Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tonight's Sing-A-Long

The original words to everybody's favorite song at 12:00 Midnight.

"What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

Happy New Year!

Whereas...Be It Resolved

It was my resolution for 2005; it remains my resolution for 2006.

Go Forward.

Yes, that seems to be a very general and rather vague phrase. What it means to me is not to be in the same place I am right now, in any way, shape, form, or regard. To change. To grow. To be on my way to something, eye on the prize while also enjoying the trip.

If you asked me if I was happy with my life, the answer would be unhesitant and resounding: "No." Life has been calling everything about me into question for some time now; my lack of employment has only amplified the sound. Rumor has it this could be called a "mid-life crisis." It is more akin to a Thoreauvian explanation.

But that is why there are times to review and restart: Advent, the beginning of a new calendar year, Lent. (And with my birthday falling as it does, the mid-year on the calendar as well.) I am also reminded of something I once heard. You can never start over (meaning to go back to the beginning), but you can always start again (meaning to pick up where you were stopped).

There is a part of me deep down that is very scared. I feel like I am running out of chances to get things right in my life, like I can't make any more mistakes. It is that fear which is somewhat paralyzing. I have an overly cautious nature as it is; I succumb to "paralysis by analysis" easily enough.

So I must overcome this inaction due to fear of failing. It is always been my biggest roadblock. Too much thinking; not enough doing. How fortunate this liturgical year focuses on the Gospel of St. Mark. There is a common thread throughout the various readings heard from this writer. It was the theme of John Paul II upon his ascent to the Chair of Peter. It is the words of Jesus Christ seen time and time again in Mark.

"Be not afraid."

Go Forward. To Him. With Him. In Him.

Stay tuned; 2006, I hope, will be much better.

See you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Meet My (Canon) Lawyer

There are rules, and then there are rules.

Yes, we have the Ten Commandments and the Six Precepts of the Church to follow. But the Church also has a code to follow.

The Code of Canon Law.

While these regulations have developed over the history of the Church, they were first codified in 1917 and then amended in 1983.

To see "the tip of the iceberg," let me introduce you to Dr. Edward Peters. He provides us with two great sources of information. One is his 'blog on how Canon Law can (and perhaps sometime should?) be applied, giving his opinion on topics that ocassional arise. (Please check out the archives regarding the Terri Schiavo ordeal and the "communion for pro-choice Catholic" debate.) The other is his own personal webpage, a resource into how to apply this in one's life.

In Light of The Law is the name of his 'blog. CanonLaw.info is his webpage.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another 'Blog

The Anchoress, in linking to a post of this 'blogger some time ago, said he was (and I paraphrase here) "taking out the baseball bat to use on this subject."

If you look at his photo, he doesn't need a baseball bat. His intellectual heft matches his physical prowess as well. He provides a great perspective on things Catholic.

Welcome Gerald Augustinus and his 'blog The Cafeteria Is Closed.

(Hey, a man who loves cats can't be that tough, can he?)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Twelve Days" Myth

Fact or Fiction: The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is meant to be a teaching device for children to learn some articles of the Faith.

Contrary to popular opinion, no.

Snopes.com has a page devoted to what is true and false about this seasonal song. You will find the article here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Expanding The Roll

I have waited too long to add this gentleman to my 'blog roll.

Rich Leonardi is a husband and father from Cincinnatti, OH. His 'blog is a great mix of happenings in and around his city and thoughts on the Faith. An occasional contributor to Catholic Exchange, he writes in a simple, yet direct way, with plenty of food for thought. His subtitle, "The Observations of a Seditious Catechist," is very apt.

Ten Reasons is the name of his 'blog. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Box Full Of Kisses

Another of those e-mail circulated stories:

The story goes that some time ago a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty. He yelled at her, "Don't you know when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside it?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl and begged for her forgiveness.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for many years; and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense each of us as humans have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family, or God.

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

The Christmas Rifle

Here is another of those stories that probably gets passed around in e-mails. It is an unknown author:

Pa never had such compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today,"

Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.

Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them tome and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.

We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children--sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.

She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out. "We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time.

She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, 'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.

Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Remember the spirit of Christmas and may it be in your hearts all year around.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Wish From Santa And Me

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

"A Visit From St. Nicholas"
Clement Clark Moore

"Behold, I Bring You Good News"

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono:
A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:
A nativitate Abrahae, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:
A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:
Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:
Hebdomoda sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:
Olympiade centesima nongentesima quarta:
Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:
Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo:
Toto urbe in pace composito:
Sexta mundi aetate:
Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:
NATIVITAS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!

*******

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:
From the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:
From the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:
From Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten:
From David's being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel:
In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad:
From the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:
In the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:
The whole world being in peace:
In the sixth age of the world:
Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH!
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

2005 Christmas Eve Reflection

I would guess many of you, depending on which Mass you attend tonight, will take the opportunity to drive around your community and look at the myriad displays of outdoor lights your neighbors have strung. From the ridiculous to the sublime, we will point them out to our passengers in our vehicles. All will gaze and admire, with just a hint of the wonder of a child and a smile of joy.

We enjoy the lights, especially at this time of the year. But, I have also heard a fair share of people complain about how it gets too dark too soon at night and wish they didn't have to arise still without dawn's early light. The draw of that brightness is seemingly a trait inherent in us. We long for it; we wish it would stay longer.

And yet, we linger in darkness way too long. We seek shadows, wondering what lurks amongst them. We seem to oppose the very thing in which we find delight. And how easy it is to turn away from seeing clearly and toward groping in pitch blackness.

Light and Darkness. The eternal struggle. Mankind is indeed a strange, curious creature.

Yet, why do we do this? In a word--sin. Yes, that most popular topic at your local place of worship. The mystery of iniquity.

I wonder if Satan is winning the battle right now because we do not acknowledge that reality, that we do not admit to ourselves that we are sinners (meaning one who sins). When was the last time you recited the Confiteor at Mass? How long has it been since you confessed "to my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault"? What happen to "naming and claiming," in today's pop psychology vernacular?

Has Satan done a whitewashing? Or can we, like G.K. Chesterton, upon the occasion of a newspaper asking what was wrong with society, reply, "Dear Sir, I am."

Yes, we can return to Light. In fact, it has been here since the world began. Remember, God's first command in Genesis was, "Let there be light!" He did not want darkness. It was the first hint of his Triune nature. It was a clue as to where we were to turn, when at last we were created.

Salvation history repeatedly points out light, reaching its climax in what we celebrate tonight and tomorrow. "The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone....For a child is born to us, a son is given us; on his shoulder dominion rests." (Isaiah 9:1, 5a)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God." "Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of men. The light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it." (John 1:4-5) In fact, when one reads the Gospel of St. John, one finds references to Him as Light: His conversation with Nicodemus, the discourse after forgiving the woman caught in adultery, the man cured of blindness, before He raised Lazarus from the dead, after He entered Jerusalem before His passion.

He offers true Light for He is true Light. He will illuminate us like nothing else, if only we will allow ourselves to be illuminated by Him. And so, led by the star (more light) which led the three kings of the East to the King of Kings, we come to adore Him, Christ the Lord. To behold the radiance of the Light of the World. And in so doing, we can see ourselves; not only the sin and sinfulness, but also the echo of the reality in which God created us, as "very good".

As I sit here in my apartment composing these thoughts, I have very little illuminating my computer screen. There is a seven-bulb set of lights, each inside a translucent red bell that when the lights flash on and off give the impression of them ringing. There is a tall candle serving as the "star" for my glass nativity set, consisting of the three Magi and the Holy Family. And my four-candle wrought iron holder has been transformed from an Advent "wreath" to a Christmas "wreath", complete with white candles.

With a classical music station playing music of the season in the background, "all is calm, all is bright." It is enough to dispel the Darkness. Because "hodie Christus natus est." And because of that, the world, and my world, will be bright.

