Thursday, December 31, 2015

January's Introit

Midnight comes. The countdown commences. The changing of the calendar is at hand. The greeting rings round the company you are keeping.  Then starts the song familiar to everyone, care 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, the creator of time, fill the next twelve months with many blessings. May the coming year bring you fulfillment of hopes and dreams. May you find joy, peace, and love in abundance.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Motto Addendum

Over the course of my 'blogging I have created and utilized a few sentences and phrases in some of my posts. I don't think they are a sign of laziness when I reuse them; they just happen to express concisely and completely my status at the time. One of my ideals is to be consistent, and the groups of words that occasionally weave their way throughout my writings do just that.

Take for example what is probably the best sentence I have ever written:  "Welcome to my infinitesimal corner of the universe." I think of it as a statement and act of humility. In the grand scheme of eternity and limitlessness, I am truly nothing. But, because I am a creation and child of God, I am truly someone. With that knowledge comes gratitude. With that appreciation comes the willingness to become. More on this later.

Another example is the statement, "The status quo is status quo." Put another way, "Things haven't changed." And for 2015, that is a truthful assessment. As an overall reflection, any personal growth is not perceived. When it specifically comes to my biggest task at hand--finding suitable, stable, and sustainable employment--you can smell the stagnation.

That is not to say I didn't have a temporary success this past year. From late March to Hallowe'en I was employed at a nationally known regional amusement park, working as one of the attendants at the games of skill located throughout the complex. While earning a paycheck for those few months was always a good thing, it was more the boost to my ego and self-esteem that made it worthwhile. It did show me I was hire-able, as working there is usually the dream summer job for many teenagers. My work ethic was still in tact; my soft skills came out of hibernation. These were encouraging signs.

And yet, I still can't convince an employer I would be good for them, that if I was willing to take such entry-level position and make a go of it, I would do the same for them. Applications are filed and seemingly filed away. Interviews are even rarer. That makes me wonder what is it going to take. or even if I have what it takes anymore.

Which leads me back to that willingness to become. For at least as long as this 'blog has been in existence, I have had as a motto "Go Forward", another one of my go-to statements. It is the mantra not to be stuck where I am or, even worse, to retreat. But it has been missing something, something which has been the biggest detriment in my life, something to which allusions have been made.

The lack of true courage.

A lack of self-confidence has always been my Achilles' heel. It really has been a lifelong battle to believe in me without pretense. I have never wanted to project an air of arrogance, but rather one of quiet certitude. The temerity, fear, and cowardliness has to be conquered or I will be living a Thoreauvian life for the rest of it. I either grow or die inside.

I must "Be Bold".

It's been a while since I've made a New Year's Resolution, but this is mine for 2016. Seize more opportunities than I normally do. Take prudent risks, but take them. Get out of this introvert's comfort zone. Become one who does, not one who says he will. No excuses. Be concerned about the process and let the results take care of themselves. Find a way or make one.

While this may be a Year of Mercy, it also has to be a Year of Fortitude.

"Be not afraid."

"Go Forward. Be Bold"

I'll see you next year.

PM: Offertory Thursdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

The kings of Tarshish and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Sheba shall bring gifts; all the kings of the earth shall adore him, all nations shall serve him. 
Ps. 71:10, 11
Doesn't this summarize the Presentation of the Gifts at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist perfectly? As they recognized the King of Kings, so should we.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord. 
Cf. Matt 2:2
How appropriate indeed:  "The silent Word is pleading." It is the stars which He made which now speak of His grandeur. The question begs, "Do we recognize Him?"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

All those from Sheba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense; and showing forth praise to the Lord. 
V. Arise and shine out, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is rising upon you. 
Isaiah 60:6, V. 1
It was the Queen of Sheba who brought gifts to King Solomon to acknowledge his wisdom. But now we have One greater that him that requires no less than all we are and have.

Monday, December 28, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

Behold, the Sovereign Lord is coming; kingship, government and power are in his hands. 
V. Endow the King with your judgment, O God, and the King's son with your righteousness. 
Cf. Mal. 3:1, 1 Chron. 29:12, V. Ps. 71:1, 10, 11

The true ruler of this world will make his appearance. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will take His rightful place. He will use the riches He has been given to reign properly.

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Christmas Card

May the Word made Flesh, Love Incarnate, dwell within your heart today and always.
May the Son of God, the visible image of our invisible Father, grant you every grace and blessing.
May the Christ Child bring you abundant joy, peace, and love.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

PM: Communion Fridays--Feast Of The Holy Family

There are two communion verses for this feast. The first is for Lectionary Cycle A; the second, B and C.
Take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the child's life are dead. 
Matt. 2:20
St. Joseph's actions speak so loudly he doesn't need to say anything. Throughout his life, he shows how to head a household--with complete trust and obedience to God's commands.
My son, why have you treated us so? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you. How is it that you were seeking me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? 
Luke 2:48, 49
As an adult, Jesus is later quoted about leaving all behind to do the will of God and follow Him. Those who do are His true family.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Christmas Eve Reflection

The Second Reading of the Feast of the Nativity--Mass at Dawn:
When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. 
Titus 3:4-7
Because many people will fulfill their Christmas obligation by assisting at either the Vigil Mass (sometimes promoted as a "family" Mass, one more appropriate for little children) or the Mass During the Night (no matter at what time it starts--late Christmas Eve or on the stroke of midnight Christmas Day), this reading is rarely heard by the faithful. It actually compliments the Second Reading of the Feast of the Nativity:  Mass During the Night. Not just because it is from the same letter, but because it completes the thought of the other reading. (Which is why I have both readings as part of my post "Proclamation Of The Birth Of Christ" which will re-appear later tonight.)

