Over the weekend, past participants from the Faith and Reason Summer Program gathered for our annual Epiphany Party. My apologies for not taking photos! Here is the link to last year's party with some photos - you get the idea! After dinner, we dug into the traditional King Cake, and our king and queen had as their first task directing the choir in singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Our evening concluded with discussion and a movie.
The movie this year was "Joyeux Noël," which tells a stylized version of the spontaneous Christmas truces that took place along the front lines in 1914. Before watching the film, we discussed Aquinas's claim that fighting war on a holy day is not a sin so long as it is fought out of necessity. One of the difficult examples to think through on this is Washington's Christmas attack on Trenton. Was it justified using Aquinas's arguments? After looking at this issue, we examined a passage from Josef Pieper's In Tune with the World.
Pieper claims that war is the modern world's replacement for celebration and festivity, and thinking through this helped prepare us for the film.
While I will not attempt a plot summary here, two things stood out from the film. First, the role of music in uniting people and overcoming tragedy. One of my favorite scenes is when the married singers perform before the Crown Prince. "Bist du bei mir" is such a moving song, and the way it is performed captures how it cannot be sung by one who does not know love and true festivity; second, the film seems to avoid openly identifying whether or not the pastor in the film is Catholic. Yet, the celebration of the mass for German, Scottish, and French soldiers marks him off as a Catholic, and it is worth noting that only the Catholic Church could provide such international, devotional union. So, while the film is not a Catholic film in the strict sense, it seems to acknowledge the unique position of the Catholic Church as a communion of faithful across ethnic and national lines.
To everyone who made it, thanks for coming! It was great to see you again, and I look forward to future gatherings. In the meantime, best of luck with your studies, and I hope to see you this June for the Summer Program!