Thursday, December 31, 2009

First Song, Again


We should know this quite well by now.

Whatever your memories of 2009, may you hold them with the proper due respect.

May 2010 be full of blessings, joys, and life.

Happy New Year!

Janus' Annual Visit

For those of you who are regulars to this infinitesimal corner of the universe, you know I have a motto which developed on this day in 2005.

Go Forward.

What does it mean? At the very least, it is to not regress, lose ground, or acquiesce what I want to become. At its core, it is to progress, grow, mature.

It is now four years later. I ask myself the question which candidates for political office sometimes pose to the voting public. It is the one quiery which begs for an answer.

Am I better off now than I was then?

Right now, I really don't know what the best answer is. Being my harshest critic (unlike the advise from "Desiderata"), I also realize I have to have a balance between what is going well and what room for improvement is needed. But, as a priest had pointed out to me once in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my honesty is my salvation.

While I have never experienced the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I understand one of the foundations is to be sincerely honest while looking into your soul. That I seem to do well. And so, with the final hours of 2009 passing, what do I see?

As with all of us, a mixed bag of results.

The blessings given by God to me in the form of challenges the past 48 months have been received in various degrees. I would be foolish to say I am the same as I was back then. I have changed. There has been the good, the bad, and the unresolved (and sometimes all three at once). It is still being sorted; puzzle pieces are not yet in place. I cannot say which way the scale is tipped.

Yet, we all live with uncertainty. Nothing is finished or final until our last day. Like the Parable of the Rich Man's Harvest (Luke 12:16-21), beware when we think we have got it made.

At times it seem I am back at square one. My search for meaningful, consistent, gainful employment is just about at a standstill. My prayer life is as dry as the desert. There is just a underlying feeling of unease about my life.

So, where do I go?

There is only one answer:

"Come to Me...."

And isn't that what it really means to Go Forward?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Party Crasher

This is definitely not in the spirit of Christmas.

Prayers for the Cardinal would be in order, as well as the assailant.

Mug Shot

A fascinating article about how technology was used to create a representation of the facial features of St. Nicholas of Myra.

Look like anyone we know?

Prayer Before The Creche

Oh, dearest little Child,
I come before You tonight
As You first came before the world
So long ago and so far away.

You came to bring "Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men."
You came to be "The Way, the Truth, and the Light."
You came "So men might have Life
And have it to the fullest."

I come before you tonight in homage;
But I am not like the Magi,
Nor am I like one of the shepherds
That first came to see You.

I am nothing without You
And little more when You are near.
For I am a servant not good enough
For a Master such as You.

I come not bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,
But, instead, bring something to You
That You first gave to the world,
And now I wish to return.

I give to You tonight, as You have given to me,
The strength, the courage, the wisdom, the peace,
The faith, the hope, and most importantly,
The love You have shown to all mankind.

I give You myself tonight; the best gift I could.

(Copyright 1981 by the owner of this 'blog.)

**********

Originally posted 12/25/2005.

2009 Christmas Card


The Darling of the World is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the Heart,
Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This Holly and this Ivy Wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this Revelling.

From A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall
by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

**********

May the Christ Child bless you at this holy season.
May His love, joy, and peace fill you.
May He, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, rule the world with Truth and Grace.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Debut, Redux

At the 2008 Easter Vigil, I had the privilege of chanting the Exultet for the first time as a cantor.

Tonight, at the Christmas Mass at Midnight, I will have the privilege of chanting the Proclamation of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

I will not be doing the version I traditionally post. Instead I will be doing the currently approved translation. A comparison with other versions can be found here.

May I truly "pray twice" as I intone the announcement of His birth.

2009 Christmas Eve Reflection

In the Gospel Proclamation for the Vigil of Christmas we hear these words:
All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel," a name which means "God is with us."
(Matthew 1:22-23; cf Isaiah 7:14)
Now, these words are not foreign to the world. Cultures across the globe have similar myths about some god manifesting himself in human form via a pure maiden. What makes this particular story so special, so enduring, so different from the rest?

The promise it holds.

Allow me to delve into these verses and share my insights. I remind everybody I have no formal training in theology or exegesis. Please read this with a big grain of salt.

Let's begin with the phrase "All this happened". In the context of the narrative it refers to the scene where St. Joseph was visited by an angel and told to take the soon-to-be-born Child and His mother under his care. But did not this take place because all "this"--the whole of salvation history from Adam and Eve to this point in time--happened? If it were not for the "happy fault", the "necessary sin of Adam" as proclaimed in the Exultet, all the covenants of the Old Testament, and all the prophecies related to this, especially these words from Isaiah, this moment of encounter between messenger and man would have never taken place.

