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Christmas Cheer

Last night most of our regular columnists and a couple of dozen supporters and well-wishers of The Catholic Thing met and mingled to share with each other some Christmas cheer. (Ralph McInerny was away in Florida working on his tan; Austin Ruse and the papal nuncio were at the residence working on each other; and George Marlin was in Philadelphia just working). But Catholic beverages, of the kind that Our Lord made at Cana in His first and most humane miracle (at his blessed Mother’s behest) were consumed in an appropriate spirit by those present. And we also enjoyed some simple fare that was of a decidedly Roman nature.

This event turned a bit awkward for me because of the sheer enthusiasm of so many of our friends and the different emphases of our writers. It’s nice to be liked, but daunting to find so many people who regularly expect us to carry the ball on offense and play prevent on defense. Fr. James V. Schall, a longtime friend who has been an indispensable voice for decades, praised our efforts for their light and agile energy. Michael Novak (speaking of indispensable voices) remarked that we were in the center of that great, hearty, Catholic vein which he said Chesterton had called “a thick steak, a pint of stout, and a cigar.” And Hadley Arkes – well you all know Hadley – we were all ready to follow him on to the tenth (or is it eleventh?) and final crusade by the time he was done. Out of these figures is our hopeful Thing made.

Mary Eberstadt, ever down to earth, reminded everyone of what she delicately described as the present writer’s noble call upon all the contributors to work for little or nothing (to my great surprise, though I know to a certitude that we have the greatest lineup of Catholic writers in the world, they haven’t wised up yet). As a side benefit, about half of Washington’s best thinkers and doers on marriage, family, politics, and bioethics showed up. Our managing editor, Kirk Kramer, arrived with new wife on his arm (just to be clear, his first, not a replacement). Be assured, we toasted each other and you, dear readers.

I wish you all could have been with us. We hope to post some photos here before long so that you can at least participate at a distance. If you are a regular reader of The Catholic Thing you may not be surprised at the enthusiasm or the fact that we are widely read now in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. But you might be surprised to learn that we have readers in places like Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa. (I believe it because Google Analytics tells me so.) The beauty of putting excellent Catholic material on the Internet is that it can mirror, after a fashion, Nicholas of Cusa’s famous definition of God as a being “whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”

But we non-divine beings do have limits, and we have to depend upon the support of our friends and readers to keep bringing you The Catholic Thing. By now, I don’t think I have to convince you that you can rely on TCT to deliver to you each morning some of the best commentary you will find anywhere. In January, we will begin our seventh month of publishing and, Deo volente, and with your help, look forward to being with you regularly throughout 2009, when, as many said last evening, we will have plenty of work.

If you want to help make that happen, you can do two things.

First, invite as many people as you can to read The Catholic Thing regularly. Though I’m gratified by the size of our readership after so short a time, one of my constant concerns is reaching our full audience. In 2009, we will be putting some serious resources into making sure that every person who values clear Catholic thought turns to our site daily.

Which, among other things, is why we need a second favor: make a financial contribution. You were quite generous when I asked you in the fall to make your own contributions to our work. So I’ll simply ask you again to click over at Donate [1] and either make an immediate credit card donation or simply send a check to: The Catholic Thing, c/o Faith & Reason Institute, 666 Eleventh Street NW, Suite 450, Washington, D.C. 20001. All contributions are tax-deductible.

We continue to keep things simple, because that’s what most of you tell me you like about TCT. You don’t have to go fishing around various websites to find commentary on the most salient questions from a Catholic perspective. Our columns are front and center when you click onto the site – and make no apologies about being Catholic. So if you like this sort of thing, you can make your own personal contribution by acting today to support The Catholic Thing.

Wishing you a very blessed Christmas and holy New Year.

Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent books are Columbus and the Crisis of the West and A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.