Monday, December 31, 2007

Ring And Sing


Make sure you have the lyrics down as cold as the beverage which you will toast the beginning of 2008.

Celebrate your new beginnings.

Happy New Year!

Dim Reflections

The year has come and gone.

Not a lot of original posts the past twelve months.

Then, again, things have been a struggle.

I thought 2006 was a wild roller-coaster ride.

2007 turned me upside down.

Leaving all that was familiar to me has been a challenge.

Trying to trust God this is the right thing to do.

There is still more fear in me than I want to acknowledge.

I am as good at walking on water as St. Peter.

But, then again, what can I do but repeat my mantra for the last three years.

"Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief."

See you in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Like Deacon, Like King


Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Proof Positive

What do you mean Santa Claus doesn't exist?!

He has his own 'blog.

(I'm amazed he found time to post last night.)

Simple White Envelope

As a reminder of the inspiration and "reason for the season", I pass along this story, sent to me by an acquaintance.

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It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it: the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma--the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids--all kids--and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Christmas Card


"We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."
(Matthew 2:2b)
In Him, may we find what we seek:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
(Luke 2:14)
May Peace, Joy, and Love fill you and those you hold near and dear.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

2007 Christmas Eve Reflection

It started snowing about 3:00 PM today and is falling steadily. In fact, as I am writing this, the area is under a snow advisory until 4:00 AM tomorrow morning. There will be a guaranteed White Christmas this year.

Now living in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, I can see the peaks getting dusted. When it had snowed earlier this fall, I enjoyed looking at the snow upon this range of the Rockies. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing this sight when I arrived here.

Ah, yes, snow-covered mountains. And a desert valley. Quite the contrast to the plains of Iowa and Minnesota, the only other places where I have permanently hung my hat. A most poignant reminder this Midwestern boy has been transplanted to a different time zone.

Mountains, valleys, deserts, and plains. The varied topography I have encountered this year reminded me of this passage:
A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 40:3-5
So, those of you who visit this infinitesimal corner of the universe, I ask you this: How was your preparation this past Advent? Have you removed, as best as you were able, the obstacles in the way so you could get to the Way? Are you ready to see the glory of the Lord, brilliantly disguised as a baby in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger?

Don't worry if you were not successful. (Trust me, I wasn't.) Fulfilling that task is a lifetime process, not one which can be completed in four liturgical "weeks". Progress is also a blessing. Him Who we seek, in His eternal Word, continues to call us to Him. If we hear Him (remember the word "obey" has as it Latin root the word meaning "to hear") and seek Him, His guarantee is we will find Him.

So, like those being enrolled that first Christmas, like the shepherds, like the Magi, we go "to Bethlehem to see this thing that has take place," because we "saw his star at its rising and come to do him homage." We find Joseph and Mary being the holy parents they are, caring for their Son as best as able, surely full of curiosity about all the visitors who came to see the Child, slowly understanding the words they heard from their own angelic visits. We contemplate with our souls what we see with our eyes. We gaze at the Babe; unknowingly, we see the face of God. We meet Love; cor ad cor loquitur.

Venite adoramus, Dominum.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Tonight is just one stop on our journey of faith; we know there will be more.

The first place is the Manager. The next place is the Cross. The final place is the empty Tomb.

The search is over when we grasp this with our whole being.

Ad Orientem

These lyrics caught my attention this Advent.

If nature has properly prepared, so can we.

Fedora Doff to Alkelda the Gleeful at her whimsical 'blog Saints and Spinners for providing the information.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

O Antiphon: God Is With Us


O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

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

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Emmanuel. God is with us. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

Even though man left God, He never left us. The Word was always there: in the rainbow, the visitors to Abraham, the plagues, the cloud, the manna, the tablets, the ark, the temple, the tiny whispering sound, the speech of the prophets and psalmists, and whatever examples you may find elsewhere in the Old Testament.
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe,who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
Hebrews 1:1-3

Echoes of sound and glimmers of light. The faintest sensory perceptions for the soul damaged by Original Sin. Reflections of true reality. All pale in comparison.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14
Emmanuel.

God is with us.

God is still with us.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)
Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God).

Revelations 21:3
++++++++++
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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

O Antiphon: King Of Kings


O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

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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!

++++++++++

It was a question which framed the beginning and end of His life.

A question of identity.

"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." (Matthew 2:2)

Strangers in a strange land, the Magi saw a glimmer of the Light and inquired about to Whom it lead. When told, they were able to hear the Word and find Him, while those who help them wanted to silence the echo. The echo would now grow louder because more would be able to hear it.

"Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33b)

An earthly ruler, feeling threatened by the Word (history does repeat itself, doesn't it?), asked again. He directly heard, but could not respond. In the end, he would help to attempt to silence once and for all the Word.

And even in between those two questions, people wanted to know if they were among royalty.

They were right.

Found in the Book of Revelation (cf. 11:15, 19:6 and 19:16, KJV), used by Charles Jennens in a libretto, and set to music by Georg Frideric Handel, the Word reigns just as true at His birth, death, resurrection, Good Friday of 1742, and today.
Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
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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

Cold Snap


Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Friday, December 21, 2007

O Antiphon: Light From Light


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

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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!

