Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Calendar's Entrance Hymn

"Out with the old; in with the new."  The promise of January 1 lies before us; the memories made the past 365 days we can use to our advantage.  The familiar words of Robert Burns will ring in the evening sky:

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 triune God, Who sees past, present, and future, guide us along this time upon earth.  May He Who knows eternity grant us the grace to know Him better every day of our lives.  May He Who has no beginning or end bless us infinitely.

Happy New Year!


I honestly don't know what to make of 2013.

It was not, for the most part, "a very good year" for me personally.  Only the last six weeks have seen any improvement in my overall mood.  And that's because of maybe the only good news the calendar year saw.

I haven't mentioned it yet, lest I feared it would be another lost economic opportunity.  But, at last, I have regained some kind of foothold in the job market.  I have a part-time position with a company that provides people who demonstrate products in a members-only warehouse. Right now it's only one, maybe two days a week, but at least I am working.  The numbers on the paychecks are not big, but they are paychecks.  It's the psychological payoff that has more value:

  1. I am regaining some lost dignity after having been out of work for as long as I have.  At least I have a feeling of being productive.
  2. I am getting back some self-confidence in my abilities to relate to the public at large.  Whatever marketable skill sets I have are being strengthened.
  3. I am hoping this is "the job which gets me a job."  Now that I am employed, the perception I want to project is that I am more employable.
My motto for the past few years has been "Go Forward."  It seems I have taken a surer step in the right direction. I need to have the courage to take another.

That's the material side of my life. It has tried the spiritual side sorely not only the past twelve months, but the six prior to that.  That time span has been perhaps the darkest, most depressing part of my life.  Hope has been as elusive as a rare butterfly.  I just wondered at times if I would ever come out of the shell I created.

Robert Browning's line, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for" now has a glimmer of truth to it for me.  My reaching in faith is not in vain. The goal of 2014 will be to grasp something more substantial.

So in a few hours the promise of a new year will be welcomed.

The words of Robert Frost echo in my mind:
"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep."
Turn the page.  Charge ahead prayerfully and thoughtfully.  Go Forward.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Christmas Card

May Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate today, through His Father and in the Holy Spirit, grant you every grace and blessing.  As "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God," may he fill you with peace, joy, hope, and love.  As "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," may He rule with justice and mercy as we bend the knee in adoration and servitude.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Christmas Eve Reflection

For the past three years I have used the Propers for the Masses of the Feast of the Incarnation as my inspiration for this annual post.  In 2010, the focus was on the Propers for the Mass During the Night (commonly known as the "Midnight" Mass); 2011 saw comments on the Propers for the Vigil Mass; 2012 brought forth thoughts from the Propers for the Mass at Dawn.  Tonight I complete the cycle as we meditate on the Propers for the Mass During the Day.

A purpose of the Propers is to accompany a liturgical action within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Four of the five actions are processional in nature:  the ministers going to the altar at the beginning of Mass (the Introit), the presentation of the Book of the Gospels before its proclamation (the Alleluia/Tract), the bringing of the gifts (the Offertory), and the reception of Holy Communion (the Communion); the fifth is meditational, as the Gradual should allow the congregation a change to reflect on the reading just proclaimed.  In their own way, they allow for the full, conscious active participation of those who gather in worship.

From Eve to Night to Dawn to Daylight, the Light of the World has slowly arrived via the Scripture readings used at each Mass.  In this Mass we can now behold Him as He Is--the King in pauper's clothing, the Word made flesh, Emmanuel. In the light of day we find the Savior laying upon a wooden structure, extending His arms in an embrace of love, prefiguring His embrace of the Cross.  Our salvation is at hand; for that, we rejoice.

(Note: The translations used are once again from the 1990 Gregorian Missal, published by the monks of Solesmens, France.)
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Dominion is on his shoulder and his name shall be called the Angel of Great Counsel. Sing unto the Lord a new song, for he has accomplished wondrous deeds. 
Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 97:1a

For those of us who are awake enough to be at this Mass after assisting in the Midnight Mass, the echo of that First Reading is found in this Introit.  The days of Mary's confinement are now complete and she has delivered what God has promised:  His own beloved Son.  This most wondrous deed, this great mystery, this act full of awe, this seemingly miraculous accomplishment--how can our hearts and souls not sing of its glorious might? "The King of Glory comes; the nation rejoices."
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation which comes from our God; sing joyfully to God all the earth. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 
Psalm 97:3cd-4; 2
The Gradual makes it clear what has been hidden from the sight of man because of Original Sin, the glory of God, is now on display for the whole world to see.  What the Law heralded and the Prophets foretold has now been fulfilled.  All the witness and witnesses of the Old Testament has borne its fruit in the first born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the blessed fruit of which Elizabeth spoke.  Salvation is within our reach.
A holy day has dawned upon us; come all ye nations and adore the Lord. For today a great light has descended upon the earth.
Here is another of those rare cases where the words for a Proper are not taken from Scripture, yet this Alleluia verse beautifully prepare the congregation for what is about to be proclaimed--the arrival of the Light of the World. This verse precedes one of the most elegant and eloquent passages in all of the Bible, used as the "Last Gospel" in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass:  the Prologue of the Gospel according to St. John (1:1-18).  As the birth of the world in Genesis was announced with the phrase "In the beginning", so it is with the birth of Jesus Christ.  As the world was created with a word, so is it also re-created with the Word.  As light was begotten on the first day, so is the Light also begotten on this "first day".  Grace and truth filled the world the first time before Original Sin; now it is truly in the world again.

Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis.
Yours are the heavens, yours is the earth, the world and the fullness thereof have been founded by you. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. 
Psalm 88:12 and 15a
How fitting these words for Offertory.  All belong to Christ because He made all.  He who created all things visible and invisible claims His rightful spot among us.  The King of Kings takes His earthly throne so as to prepare to take His Heavenly one.  We are only giving to Him what He has given to us, but in that giving we acknowledge the Giver.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation which comes from our God. 
Psalm 97:3cd
The opening clause of the Gradual returns as the Communion.  But here it has new meaning.  The words of consecration have been spoken.  In another very real sense Christ has come down again from Heaven.  The Bread of Life Who was born in the House of Bread, our spiritual food Who was placed in a feeding trough, has now appeared as the new manna for the new Chosen People.  The Word made flesh is now given to us so we may fulfill His command, "Take this, all of you (the ends of the earth), and eat of it."  In the Real Presence we see the very salvation coming from God and "his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth."

The Propers for this Mass allow us to fully rejoice about "this thing which has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."  We can do this because the Nativity has been brought into the light over the Masses of this feast.  In the final Mass of the day full illumination allow us to see clearly what has happened.

Hodie Christus natus est.

The dear Christ Child has entered the world.

Let us rejoice and be glad.


My other reflections not found above:

A Plea On The Eve

The words are from Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin (1663-1745) and are an English translation of the French carol "Venez Divin Messie" by Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND (1825-1904).

It is our hope this day:


1. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

2. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

3. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

4. O Christ, whom nations sigh for,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Come break the captive fetters;
Redeem the long-lost fold.

5. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

6. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

7. You come in peace and meekness,
And lowly will your cradle be;
All clothed in human weakness
Shall we your Godhead see.

8. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

9. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.


Ero cras.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dog, Gone Again

It is said bad things happen in threes.

When it comes to canines associated with this house, the trilogy has now been completed.

Last Friday morning, the other German Shepherd, Josephine, died.

Between the hustle and bustle of work and holiday preparation, this has been the only chance I've had to say a few words about this. I can report the cause of death was old age.  She was 12 years old.  While Catherine Garcia, her owner, and I were hoping to see her live past Christmas, we also were expecting her demise.  Having outlasted her running mate, Eugene, by over a year and a half, the sadness at her passing was tempered by the knowledge of the good life she had.

Her life wasn't without its troubles.  She came from a person who seemed to be running a bit of a puppy mill and was separated from her mom at four weeks.  Catherine had also told me some relatives of her late husband were rather over the edge when it came to disciplining the dog.  It all added up to Jo (her nickname) being a bit neurotic.

There was no mistaking who the alpha of the pack was, however.  She was large and in charge, but it was all a show.  The other dogs in the house were always afraid of getting past her for whatever reason; many a time I had to escort both Gene and Boston (the boxer who is still with us) past Jo just so they could get to where they wanted to go.  Her favorite stunt was to lay in front of the food and water dishes so nobody could get to them.

However, she would obey the sound of my voice.  For her, I was one of the greatest things on two legs she ever met.  And there were times where her maternal instincts would emerge.  She was very protective of the cats we have, even to the point of somewhat successfully herding them.  There were times she would groom Willow, the large tom we have.  You just wonder what kind of mother she would have been, as evidenced by this photo of her with Samantha.

I am told German Shepherds need to be around their breed to be happy.  She did OK after Gene's death, perhaps because Boston was here as well as both Samantha and Chloe (a new lab mix Catherine's youngest got a week after Samantha met her demise).  But the last few months were not easy.  In the last 6-8 months she has noticeably lost a lot of weight.  Then for the past 2-3 months, hip displacia, a common ailment in this breed, developed.  It was hard to see her drag herself around the homestead, but as long as she wasn't in pain. having her euthanized was not an option.  Catherine was even considering having some kind of wheelchair built for her.

But you could tell she was going.  Accidents in the house were a bit more frequent.  She was noticeably tired this past week.  And then she stopped eating and drinking.  When this past Friday came, she barely had the strength to drag herself around the dining room.

Catherine was in her home office/sewing room in the middle of that morning.  I had just stepped into my office to start my computer.  When I came back to the dining room about 10:35,  I found Josephine lying in front of the food and water dishes.  She wasn't breathing.  I called Catherine.  She came out, looked at Jo, and started to sob.  I came to give Catherine a hug; she cried out in a voice that almost sounded like a child.

"My doggie's gone."

Like Eugene, Josephine will also be cremated.  Thanks to a neighbor who loaned us the money, we were able to pay to have this done at a local veterinary clinic.  Her remains are expected sometime after Christmas.

In life and death, they will be together.

