Monday, December 31, 2012

Joining The First Sing-A-Long

While time keeps moving forward, we take this moment to remember what has happened with family and/or friends.  The past twelve months are behind us, the next fifty-two weeks beckon.  We make a toast to what has been and what will be, with the help of 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 our eternal God grant us a year of blessings.  May He Who holds all time and places in a single thought bring us "the peace which surpasses all understanding".  May we seek Him with our whole being, find Him in everything good, and love Him Who Is Love.

Happy New Year!

A Brief EOY Review

For the past few years, my motto has been, "Go Forward."  (This is not to be confused with the campaign slogan used by the current sitting and soon to be re-inaugurated POTUS.)

I can honestly say that during 2012, I went the other direction.

I'll spare you the details; it's not a pretty picture.  Let's just say the triplets of despair, discouragement, and disappointment continue to hound me.  While things could be a whole lot worse than they are, I can't say there has been any improvement in the lot of my life.  I wouldn't say I was back at square one, but I do have one foot hovering over it.

Maybe it's not a bad thing if I did, in a way, begin again.  I don't know what to expect anymore, so maybe I should not have expectations.  But, then, that would be a form of hopelessness.

This is a time when I truly need to remind myself of the blessings I do have, the fundamental ones being I still have being and dignity.  Food, clothing, and shelter are still in my realm, unlike so many.  I have a small place in my part of society, unlike so many.  I do have what I need, unlike so many.

The question becomes then about my wants.  What is it my heart truly desires? What is the priority in my soul? What of my essence that will make my existence wholly acceptable to God?

Those are the questions I am being lovingly asked.  When I will give the loving answers will be up to my accepting the grace of God.  When that will happen?

In God's time, when I recognize it.

The end of the world has not happened

2013 is right around the corner.

"Pray, trust, and don't worry."

Go Forward.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year Of Faith In Action

Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.  Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.  Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind a blessing, Grain offering and libation for the LORD, your God.  Blow the horn in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly! Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; Assemble the elderly; gather the children, even infants nursing at the breast; Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her bridal tent.  Between the porch and the altar let the priests weep, let the ministers of the LORD weep and say:  “Spare your people, LORD! do not let your heritage become a disgrace, a byword among the nations! Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Joel 2:12-17

Even though we are in the middle of the Octave of Christmas, there is a call to begin Lent early, as this excerpt from the First Reading of Ash Wednesday reminds us.

On December 6, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement urging the faithful "to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty."  Approved by the bishops in November, this "pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice—it's meant to be simple," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.  While this is all voluntary on the part of individuals, parishes, and dioceses, it is also a tangible way in this Year of Faith to practice what we preach.

The five-point plan:
1.Starting with the Sunday after Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on or near the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November 2013, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.
2.Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the nation.
3.At Sunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include specific intentions for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad.
4.Abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays are encouraged for the intention of the protection of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the Church.
5.The celebration of a second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 is being planned. This Fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services.

Religious faith is not meant to be put under a bushel basket nor shoved out of the public arena.

Static religious practice is not religious practice at all.

"The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Christmas Card

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, may we be filled with every grace and blessing, with peace and joy, with faith, hope and love.  May He, "of the Father's Love begotten, e'er the world began to be," the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, reign in our lives.  As Emmauel, "God is with us," may His works shine forth in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.  "God bless us, every one!"

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Eve Reflection

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.
The verse of this Advent hymn is rich in imagery.  We who are asleep in the darkness of sin will awake to a new and radiant Light.  We finds ourselves now in a kingdom whose Ruler still must win the final battle, but Who will be victorious in the end.  In the middle of this "night" something wonderful for us has happened.  Only a few knew about this event when it happened and set out in haste to confirm what the angels said to them.  Now that the morning sun has greeted the Morning Sun, the whole world can now see Him as He really is.

The Propers for the Christmas Mass at Dawn reinforce the ideas of light and kingship.  He Who is Lord and God over all has made Himself manifest in the most unlikely of ways by taking on the nature of His ultimate creation.  He becomes "like us in all things but sin."  The most radical solution to the most radical problem.