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Return again to the creation story. What was the first thing formed from nothing by the Word? Light. But Who was this Light? St. John gives the answer (and expounds on it further in his first letter):
What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:3b-5)
Yet, once it thought it had succeeded with Adam and Eve, the darkness tried and tried again to overcome the Light during salvation history. But just as the echo of the Word still remained, so did a glimmer of Light. Noah saw it in the rainbow. Moses, who already viewed the burning bush, was privileged to see more than a glimmer on Mt. Siani. The Magi followed a star.

All of these pale when the Word spoke plainly:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b)
++++++++++

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

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom


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.

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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.

++++++++++

How powerful is the Word. From nothing, creation sprang forth when He was uttered. He speaks and the Law is given. Any oration from Him is full of wisdom and truth.

Perhaps, as is suggested in the verse from Isaiah below, the ability to bind and loose is the most powerful message He delivers. To bind a not so heavy yoke upon us, unlike the Pharisees he chastises in His ministry. To loosen us from the bondage of sin. To bind us together as brothers and sisters in Him. To loosen us from the fear which keeps us from loving each other. To bind our sufferings with His. To loosen the grip of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But the most powerful thing this Word says is to the gates of Heaven, "Open. I closed you when Adam and Eve did not listen to Me. Because I now have taken on the nature of the crown of My creation and have redeemed them with My life, because I obeyed My Father, I make it possible for them to enter the Kingdom if they heed My voice. My church, My bride, has been entrusted with My words, My teachings, My sacramental grace to make heeding My voice an easy yoke. Those who heed My church heed My voice, and I will raise them up on the last day."
"The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices."
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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 22:15-2

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree


O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

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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.

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The genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (1-17), the Gospel proclamation for the Mass of Christmas Eve, established Him as a descendant of the royal bloodline of David. It also connects Him to our father in faith, Abraham. Through the trials he endured, the father of many nations faithfully obeyed (heard) the Word.

How appropriate the Word would once again be proclaimed through his lineage. Some 42 generations later, a man who was in that line would have to do the same thing as Abraham. Like his ancestor and his betrothed, Joseph was visited by an angel. The heavenly being brings a similar message which Gabriel announced to Mary. Again, the words were only secondary. Again, the Word is more than an echo.

Like "father of faith," like "son." Two righteous men, the same act of faith. Both obeyed a timeless Word.

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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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

O Antiphon: The Law Giver


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.

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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!

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The first "O Antiphon" speaks of wisdom and how it created order from the chaos. It was the first time the Word was heard clearly and obediently. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed (did not hear), God would not abandon the crowning glory of His creation to death. There were always glimmers of hope in early salvation history when the Word was more than an echo, for example, when Noah and Abraham obeyed the commands given them by God.

It was, however, time for the Word to become, in a sense, visible.

Enter Moses.

God was once again speaking His Word, this time through a mouthpiece which only knew how to stutter. The strange and awesome sight of the burning bush, where and when the Word revealed His name for the first time, was just the opening dialog. The ten plagues was a not so subtle way of getting everyone's attention. The parting of the Red Sea was just an exclamation point.

Now, fast forward to Mount Siani.

The Word was about to become, in a sense, visible.

Recall the scene from the Book of Exodus. God came as a dense cloud. This holy mountain shook from the conversation between God and Moses. The Chosen People were commanded to worthily prepare themselves. Then, on the third day, when God finished speaking to Moses, He then spoke to the Israelites through Moses.

God gave them the Decalogue.

The Word became, in a sense, visible.

Despite it being "ten words" on stone tablets, it is still the undivided Word.

++++++++++
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

Monday, December 17, 2007

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom


O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!

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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!

++++++++++

Looking at the beginning of this antiphon, I am drawn to the opening of the Gospel of St. John, which is proclaimed at the Mass of Christmas Day:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
It is tied together with the creation story found in the first chapter of Genesis. Each day is climaxed by the phrase "Then God said." Each time, the Father, on the breath of the Spirit uttered the Word, His Son, Jesus Christ. "And so it happened." No matter what was created, it came about through the Trinity. The whole of creation from "one end to another" is ordered mightily and sweetly--it is "very good."

Then entered sin.

Then entered the need for salvation.

Throughout salvation history, the Word was uttered repeatedly, from Abraham to Moses to David to the prophets to John the Baptist. Some did heed the Word again, much like Elijah hearing the faint whispering sound (1 Kings 19:11-12). But these utterings were only echoes of Genesis. One knows how faint an echo becomes after the first repetition, no matter how loud the original sound.

So became the need for re-creation. The Word was then uttered "to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary." Note that when she accepted ("Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word"), she was not heeding the words of Gabriel. She heard the Word as clearly as the first fruits of creation.

Et Verbum caro factum est. Et habitavit in nobis.

There would be no more echoes.