To me, this is the first part of what makes this virgin birth story so different. As far as I know, while others have tried to explain why there is evil in the world, only this one goes to say that it will be rectified and in this manner. Only this one gives us the hope of salvation and delivers. Why would it not be intriguing?

The next phrase which grabbed my attention was "the virgin". Today's world sneers at the concept of being pure, unadulterated, undefiled, untouched, wholly clean. In an age when humanity wants to experience everything no matter the consequences, this is the one experience of which they want no part. They must like looking at their existence through a lens stained with Original Sin.

Adam and Eve knew better but knew too late. Once they disobeyed, they couldn't see the face of God again. The impure can never look at the pure without realizing what is missing. That's why redemption was promised. That's why a pure vessel in which to carry the Son of God was needed. That's why that singular act of grace known as the Immaculate Conception happened. Mary had to be sanctified before she could receive the Source of sanctity. She became the model and example for the rest of humanity.

This is what make this story so special. We are not left to our own devices. God has promised never to abandon us. He shows us how we are to prepare as He makes His preparations to bring us back into the fold. God still loves us, despite at times how we choose to respond to that Love.

Which brings me to the third phrase upon which I dwell--"God is with us." Emmanuel. God has always been with us, even when we don't want to be with Him. That most radical concept called unconditional love. An idea around which the world cannot wrap its collective head. It fails because the head is not enough. It calls for the heart, the very core of our existence.

Augustinian restlessness, damaged but never destroyed by the Fall, is the energy which drives us to seek what we lost in Paradise. We search for it in everything created, but never in the Creator where it will be found. So to make it easier, God comes to dwell with us in a form we recognize--our own humanity. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, fully divine, became fully human because we relate to persons. And it is in that relationship where redemption is fulfilled.

That's what makes this story so enduring. In the Greatest Story Ever Told, we are invited to partake in the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Made in the image and likeness of our Triune God, we are called to reflect the love indwelling in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by our love for Him and our neighbor. We are only able to do this by the example Jesus Christ show us by His life, death, and resurrection.

While we celebrate His coming as man once a year, He has always been among us.

Let us truly "see our God made visible" and so be "caught up in love of the God we cannot see."

Hodie Christus natus est.

**********

Enjoy my previous Christmas Eve Reflections:

2005
2006
2007
2008

Join The Chorus

During the Presentation of the Gifts at the Midnight Mass at St. Olaf, the choir will be singing "What Sweeter Music" by Hal Hopson. This rich sounding composition is a setting of part of a poem by Robert Herrick (the text used is in red). The words provide such imagery; the arrangement adds even more color.

**********

A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at White-Hall

Chorus:
What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a Carol, for to sing.
The Birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the Voice! Awake the String!
Heart, Ear, and Eye, and every thing
Awake! the while the active Finger
Runs division with the Singer.

From the Flourish they came to the Song.

Voice 1:
Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this Day,
That sees December turn'd to May.

Voice 2:
If we may ask the reason, say:
The why, and wherefore all things here
Seem like the Spring-time fo the year?

Voice 3:
Why does the chilling Winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell, like to a mead new-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?

Voice 4:
Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
'Tis He is born, whose quick'ning Birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To Heaven and the under-Earth.

Chorus:
We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who, with His Sun-shine, and His Showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

Voice 1:
The Darling of the World is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him.

Voice 2:
The nobler part
Of all the house
here, is the Heart,

Chorus:
Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This Holly and this Ivy Wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this Revelling.

**********

So fitting. A musical offering, in spirit and in truth, of ourselves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Antiphon: God Is With Us


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
++++++++++

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25


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

**********

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

++++++++++

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

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Antiphon: King Of Kings

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
++++++++++
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage....Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance....After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-2,7,9-11

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.
**********

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

++++++++++

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!

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Antiphon: Light From Light

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

++++++++++

Jesus said to them, "The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light....Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me."

John 12:35-36; 44b-50

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)
**********

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

++++++++++

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!

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom

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
++++++++++
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Matthew 16:13-19

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 above, 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."
++++++++++

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.

++++++++++

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.

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree

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

++++++++++

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.

Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse,

Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.

Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.

Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.

Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.

Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah.

Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,

Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud,

Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:1-17


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.

**********

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

++++++++++

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.

