and makes them into shitty, obnoxious lamps.

John Willoughby: Strong stuff straight

Frank Churchill: He drinks wine coolers, but really fancy wine coolers from indie wineries that he has to drive 25 miles to get.

Birthday Cakes for Harry Potter Characters

In my quirkier moments, I enjoy making birthday cakes for authors and fictional characters. Over the past several years, I’ve gotten into making cakes for the characters of the Harry Potter universe. So today, I’m taking you through the year and offering my recommendations for the appropriate cake for each character.

January 9: Severus Snape

Snivellus enjoys a spice cake made with molasses and a powdered sugar topping. Most people don’t know this. Dumbledore and Lily both did, so Snape’s years at Hogwarts were the happiest of his life because they ensured that he always had the birthday cake of his choosing.

January 30: Lily Evans-Potter

Lily gets two birthday cakes. James Potter would get his wife the most overly sentimental store-bought cake with overwhelming frosting flowers. On the other hand, Remus Lupin would secretly make her a beautiful double chocolate cake, the same cake that she always makes for his birthday.

February 6: Arthur Weasley

For Arthur Weasley, I choose a common grocery store box mix. Arthur loves all things Muggle, and while his wife is an excellent cook, I suspect that this birthday boy would be far more delighted by a “Muggle cake” than by a delicious concoction from his Molly-wobbles.

March 1: Ron Weasley

I felt like Ron needed something traditional like a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. He just wants it to be clear that it is his birthday and that has been remembered. He wants his name piped onto the top with candles indicating his age so that it’s clear whose birthday it is and how old Ron is.

March 10: Remus Lupin

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Double chocolate cake with chocolate frosting; it’s the only thing our favorite werewolf would ever want. Lily always made it for him from their third year at Hogwarts.

March 27: James Potter

A cake with too many layers that is perpetually always falling over…a vanilla cake with raspberry jam between the layers; Sirius always helps make and stack the cake while Remus and Lily watch, wonder, and worry.

April 1: Fred and George Weasley

Fred and George get a funfetti cake made from scratch. It’s the only thing funny enough for them. Then, it gets brightly colored frosting and sprinkles on top. It’s fun. It’s exciting. Oh, and the cake itself is actually cinnamon-vanilla flavored. It’s a surprise, just like the twins.

May 15: Pomona Sprout

Carrot cake! And don’t forget the raisins. It’s absolutely perfect for our favorite Herbology professor prior to Neville Longbottom’s tenure. And be sure to go heavy on the cream cheese frosting; Professor Sprout loves a good cream cheese frosting.

June 5: Draco Malfoy

Draco gets a simple vanilla cake with white frosting. It’s simple. It’s classic. Would Lucius approve it? Absolutely not, but we’ll throw silver and green sprinkles on top in hopes of placating the Malfoy patriarch at least a touch.

June 28: Dobby

Dobby would be perfectly happy to just know that humans had remembered his birthday, and to this end, he wouldn’t care too terribly much what sort of cake he had. With that in mind, make him YOUR favorite cake; he’ll love it.

July 30: Neville Longbottom

Neville grew up with a good grandmother but no mother. I can’t see Augusta Longbottom making good “mom cake” birthday cakes, so I decided that I’d make sure that Neville always had a good “mom cake” for his birthday. So I went with the Texas sheet cake for Neville. It’s big. It’s homemade. It’s heartfelt. It’s warm and welcoming.

July 31: Harry Potter

I’ll never be able to move past the cake that Hagrid made for Harry. Harry will always get a simple two-layer chocolate cake with pink frosting and “HAPPEE BIRTHDAE HARRY” scrawled across the top in bright green frosting.

August 11: Ginevra Weasley

A strawberry cake with chocolate frosting and Bertie Botts Beans on top for decoration-it’s girly inside with a dark outside.

August 22: Percy Weasley

An angel food cake decorated with royal icing lends a touch of class to a birthday party that doesn’t have much. It’s hard to be Percy Weasley. Your brothers are all absurd; no, your whole family is absurd. No one else even tries to reach your level of urbane sophistication.

September 19: Hermione Granger

A German chocolate cake that Ron is not allowed to ruin make will suit the brains of the Golden Trio. After growing up with Muggle dentists, Hermione likes sweet things and really well-made things. To that end, her mother-in-law always makes sure that Hermione’s German chocolate cake is pleasing both to the eye and the stomach.

October 4: Minerva McGonagall

No cake for Professor McGonagall; just a good old-fashioned Scottish shortbread with raspberry coulis. It’s simple, straight-forward, and delicious.