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"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

The Countdown Begins Anew

When I served notice I would be re-doing the "O Antiphons" in 2006, Doctor Thursday left this in the comment section:
...These ancient titles inspire and excite and are so beautiful as well as instructive. Indeed they shall not go out of style; here (almost like that line from St. Augustine) we have words and tokens, some thousands of years old - and they are cast in electronic form and "sent out to all the earth"! Something in the Gospel about the wise steward who brings both the old and the new...
Besides: this is the very best part of Advent, where we and the Church get to "count down" to Christmas, just like little kids... Oh, that's right: "unless you become like little kids, you shall by no means enter the Kingdom"....
I also know the Happy Catholic promoted them (and, Julie, I am still ever so appreciative of that).

Once again, "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something purple" (I have read where a specific shade of dark blue is used instead; but, as much as I personally enjoy that color, I will stick with the liturgically correct hue).

The return begins later today.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Breaking The Silence: Part I

My small readership will notice my location has changed.

There are also other curious people who noticed as well.

This portion of a personal e-mail, sent to me September 21 by a former member of CatholicSingles.com, is a summary of what people are asking:
Ok, Mr. Ron...

It appears an update is in order. I was out cruising the website, and lo and behold.... Rollingrj is no longer in MN! Who, What, Where, and When???
I will even include "Why" and answer all those questions.

It is long overdue.

Over the summer, there was a cosmic event in my life. In the grand scheme of the universe, it was barely a blip. In my infinitesimal corner of the universe, it was a major event.

By The Numbers

June 1 of this year started a new round of unemployment for me. In filing my claim, I had to supply wage information to the state agency which oversees unemployment insurance, something my former employer failed to do. After a month, I was approved. However, a bleak picture became even bleaker.

I was eligible for a benefit of $102 a week for twenty weeks. If there is a mathematician or economist who could have explained to me how to make that into a $540 a month rent payment and allow me to pay my other bills, I would have listened. Speaking of rent, did I mention my apartment lease was to expire on July 20?

These ingredients were added to the leftover in the stockpot from last I was seeking a job. The area was still not a place where I could not get an interview, much less a job. Even if I could, another figure was staring me in the face. As I was reviewing the starting wages for the full-time positions I had since 1996, they were all at $7.00/hr. That wasn't going to change either.

The handwriting was on the wall and I could clearly read it. A town which hosted a medium-sized university and could afford to pay for the inexpensive labor that lived basically next door to me (the campus was directly west of the apartment complex) was not the place for me anymore.

I had to leave.

I had no choice.

Horace Greeley Lives

The next question was where. Although I had family in the area, they were in no position to help me with living quarters, much less my (lack of) transportation issue, much less economically. Nor did I want to impose on them. But I did have an option.

Another person whom I met through CatholicSingles.com and have an on-going relationship (in fact, I had gotten her interesting in 'blogging) has known of this trial in my life. In fact, I vacationed at her home for the first two weeks of June, wanting and needing the time away to take a step back and assess my situation. As the status quo remained status quo, an invitation she presented to me before my visit was now becoming the only viable solution to my problem.

On July 13, I accepted.

"Go West, young man."

The Long Good-Bye

I now had ten days to get my affairs in order, as I arranged with the property manager to stay until July 23. Most of my personal belongings were already packed, the results of an ill-advised attempt to change locale two year earlier. I was able to rent a 5' x 10' storage shed about a mile from the apartment and borrow a large cargo van from my former employer to help with moving. My best friend, a fellow soccer referee and referee instructor, helped me as much as he could in packing a few things in boxes, shifting most things to the shed, and shipping some things to my new address.

The sports officiating community was the group most needing a formal good-bye. Letters of resignation were sent to two different officials associations, one in which I was an officer. I also wrote to my volleyball partner and referee of the football crew I was involved, a tough thing to do since the season was to start in about five weeks.

A formal good-bye to my parish also included a letter to my pastor, who was enjoying a vacation during this time. My last Sunday Mass there was July 15, where a missionary priest was the celebrant. I do wish the "good-byes" could have been more personal, but time was short with me.

I did, however, have somewhat of a "farewell tour."

Kicking It

My last four days were when I did all of my moving and shipping. I did, however, manage to make my last "public" appearances, all involving soccer refereeing.

July 19 saw me working a youth game which had been re-scheduled due to weather issues, a game I was originally assigned. As I was walking toward the touch line I was to patrol, I briefly spoke to the home team captain, who was also a soccer referee. I made mention to him that this was my last game here. He was genuinely surprised, but he didn't know all the details.

The weekend took me to a city about 60 miles south of Mankato, where a qualifying tournament for advancement to the state tournament was being held. Here I was among people who knew me and what I had done for the soccer refereeing community in the area, humble as the contribution was. All the teams there did not have the sharpest of skill; they played because they wanted to play. The effort made for an enjoyable tournament.

That Sunday was also when I was able to say "good-bye" to my mother. We had made arrangements to meet after Mass that morning. We talked for about 45 minutes; I was caught up on the news of my immediate family. She was concerned (as all mothers would be, no matter how old their child) about my new living arrangement. I assured her this was the best thing I could do. A handful of money, a hug, and a kiss; then we went our separate ways.