As it should be.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

7th. Time Seven "O"s

Once again we are nearing the end of Advent.  The rose candle in our Advent wreaths has been lit, signaling we are at least half-way through the season.  We notice daylight becoming less and less as we near the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.  And perhaps we are busier in our material preparations for Christmas.

Starting today, however, it is in the recitation of Vespers where we get the sense of not only Advent coming to a close but also the Christ Child drawing near.  For the next seven nights the antiphons used prior to the recitation of the Magnificat lead us to recall the prophecies of the Savior to come, each a title which underscores and points toward December 25.  From the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
...They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.
As is custom this time of year, this infinitesimal corner of the universe presents its series of meditations on the "O" Antiphons for your edification.  The reflections of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB, as well as my own widow's mite, are once again offered.  Also included is a copy of the music of the antiphon and a link to it being intoned.  (Fedora doff to Fr. Jim Tucker of the defunct 'blog "Dappled Things" via the the 'blog "Fisheaters" for the recordings.)

The traffic numbers suggest these are my most popular posts.  Perhaps because their message is timeless as well as timely is why I repeat them every year.  The Word still speaks.

Enjoy as we come toward the day of fulfillment.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

While We Wait

And now, a word from my bishop regarding this Advent season, as found in the diocesan newspaper, the Intermountain Catholic:

With Advent, we are starting a new liturgical year. The liturgical year is at the core of our lives as Catholics, because our ability to mark time in any way is part of God’s love and God’s gift. 
I remember as a young seminarian going to see the musical Godspell, and being mesmerized by the beautiful themes and the wonderful message that was put in a very modern and realistic way. I remember that clarion call of John the Baptist, "Prepare the way of the Lord." 
This is the message of Advent. It is a time of preparation, a time to prepare the way of the Lord even as we await the Lord. 
But a very dear friend of mine, Father Gene Konkel, SS, always used to ask, "Who is waiting for whom?" 
We are certainly, on a very real level, waiting for the Lord at Christmas, but really it’s God who waits for us. The way that we prepare is our lives. We look forward to accepting God in our lives, so Advent is a time of preparation, to prepare our souls, our hearts and our lives to receive Christ at Christmas. 
Advent is a time to ask ourselves what are the crooked ways in our lives. Each of us might ask: What are the crooked ways on which I sometimes get lost, or I take a detour? What are the crooked ways that need to be made straight in my life? What are those mountains that are blocking my spiritual path? What are the obstacles to finding Christ more fully in my life? What are the obstacles to me leading a more faith-filled life, a more trusting life? 
Advent is a time for us to consider these questions of how each of us, in our own way, can prepare to receive Christ at Christmas. So, yes, prepare the way of the Lord. We are awaiting Christ this Christmas, and so beautifully he is waiting for us. 
Yours in Christ,
+ The Most Rev. John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City

December 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering::
General:  Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. 
Mission: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.

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.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Leader In Training

As you may or may not know, I have been involved with the Church Music Association of America for almost four years and have been a formal (i.e.--dues paying) member for three years.  I have had the privilege of being able to sing the best of what the Church has to offer in terms of music at beautifully reverent Masses in some amazing churches.  Just as importantly, I have had the chance to rub elbows with many wonderfully talented musicians from across the country as well as some from outside our borders.

While there is a wonderful mix of ages within the organization, it is heartening to see the generation behind me making up the lion's share of the demographics.  While the leadership now is internationally respected and well-known, I do ask myself who is capable of stepping up to replace those now in front.  There are many worthy candidates to carry the torch.  It will be a classic case of pygmies standing on the shoulders of giants.

I would like to introduce you to a person (or in this case, let him introduce himself) who may someday, if willing, fill a pair of shoes.  An accomplished organist with a Master of Music from Cleveland State University, he recently started a new position after a successful stop in the Pittsburgh area.  My gratitude for allowing me to re-post this presentation he made this morning at his new digs.  (Edited for format only.)


For those of you who might not know me, my name is Ryan Murphy and I’m the new Director of Sacred Music and Liturgy here at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. (Editor's Note:  Sun City West, AZ.) I’d like to take some time to talk about my job title and what it entails, as many of us are confused about what “liturgy” and “sacred music” really are.

First, liturgy. What is liturgy? My dictionary tells me that it’s “a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, esp. Christian worship, is conducted.” or “a religious service conducted according to such a form or formulary.” The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that in Christian use “liturgy” means the official public service of the Church. But what makes up this official public service of the Church?

The first thing that comes to mind is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As Fr. Larry Richards tells us “the most important thing we can do on this earth is to go to Mass.” Pope Paul VI told us that “the Mass is the most perfect form of prayer.” The Church even teaches us that we must attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of obligation, and we are encouraged to go more often as well. The Mass is the most important aspect of the liturgy.

The second most important aspect of the liturgy is the Divine Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours. All priests are required to pray this every day, and the second Vatican council encouraged the laity to do this as well. The Divine Office consists mainly of singing or reciting psalms, with readings and antiphons interspersed as well. Lauds, or Morning Prayer; Vespers, or Evening Prayer; and Compline, or Night Prayer are some of the most important parts, or “hours” of the Divine Office. Unfortunately the Divine Office has not been a very public part of the experience of being a Catholic in recent times. Most of us see it as something that cloistered monks and nuns do, not the Catholic civilians like us. On the contrary, the Divine Office is a hugely important part of our Faith. For example, in the Middle Ages, everyone was required to attend Sunday Vespers in addition to Sunday Mass.