October 17: Filius Flitwick

Professor Flitwick’s birthday trifle will charm any and all comers. Pound cake, fresh blackberries, and freshly whipped cream make for a simple but delightful dessert.

October 30: Molly Weasley

For the matriarch of the Weasley family, an apple cake with a cinnamon streusel is recommended. She wants it to be made in a bundt pan; her sons think that is ridiculous.

November 3: Sirius Black

Sirius gets a Starlight cake (from the Betty Crocker cookbook) with cinnamon and pecans mixed in-because being in Azkaban for 12 years will turn you into a bit of a nutter. The Starlight is a reference to the astrological references in the Black family naming schema. The frosting for the middle of this two-layer cake is yellow while the outside is frosted in red; both colors reference his pride to be the first Gryffindor from the Black family.

November 29: Bill Weasley

Bill’s wife is French, and he spent several years of his life in Egypt. So Bill’s cake is a bit outside the box. Instead of a standard cake, Bill has a brioche with a savory filling inspired by the Middle East. To this end, I make a brioche with a spinach-mushroom-goat cheese filling between the layers. There is an abundance of garlic, onion, and turmeric in this birthday cake. It’s flavor-filled, a little eccentric, and thoroughly delightful-just like Bill Weasley.

December 6: Rubeus Hagrid

Hagrid would make himself a rock cake. We don’t recommend that you follow suit. If you want something that he and you would both enjoy, go for a rum-infused pound cake.

December 12: Charlie Weasley

Charlie wouldn’t care too much what kind of cake he had. He just wants it to be shaped like a dragon. He likes almond cake best because it goes well with all of the nuts needed to create the spines of the dragon.

December 31: Tom Riddle

Most of Tom Riddle’s problems in life come from the fact that he never had a birthday cake. Any remaining problems came from the fact that he was conceived while his father was under the influence of a love potion. But the lack of birthday cake was a substantial contributing factor in his downfall. Basically, skip the celebration of his birthday, and go enjoy New Year’s Eve.

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

It is rare that I will start recommending a book to people when I’m only a third of the way through the book. It’s unheard of that I’d start the book review post when I was barely halfway through the book. But I can act out of character at times; it simply takes an unusual book to make me do that.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy was that unusual book. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. The book, written by Eric Metaxas, looks at the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer while also looking at the history of Germany during Bonhoeffer’s lifetime. While Metaxas’s prose becomes a little much at times and while his evangelical and politically conservative views do occasionally sway his presentation of Bonhoeffer, overall, the book is excellent.

I was previously familiar with Bonhoeffer as the author of the book, The Cost of Discipleship, which I have not yet read but intend to read soon. I didn’t know much about his life, and I must begrudgingly confess that I occasionally confused him with his contemporary, Martin Niemoller. That’s not a mistake that I’ll be making again. Reading this book was like going on a retreat with Pastor Bonhoeffer and getting to know him and being inspired by him. It was an opportunity to read his thoughts on so many topics-relationship with Christ, marriage, and relationship with others to name but a few. 

To further explain my thoughts and reactions to the book, I need to tell a quick personal story. In January of 2016, I chaperoned a field trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Southfield, Michigan. At the beginning of our trip through the museum, our guide had us face a wall that on one side listed each of the death camps and the number of Jews who had perished in each camp and on the other listed each of the countries where the Jewish victims of the Holocaust had come from and the number of Jews who had perished from each country. She said to us, “Now you are witnesses to their deaths.”

That’s how this book made me feel. It made me feel that by hearing the story of Bonhoeffer’s life I had become a witness to his life. I knew from the outset how it ended. I knew that he met the end of his earthly life in Flossenburg in April 1945. (“This is the end—for me the beginning of life.”) Reading the book and learning his life story while reading his letters and excerpts from his speeches and writings made me a witness to his life.

As I said previously, reading the book was like taking a retreat with Pastor Bonhoeffer. Reading his thoughts inspired and encouraged me. I found myself praying as I read the book because I was inspired by his faith. His faith while suffering showed an immense love for God, and his determination to preserve the True Faith in Germany encouraged me. He helped me to believe that God will continue to raise up saints within His Church as long as there is struggle in the world. As someone who wants to support the building of community with both my church and the Church, I was encouraged by Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on Christian community and the importance of Christian relationships.

So what didn’t I like?