After the last games of the tournament, I was able to finish packing and storing. After dropping off the keys at the office, I spent my last night at my best friend's home.

Road Warrior

I had purchased my bus ticket a week earlier. Now, on July 23, I was about to hit the highway. The bus was scheduled to leave at about 8:00 AM; it didn't leave until 8:45. I still feel fortunate I travel well; this was going to be a long trip.

Around 12:30 PM, we pulled into Sioux Falls, SD. It was our first change over; it was also a four-hour layover. We left the terminal at about 4:30 PM.

During this leg of the route, we had a short stop in Sioux City, IA, where I had lived before my move to Mankato. I hadn't seen the downtown area for about ten years; with memory being a sad privilege, I could tell how things had changed. It was another fond, if quiet, good-bye.

The bus pulled into the terminal in Omaha, NE at about 8:00 PM. What was supposed to be a one-hour transfer and layover took two. On the road by about 9:00, this movie occupied some time before I got comfortable enough to get some sleep.

When I awoke, I was just outside of Denver, CO where we pulled in at 6:00 AM on July 24 and transfered to a new bus at 7:00. Now came the longest part of the trip. The route took us north to Wyoming before it turned west. Going up and down the Continental Divide, seeing the ruggedness of this part of the Rocky Mountains made this a tedious and seemingly slow part of the trip.

It was. We were on the bus for 11-1/2 hours.

The Final Stop

Finally, at about 6:30 PM, the end of the line for me came: Salt Lake City, UT. I disembarked from the bus for the last time. A welcoming party of one was waiting for me.

Welcome to my new home.

Farmington, Utah.

Just east of the Great Salt Lake, just west of the Wasatch Mountains.

Fifteen minutes from the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

As it was Pioneer Day when I arrived here, a local amusement park conducted a fireworks show that night in celebration.

It seemed a fitting way to end this chapter of my life.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Candle, Candle

It is that time of the liturgical season again.

Funny how it comes once a year.

I offer my post from 2005, Candle Time, for the inspiration to prepare for Christmas by bringing forth this sacramental.

"Prepare the way of the Lord."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quotable On Notes


St. Cecilia's Music Society's Tiffany window, Grand Rapids, MI.

With tomorrow also being the feast of St. Cecilia, I present more quotes about what is one of my passions: music.
The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, "Is there a meaning to music?" My answer would be, "Yes." And "Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?" My answer to that would be, "No."
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
US composer

There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.
The Mill on the Floss, 1860
George Eliot (1819-1880)
English novelist

Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.
John Erskine (1879-1951)
US author & educator

Music is a discipline, and a mistress of order and good manners, she makes the people milder and gentler, more moral and more reasonable.

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
German religious reformer

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)
US author & physician

Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.
Robert Fripp

When griping grief the heart doth wound,
and doleful dumps the mind oppresses,
then music, with her silver sound,
with speedy help doth lend redress.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Greatest English dramatist & poet

Feast Song


It is always a most appropriate hymn anytime of the year. For tomorrow, it rings even truer:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Count your blessings. Remember, you are what you eat.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Seven Score And Four Year Ago

The Wikipedia entry gives you all the information you need.

In the month where we as Catholics honor the dead, this speech is an eloquent testimony to those who gave the ultimate measure. It is also a reminder that we, no matter how ordinary or mundane our lives, hallow the ground where we are by our existence and essence:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
144 years later, the world does not little note.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Help From Above

Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said that one man plus courage makes a majority.

In this case, it helps to be encouraged by God.

Let's pray her efforts are successful.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Communion Of Saints

As the Church Militant admires the Church Triumphant and aids the Church Suffering the next two days, may this hymn remind us we are truly all in this together.

++++++++++

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:

Refrain

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.

Refrain

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.

Refrain

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.

Refrain

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Changing Colors


One final burst of color for this part of the world before the black, white, and gray of winter arrive. On this first day of fall, here are the obvious lyrics for the season and how they came to be.

Do some leaf peeping if you are able.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Turn The Page

Well, I have limped to the finish line of another year of 'blogging.

Not as dramatic as my first year, but holding on and muddling through seemed to be the watch words.

I hope it was nothing more than a "sophomore jinx," that Year 3 will be the start of a revival.

I know I have a small audience. Looking at the reports from Sitemeter, however, gives me some encouragement. When I am posting consistently, I am drawing more visitors. To provide quality is now (and has always been) the goal.

Starting over, meaning beginning from scratch, is not an option. Starting again, meaning continuing from where I am, is.

And so it goes.

And so I go.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remember Again

Today is now nationally known as "Patriots Day" (with, I hope, some apologies to the people of Massachusetts and the original).

It is a day we wish we could forget.

It is a day we cannot forget.

Without a doubt, this will be the topic on 'blogs today. I encourage my small readership to peruse those posts which interest you. My offering on this day will be my posts from last year:

Time And Place
Remembering Flight 93
Rally Time
Images Of Hope

So many prayer intentions from this moment. Remember these if you would:

1. The souls of all who died.
2. Those who still mourn.
3. Those who seek a just solution.
4. Forgiveness toward our enemies.
5. Our enemies (didn't Someone command us to do this?).
6. The courage to continue the fight.
7. Peace.