The other six sacraments besides the Eucharist are also part of the Church’s liturgy. However, anointing of the sick is usually not public, and thanks be to God, neither is confession! But matrimony, holy orders, and confirmation are certainly important parts of the Church’s liturgy.

What, then is something we as Catholics do that is not the liturgy? Well, lots of things. For example, the recitation of the rosary, even in public, is not liturgy. However, the rosary is perhaps our most important devotion. After all, at Fatima Our Lady asked us to pray it every day.

The distinction between what is liturgy and what is not liturgy can be classified with the terms “liturgical” and “devotional”. What is liturgical is codified, official, and even somewhat rigid. It is handed down to us from our ancestors in the Church. Liturgy comes from God. What is devotional is personal. It is the cry of the children of God, praying to Him or to his saints for intercession. The charismatic prayer group that we have at Our Lady of Lourdes is a good example of devotional prayer. Think of your favorite hymns. These are devotional prayers. 

Back to the liturgy. How does it work, exactly? Well, the liturgy is noble work, the most noble work we can engage in. But who does that work? Isn’t it us, the people of God? Don’t we do liturgy when we attend and participate in Mass? The answer may surprise you. 

The sacred liturgy is Christ's work, not ours. The liturgy is not something we do, it's something that God is doing in our presence. It is not for cardinals, popes, bishops, or any of us, to do things with the liturgy. Rather, it is our privilege and duty to join in the liturgy as it has been handed on to us and to allow it, to allow Christ working in and through it, to do things with us!

So when we participate in the liturgy, it is important to do what God wants from us. God is doing the work, after all, we need to put our desires and cares by the wayside and surrender to God’s almighty presence. This is our joy and our privilege. After all, Vatican II teaches us that “the Sacred Liturgy is the the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.”

So how do we do this? How do we know what God wants from us within the context of the liturgy, especially the Mass? Well, God’s Son gave us a Church. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it and he promised to be with us until the end of time. Our Catholic Church has clear teachings about the liturgy and what is best for it. Since liturgy is the very highest form of prayer, let’s look into some of those teachings.

We’ll start with the Catechism. Articles 1124 and 1125 are as follows:
“The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles—whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi,...(t)he law of prayer is the law of faith. The Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. 
For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.”
So the liturgy is something we should not be tampering with! It is ours to engage in and to safeguard. Since the liturgy is something that God is doing in our presence, we must give life to it in the best way possible. The liturgy must be sacred and beautiful.

One of the easiest ways to make the liturgy sacred and beautiful is through music. Vatican II teaches us that “the musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” “Sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.” “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given principal place in liturgical services.”

So Gregorian chant is the answer. It is the most important, most appropriate music for Mass, according to our Church’s teaching. In fact, Pope Pius X said that “The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.” Gregorian chant is the paradigm.

You are all familiar with the Gregorian chant settings of the Kyrie, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei that we sing at Sunday Mass. These are three of the five parts of the Mass Ordinary, the other two being the Gloria and the Credo, or Nicene Creed. The Mass Ordinary refers to the parts of the Mass that are generally repeated in each liturgy, making them easiest for the congregation to sing.

But there are other musical parts of the Mass that change with each Mass. These are assigned to the choir and are called the propers. There are five sung Propers: the Introit, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the Offertory, and the Communion.

The Introit chant proper is often replaced by the processional hymn. The Gradual, which follows the first reading, is now almost always replaced by the Responsorial Psalm. The Alleluia, with its verse, immediately precedes the Gospel reading; it is replaced by the Tract during Lent. The Offertory is not just the act of presenting and preparing the gifts, but is a chant prescribed for the Mass of the day. The Communion chant, sung after the communion of the priest, is also prescribed for the Mass of the day.

Ideally, all five Propers are sung in their Gregorian settings. Since this is unfortunately a foreign concept to us, I’d like to take the time now to introduce you to the Propers by singing those which are prescribed for the feast of the Epiphany.

[Sang and briefly explained the Epiphany Gregorian propers and Simple English propers]

Sure, Gregorian chant is the most important music for Mass, but aren’t there other forms of music that are OK for Mass? Absolutely. Vatican II taught that sacred polyphony holds an important place too. Sacred polyphony is choral music that is woven together in many lines of music, as opposed to Gregorian chant which is just one line of music. Here’s an example from English composer William Byrd:

[Played the King’s Singers’ recording of Byrd’s Civitas sancti tui]

Another instrument especially important for the liturgy is the pipe organ. Vatican II taught that “the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things.” The organ’s method of producing sound recalls the human voice itself. Its use over the centuries in a solo and supportive role has given the organ a unique status above all other instruments. For an example of organ music, you’ll have to come to my recital on Sunday, October 27 at 3:00 PM, right here at Our Lady of Lourdes. One afternoon only!