I was not a big fan of Metaxas’s prose. Yes, Hitler and his henchmen (Goebbels, Goring, and Himmler) were evil. Yes, they did terrible things. But Metaxas’s continued descriptions of them as devils or ghouls or demonic was frustrating for me. If someone is evil, show me that they are evil. Tell me of their demonic or ghoulish deeds. (And there are many examples out there for the choosing.) Don’t simple use adjectives to describe people. Prove it to me.

I enjoyed the book as an opportunity to get to know Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I enjoyed learning about who he was and the life that he led. I enjoyed how Metaxas explored the historical context of Bonhoeffer’s life and how that impacted both the pastor’s life and the country he loved. In giving that context, the author also gave important details about how the Nazis managed to convince ordinary Germans to accept their anti-semitic agenda, which was useful for me. Above all, the book is valuable in making its reader into witnesses to the life of Bonhoeffer and his compatriots.

Having been made a witness of his life, I would like to get to know Bonhoeffer further by reading him in his own voice. Reading his writing unfiltered by another person would be even better than the book itself. In retrospect, I have come to realize that what inspired me so much in this book was not the book itself but the life of the man whose story it told. I didn’t really want everyone I knew to go out and read this book so much as I wanted them to get to know Dietrich Bonhoeffer and to appreciate him in the way that I know do.

FO: Recoleta

As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy knitting projects that challenge me and force me to grow as a knitter. My most recent finished object is one such project. For a while, I’d been lusting over Joji Locatelli’s Recoleta pattern.

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Then I came across the Cold as Ice colorway from the Plucky Knitter, and I knew that I needed to own a sweater in that color. As a few of my friends commented, it is a very Cecilia color. So last winter, I bought a sweater quantity of Cold as Ice and began pondering what to use it for.

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The more that I thought about it and talked with various friends about it, the more that I knew that this yarn was destined to be Recoleta. I cast on in October and finished it a few days before Christmas. The sweater is beautiful. The yarn is smooshy and glorious. The color and the lace blend majestically. I adore this sweater. img_0252

So why was this pattern a challenge? The lace. The back is one chart, the front is another. And you work the front chart from right to left on one side and from left to right on the other. That was a challenge for me. I never managed to memorize the whole thing, which meant that I could never work on the project without the charts-and those were on my computer. Regardless, I love it, and I’m looking forward to wearing it often this winter. img_0253

Raveled here.

If you’re wondering, this is the necklace I’m wearing in the pictures. I love it, I just gifted one to a friend, and I’d recommend the shop to anyone.

God descends in mortal flesh!

On Wednesday evening, I was thinking about the idea of being halfway out of the dark and how the days begin to lengthen as the night lessens, how we must decrease like the darkness and Christ must increase like the light. (John 3:30) As I thought, I found myself singing a song to myself. “What no man could hope for now conceived/ earth is raised to heaven on this eve.” This song by the brilliant Ed Conlin (who I am blessed to know at least a bit) was inspired by St. John Chrysostom’s most famous Christmas homily.

Now as an Eastern Christian, I am contractually obligated to love the Golden-Tongued Saint. I aspire to name a son after him and St. Cyril-the one of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. (The other are lovely, but the Non-Mercenary brothers evangelized my people, the Slavs.) But this particular homily is really special to me. It speaks to my heart a unique way. This homily defines Christmas joy and hope for my heart and mind. St. John Chrysostom speaks to me in a way that allows me to taste the beauty of the Incarnation.

All exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

The Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven…that is a divine and marvelous mystery indeed. A God who departs the heavens who live with his little “mud people” and raises them up to his heavens-that is a mystery. As the Eastern fathers say, God became man so that man might become God. (Apparently, I picked up a little bit from all of those Fr. Hopko talks my dad made me listen to as a kid.) This is something that I love to think about and struggle with. God became man. He descended so that we might ascend. Why? Because he loves us, he loves us at a total risk to himself. He loves people who desert him and ignore him and reject him and deny him and betray him…and he loves us. Regardless of anything we do, he loves us.

This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His.

He is born. He comes into the world. He is born in poverty. He is born in a manger. He who set the stars in motion condescends to be born so that he might raise us up with him and make us to sit in heavenly places. My mind boggles with this. I can accept the basic facts of the Incarnation. God becomes a human infant in the womb of the Theotokos. He is born in Bethlehem. He grows up to adulthood and so forth. I can accept the facts. But to actually think it all through-God becomes a human being while remaining God from before all ages. His incarnation does not change him; it changes us.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields.