May we honor this day in a noble and dignified manner.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sotto Voce

I was told the news last night while at my first choir rehersal.

I knew of his illness but never about its severity.

The ultimate curtain call.

Brava, Maestro.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fifth Glorious Mystery

A most appropriate prayer for this day:

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae: vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Amen.

++++++++++

Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.
And after this our exile show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Amen.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back To The Future

Mark down this date.

July 7, 2007 (and you don't think the numerologists don't get the significance of it?).

This day will be known as when the "reform of the reform" officially began.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has finally issued the long awaited moto proprio allowing parish priests to use of the Mass of Pius V, more commonly known as the Tridentine Latin Mass (TLM), alongside the current Missa Novus Ordo.

In allowing the TLM to be used, it is not replacing the present form of the Mass. It allows a priest to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with this rite if there is a suitable number of the faithful who request it. The papal document removes the requirement of having the local bishop approve such a request.

Amy Wellborn at Open Book provides a good start on what this means.

Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester has a good round-up of reactions from "the ususal suspects" and a post with more implications about this.

For an excellent source of articles and posts, go no further than Gerald Augustinus at The Cafeteria Is Closed. Choose from this menu.

Jimmy Akin writes about it and also adds his own insights.

(UPDATE) Karen Hall at Some Have Hats throws in her thoughts.

There is certainly much to digest, if you visit the myriad of 'blogs that will have something to say about this, whether celebrating or critizing.

But think about this bit of irony:

Many Protestant churches have a "traditional" and "contemporary" service on the same Sunday (however you wish to define those words).

Perhaps the same idea will be coming soon to a Catholic church near you.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One More Time

It's time to add another candle to the cake.

No, don't get a fire extinguisher.

Don't get any trick candles, either.

With all the trials in my life at the moment, the last lines of Max Ehrmann's Desiderata are still my goal:

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Half In, Half Out

I don't live to 'blog nor 'blog to live. Rick Lugari, when informing me of my acceptance to the "B-Team", noted how moderate I was as a 'blogger. The number is about right.

55%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

I also mentioned a long time ago this was not going to overtake my life. I admit to having lost some interest, but I have more pressing concerns at the moment. I hope, when I get my feet under me again, I will be more consistant in posting.

Fedora doff to Julie D., the Happy Catholic.

Independence Day Reprints

My posts from last year are linked for your convenience:

Let Freedom Ring

Birth Certificate

Happy 230th. Birthday (now 231st.)

May you enjoy all the feasting and fireworks!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Working Stiff Again

Unfortunately, it's not me; but it is a member of St. Blogs who deserves this blessing more than I.

Domenico Bettinelli has succeeded in finding new employment. Last Monday, he began his new position with the Archdiocese of Boston, MA. It is a job which fits his skills very well. I wish him the best there.

There is my example of perserverence and faith.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Solstice Songs

Got to love George Gershwin. For the first day of summer, how can you not recall these lyrics from "Porgy and Bess"?

Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry
One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky
But till that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma
Standing by
Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

But then, if you want perhaps the first song which praises the season, go here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Man Of The Moment

His role in this day and age has been diminished and ridiculed, scorned and despised, mocked and derided.

Ask St. Joseph.

It is considered obsolete, unneeded, insignificant.

Ask God if that is untrue.

It may be "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world," but it is this presence which provides more stablility and assurance than is realized.

Ask any child.

The world may beat down what it means, but it will never find a suitable replacement.

Ask Jesus. I don't think He could have gotten along without His two Fathers.

Neither can we.

If you haven't already, whether living or dead, thank him for his providence in your life.

Appreciation is enough of a reward.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Closing Time

About 20 minutes ago I just returned from my last shift at the convenience store. Although we normally close at midnight, the past two nights have seen the doors locked at 11:00 PM.

As much as we got business by word of mouth, people were still surprised to discover we were going out of business. There were a few last minute customers tonight, which delayed only slightly the inevitable.

I spent the last nine days with closing responsibilities. Long nights with little to do at times. Marking time. Sometimes it seems like a death watch.

As a small token of the owner's appreciation, I was able to take home about $40 worth of groceries for free. It will come in handy.

Somewhat sad right now. Reality gently tapped me on the shoulder as I was working.

Once again, I join the ranks of the unemployed.

A new trial begins.

Definitely walking by faith and not by sight.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"They Have Not Died In Vain"

Kim Komando has created at her website a series of links in honor of Memorial Day.

This link will take you to her page where you can brouse her selections.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tongues Of Fire

These links will take you back to the two posts associated with today's Feast Day:

Prayer To The Holy Spirit

Hymn For Pentecost

This link will take you to the lyrics to another familiar hymn.

Let us be one in the Spirit.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Second Greatest Love


It is first and foremost a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the sentiment I think we all deep down inside have for our own maternal parent, whether known or unknown, living or deceased. On this day to honor Mom, in the month which honors the ultimate Mom, a hymn to express what we sometimes cannot.
++++++++++

Chorus:

On this day, O beautiful Mother,
On this day we give thee our love.
Near thee, Madonna, fondly we hover,
Trusting thy gentle care to prove.