But what about hymns, you ask? Well, they’re devotional music, not liturgical music. They are allowed in the liturgy, but they’re not ideal. This is not to discredit hymnody. There are many wonderful and theologically important hymns that we sing. But hymns are not sacred music. As our Bishop, His Excellency Thomas Olmsted teaches us:
“Sacred music is distinct from the broader category of what we may call ‘religious’ music, that which aids and supports Christian faith but is not primarily a part of the sacred liturgy. ‘Religious’ music includes various devotional music, such as much popular hymnody, ‘praise and worship’ music, as well as a host of other musical forms.” “In the sacred liturgy, we enter the precincts not of man’s culture but the heavenly courts of Christ, the culture of the Church, the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
In the liturgy we should be taken out of our ordinary lives and encounter God. Thus, it is fitting that the music we sing at Mass is otherwordly, beautiful, and prayerful. As Archbishop Alexander Sample says:
“It is clear that the Second Vatican Council calls for the liturgy to be sung. In recent decades we’ve adopted the practice of singing songs at Mass. We take the Mass, and attach four hymns or songs to it. But this is not the Church’s vision. We need to get away from singing songs at Mass and return to singing the Mass.”
So let us follow and even embrace the teaching of the Church in humble obedience, trusting in her wisdom with our whole hearts. And let us heed the words of St. Josemaria Escriva, who said:
“The Church sings, it has been said, because merely to speak would not satisfy its desire for prayer. You, as a Christian—and a chosen Christian—should learn to sing the liturgical chant.”

One of many out there.

The "kids" will be alright.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Still More Intercession

I turned to this prayer when I was seeking work back in 2004 and for a time when I lost my last job. 

I discontinued posting it at the top of my 'blog for just over a year. (UPDATE 1/26) January 2, 2012 was the last time this subject matter surfaced.

It's time to make its reappearance.


Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua: 
Good Saint Anthony, in God's providence you have secured for His people many marvelous favors. You have been especially celebrated, good Saint Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home. You are widely known also, good Saint Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth. In honoring you, Saint Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need. Pray for us, good Saint Anthony, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 
May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your Confessor and Doctor, Saint Anthony. May his spiritual help always make us strong, and by his assistance may we enjoy an eternal reward. This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen. 
(This post will remain at the top until further notice.)

Medicinal Humor

Way overdue for some levity.

Just found this on my Facebook page from one of my "friends".

Too good (or bad) to resist.


A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, "I'm sorry; your duck, Cuddles, has passed away."

The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead," replied the vet.

"How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room. The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry; but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!" she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!"

The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20; but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering::
General:  People in Despair. That those feeling so crushed by life that they wish to end it may sense the nearness of God's love. 
Mission:  World Mission Day. That the celebration of World Mission Day may help all Christians realize that we are not only receivers but proclaimers of God's word.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Eight Is Not Enough

It all started with this.

Some 700+ entries later (counting all the re-posts), as the lyrics say, "I'm still standing."

Eight years of sharing my thoughts (and at times baring my soul).

Sporadic at times, as I keep a quote by Mark Twain in mind.  But I don't feel bad about that.  Some of the people I read don't let their 'blogging interfere with their living.  Blessed are they who are examples of having the right priorities.

As I am not a writer by trade, I have never wanted to keep up with the Sheas, Wellborns, Palmas, and Fr. Zuhlsdorfs of the 'blogging world.  My contribution, for what it's worth, has always been in proportion to the size of my corner of the universe.  Maybe I have provided a slightly different insight at times.  I think there have been things which have been well received.  In a sense, I am just part of the cacophony.

This is and will continue to be a hobby.  God knows I have more important things to do; and, after those are accomplished, there will be other activities which will concern me.  I am content for this part of my status quo to be status quo.

But I do thank each and every one of you who do peruse me once in a great while. The almost 48,000 visitors (as of this post) who have found this to be of value are appreciated.  If I provide a service to you, praise God; if not, so be it.  It is what it is.

But this will go on for the foreseeable future.  It still is enjoyable.  It still challenges me in good ways.

I continue this part of my journey of life, which hopefully leads to Life.

Enter when you have the chance and something new (or old) surfaces.

You are still more than welcome in my infinitesimal corner of the universe.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and some unknown target which by heroic actions became a field near Shanksville, PA.  It also marks the first anniversary of the attacks at the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others were killed.  Two distinct incidents but with ties obvious and not so.

Evil must have a wicked sense of humor if it wants to remember today like it does.

In a 2007 post related to the events of this memorial, I suggested praying for the following:
1. The souls of all who died.
2. Those who still mourn.
3. Those who seek a just solution.  (While this may have been accomplished May 1, 2011,     have we really solved the problem?)
4. Forgiveness toward our enemies.
5. Our enemies (didn't Someone command us to do this?).
6. The courage to continue the fight.
7. Peace.
What I offer this year as my tribute is another prayer:
O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain. 
We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here—the heroic first-responders:  our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001. 
We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness.  Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.  Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope. 
We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering. 
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth.  Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. 
God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.  Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain.  Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all. 
Pope Benedict XVI

April 20, 2008

As I have encouraged so often this time of year, go search out other tributes on the web.  Maybe even visit this website.  This post is offered once again as a simple honoring of these events.