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Anonymous? Not

As you read the posts based on the "O Antiphons", you may wonder where I was getting the new icons and the additional meditations.

So was I.

The clue was in the URL. However, it took me until today to discover the author.

Not only a fedora doff, but also a reverent bow to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, the 'blogmaster of "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" His posts focus on the accuracy of the Latin-to-English translations of prayers. He seems to be one of the leaders of the "reform of the Reform" just by his writings. (NOTE: Registration is required to view his 'blog. I was able to used archived settings found by searching.)

Curiosity satisfied.

(UPDATE 12/22: The links to the icons are broken. I am unable to use them, so I have them from past and future posts. There are still available when you visit Fr. Z's 'blog.)

December Relics?

Many of us are familiar with St. Nicholas of Myra and how his story eventually morphed into the legend of Santa Claus.

This story, if it is valid, provides and interesting twist in the tale of "jolly old man in the big red suit."

How fascinating if it is.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Antiphon: The Law Giver

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

++++++++++
Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:17-20



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 Sinai.

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.

**********

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.

++++++++++

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!

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom

"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

++++++++++

At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Matthew 11:25-30


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.

**********

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

++++++++++

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!

**********

For further reflection, go here.

Zeros Reappeared

As I have mentioned before, while I do have a visitor counter, I am not obsessed with how many visit this infinitesimal corner of the universe in any given day. I am grateful I have generated an interest in what I write at times. Thank you to all who peruse my posts.

Having said that, another milestone in the life of this 'blog was achieved. At 8:49 PM (local time) last night, visitor #30,000 appeared. With the information provided by SiteMeter, I have a guess as to who it might have been. Thank you for gracing my words with your presence.

This is a very humble work, always in progress. I hope to keep providing enlightening and entertaining thoughts. Please keep me in your prayers.

"O Come..." Again

As Advent draws to a close, these final days of preparation bring a heighten sense of anticipation. Like Mary, we wait with her until "the days of her confinement were completed." (Luke 2:6b) The impending joy at the birth of the Savior is almost upon us.

As has been my custom since I started this 'blog, I will once again present short meditations on each of the "O Antiphons". As part of Vespers, these verse focus on some of the attributes the Son of God will radiate in His time on Earth. Once again, I hope to add to what I have already written. Once again, I hope you enjoy what seems to be my most popular and well received posts.

Final preparations begin tonight.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prep Time Again

Liturgically, it is not even "the most wonderful time of the year." That is reserved for Easter, when our salvation was secured. Even so, it is such a counter-cultural two fortnights.

There will be plenty of green to be seen. But for now, purple with a touch of rose is the current fashion.

Tonight begins Advent. Tonight begins the preparation for the birth of our Savior. Tonight begins hope renewed.

Preparation. Anticipation. Celebration.

In that order.

Let us join St. John the Baptist: "Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Blessed, Being Grateful

On this day, set aside so we can count our blessings, let us remember to invite to our gatherings of families and friends the One Who truly makes it all possible:

++++++++++

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

++++++++++

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Also, enjoy my other posts from the past:
Grateful Praise
Hymn Of Thanksgiving
Feast Song
Making It Official

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mechanical Musicianship

With the memorial of the Feast of St. Cecilia falling on a Sunday this year, it will not be celebrated.

However, in honor of the Patron Saint of musicians, I present this video. Fedora doff to Catherine Garcia for sending it to me from one of her friends.



The description of what you are about to see and hear:
Turn your sound on for this. Read this first, then watch. This is almost unbelievable. See how all of the balls wind up in the catcher cones.

This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa. Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft, Iowa. Yes, farm equipment! (Personal note: This small, rural town in North Central Iowa was the childhood home of my late father.)

It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it was WELL worth the effort.

It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.
(The subject line from the e-mail was the tag line from the company's commercials. How true!)

Also for you perusal, my other post about the day:
Quotable On Notes
Quotes On Notes
Musical Quotes And Thoughts
Cantate Domino!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

BYOP

Don't have a jack-o-lantern yet?

No worries.

Click here to make one.

(Fedora Doff to Catherine Garcia for forwarding the link.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Judge, Not?

Once in a while, AOL provides an interesting link. I found this one this morning. Granted, my fisking skills are raw and much out of practice, but this was something which got my blood boiling. Posted yesterday from the website Polictics Daily, the title of the article is "A Catholic Court? Let The Arguments Begin". Its author is David Gibson. My responses are in red. (Note: Links which appeared in the original are not used here.)