Verse 1:

On this day we ask to share,
Dearest Mother, thy sweet care.
Aid us ere our feet astray
Wander from they guiding way.

Verse 2:

Queen of angels, deign to hear
Lisping children's humble pray'r,
Young hearts gain, O virgin pure,
Sweetly to thyself allure.

++++++++++

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Unexpected News

I just returned from a brief meeting of all the employees from the convenience store where I work.

The store will be closing May 31.

The reasons given were a new store coming into the area which would cut into our inside sales and the cost ineffectiveness of meeting state inspection requirements.

While there were rumors circulating, none which I heard until last night, it still came as a complete surprise to all.

A half-hearted job search now needs to become whole-hearted.

Julie D., I still need to be on your prayer list.

It took me 25 months to find this.

Now what?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Rekindling The Flame

"To Those In Darkness, Light" takes you back to the post where the Exultet is reprinted.

Truer words were never chanted.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Musical Inquiries

What response have you to this?

Can you answer these three questions?

How about this one?

There is only one reply:

"We adore you, O Christ, and we praise You; because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world."

Merciful Reminder

Good Friday begins the Novena of Divine Mercy. "Jesus, I Trust In You" is the post from which you can glean information about this devotion.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Two For Two On Two


Has it been two years?

John Paul II, we do miss you.

Benedict XVI is doing just fine.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Seven Up Again

I will be re-posting my series of meditations from 2006 on the "Seven Last Words".

I hope you will fine them as worthy of your attention this time as you did last time.

Just food for thought on our way to the Easter Banquet.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Last Piece Of The Puzzle?

This AP story should make its way around St. Blog's.

Considering the timing, when compared to how the Church moves, this is "subito".

UPDATE: The Curt Jester also has a post regarding this.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Teaching Moment

A bishop's three-fold mandate is to teach, sanctify, and rule (cf Compendium 326). The late Fulton J. Sheen shows his mastery of the first of these:
There never can be a birth without love. In this the maiden was right. The begetting of new life requires the fires of love. But besides the human passion which begets life, there is the "passionless passion and wild tranquility" of the Holy Spirit; and it was this that overshadowed the woman and begot in her Emmanuel or "God with us." At the moment Mary pronounced Fiat or "Be it done," something greater happened than the Fiat lux (Let there be light) of creation; for the light that was now made was not the sun, but the Son of God in the flesh....

Children come into the world not always as a result of a distinct act of love of man and woman. Though the love between the two be willed, the fruit of their love, which is the child, is not willed in the same way as their love for one another. There is an undetermined element in human love....But in the Annunciation, the Child was not accepted in any unforeseen way; the Child was willed. There was a collaboration between a woman and the Spirit of Divine Love. The consent was voluntary under the Fiat; the physical cooperation was freely offered by the same word....

As the fall of man was a free act, so too the Redemption had to be free. What is called the Annunciation was actually God asking the free consent of a creature to help Him to be incorporated into humanity.

Life of Christ

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.

Indeed.

Literally and truly awesome.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One Poet, One Change Of Season

I remembered this poem about this astronomical day.

I didn't know he also wrote another one on the same subject.

Enjoy.

"For, lo, the winter is past...."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Live And In Color

The installation of Auxiliary Bishop John C. Wester as 9th. Bishop of Salt Lake City, UT is taking place as of this post.

The Diocesan newspaper, the Intermountain Catholic, is streaming a broadcast of the ceremony on its website.

Fedora Doff to Catherine Garcia of Life Behind The Zion Curtain for the info.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Meme: Alphabet Info

Julie D. tagged me with this one in January. Sorry it's taken so long to prep:

A is for Age: 44.

B is for Beer of choice: Tee-totaler here.

C is for Career: Currently a clerk in a convenience store and a sports official. Hopefully in the future a choir director at a university.

D is for favorite Drink: Chocolate Milk.

E is for Essential item you use everyday: Eyeglasses (yes, Julie someone in the 'blogosphere is going to have a different answer for this one!)

F is for Favorite song at the moment: Nothing at this time.

G is for favorite Game: Any board or card game in general. Monopoly and Scrabble top the list at the moment.

H is for Home town: State Center, IA. The place where I left my heart.

I is for Instruments you play: Voice--the only instrument created by God. I also played the trumpet from 5th. Grade to my 5th. year as a college student. Still have it.

J is for favorite Juice: Orange, with Grape a close second.

K is for Kids: Zero.

L is for Last Kiss: A gentleman never kisses and tells.

M is for Marriage: Still single and never married.

N is for full Name: Ronald Joseph.

O is for Overnight hospital stays: Never.

P is for Phobias: Succeeding and Failing.

Q is for Quote: I found this on the facade of the Auditorium in Sioux City, IA; it has made a great impression on me: "There is no conquest greater than that of self."

R is for biggest Regret: Not one big one, but I seeming say "what if..." quite a bit.

S is for Sports: Running and Bicycling as a participant; just about anything as a spectator.

