I watched the Roman Catholic Christmas Mass last night believing it may well be the last by the current Pope, whom I greatly admire as a man of faithful achievement. I know that what I am saying here may insult and perhaps anger my Catholic Christian brothers, but I am not criticizing them personally, only what their church does. So please accept my heartfelt apology if you are offended. My overall impression is that of "much wealth attempting humility of the poor". That is, gold robes, gold sashes, gold trimmings, gold cups, gold candle stands, fine-leather bound books, much pomp and "pageantry". Even the exterior stable scene looked better than the house I live in. I have not even imagined a stable with a fireplace, nor a "living room" with a wooden straw filled manger. Am I criticizing Rome? Only in this, If Rome is the church of humility, the trappings should not be opulent. I came away with the impression that I was seeing man's version of heaven, and not surroundings into which the King of Kings was born. I did not see one person in attendance that could be considered a poverty case or underprivileged. Most men were dressed in tuxedos or other highly formalwear the women in formal attire. Those in poverty, which the church espouses as a basic tenet, were not in the least visible. What I witnessed was an expensive production for the wealthy. Seems to me an open display of hipocracy. The words the pope spoke did not seem discernable in any language. No, I am not criticizing a faithful old man, but the words simply were not intelligible. And no, I did not expect the event to performed in the English language, however audible groans with no apparent tonal inflections and syllabic pronunciation does not convey a message in any language. And if there had been no announcer reading from a script, the meaning of the event would not have been evident. But then, those who already have accepted the Gospel message were the only one's watching, so I suppose it does not matter. All the others were out partying or were stuck in traffic on some crowded byway. Yes, the "show" was one of grandeur, opulence, and was a tremendous spectacle. However, there was nothing that related to the poverty, or squalid surroundings into which the King of Kings entered this world. I also watched the Midnight Christmas celebration of some "First Presbyterian Church". Though not as spectacular and opulent as the Roman celebration, it too neglected the truth while presenting the story. And while fully understandable linguistically, and while the music was wonderful and expertly performed, the program left one with the impression that Jesus was born in an opulent downtown Metropolitan birthing center. There was nothing to tie the truth of scripture, or tradition, to the reality. I also watched the Zefferelli movie on Jesus and was thrilled with the effort expended to bring the reality to the screen, and I complement Zefferelli for that effort. I was reading the scriptures as the movie was playing, and though not 100% accurate to common scripture, the movie brought to life the characters in the scriptures in a very believeable fashion. And Yes, the Gospel message was clearly presented.