Let me say that again. The incarnation does not change God; it changes us. God cannot change or be changed; we humans can and must change.  I don’t have to understand how this happens. God willed it. Nature yielded to God as all things must. That is enough for me. It is enough for all of us. God became man, and in doing so, he changed our humanity. He raised us up when we were powerless, when we were sinners. He entered into our humanity. He felt our pain, our struggle, our hunger, our need-and he loved us in that. He redeemed us in that.

He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.

He came to bring us back to himself. He would not be satisfied until he had won for us an eternal inheritance, that of salvation. He wanted us to see him, to know him. And so he put on mortal flesh. He became a human being out of love for us. He wanted to raise us up and make us to sit in heavenly places with us. (Ephesians 2:6) The Nativity is a central piece of that act, of that plan. God became man.

Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive.

God is now on earth. Let us rejoice! Let us celebrate the feast of the Incarnation. He who is God from before all ages has taken on human flesh, has become a sharer in our humanity so that he may redeem us. The Lord of Hosts has descended to earth. Let us observe the feast with great joy! All glory be to God.

Christ is born! Glorify him!

Christos Razdajetsja! – Slavite Jeho!

CHRISTOS GENNATAI! DOXASETE!

Your Birth, oh Christ our God, has shed upon the world the light of knowledge. For through it those who worshipped the stars have learned from a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to know You, the Dawn from on high. Glory be to You, o Lord!

-Troparion for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus

The All-Avengers Nativity Play

Preface: Even nerdy good Catholic girls need to have fun sometimes. Also, I love The Best Christmas Pageant Ever a bit too much.

Mary: Sharon Carter; she’s Steve’s love interest and therefore an automatic shoe-in for the spouse of St. Joseph-and the Mother of our Lord.  Also, she gives off that good, wholesome girl vibe that is crucial to all Christmas play Marys-except for the Best One Ever.

Joseph: Steve “Captain America” Rogers; he’s the All-American boy. What other role could the all-American boy play? Quarterback, St. Joseph in the church pageant, Rescuer of Kittens in Trees…the All-American Boy does it all.

The Archangel Gabriel: Vision because that makes sense. He is named Vision; he has an Infinity Stone in his forehead. He is perfect. He probably won’t agree to wear feathery wings, but we’ll live as long as he wears the white robe.

Shepherd #1: Cliff “Hawkeye” Barton; he’ll be wearing his own bathrobe and grumbling like the grumpy old soul that he is.

Shepherd #2: Maria Hill; she demands a proper costume. She will NOT wear Clint’s old bathrobe. (Trust me; he offered.) Mercifully, Sharon Carter will find something for her in Peggy Carter’s old things.

Shepherd #4: Thor Odinson; he will love every moment of it-while wearing Clint’s old bathrobe. It will be too short for him, and Steve will tactfully loan him a pair of plaid pajama pants.

The Innkeeper: Natasha “Black Widow” Romanov; she’ll end up with some red in her ledger from this role but that will hopefully lead to a later reformation.

Caspar: Bruce “Hulk” Banner; he’s there for the comfy costume and to support the “Keep Tony Calm” movement. He doesn’t really care about the gold that he’s offering. He does, however, enjoy the chance to borrow Thor’s cape for the role.

Balthasar: James “Rhodey” Rhodes; he comes to both bring myrrh and try to control Tony Stark.

Melchior: Tony “Iron Man” Stark; sure, he’ll complain endlessly about giving “This Kid” incense when that stuff reeks and we should be giving him robots or something, but he’ll also bring a certain level of gravitas to the role.

The Angel Who Warned Joseph in a Dream: Nick Fury-because that’s obvious.

Herod: Loki; he will enjoy all of the villainy. He also enjoys getting to wear a crown. In fact, he puts himself in charge of obtaining crowns to ensure that his crown is bigger and better than anything worn by the Magi. They are puny kings; he is the best king.

Special Notes: The baby Jesus doll is a mint-condition doll from Peggy Carter’s personal collection that Sharon Carter graciously loaned to the production. The doll was from Peggy’s childhood in England, but it was never used as Peggy never had much use for dolls.

We would also like to take a moment to thank Mrs. Laura Barton (wife of Clint) for all of her assistance in providing costuming and to thank Steve Rogers for all of his work in designing and constructing the scenery. Mr. Rogers would like to thank Bucky Barnes for all of his assistance in constructing the set.

We hope you enjoy tonight’s performance, and we look forward to having you join us for cookies and punch in the church hall after tonight’s performance.

Thank you for all of your love and support! Merry Christmas!

Pepper Potts and Wanda Maximova, Co-Directors

(All promotional considerations provided by Stark Industries.)