Forgetting what has happened is not an option.

We still have much work to do so there can be "peace on earth".

But we still must remember those who have fallen, so they "will not have died in vain."

Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Value of Silence. That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters. 
Mission:  Persecuted Christians. That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may by their witness be prophets of Christ's love.

Friday, August 02, 2013

August 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Parents and Teachers. That parents and teachers may help the new generation to grow in upright conscience and life. 
Mission:  The Church in Africa. That the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Another Dog, Gone

In the almost six years I have been in Farmington, the house in which I reside has had more than its share of pets abiding with Catherine Garcia and me.  You were introduced to the two German Shepherds about two years ago under unfortunate circumstances.  The house has also played host to four cats (another story for another time) and two other dogs since my arrival.

The other two canines belong to Catherine's two youngest children.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, Catherine has been asked to shelter the animals for a time.  One is a three-year old, male, purebred, brindle colored boxer named Boston, owned by her son.  The other was a female, black Labrador retriever mix who was owned by her youngest daughter.

Yes, unfortunately, past tense.  Tragedy has once again befallen this humble homestead of pet owners and caretakers.  Another obituary for another dog.

The Beginning

Let me introduce you to Samantha.  (The photo is of her when she first arrived; she grew into the classic retriever shape--lean and long.)

The mix part of her was that of husky.  The only hints of it were the different colored eyes (one brown and one steel blue), gray markings on the tip of her tail and all four paws, and a thin streak of that coloring on her breast and stomach.  Speaking of that tail--her wagging it would have given Eugene a run for his money, in terms of speed and force.

She was not a native of Utah.  According to the story I have been told, she and her brother were abandoned at a rest stop.  Somewhere in Colorado.  (When I hear that, I alternate between shaking my head in dismay and having my blood boil.)  A family rescued them and brought them back to the Salt Lake City area.  After they were properly vaccinated, an ad was posted on a local internet bulletin board.  Sometime in September, 2012 she had her new home.  Here.  (Her owner was still living at home at the time.)

The Middle

Her high energy level was a great match for Boston.  The two of them became great buddies and playmates. It was always amusing to see them wrestle each other, whether indoors or out.  The growls emanating from both sounded so fierce at times.

She was definitely a retriever.  She took more small bags of garbage out the pet door than I remembered counting.  One also couldn't leave any kind of loaf of bread on the counter.  And let's just say she was more than helpful in taking down clothes from the clothesline before they were dry, never mind the two recliners that were her favorite chew toys.

One has to wonder if there were abandonment issues with her.  While not constantly wanting attention, she did want to be around people, even more so when her owner moved into her own apartment last April, a complex where Samantha could not stay permanently.  One also had to wonder about her being secure.  Scolding her for misbehaving sometimes caused her to roll on her back in a submissive position.  Yet she had that same posture for when she had your total attention and plenty of affection.

More than anything, she wanted to love and be loved.  She was always looking for an opportunity to lick your face. You did get a sense that she was glad to be here.

The End

But, she was a strong-willed dog.  She wanted the world to be her back yard, not just the 1/10 of an acre which was.  She took advantage of opened house doors and fence gates when she could.  Running around the neighborhood, it was always a game of chase with her.  She was difficult to catch.  And that would be her downfall.

Last night, she escaped as Catherine and I were ready to take one of Catherine's friends home.  It was about 8:45 PM, with cloudy and rainy skies obscuring the twilight.  We lost sight of her after she went to a neighbor's yard.  She did knew where "home" was, so we decided to not chase her.  When we came back about forty minutes later, and after a short drive around a few blocks, looking at places where we knew she had visited and thought she may be, I just about ran her over coming into the driveway.  But, she still wouldn't come inside.  Again, we decided not to chase.  About 9:30, I went outside and stood on the front porch looking for her.  She ran by, still wanting to be chased.  I didn't.

It was the last time I would see her alive.

About fifteen minutes later, two teenage girls came to the house.  Catherine met them outside first, then I joined them quickly.  They broke the news to us, then led me to where her body was, just a couple of blocks away.  In picking her up to get her out of the street, her head went limp, a sign that her neck was broken by the impact and she died immediately.  Catherine joined us a few minutes later.

The young ladies gracious stayed with the body for a bit as Catherine and I went back home.  I returned to the accident scene, wheelbarrow in tow.  I gently place her in it, carefully positioning her in a way that made me feel I was still giving her dignity as a living creature.  The girls escorted me home and then walked back to their house.  I place this temporary morgue under the car port and covered it with a tarp, securing it with cinder block, to protect her from the elements.

The Postlude

About 9:30 this morning, Catherine called the county's Animal Control Department and requested disposal of the remains.  An officer came about an hour later.  I assisted her in putting Samantha in the truck bed.

While I was waiting, I returned to accident scene.  As I looked north from where her corpse was found, I notice a trail of dry blood, the point of impact.  I don't think the driver could have seen her, but I wonder why the person didn't stop to help. (Another boiling point).   I estimated the distance between the two points at about 15 yards.

"Sammie", as she was more commonly called, was only 15 months old.  (I don't know how I find these connections; I just do.)