**********

The new session of the Supreme Court of the United States opens Monday with a slate of important cases looming -- and a novelty that some worry is more than a historical curiosity: namely, with the addition of the newest justice, Sonia Sotomayor, six of the nine justices on the high court are . . . Roman Catholics. Let the bean counting begin. This is going to be one of the misguided themes of this article.

John Grisham, where are you? Do we need to call Dan Brown? Or has this issue already moved well beyond the realm of popular fiction? Granted, I do not read fiction. Brown's distortion of the Church is duly noted. But Grisham? Some (you, Mr. Gibson?) would say so.

The five Catholic justices that Sotomayor joins -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts -- already represented a historic high, and now Catholics will comprise two-thirds of the bench. This is well out of proportion to the 24 percent or so of the general American population that is Catholic. The question is, does it matter? It must matter to you who seems to believe the Supreme Court of the United States must have exact demographic representation. It doesn't work that way in or out of the highest court of the land.

In a column penned after Sotomayor's nomination, Joyce Appleby, a distinguished historian emerita from UCLA, argued (thinking the Church is more a political than religious institution?) that because the Catholic Church has taken strong stands on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and the death penalty, "it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues." Then by extension, does it preclude any Catholic from becoming a jurist? Her suggestion is that they ought to recuse themselves from such cases.
"Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain," Appleby wrote in the Tallahassee Democrat. Power comes from Truth. Truth and justice are not incompatible. And what finanical gain? "Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. (You mean they are not?) Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?" You, as well as Mr. Gibson, are hinting about the crux of the matter as well as you own biases.
There are counterarguments, to be sure. What is to follow is not one of those counterarguments.

For one thing, the preponderance of Catholics on the high court today still leave Catholics underrepresented, historically speaking. All told, there have been 11 Catholic justices out of 108 in U.S. history, just 10 percent of the total. By themselves, Episcopalians and Presbyterians have accounted for 50 percent of all Supreme Court justices, even though, as of the year 2000, those two denominations accounted for less than 5 percent of the population.

Unitarians have been most overrepresented, historically; and Jewish justices now account for two of the three non-Catholic seats on the high court -- a 22 percent share that is much greater than the 1.5 percent of the population that Jews would be accorded by proportion, and a higher percentage even than the current overrepresentation of Catholics. Welcome to the fallacy of large/small numbers, a no-no in logic. This is the first misguided theme, echoed in the beginning of the post. Equality by proportionality is not equality at all.

But few are citing those disproportionate numbers today (and now you seem to contradict yourself), nor were there complaints in the past about having too many mainline Protestants on the high court. Find the magic word and win $50. Why worry if you were in the majority and the Catholic voice was ignored? And if Catholics should recuse themselves from certain cases, why was this never an issue during the 150 years when there was generally just one Catholic justice? Theoretically, the principle would have applied all the same. (Good question. Got a good answer?)

Yet it seems likely that the Catholic question will continue to percolate during the coming term given the number of high-profile cases on the docket. It will be an issue if one continues to make it an issue. Already, on Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in Salazar v. Buono, which will decide challenge to the presence of an eight-foot-tall cross on federal land in the Mojave National Preserve in California. The ruling by the justices is likely to have a lasting impact on the many controversial displays of religious symbols on public land around the country.

In addition, cases regarding the regulation of executive compensation, the constitutionality of life sentences for juvenile offenders, and parental custody statutes will all reveal something about the beliefs and temperaments of the various justices. Or will they reveal something about the beliefs and temperaments of society? They speak to greed, the balance between justice and mercy, and a degree of subsidiarity. We may or may not be able to legislate morality, but we can nudge the conscience of society. Add to that the fact that John Roberts is expected to start shaping the court even more vigorously as he enters his fifth year as chief justice, and Samuel Alito is also expected to begin putting his stamp on decisions (both presumptuous statements); both men are conservative Catholics, and Alito replaced the more moderate Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court. (Sotomayor is only the third -- talk about underrepresentation!) Moot point--see above.