T is for Time you wake up: Between 7 and 8:30 AM.

U is for color Underwear: Isn't this along the lines of the "boxers or briefs" question asked to former President Bill Clinton? No comment.

V is for Vegetable you love: Corn.

W is for Worst Habit: Procrastination.

X is for X-rays you've had: Right Foot (Sprain), Left Hand (Fractured Index Finger), Abdomen (Kidney Stone).

Y is for Yummy food you make: I make a very simple goulash: 3 cups elbow macaroni, 1 pound ground beef (sometimes 1.25 pounds ground turkey or 7 ounces small shrimp), and a 28 ounce can of spaghetti sauce. Other than that, I have the sharpest can opener in town.

Z is for Zodiac sign: Cancer.

Play along if you wish.

Funny Strange?

This is neither practical nor a joke.

More details to follow, perhaps.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lenten Reading


As part of a person's Lenten devotion, some people take on additional reading materials, whether it be a more in-depth study of the Bible or some other spiritual materials.

I have a book which has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be perused. This is the perfect time for it.

From the Preface:
If we leave the Cross out of the Life of Christ, we have nothing left, and certainly not Christianity. For the Cross is related to our sins. Christ was our "stand-in" on the stage of life. He took our guilt as if He were guilty and thus paid the debt that sin deserved, namely, death. This made possible our resurrection to a "new life" in Him. Christ, therefore, is not just a teacher or a peasant revolutionist, but our Savior. Our modern world does not like the word "sin."

"Who Loves You, Baby?"

Yesterday, as I sat in class, I began to realize the formation component of our education; we cannot truly learn about God without entering into the mystery of who He is and allowing Him to penetrate our souls. So, in order to discuss God and his will for us, we first have to understand his love for us. His all-encompassing love.

Here's a nugget from our class notes (a bound volume):

"In the end, then, all questions really boil down to: 'Won't somebody love me?' 'Isn't there a God with real, effective, powerful love?' 'Who can fulfill all the aspiration I find in my heart?' 'Am I loveable, despite so much evil within?' 'Who will rescue me and purify my conscience?'"
These are questions I am asking of myself.

Go read the rest of this post from another Minnesota 'blogger, Adoro te Devote, and see if they truly resonate with you as well.

"When You Fast..."

The link will take you back to my post of Ash Wednesday 2006, where an article provided suggestions on things from which to fast and abstain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Challenged

, the 'blogmistress of Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, has challenged me to take the quiz she designed.

The results?

You are a 100% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Make Your Own Quiz



Predictable? "Memory indeed is a sad privilege."

THE Greatest Love Affair

An acquaintance sent this to me a few years ago. It gets to the heart of St. Augustine's statement that our restlessness is quieted only in God. It is a reminder of Who our First Love is and should be. It is the cornerstone of seeking the Kingdom of God by seeking the King. Edited for form; the content is everlasting:
Everyone longs to give himself completely to someone, to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But God, to the Christian, says, "No, not until you are satisfied with living for Me and being loved by Me alone and having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.

"I love you my child; and until you discover that only in Me is your satisfaction, you will not be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you.

"I want you to stop planning and stop wanting, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan ever existing--one that you cannot even imagine.

"I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you--just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things--keep experiencing that satisfaction in Me, knowing that I AM--keep learning and listening to the things that I tell you.

"You must wait. Do not be anxious. Do not worry. Do not look around at the things others have gained for themselves or that I have given them. Do not look at the things you want. Just keep looking at Me or you will miss what I want to show you.

"And then, when you are ready, I will surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any you would ever dream of. You see, until you are ready (and even at this minute I desire to have you both ready at the same time), until you are both satisfied with Me and the life that I have prepared for you, you will not be able to experience the love that exemplifies our relationship with Me--and this is perfect love.

"And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love. I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me and to enjoy the everlasting union of beauty and love.

"I AM GOD. Believe and be satisfied."

St. Anthony
Then, every day will be Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Triple Play

Thank God for my e-mail acquaintances. They can supply me with material to post when my well runs dry. With minor editing, here is the latest:

**********

Three things in life that, once gone, never come back:

  1. Time
  2. Words
  3. Opportunity

Three things in life that can destroy a person:

  1. Anger
  2. Pride
  3. Being Unforgiving


Three things in life that you should never lose:

  1. Hope
  2. Peace
  3. Honesty


Three things in life that are most valuable:

  1. Love
  2. Family & Friends
  3. Kindness


Three things in life that are never certain:

  1. Fortune
  2. Success
  3. Dreams


Three things that make a person:

  1. Commitment
  2. Sincerity
  3. Hard work


Three things that are truly constant:

  1. Father
  2. Son
  3. Holy Spirit

**********

While redundant, I add three things which endure (see 1 Corinthians 13:13):

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Love

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Prayer Request

She is an occasional commenter to some of my posts.

She is a member of the "B-Team".

She has more faith in her operated-upon toe than I have in my entire body.

She knows how to live the Faith.

She knows the Father, His Son, and His Mother better than I can ever imagine or hope.

She is battling a severe case of pneumonia.