There is some "survivors' guilt" here, a sense of second guessing our decisions.  It is part of the grieving process; it will, eventually, be done.  There is a solemn and sober mood here, as there should be.

Samantha, you were loved and will be missed.

And I want to thank you for the message that was your life.

Sometimes, you have to live like the gate is open.

Friday, July 05, 2013

It's A (Fifty)-"One"-derful Life

Well, it's going to happen again.

Another birthday.

Frankly (and with quite a bit of bias, I might add), I think it's a very good thing.

While I might not be the embodiment of Irenaeus spirituality, I still hope I show some of God's glory in my life.

I still happen to enjoy "living and moving and having my being".  I still like this mortal coil, while heeding the voice of the Trinity.  I still revel in the challenge of being in the world but not of the world.  While I still struggle with the crosses I have (and accepting the ones I haven't yet), it is and will be worth it to work out my salvation in trembling and fear.

God knows of my successes and failings regarding that matter.  His Grace is sufficient, but only if it is used.  I know I lack, but He knows how much.  To eventually see Him as He is requires the work of a lifetime; buoyed by the Church He founded and the other disciples who follow Him, it can be accomplished.

Max Ehrmann is correct, "With all it's sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

I rejoice and give thanks to God I am still a part of it.

May I be blessed to see the next time this date comes on the calendar.

Doubling Up

Quite the newsworthy day at the Vatican.

First, there was this announcement.

Then, there was this announcement.

The Church rejoices for both.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Prayers For A Nation

Today ends the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops' "Fortnight For Freedom" campaign, which consisted of a series of prayers, reflections, and public activities to promote the defending of religious freedom as truly framed in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  I don't know how much your parish or diocese participated, but I hope it did some things.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at "What Does The Prayer Really Say" posts on a prayer composed by the first Bishop of the United States, Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore.  As one of his commenters noted, it makes a great template for the Universal Prayers.

Our country needs intercession more than ever.

Perhaps some of these could find their way into your prayer life.

Immaculate Mary, patroness of the United States of America, pray for us.


Originally posted 7/4/2012.

Monday, July 01, 2013

July 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  World Youth Day.   That World Youth Day in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.
Mission:  Asia. That throughout Asia doors may be open to messengers of the Gospel.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"The Hills Are Alive..." Again

Wishing I were here.

Alas, I couldn't even come up with the widow's mite, much less the registration fee.

Maybe next time.

My plan, however, is to attend as many of the liturgies as possible, as they are open to the public.

To those who are there:

Sing pretty.

"Sing twice."

Saturday, June 01, 2013

June 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Mutual Respect. That a culture of dialogue, listening, and mutual respect may prevail among peoples. 
Mission:  New Evangelization. That where secularization is strongest, Christian communities may effectively promote a new evangelization.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Second Joyful Mystery

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mosaic)
Adoration Chapel, Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Clyde, MO

Julie D. provides a thoughtful post on today's feast day.


Originally posted 5/31/2006

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Administrators of Justice. That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience. 
Mission:  Seminaries. That seminaries, especially those of mission churches, may form pastors after the Heart of Christ, fully dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Liturgy, Source of Life. That the public, prayerful celebration of faith may give life to the faithful. 
Mission:  Mission Churches. That mission churches may be signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 Easter Card

May our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, be adored, praise, and worshiped. May He Who overcame sin and death bring you abundant grace in your life. May this overwhelming act of love which won for us our redemption fill you with the joy and peace He alone can bring. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter, Everybody!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Praeconium Paschale

Night has or is about to fall over the United States.

Easter Vigils have or are about to start.

The lighting of the Easter Candle and the proclamation of the Exsultet mark the first climax of this wonderful liturgy.

Here again are the Latin and English versions of this hymn of praise for our salvation.

May its joy echo within your whole being.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reminders Of Divine Mercy

Today begin the Novena of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Over the years this 'blog has existed, I have gently reminded my readers of this relatively new devotion.  The original post in 2006, "Jesus, I Trust In You", and the 2011 version, Reminded Of Mercy, provide the basics on the "how to" and "why".

This line from the Roman Canon/Eucharistic Prayer I says it best--

"To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies,..."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Words" Perfectly Timed

It seems so early in the Gregorian calendar, but in reality it is right on schedule.  The spring equinox has passed.  A full moon arrives shortly.  A Sunday follows that.  Heaven and earth dictate Easter will soon be here.

But one cannot have an end to what is called Holy Week without a beginning, which is Palm Sunday.  And so as we beginning to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I once again offer my series of meditations based upon the "Seven Last Words" the Savior said as he hung on the Cross at Calvary.  As they have been for the previous six years, I hope they are a starting point upon which you can reflect on this marvelous act of redemption.

Come back in a few hours to gaze upon the true Tree of Life.

Recall how salvation was won.

Remember this merciful deed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papem--2013

Anybody see this coming?

The Holy Spirit says, "Surprise!"

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
habemus Papam:
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio
qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.


I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord Jorge Mario Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Bergoglio,
Who takes for himself the name of Francis.

Soon To Be Replaced

White smoke has been seen from the Sistine Chapel.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Aquinas And Less?

