Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Preparing People

It is time.

We turn the page on our Gregorian calendars to the last month of the year.

We also turn the the page on our liturgical calendars to the first season of the year.

While there will still be a few hours left of November 30 when sunset comes, it will also be, in a sense, December 1.

Thus comes the beginning of Advent, which starts on the Sunday nearest today's feast which honors St. Andrew.

While the secular world has long started its Christmas preparations, we truly begin to "prepare the way of the Lord."  The Advent wreath, which burns brighter as we draw nearer to December 25, becomes the first focal point of our longing for our Savior.  The creche, a great gift of St. Francis of Assisi, traditionally is on display December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, without the figure of the Child; for as we hear St. Luke's accounting of the Annunciation, we now wait with the Blessed Virgin Mary for her to be delivered.  Finally the Christmas tree, a great example of inculturation, shines its lights and ornaments for the first time on Christmas Eve, as the Word made Flesh is enthroned in the manger.  While we have or may trim the house with other decorations in the next weeks, these still remind us "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

It still is a penitential season, though not as "severe" as Lent.  The need to "turn away from sin", to heed the call of St. John the Baptist, to "make straight the path" for the coming of Christ is ever present.  The violet/purple of these next "four weeks" still reminds us of our unworthiness, of our journey towards perfection, of our lifetime efforts to be true disciples of He Who is, Who was, and Who is to come.

This is the great challenge of Advent.  It is the echo of the call to be in this world, but not of this world.  While we may celebrate with family and friends during this time, our true rejoicing comes with the announcement of the angel:  "This day in David's city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Let us prepare well, so after we hear the angelic chorus, we may join the shepherds in seeing the newborn King.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Thanksgiving Day Card

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!

Henry Alford (1810-1871)


May God, Who knows the deepest desires of our hearts and souls, continue to abundantly bless us with all good things.  May He continue to redeem and sanctify us through His Son in the Spirit so we may be good fruit in His harvest,  As you celebrate with family and friends, may you be mindful of the gifts He has bestowed and be truly grateful for all you have received.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Poet's Notes On Notes

In honor of one of my favorite saints on her feast day:

From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
'Arise, ye more than dead!'
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man. 
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly, and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

The trumpet's loud clangour
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat!

The soft complaining flute,
In dying notes, discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.

Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion,
For the fair, disdainful dame.

But O, what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre;
But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder higher:
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
An angel heard, and straight appear'd
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the Blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky! 
A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687
John Dryden (1631-1700)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Poem Of The Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields. 
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Field
John McCrae (1872-1918)

Friday, November 01, 2013

November 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering::
General:  Suffering Priests. That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. 
Mission:  Latin American Churches. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.