But it is the numerical weight of Catholics that seems to spark the concern. Here we go again. In 2007, when all five Catholic justices voted in a 5-4 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart to uphold the constitutionality of a federal ban on late-term, or so-called partial-birth, abortions, University of Chicago Law School Professor Geoffrey Stone wrote a blog post, "Our Faith-Based Justices," arguing not only that the majority was dead wrong, but pinning the reason on their religion:
"Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic. The four justices who are either Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. Dr, Stone, there are those who think the "settled precedent" (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton) bad law, "created" by the wrong branch of government. Perhaps the majority was using the very small foothold created in the "settled precedent" upon which to base its decision. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore. How can you make a logical connection here on what could just be coincidence? Ultimately, the five justices in the majority all fell back on a common argument to justify their position. There is, they say, a compelling moral reason for the result in Gonzales."
And that morality, Stone argued, was based on their sectarian Catholic views. And if they were not Catholic, would their morality made any difference? (Cartoonist Tony Auth also sparked controversy with a caricature of the five Catholic justices wearing bishops' miters.) In the wake of Sotomayor's confirmation, Stone reprised his views in a Huffington Post essay, noting that his longtime friend Scalia had objected strongly to Stone's arguments. But Stone persisted, and tried to bolster his thesis while at the end admitting "none of this necessarily 'proves' anything." And now you seem to be contradicting yourself, Dr. Stone, with that last phrase.

Scalia would no doubt agree with that last statement. He has for years protested that his faith has no impact on his decisions, nor should it: I don't get this. Is one not to integrate the Faith into one's whole life? Isn't that why we have the conflict with the so-called poor(pro)-choice Catholics?
"There is no such thing as a 'Catholic judge,' " Scalia said in a 2007 speech. "The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge. . . . Just as there is no 'Catholic' way to cook a hamburger, I am hard-pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic."
In 2002, Scalia went so far as to argue that any Catholic judge who opposed the death penalty because they believed it to be immoral "would have to resign. . . . You couldn't function as a judge." Prudential judgment comes into play here. Would this be an opportunity to recuse oneself on that ground? But, after all that, now we get to the heart of the matter. Scalia speaks, as do Clarence Thomas and, to a certain extent, the other conservative Catholics on the bench, from the point of view of an "originalist," or one who argues that justices must decide cases only according to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. (Originalism is an updated -- and some argue improved -- version of "strict constructionalism.") Divining the original intent (Can you say "Federalist Papers"? I knew you couldn't.) can itself be a matter of debate, so some argue it is unrealistic to say there is a fixed and correct answer to every case that judges can call like an umpire.

Thank you for the opening. Here's where my three decades worth of sports officiating can come into play. My strength there is in applying the rules properly and correctly.

Rule books, like codes of law, have two ways of being expressed. First, there are those rules/laws which expressly prescribe a precise way of doing something. These, for the most part, are black and white; there is no room for interpretation. Then, there are those rules/laws which expressly prohibit a certain way of doing something (and the penalties for violations of these restrictions). These, for the most part, come with guidelines for implementation, given to us by our rules makers/legislators.

To be continued...

Cast in the opposing role is the concept of the "living Constitution,"-- that is, the view of the Constitution as a dynamic document that must be interpreted to meet evolving standards and new developments (such as what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment," or when something is obscene, or whether racial segregation is illegal or abortion legal). The Constitution is a societal contract of law expressing the manner in which the people wanted to be governed. It is a "living" document in the sense that it is still in force, meaning no other document has taken its place.

There is also a third way rules/laws can be expressed. They are those laws which neither allow nor ban an activity. These so-called "unwritten rules/laws" imply a way of doing something; they are the ones found in the gray area. The question then becomes whether or not they should become explicit. Sometimes new ways of doing find their way into the game/society and the rules/law provide no clear-cut answer.

For those who think whatever "formal process" for changing rules/laws will not favor them, then they attempt to get the interpretation changed favorably. This is why the outcry about "activist judges".

Remember, gray is nothing but the combination of black and white in equal proportions. Things stay gray because they do not want delineation. By advocating the idea of a "living Constitution", there is no constant upon which there can be comparison. Chaos looks good in gray.

This debate does have a clear "religious" parallel in that it underscores a common dynamic at play in both American jurisprudence and Roman Catholicism (as well as other faiths) -- that is, whether or how much the Constitution, in the first instance, and religious doctrine, in the second, can or should change. There is a prescribe method for amending the Constitution. It requires the vast majority of society to agree to the change in the structure, for it is a contract with ourselves. And let's be clear about religious doctrine. Matters of faith and morals are immutable. Disciplines within the Church can and have (e.g.-- fasting and priestly celibacy). Religion was never meant to be run as a democracy.

Arguments over whether churches should ordain openly gay clergy or permit same-sex marriage seem open-and-shut cases (in the negative) to religious "originalists," while those who embrace the notion of the "development of doctrine" note that Christianity(wouldn't it be more accurate to say "some branches of Christianity") has changed its teachings on slavery, usury, capital punishment, religious freedom and, in some cases, the ordination of women. "Development of doctrine" to me means Divine Revelation is more fully explained and clarified, not watering it down. Isn't this where theological dissent begins?

