Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sing Out, Ring In

Here we are again at the end of the day, the week (by coincidence of the calendar), the month, the year.  A time for reminiscing and celebrating.  The slate is wiped clean; the canvas is blank.  Come, hear fresh the words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne? 
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wandered mony a weary fit
Sin' auld lang syne. 
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
We twa hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne. 
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne. 
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
May God, to Whom time and eternity are one in the same, grant us abundant blessings in the coming year.  May His grace guide us to what is true, good, and beautiful.  May He keep us steadfast in faith, hope, and love.

Happy New Year!

Janus Speaks

I called 2010 the "Year of Chant".

I would have to call 2011 the "Year of Disenchantment".

I can recall a 13 month period in my life which was the most depressing (I'll spare you the details).  The memory of nearly being evicted in 2006 still takes up residence in my mind.  But, outside a couple of events, the past 12 months have not been enjoyable.

Yes, it revolves around my (lack of) economic status.  The doubts about finding any kind of employment grow larger, even if they are barely noticeable.  The little disappointments have become a little more frustrating.  Minor stumbling blocks are seemingly becoming major hurdles.  In wanting to "Go Forward", I seem to have lost a lot of ground.

This guy has nothing on me in the worry department.

While I don't consider myself a pessimist, it is becoming harder to be optimistic.  I feel more like Jeremiah than Job.  The words of the prophet seem more like an empty promise right now:
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.  When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me—oracle of the LORD—and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you—oracle of the LORD—and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.
Jeremiah 29:11-14

But, as St. Paul reminds us, God answers in his own time; "delay" is not in His vocabulary, but ours.  Of course, questions are begging.  Am I seeking Him wholeheartedly? Am I calling and looking for Him sincerely? Is this a battle of wills (one which I can't "win")? What grain of wheat needs to be planted? Is the soil ready for it? Am I truly ready to serve Him as He sees fit?

I had a priest tell me once my honesty would be my salvation.  Now, I don't ever think I will ever be ready to tackle the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (although the Jesuit ideal of seeking and finding God in all things does play a very small part of my spirituality).  But the soul searching continues and I don't think I am the one doing the majority of it.

An acquaintance of mine asked me a few days ago if I had made any New Year's resolutions.  I responded I hadn't thought about it too much.  With the installation of a new calendar only a few hours away, I have decided I will not make any new ones.  I have too many which have not come to fruition; there is plenty of pruning in this vineyard to do first before planting new vines.

It is still summarized in what has become my motto.

Go Forward.

Let's just say the next 366 days will have their own theme.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Net Working

As you can see in the sidebar, I have installed the widget to NetworkedBlogs.

Granted, I don't have a large readership, but I would be interested in seeing who visits this infinitesimal corner of the universe on a regular basis.

Be my guest; register.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Another Christmas Announcement

Blessed Pope John XXIII, three months into his pontificate, had already made his intentions known.

On this day, fifty years ago, he made it official.

The Apostolic Constitution Humanae Salutis, issued December 25, 1961 formally summoned the next ecumenical council, to be held in Vatican City beginning some time next year.

Quite the Christmas present to the Church.

Half a century later, we are still unwrapping it.

2011 Christmas Card

As we, like the shepherds, "... go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15b), may also, like them, glorify and praise God for what we have seen.  May the Christ Child, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, bless us and all we hold dear in our hearts.  May there be joy to the world, for the Lord has come!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Christmas Eve Reflection

Vigils in the Catholic Church are wonderful things.  While they are celebrated the evening before the actual feast, liturgically speaking we have arrived at the day in question, as a nod to the Creation Story in the first chapter of Genesis (And the evening and the morning were  In a sense, it is hodie; in another, it is a foreshadowing of eternity.

And yet, we are still waiting, like the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, like the shepherds, like the rest of the world.  This theme is reflected throughout the Vigil Mass of the Feast of the Incarnation:  Today and still waiting for tomorrow.  We are still traveling to Bethlehem, still anticipating the great event, still awaiting our deliverance.

This tension between "here and now" and "not yet" readily appears in the Propers for this Mass.  If you recall from last year's reflection, they are antiphons used as select points of the Mass.  And like last year, they will be the focal points for my thoughts this December 24.  Once again, I will provide an English translation.

Today you will know that the Lord is coming to save us; and tomorrow you will see his glory.

Cf. Exodus 16:6,7; Isaiah 35:4

These passages are the text for both the Introit and the Gradual.  In their respective Gregorian Chant settings, the latter is more elaborately set than the former as befits their roles.  The Introit prepares the way and establishes the theme for the Mass as we take our final steps toward the House of Bread; the Gradual allows reflection upon not only the First Reading but also our journey this past Advent.