This past Tuesday, I received the following e-mail from Ian Rutherford, President of Aquinas and More Catholic Bookstore.  The only editing I have done are slight formating issues:
My dear friends and customers, 
I write to you today with some news. As most of you know by now, after more than 10 years of business, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods announced it would be closing at the end of February. Admittedly, this was not an easy decision for us at all. 
A funny thing happened on the way to the closing: the outpouring of support for Aquinas and More from our customers, our friends, and fellow Catholics was a bit unexpected, but also very kind and rather humbling. 
To tell you the truth, it made us take pause and prayerfully consider what we should do next. Our heads tell us that we cannot realistically continue in our present state of affairs. Yet our hearts tell us that the void in Catholic shopping and Catholic service left by the closing of Aquinas and More is also real. We've always felt that Aquinas and More was truly a mission. So, are we being called to continue? Are we not? I know what I want, but I also know that -- more importantly -- I want God's Will. 
To better discern our next step, we've decided to launch an “all-or-nothing” crowdfunding campaign over the next two weeks, so we can return Aquinas and More to its mission of serving others with our authentic Catholic online shopping experience. The campaign begins today, March 5, and ends on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. We've named it the "Aquinas Angels" campaign. 
Our goal is to raise $250,000 in two weeks. At this point, we need to replenish inventory, overhaul the website and messaging, and focus on retaining excellent Catholic customer service and results. We know it's a big number. But we also know that we have more than 30,000 Facebook and Twitter fans, and over the last decade, we've served more than 200,000 customers. We have been richly blessed. So we have joy and hope, gaudium et spes. 
Dear friends, I ask you first to pray for our campaign. We will be praying the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer daily for this endeavor. Will you pray too? Second, please take a moment to visit our “Aquinas Angels” site, where you can read more about what brought us to where we are right now and what our plans for the future entail. You can visit the site at: http://www.gofundme.com/aquinasangels
I want you to know that if we don't reach our goal, your Angel donation will not be processed. It's as simple as that – it's all-or-nothing. We will not be benefiting from any support until and unless our goal is reached. And if we don't reach it, Aquinas and More will likely shut down. So, our next step is in His hands. If you choose to join us, we have different levels of support, and will be "giving back" for your generosity. 
I also ask you to please help us spread the word about our “Aquinas Angels” . With the relationships we've built over the years, I firmly believe this is a “We” Campaign. We can't succeed without your help! If you would like the work of Aquinas and More to continue, if you have had a positive experience with us, please share our story, our site, and your story out there with others you know. 
Aquinas and More is truly not just a Catholic store. Aquinas and More is a way of life for myself, for my wife, for my ten children. We are unabashedly and authentically Catholic in all that we do – our policies, our products, and our outreach projects. You know the value of our Good Faith Guarantee. 
As part of the Year of Faith, we are called to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message, and go forth and proclaim the Gospel. That is the essence of Aquinas and More. Giving to our “Aquinas Angels” Campaign means helping to build and restore an authentic Catholic culture. I know in my heart that there's nowhere else out there where you can find such a ministry and mission – a living and serving, Catholic approach to shopping. I'm willing to put myself out there like this to keep it going. 
We would be honored and grateful if you can become an Aquinas Angel for us and help us reach our $250,000 goal. 
I thank you for taking the time to read my message. I thank you all for your support throughout these ten wonderful years. Whatever happens, I am grateful for having had the privilege to know and serve you in our little way. 
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
As an occasional customer, I was surprised when the announcement was made to close.  Mr. Rutherford was very honest and forthcoming about what has happened to his company, as this post from the store's website 'blog can attest. I even made this comment in response to a post on the company's Facebook page March 2:
I read your post regarding your reasons to close. If those things have been corrected or overcome, go for it. The history of successful entrepreneurs includes a lot of "failures".
He is also much braver than I ever was about asking for help almost seven years ago. Which is why I am writing this post. While I am in no position whatsoever to help him with a pledge, the least I can do is promote his cause. And is this any different than the quarterly appeals from Mark Shea, the reliance on donations from the readers of "Whispers In The Loggia" by Rocco Palmo, or the occasional 'bleg from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at his site?

 I also have this request of those 'blogs whose readership is far, far larger than what this infinitesimal corner of the universe draws: Make this known, either by writing about it (if you haven't already) or linking to this post. I didn't get the response to my problem without it; neither will they. While they have a good start, they have a long way to go.

It's Lent.

Go be an angel.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Doctor In The House

I'll let the brief post say it all.

Congratulations, Dr. Krush!

Count me among those who are proud of your accomplishment.

March 2013 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the prayer intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Respect for Nature. That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God's work entrusted to human responsibility. 

Mission:  Clergy. That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede Vacante

 The time has come:
Dear Brothers,  I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


The words of a prophet are so very appropriate:
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."

Luke 2:29-32

May God bless Pope Benedict XVI! The Church gratefully acknowledges his life-long contributions to her salvific mission as priest, bishop, and supreme pontiff.  May the Holy Spirit guide the Cardinal Electors in their duty to elect a new Servant of the Servants of God.

The ring has been destroyed.

The shoes of the Fisherman are to be filled.

Let the interregnum begin.