Ero Cras

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Chorus:
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance. (Chorus)

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. (Chorus)

"Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day"

Friday, December 23, 2005

O Antiphon: God Is With Us

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

(O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.)
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:10-14

Thursday, December 22, 2005

O Antiphon: King Of Kings

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

(O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.)
Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices; They will be acceptable offerings on my altar, and I will enhance the splendor of my house.

Isaiah 60:1-7

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

O Antiphon: Light From Light

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

(O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.)

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, And the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.

Isaiah 8:23b-9:4

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

(O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.)

Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts: Up, go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace,
Who has hewn for himself a sepulcher on a height and carved his tomb in the rock: "What are you doing here, and what people have you here, that here you have hewn for yourself a tomb?"
The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man! He shall grip you firmly
And roll you up and toss you like a ball into an open land To perish there, you and the chariots you glory in, you disgrace to your master's house!
I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;
On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 22:15-25

Monday, December 19, 2005

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

(O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.)
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-10

Sunday, December 18, 2005

O Antiphon: The Law Giver

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

(O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.)
Now will I rise up, says the LORD, now will I be exalted, now be lifted up.
You conceive dry grass, bring forth stubble; my spirit shall consume you like fire.
The peoples shall be as in a limekiln, like brushwood cut down for burning in the fire.
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: "Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?"
He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil--
He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.
Your mind will dwell on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed? Where is he who counted the towers?"
To the people of alien tongue you will look no more, the people of obscure speech, stammering in a language not understood.
Look to Zion, the city of our festivals; let your eyes see Jerusalem as a quiet abode, a tent not to be struck, Whose pegs will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes severed.
Indeed the LORD will be there with us, majestic; yes, the LORD our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the LORD our king, he it is who will save us.
Isaiah 33:10-22

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom

O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

(O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!)
"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

"When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.

"So now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject!
Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Proverbs 8:22-36

Friday, December 16, 2005

Typepad Trouble?

Something's amiss. Literally.

Coming across 'blogs which are hosted by Typepad, I noticed posts from this past week (starting with December 11) are gone.

No matter how large or small, famous or insignificant, there isn't a 'blogger out there who doesn't take pride in their "infinitesimal corner of the universe" and the work they do on it.

I realize that any 'blog hosting site at times has its bugs. I hope it's only a temporary problem for those folks.

(UPDATE 12/17/05: All's well.)

Santa's Little Helper

No, I am not talking about a specific elf. These timeless tips are from the 'blog Miss Cellania. (Fedora Doff to Julie D. at Happy Catholic.)

Wrapping Presents With A Cat
1. Clear large space on table for wrapping present.
2. Go to closet and collect bag in which present is contained, and shut door.
3. Open door and remove cat from closet.
4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.
5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.
6. Go to drawer, and collect transparent sticky tape, ribbons, scissors, labels, etc. . .
7. Lay out presents and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be formed.
8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit and collect string.
9. Remove present from bag.
10. Remove cat from bag.
11. Open box to check present, remove cat from box, replace present.
12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.
13. Try and smooth out paper, realize cat is underneath and remove cat.
14. Cut the paper to size, keeping the cutting line straight.
15. Throw away first sheet as cat chased the scissors, and tore the paper.
16. Cut second sheet of paper to size - by putting cat in the bag the present came in.
17. Place present on paper.
18. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present. Wonder why edges don't reach. Realize cat is between present and paper. Remove cat.
19. Place object on paper, to hold in place while tearing transparent sticky tape.
20. Spend 20 minutes carefully trying to remove transparent sticky tape from cat with pair of nail scissors.
21. Seal paper with sticky tape, making corners as neat as possible.
22. Look for roll of ribbon. Chase cat down hall in order to retrieve ribbon.
23. Try to wrap present with ribbon in a two-directional turn.
24. Re-roll ribbon and remove paper, which is now torn due to cat's enthusiastic ribbon chase.
25. Repeat steps 13-20 until you reach last sheet of paper.
26. Decide to skip steps 13-17 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that is the right size for sheet of paper.
27. Put present in box, and tie down with string.
28. Remove string, open box and remove cat.
29. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for locked room.
30. Once inside lockable room, lock door and start to relay out paper and materials.
31. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close and relock.
32. Repeat previous step as often as is necessary (until you can hear cat from outside door).
33. Lay out last sheet of paper. (This will be difficult in the small area of the toilet, but do your best).
34. Discover cat has already torn paper. Unlock door go out and hunt through various cupboards, looking for sheet of last year's paper. Remember that you haven't got any left because cat helped with this last year as well.
35. Return to lockable room, lock door, and sit on toilet and try to make
torn sheet of paper look presentable.
36. Seal box, wrap with paper and repair by very carefully sealing with sticky tape.
Tie up with ribbon and decorate with bows to hide worst areas.
37. Label. Sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulate yourself on completing a difficult job.
38. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make drink and feed cat.
39. Spend 15 minutes looking for cat until coming to obvious conclusion.
40. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.
41. Go to store and buy a gift bag.