(Note:  The translations used, as for the past two years, are from the 1990 Gregorian Missal, published by the monks of Solesmens, France.)
Radiant light will shine upon us today, for the Lord is born unto us.  He shall be called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace, Father of the world to come.  His reign shall have no end. 
Cf. Isaiah 9: 2, 6; Luke 1:33
The words of the Annunciation and the First Reading at the Midnight Mass are set before the faithful in this Introit.  While Mary would have recalled Gabriel's message, the people of Israel would be familiar with the prophecy.  Now that this new morning has broken, now that the eternal and infinite has cloaked Himself with time and matter, we can have our first clear look at Love made visible and manifest.  We see our newborn King and instinctively reach out to Him.  In this act, symbolic of the first step of the Prodigal Son, we begin to return to the Father with the help of the Son by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He Who seems helpless shows His power and might just by the act of reciprocating, by reaching for us and making us His own again.  St. Augustine is correct:  He Who made us without our consent will only save us with it.
Blessed is he Who comes in the name of the Lord.  The Lord God is our light. 
Psalm 117:26, 27
The adoration hymn of the angels is recalled in the Graduale.  Are not our souls also joining in and saying, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts"?  The new Temple is created, one of living stone, lit by His own radiance, made for a "once for all" sacrifice of Himself, Victim and Priest, offering and oblation.  No wonder why the shepherds were the first to see Him; they saw the spotless Lamb of God and "knew" their care of Him would be special task.  The Good Shepherd was recognized by those like Him; those who took care of flocks of sheep saw He Who would take care of the flock of Israel.
The Lord reigns, he has enrobed Himself with majesty; the Lord has clothed Himself with strength, He has girded Himself with power. 
Psalm 92:10b
What irony we have in the Alleluia.  Helpless as an infant, needy, dependent, Mary's question of  "how can this be" in a broad sense becomes our own.  Humanity still hasn't learned the lesson--you can't put anything past God.  We still try to make God in our own image and likeness, to make Him equal to us.  We have forgotten the fact first and foremost the relationship between God and us is Creator/creature, despite the fact God has befriended us.  We owe Him everything for everything good came from Him.  Because of Original Sin, obedience is a struggle.  Only through humility, by adoring on bended knee, do we begin to receive the grace He offers so that we can hear His voice and follow Him.  As we have to stoop to pick up any infant, so must we stoop to pick up the Christ Child.
For it is God Who has established the world, it shall never be moved; Your throne is established from of old; You are from all eternity. 
Psalm 92:1c, 2
In the Offertory the perfect statement is made as we bring forth the gifts of bread and wine, symbols of creation, which will become the Real Presence.  He Who established the world receives "the world" back from whom and for whom it was created.  Here is our reminder God is God.  Here is the beginning of the proper relationship between God and us.  Here is the acknowledgement we "are dust and unto dust we shall return".  Here is where we can say with the Psalmist, "How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord." (Psalm 116:12-13) Here is the first lesson of humility.
Exult, O daughter of Zion, sing praises O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King is coming, the Holy One, the Savior of the world. 
Zechariah 9:9
Echoes of Palm Sunday reverberate in the Communion.  Once again, as before, the King comes riding on a donkey (albeit the first time in the womb of His Mother). Once again, as before, it was time to be delivered.  Unlike the first time, there was no earthly rejoicing, for He came in cover of night and darkness.  It was only in the light of day that the Light of the World could be seen, even while this Light cannot be overcome by darkness..  It all ties in simply;  no Birth, no Life, no Death, no Resurrection, no Salvation.  And in the receiving of the Precious Body and Blood does He also come, as completely as He did on Holy Thursday, as completely as He did on Good Friday, as completely as He did on Easter Sunday.

Emmauel.  God is with us.  "For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests".  The King of Kings has come when morning dawns.  The Light has triumphantly broke.  Beauty is all around us, not just the hills of the east.  And Life to Joy has awaken forever.  "Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing.  Come, adore on bended knee Christ, the Lord, the newborn King."

Hodie Christus natus est.