Some Catholics might take one side (Scalia, e.g.) while others (perhaps Sotomayor) would have another view. In other words, there are Catholics and there are Catholics. Why would you make such a sarcastic distinction? The degree of sincerity to the adherence of orthodoxy (right teaching) is the only measuring stick. And that is God's work to decide how well. How else to explain this coincidence: On April 16, 2008, the day Pope Benedict XVI arrived for a historic visit to the United States, during which he would repeat the church's opposition to capital punishment, the Supreme Court upheld the lethal injection method of execution and all five Catholic justices combined to back a decision that goes against Catholic teaching.

This is the teaching of the Church regarding capital punishment:

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
We, as a country, have not decided to end capital punishment. The Church is not teaching capital punishment is immoral. Prudential judgment. Selective reading.

This division between enforcing established principles and applying developing doctrine was at the heart of the "empathy" debate swirling around Sotomayor's nomination, and the propriety of her remarks that her experience as a "wise Latina woman" would lead her to reach different conclusions on cases than other justices. One cannot have mercy without justice because one cannot have justice without standards. The quality of mercy is strained, therefore. President Obama has also said he wanted to nominate justices with "empathy," who would understand the plight of the little guy in court cases.

The "empathy argument" outraged many conservatives, who tend -- like Scalia et al. -- to be originalists who would oppose the "activism" that such feelings could lead to. Ironically, some conservatives are uneasy about justices checking their beliefs at the door, as that could lead to an affirmation of, for example, gay marriage as a matter of constitutionally protected equal protection rather than something barred by longstanding social custom and religious belief. Activism for me, but not for thee. I can use it to get my way when I don't like the status quo, but woe upon you for doing the same thing. And since appellate law is based upon proper application of precedents, it makes it a challenge to overturn rulings of bad law.

In First Things, a conservative journal, Joe Carter argued recently that everyone has religious beliefs that influence their views, and so sectarian believers -- like Catholic Supreme Court justices -- should not retreat from invoking those specific beliefs. Otherwise, he wrote, "the result is that certain religious beliefs (e.g., those that are reductionist and based on materialism) are welcomed while others (any religion that relies both on general and special revelation) are excluded." It's just too bad that in the public square ideas tinged with religious colors are no longer acceptable.

In the end, the arguments from both sides as to whether the court is too Catholic, or the justices too strict in their rulings, or too empathetic, come down to where one stands politically, and where different people want to court to go, politically. And you wanted to make it a religious argument. That can include justices. And beyond the relatively few easy calls, the Constitution is what the justices say it is. And that's why we have the mess we have.

That explanation doesn't satisfy everyone, however.

On Sunday morning, in fact, at the Catholic cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, hundreds of lawyers and judges and politicians gathered for an annual rite called the "Red Mass," a service held on the Sunday before the opening of the Supreme Court session to invoke "God's blessings and guidance in the administration of justice under the power of the Holy Spirit." And don't they seem to need all the help they can get?

Last year at this time, Marci Hamilton, a legal scholar at Yeshiva University's law school and a lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, pointed up not only questions of "propriety" about the attendance of six Supreme Curt justices at the Red Mass (five Catholics and Justice Breyer, who is Jewish -- go figure) but also about the none-too-subtle influence the rituals could have on their minds, and ours. If one remembers God is the Author of all Laws, it's more a gentle reminder. "The Red Mass is a public affair intended to reinforce the ties between government and the Church," she wrote. See above.

Alas, it was hard to figure out what was behind this year's agenda. How about nothing? Five Catholic justices were there, including Sotomayor. But Clarence Thomas was not. Prior engagement that couldn't be changed? This is not a holy day of obligation. And Breyer came again! Vice President Biden was there, to boot, along with two Cabinet secretaries and hundreds of legal professionals. The sun shines on the just and unjust. But in his homily at the Mass, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the newest U.S. cardinal, preached about the scriptural example of adding "a tone of sympathetic understanding and a message of consolation" to legalistic pronouncements, and the duty to work for a "reversal of injustice and a merciful uplifting of the poor and those of no account."