And if that isn't enough aid from your favorite feline friend, here's more they can do, courtesy of the 'blog Richardson Zoo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Still Preparing

With the release of the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", many people are being introduced or reintroduced to C.S. Lewis. I have only read one of his books, "The Great Divorce", and then have only scratched the surface in terms of understanding it.

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Archbishop of Denver, CO, uses the occasion to refer to an essay written by Lewis as a point of departure and asks how we are keeping the season of Advent, as we are halfway through it.

The article is here.

By The Numbers

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

No, I'm afraid Planned Parenthood Federation of America does know what it's doing. (Story courtesy of LifeSiteNews.com.)

Moloch lives.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Light From Shadows


(PHOTO: AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)
"I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock', and upon this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)
(Fedora Doff to Rocco Palma at Whispers In The Loggia.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

From Mary To Jesus

Mark Shea has an article at Catholic Exchange reflecting on how the teaching of Mary's Immaculate Conception fits into "our understanding of the Incarnation".

No Mary, no Incarnation; no Incarnation, no death on the Cross; no death on the Cross, no Resurrection; no Resurrection, no salvation for the world. Get rid of Mary and you don't get a purified faith: you get nothing. That is the consequence of overlooking this often neglected truth.


(UPDATE): Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal has a short post with links about the subject at hand. Check out the comment box; a great dialogue is taking place, including comments by Jimmy Akin and Mark Shea.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Still Believe

The original New York Sun does not exist anymore, as it went out of business in 1949. (There is today, however, a newspaper of the same name.) But it's most famous editorial was written September 21, 1897.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

Francis P. Church pens the answer.

Brief background on the two people (scroll to the bottom).

"The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see."

The Real "Santa Claus"

He is the stuff of legends. But legends have to start somewhere.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Another Joke

No, I won't be starting a "Joke of the Day" post like some people I know. And my style of humor is more along the lines of dry wit. But, on the rare occasion I do find a "groaner", I will share it. Like this one:

Outside a small Macedonian village, close to the border between Greece and strife-torn Yugoslavia, a lone Catholic nun keeps a quiet watch over a silent convent.

She is the last caretaker of a site of significant historic developments. The convent once served as a base for the army of Attila the Hun. In more ancient times, a Greek temple to Eros, the god of love, occupied the hilltop site. The Huns are believed to have first collected and then destroyed a large gathering of Greek legal writs at the site. It is believed that Attila wanted to study the Greek legal system and had the writs and other documents brought to the temple. When the Greek Church took over the site in the 15th Century and the convent was built, church leaders ordered the pagan statue of Eros destroyed, so another ancient Greek treasure was lost. Today, there is only the lone sister, watching over the old Hun base.

And that's how it ends: No Huns, no writs, no Eros, and nun left on base.

I know, I know--don't quit your day job. (Wait a minute: I don't have a day job.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sills Interview

Katelyn and Wynette Sills, the mother/daughter duo in the eye of the storm at Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA), were interviewed by David Hartline of The Catholic Report on November 22. The furor has settled down and they reflect on their experience and the immediate future.