She is scared.

(She is not the only one.)

She is Catherine Garcia, the 'blogmistress of "Life Behind The Zion Curtain".

She is in need of your prayers.

Here is mine for her, spoken over a year ago for someone else and written for anyone:
Lord Jesus Christ, You came to earth as the Divine Physician, to cure not only our spiritual ills but our physical ones as well. Look kindly upon Your servants who are ailing. Grant them the Grace to carry the cross they bear at the moment. Bring healing and hope to their body and spirit. Be with them; allow them to touch the hem of Your garment. Comfort them in their fears and anxieties. Let Your mercy show forth in the works of those in the healing arts, where people can encounter You. May they be brought back to wholeness, so as to continue their mission to serve others. We ask this in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, our Triune God, forever and ever.
Kyrie, eleison.

(UPDATE 2/13/07) Catherine was released from the hospital Sunday and is now continuing her recovery at home.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Surprised By Perfection

Finding this over at The Curt Jester, I played along.

Now I don't read the Bible on a regular basis, other than the reading for the Mass of the day. I remembered most of it, some answers were deductive logic, and there were a couple of guesses.

Boy, am I surprised at my score.

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
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How about you?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jumping The Shark

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have finally made the switch to the new Blogger format.

Seems more streamlined to me.

Maybe getting use to the new features will inspire more posting.

Meet the new "boss", same as the old one.

Parallel Parable

"Truth is stranger than fiction." Another forwarded e-mail stories from an acquaintence, slightly edited from the original and too good not to post today.

++++++++++

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and before he gave his sermon for the evening briefly introduced a guest minister who was in the congregation.

In the introduction, the pastor told the congregation the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.

"A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high even the father, an experienced sailor, could not keep the boat upright. The three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized."

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story.

The aged minister continued with his story. "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the life line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian; he also knew his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.

"As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!', he threw out the life line to his son's friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister's mouth.

"The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus. He could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son's friend."

"How great is the love of God He should do the same for us. Our heavenly Father sacrificed His only begotten Son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept his offer to rescue you and take hold of the life line He is throwing out to you in this service."

With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room.

The pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end. However, no one responded to the appeal. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side.

"That was a nice story," politely stated one of them, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face. He once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me.

"You see, I was that father and your pastor is my son's friend."

++++++++++

No greater love....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Black Monday XXXIV

Today's match-up should be over by the time this is posted. The renewal of this annual rivalry is anticipated the day after completion of the last one. The combatants are very familiar with each other and their tactics. The pageantry of the event, now established after all these years, still is a sight to behold. Yet, despite what seems to be how routine and commonplace this has become, it is still hotly contested. However, the overall outcome still remains in doubt.

It has been in sudden-death overtime for four decades.

Yes, it is time for the two sides in the abortion issue to take over the nation's capital with their marches, demonstrations, and speeches. The only thing they agree upon is when and where to have this skirmish. It just so happens the calendar this year coincides with history.

It is Monday, January 22, 1973 redux.

Momentum seems to be on the side of the poor-(pro-) choice crowd. Having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in South Dakota, they have reversed the gains the pro-life movement made in the previous twelve months. The offensive stand they made in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and points in between has given them new death. While they were on their heels for a time, they have staggered back.

The pro-life side had confidence before the reversal of fortune last November. The appointment of two new Supreme Court Justices and the law passed and enacted by the powers that be in South Dakota gave hope that the next series of plays would produce a game-winning score. This disappointment has its consolation in the fact this game plan was working and only minor adjustments are needed.

But both sides know this is always a battle of shifting tides and swinging emotions. Gains and losses are never permanent. Attacks and counter-attacks are expected. It's not over until it's over.

And it is far from over, although the rallies have ended for today. Abortion is the biggest battle in the Culture War. Rallying the troops to continue to play hard because the victor has not been determined is the focus. The game goes on today and continues.

Same time, next year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Minute Of Your Time

That lovely Southern Belle, Anastasia Crosswell, forwarded an e-mail to me too good not to share (with very slight editing).

++++++++++

ONE MINUTE EACH NIGHT

In WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people and peace.

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America.

If you would like to participate: Each evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central/6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States , our troops, our citizens, and for a Godly nation.

If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.

Someone said if Christians really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have. Thank You, and God Bless America.

++++++++++

There is another quote similar to that. When I find it, I will post it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Keyboard Capers

An acquaintence forwarded the joke, presented with a little editing. The lesson to be learned is to double check your spelling. Here's what happens when one types the wrong e-mail address:

**********

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years before. Because of their hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida on Friday. His wife was flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. Unlike years ago, there was a computer in his room. He decided to send an e-mail to his wife; however, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address. Without noticing his error, he sent the email to the wrong address.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory after suffering a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and then fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and then glanced up and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife
Date: Friday, October 13, 2005
Subject: I have arrived!

Dearest Love:

I know you are surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now, and you are allowed to send e-mail to your loved ones. I have just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow, and look forward to seeing you then.

Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

PS: It sure is hot down here!

**********
Remember, "user friendly" is an oxymoron.