Formal, specialized legal knowledge, the cardinal said, "frequently becomes semi-mechanical and distancing."
"A person can forget that the basis of that knowledge is something much more natural in the human condition, that the law and lawyers are around because justice among human beings is always an issue. There are always smoldering wicks and bruised reeds needing our human attention, an attention that cries out and says that even sophisticated, knowledgeable 'human' lawyers need reminding, need a purifying divine fire from the Lord, both in their personal lives and in their profession itself."
That sounds suspiciously close to empathy. If it is the proper application of mercy. Maybe Sotomayor is the Catholic everyone should be worried about.

**********

Perhaps Steve Dillard, the founder of the 'blog Southern Appeal, is right:

Stare decisis is fo' suckers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another Virtual Candle

It's a good thing Blogger has archives. It makes it so easy to grab your very first post.

Most 'blogs don't survive as long as I have. And, yes, I will admit I have been a survivor.

This infinitesimal corner of the universe is still a labor of love. As long as it is, I will continue to be that small, quiet voice I said I would be when I started.

Four years and counting. May God continue to bless those who come here, the fruits of my labor, and the humble owner of these thoughts and words.

More of the same. Hopefully, better.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Still Remembering



It has been raining in New York City at least since yesterday.

Are they the tears of a nation, remembering the events of this day and still mourning?

I have not forgotten.

I said a prayer for the souls lost that day; I hope you do the same.

Eight years later, let us remember to be "one Nation, under God."


(UPDATE: Link added.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Marconi Lives

At 10:00 AM, radio station KIHU (1010 AM) made it debut, giving the state of Utah a Catholic presence over the airwaves. It becomes the 22nd. station in the family of Immaculate Heart Radio, a network which services and serves California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah (with plans to launch a station in the Phoenix area). Much of their programing will be provided by EWTN Radio.

A welcome addition to the evangelization front.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Shot


Has it only been 40 years since "That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind"?


For over four years, these trips were a regular occurrence.

On this anniversary of what may be man's most astonishing accomplishment, let's look back in awe on what happened, the view from there and seeing how much both celestial bodies, Earth and moon, are just mere specks in the universe, and to praise and thank God for it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Breaks

Falls causing broken bones for the elderly are not uncommon.

It was just a bit of a surprise to see who did take a tumble.

Prayers for a speedy recovery will be welcomed, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Prime" Birthday Time

For the fifteenth time in my life, my age is only divisible by itself and one.

And, yes, I am glad to be able to notice this.

As I look back, some personally notable things have happened within this specific set of numbers:
  1. Started Kindergarten at 5.
  2. First Confession and Holy Communion at 7.
  3. Confirmation at 13.
  4. High school graduation at 17.
  5. College graduation at 23.
  6. Started graduate school at 29.
  7. Started developing right elbow tendinitis at 41. (The event which began my economic struggles.)
The joys and sorrows in this vale of tears (of both kinds) are not restricted to a specific pattern of numerals. But, perhaps, I am due for something special to happen within the next 73 X 5 days. That is up to God, His Grace, and my will.

And so it continues, this gift called my life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soon And Very Soon?

The causes of sainthood for Pope John Paul II and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen maybe be the most well-known.

A nineteenth century American priest may just beat both of them to canonization.

That is, if this final piece of the puzzle is solved.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dem Bones

This would be quite an amazing confirmation.

A very fitting conclusion to the year of St. Paul.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Banned Books?

Besides being the inspired word of God, the Holy Bible also contains examples of different literary styles.

That seems the only justifiable way to use it in a classroom setting anymore.

Another example of omitting religion from the public square?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Resound The Hymn

Tonight, all around the world, we hear again the Good News of our salvation. As we keep this vigil, we hear again the words proclaiming to the universe of the most amazing feat in history:

++++++++++

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

[My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.]
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God,
the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you free the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God
to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day;
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on us all,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Still Another Merciful Reminder

Tomorrow begins the Novina of Divine Mercy, leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday (the Second Sunday of Easter).

My first post on this, "Jesus, I Trust In You", provides information on this devotion.

During the next nine days, I will post on the specific intentions for that day.

As we are always in need of His mercy, I encourage you to participate.

UPDATE: Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot post the intentions.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

7LW V 4.0

Again for this Holy Week, I will be re-posting my series of meditation upon the "Seven Last Words" Christ spoke from the cross.

If my thoughts are helpful to you as we prepare for the summit of the liturgical year, they would be a bonus. It is the words of our Saviour which should be the focus. More importantly, it is the acts of His passion which speak.

Once again, draw near the foot of the cross to hear the Word.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Santo Subito?

One is already being investigated.

