Christmas 1918 With the Fighting 69th

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Christmas Mass on the Rhine! In 1916, our midnight mass was under the open sky along the Rio Grande; in 1917, in the old medieval church at Grand in the Vosges; now, thank Heaven, in this year of grace, 1918, we celebrated it peacefully and triumphantly in the country with which we had been at war. Attendance was of course voluntary, but I think the whole regiment marched to the service with the band preceding them playing “Onward Cristian Soldiers” and “Adeste Fideles.” We took full possession of the Church, though many of the townsfolk came in, and when at the end, our men sang the hymn of Thanksgiving, “Holy God, we praise Thy name” the Germans swelled our chorus in their own language “Grosser Gott wir loben Dich.” I preached on the theme “Can the war be ascribed to a failure on the part of Christianity?” I have been often irritated by ideas on this subject coming from leaders of thought who have given little place or opportunity to Christianity in their lives or projects. As Chesterton says: “Christianity has not been tried out and found wanting; Christianity has been tried — a little — and found difficult.”

Father Francis P. Duffy, Chaplain, Sixty-Ninth New York

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