Almost, but not quite there.  The First and Second Readings make that clear.  Isaiah speaks of vindication, victory, and valor, as does St. Paul in this account from the Acts of the Apostles.  But while both were speaking in their "todays", they both referred to something "not yet".  If you get a moment (or if you are assisting at this Mass), take a look at both passages in this light.

Tomorrow the sin of the land will be destroyed, and the Savior of the world will establish over us his kingdom.

This Alleluia is one of the rare times where the Bible is not the source of the text.  But its words are still in concourse with the rest of the Propers.  It is a precursor to the second part (better known as the Short Form) of the first chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, where St. Joseph is receiving his marching orders.  The event for which we have been waiting the past four weeks is not quite accomplished.

Anticipation.  The hopefulness in the build up.  To prepare ourselves for the moment where our joy will be complete.  The feeling that something is within our reach, but we still must wait for it.  Isn't this one of the great moods of Christmas, and why we have Advent?

O Princes, lift up your gates; be lifted high, O eternal gates, and the King of Glory shall make his entry.

Psalm 24:7

How appropriate are these words for the Offertory this night.  Again, we are waiting for the King of Glory to make His entry.  Here is more anticipation.  He is coming, but in a guise we do not recognize unless with Faith.

How ready are we? What is standing in the way of the Way, the Truth, and the Life? What darkness in us still wants to overshadow the Light? How silent is our soul so the Word can be clearly heard? While more focus in recent times has been placed on Advent being a time of preparation, have we heeded the call of St. John the Baptist and continued on our journey of repentance? Have we decreased so He may increase? While conversion begins with a single event, a "now" moment, it is a process of continual renewal, reminding us it it is still "not yet".

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see the salvation which comes from our God.

Cf. Isaiah 40:5 

If the Psalmist's words are ideal for the Offertory this night, how even more so the prophet's words for the Communion.  And not just for this Mass, but for every Mass.  The glory of the Lord is revealed at every Holy Sacrifice; remember, we are not at our own churches, but also the Upper Room and Calvary.  We hear and see our salvation at the words of Institution and the elevation of the Sacred Species.

In the Real Presence, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the form of bread and wine, do we find what we are seeking.  His Glory is finally revealed.  Our salvation is seen at last.

Emmanuel.  God is with us.  His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, played out in so many "todays", are "here" and "now".  The culmination of our longing and watching are complete.  Our Advent is finished.  Let Christmas begin in earnest.

Ero cras.  Tomorrow, I come.

The "here and now" and the "not yet" are reconciled.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Seeking Royalty

Like Mary, the time of confinement is nearly complete.

Our seeking and waiting is near an end.

New royalty, an heir to the throne of David, shall grace us, in more ways than one, with His presence.

The time is drawing near, as the following Advent hymn suggests.


The King shall come when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks;
when beauty gilds the eastern hills
and life to joy awakes.

Not, as of old, a little child,
to bear and fight and die,
but crowned with glory like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and earth's dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that e'er shall last;

And let the endless bliss begin,
by weary saints foretold,
when right shall triumph over wrong,
and truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings.


Ero Cras.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Antiphonal Echo

Once again, we enter into the homestretch of Advent.

Once again, we begin our final preparations for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Once again, we meditate on His coming into the world.

With that in mind, I humbly present once again my series of meditations on the "O" Antiphons.  Along with my meager thoughts, I will once again be linking to posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf of "What Does The Prayer Really Say" and Fr. Mark Kirby, OSB of "Vultus Christi", who, each in their own wonderful ways, will expound on these short verses found in the Liturgy of the Hours.  In fact, Fr. Zuhlsdorf has a short primer on these simple yet profound phrases.

My posts on these are arguably the most popular among my readers, judging by the increase in traffic during this time.

Once again, I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ora Pro Nobis

From Immaculate Conception Church; Marrero, Louisiana

As patroness of the United States of America under this title, we are under her care. On this feast day, let us pray for the welfare of our country, that we may continue to be "one nation, under God".
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone that fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly to you, O virgin of virgins, my mother; to you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer them. Amen.
St. Bernard
Originally posted 12/8/2005.
Re-posted 12/8/2009.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Gone Before Me

The house where I live is only two blocks away from the city-owned cemetery. It serves as a good reminder to watch and be ready, for one doesn't know the hour of death. I exercise the seventh Spiritual Work of Mercy nearly every time I pass it.

Today, it also reminds me of another soul who needs my prayers. It is now twenty years to the day since the passing of my father. The story of his death and funeral are still to this day the saddest in my life. The only other detail I can add is the citation of the First Reading for his Funeral Mass--Isaiah 55:6-9.

Kindly say prayer for the repose of his soul, as well as those who dwell in Purgatory.

Take comfort in these words.

I still do.