Is this the second needed?

His canonization may be on the fast track, but both will undergo rigorous investigation.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No April Fool's Prank

I found this story while visiting CatholicsSingles.com. It is actually dated March 26.

That domain name was already taken by a legit organization, which make it all the more worrisome.

Desiderata is right: "Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery."

Shameful.

UPDATE 04/03/2009: Added story link. Mea culpa.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thankfulness

Every Wednesday I receive from SiteMeter my weekly report on the number of visitors to my infinitesimal corner of the universe and the number of pages viewed the past seven days. I would guess it is a mix of regulars and those new to the B-Team roll. While I will never claim to be a heavyweight 'blogger (as my status in the TTLB Ecosystem will attest), I am still amazed at the small but steady stream of people who click here. I am even more amazed due to the fact my posts are few and far between.

For all who read these musings, welcome and thank you. I can only hope what I have written is edifying. May God continue to bless those who read and the one who writes.

Sharin' O' The Green

Christ reminds us the poor will be with us.

The Church teaches us of the preferential option for them.

Here's a story of how one priest does his part.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Saint Comes Marching In

His life story is "faith in action".

Now, he will become one of the canonized blessed.

The Church will recognize his heroic virtue on October 11.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Some Final Words

Amy Welborn posts a lovely remembrance of her late husband, Michael Dubruiel, along with the details of the viewing and Mass of Christian Burial.

I had purchased this book some time ago. I encourage you to do the same, not only for its content, but because the royalties are paying for a college fund for their youngest children.

He wrote and spoke the Word well. May he soon see the Beatific Vision.

UPDATE: Rich Leonardi has a post about some of Michael's books (via Our Sunday Visitor).

UPDATE: Catholic author Danielle Bean offers information on how you can help as well.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Up In Smoke

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois and the surround campus is undergoing a significant renovation.

This morning, after what happened, it looks like there will be more work.

A Thief In The Night

I saw the post by the Curt Jester.

I went to the source myself.

I understand the shock of suddenness; I've been there.

This is a great loss to the Catholic writing community, both in books and 'blogging.

But not as much as losing a husband and father.

You are in my prayers.

Requiescat In Pace.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Coming Of (Digital) Age

And who says the Catholic Church puts the kibosh on scientific and technological progress?

The faithful know about the Vatican's website.

Now, the Holy See has its place on YouTube.

The article is here.

The link to YouTube is here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Forever Missing

One of the most important celebrations in the life of a parish is when a person is fully initiated into the Church. Tonight at St. Olaf, twenty-two young people received the Sacrament of Confirmation. A time of great joy was witnessed by family, friends, and other parish members, including those providing the music for the Mass.

(A side note: His Excellency, the Most Reverend John C. Wester, due to a prior commitment, was unable to be the celebrant. Faculties for the rite were given to the Vicar General of the diocese, Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald. Msgr. Fitzgerald has also served as Diocesan Administrator twice, after now retired Bishop William K. Weigand and Archbishop George H. Niederauer were transferred to Sacramento and San Francisco, respectively. From what I have been told, Msgr. Fitzgerald's leadership while the bishop's chair was vacant was of immense value.)

While getting ready for the liturgy, I was thinking about who wasn't here. No, not other parishioners. No, not those who had fallen away and whose children could have added to the class. No, I was thinking about those who never were here at the start.

How many more would be here, I wondered, if (and I stress if, because I have no idea) they hadn't been aborted?

It is a question of pure speculation. I will readily admit that. But I couldn't help notice.

I don't know why today was chosen for our confirmandi, but I wish some more thought would have gone into planning the date. Today marks the 36th. anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decisions Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Dalton, the rulings which give the country the legal right to have abortion on demand for whatever reason. On a date when a grave evil was given card blanche, two days after inaugurating a new president who has promised to sign into law legislation that would further cement these "rights", those who administer religious education in the parish thought it proper to bestow the final Sacrament of Initiation upon these youth today.

Now that I think about it, why not today?

What a wonderful counter-cultural sign. On one of the blackest spiritual days in the country's history, spiritual life was fully conferred to a very small part of her population. New yeast has been mixed into this dough called living. How much effect it will have remains to be seen. But it was God's voice speaking tonight, calling us to renew the life of the Holy Spirit within us and to choose life.

All the marches and speeches are completed for this year. People will return home and begin to support the cause they favor. Victory has not been won, yet. But as it is, if we work with Him, it will be.

Tonight was just another reminder God is still in charge.