Standing Guard

It's not as short of a fourth week of Advent as it could be, but the time of preparation comes quickly to an end.  This translation of the German "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme", originally from the pen of Philipp Nicolai and harmonized famously by Johann Sebatstian Bach, reminds us to be be like good sentinels:
Wake, O wake, and sleep no longer,
For he who calls you is no stranger;
Awake, God's own Jerusalem!
Hear, the midnight bells are chiming
The signal for his royal coming:
Let voice to voice announce his name!
We feel his footsteps near,
The Bridegroom at the door--
Alleluia! The lamps will shine
With light divine 
As Christ the savior comes to reign.
Zion hears the sound of singing;
Our hearts are thrilled with sudden longing;
She stirs, and wakes, and stands prepared.
Christ, her friend, and lord, and lover,
Her star and sun and strong redeemer--
At last his mighty voice is heart.
The Son of God has come
To make with us his home:
Sing Hosanna! The fight is won,
The feast begun;
We fix our eyes on Christ alone. 
Glory, glory, sing the angels,
While music sounds from strings and cymbals;
All humankind, with songs arise!
Twelve the gates into the city,
Each one a pearl of shining beauty;
The streets of gold ring out with praise.
All creatures round the throne
Adore the holy One
With rejoicing: Amen be sung
By ev'ry tongue
To crown their welcome to the King.
Ero cras.  The Bridegroom will soon quit His chambers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Plan "B"

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I look for ways to add to the content of my series of meditations on the "O" Antiphons.  This year I actually found something to use, but not in a format which would allow me to incorporate it as I need.  However, that's not to say I won't use it.

Found in a post at the Chant Cafe, here are a set of motets on these antiphons written by Marc-Antonie Charpentier, who also wrote a Mass for Christmas.  While I wish I could use these independently of each other, they are still delightful little musical nuggets.  A fedora doff to Kathleen Plum, the newest contributor at the Cafe, for finding these.

"O" Yes, Again

Daylight grows shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere.  The winter solstice soon will be upon us and the days after that will start to see increased sunlight.  While we know this comes with the passing of time, we still long for the darkness to abate.

What a perfect metaphor for the ebb and flow of our spiritual life.  The Church uses the rhythm of the seasons to her liturgical advantage.  She gives us the words to express the longing of our hearts and souls at the times we need them.

So it is right now as for those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours/Daily Office on a regular basis. Especially at this time of Advent, as our preparations for the coming of the Christ Child intensify, the yearning for our Savior to come quickens.  It finds its greatest expression at Vespers in the antiphons preceding the Magnificat the next seven days.  It is almost a plea to God through the Virgin to finally be delivered

Yes, making its appearance for the seventh straight year are my modest and humble reflections on the "O" Antiphons.  Those of you who are familiar with these posts know in past years I have included thoughts from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say) and Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB (Vultus Christi) as well.  I hope to add something else to the mix; we'll see if happens.

Arguably my most popular and well-received musings, I hope you continue to enjoy these meditations from those people who know them better and one person who thinks he can match that content.

Maranatha.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Tonight, our cries will begin to be heard.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December 2012 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Migrants. That migrants throughout the world may be welcomed with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities.

Mission:  Christ, light for all humanity. That Christ may reveal himself to all humanity with the light that shines forth from Bethlehem and is reflected in the face of his Church.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Four Weeks 'Fore Christmas

Here we are again at the start of a new liturgical year.

The Advent of our King, as we celebrate His first coming and continue to prepare for His second, is upon us.

It is time to change colors.

More importantly, it is time to change our souls, hearts, and minds.

It is time to physically prepare for Christmas.

More importantly, it is time to spiritually prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

Unlike the world, who waited for ages, and Mary, who waited nine months, we only have "four" weeks until "the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us".

How are we preparing our manger? How are we heeding the words of St. John the Baptist? How much are we like Elizabeth? How much are we like St. Joseph?

Let this be a fruitful time, so that "we, like Mary, rest, confounded that a stable should display Heaven's Word, the world's Creator, cradled there."

Let us be sincere when we say, "Maranatha."

Let us again prepare the way for the Lord.