As I did last year with the other reading from this letter, this year's reflection will also be an exercise in "lectio divina". At times I have found many of St. Paul's writings a challenge to grasp not only because of their theological denseness but also because of the sentence structure of the translation. This method helps me at least scratch the surface. As always, my thoughts are only a point of departure for what you may discern.

"The kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared." Ever since the Fall, God has taken the initiative to win us back to Him. Despite our sinfulness, He has, since Adan and Eve hid in the Garden, sought us because He could never forsake us. He Who is Love, as St. John wrote, made his kindness and generous love appear in a myriad of forms in the Old Testament. Magnificent as they were, they pale in comparison to the sign as foretold in Isaiah:  "A virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."

"Not because of any righteous deeds we had done." Ever since the Fall, man has not been able to make satisfaction for his ultimate failing. Having lost sanctifying grace, while still made in the image and likeness of God, he was but a faint shadow of his true self. While sacrifices and oblations were made, while obeying the Law was accomplished, he was unable to restore favor with God, because of the infinite gap between Creator and creature. He could do nothing without Grace.

"Because of his mercy." It was because God loves us that he did not want to see His crowing jewel of Creation destroyed forever. While we were condemned in righteous justice, we would also be forgiven in limitless mercy. It would take an infinite act of sacrifice to expedite an infinite act of betrayal. How appropriate then in this Jubilee Year of Mercy we are reminded of the fact, as St. Paul writes elsewhere, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

"He saved us." Jesus. A variation of Joshua, meaning "God is salvation". The name give to St. Joseph by the angel (contrast that to how St. John the Baptist was named). Born under the Law to deliver us from the Law. Man could not save himself; only the God-Man could.

"Through the bath of rebirth."  It is by Baptism that Sanctifying Grace is restored. It is the waters of redemption that make us clean, pure and whole, pleasing and acceptable to God. This is what Jesus had in mind when He spoke to Nicodemus.

"And renewal by the Holy Spirit." By the work of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity we are made new again, reclaiming in us the image and likeness of God. None of this is our doing. It is all God's favor. It is all Grace.

"Whom he richly poured out on us." God is never outdone in generosity. All of His blessings come forth in a never ending stream. It is up to us to work with Him, to continually seek and do His will. Even if we sin again, the Sacrament of Penance is there for us to help repair the damage.

"Through Jesus Christ our savior." How many times do we end our prayers, both liturgically and privately, with a variant of the phrase, "Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son"? It it "through Him, and with Him, and in Him" that all is possible. It is in His Holy Name our prayers are answered.

"We might be justified by his grace." The word that actually is prominent to me is "might". Grace is a gift freely given. Because we have free will, the choice to accept or reject it is ours. We were created to choose the good. In order to remain righteous and made just, we have to continually be like the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose "fiat" was cooperation with God's will at all times.

"Become heirs in hope of eternal life." And this is the ultimate reward:  becoming the adopted children of God. Heaven is our true home; the Beatific Vision, our only sight. This is the pearl of great price, purchased for us by the Life, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and ours for the taking if we but only ask, seek, and knock.

But all of this does not happen if not for what we celebrate now:  Jesus' coming into the world in the form of a slave. Emmanuel--God is with us. Taking on our humanity so that we may take on His divinity, we welcome once again the Christ Child with open arms and open heart.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Tomorrow's Due Date

The final day of Advent is here. Like Mary, as for all of the world, the time of waiting and preparing is over. She soon shall deliver the One Who will deliver us.

The lyrics of this Basque carol recalls the Annunciation, when all the waiting started:
The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady," Gloria! 
"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady," Gloria! 
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name."
Most highly favored lady, Gloria! 
Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say--
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!
The journey to Bethlehem has begun.

Ero cras.

PM: Offertory Thursdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

In you have I put my trust, O Lord; I said: "You are my God, my destiny is in your hands." 
Ps. 30:15, 16
How fitting a verse for Offertory. As we give our gifts, we also completely give ourselves over to Him to guide us in His way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

Rejoice in the Lord, O you just. It is fitting that loyal hearts should praise him. 
Ps. 32:1
Rejoicing is the only response we can make for being made just in the sight of God. Praising Him is the right thing to do if we are faithful servants of our King.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--Feast Of The Holy Family

One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord. 
V. To gaze in delight upon the Lord's beauty and to be sheltered in his holy temple. 
Ps. 26:4
The soul's one and only request is to be united with God. In His temple here on Earth and, hopefully, in Heaven is where we will find fulfillment of this yearning. We seek the face of God, the Beatific Vision.

Monday, December 21, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--Feast Of The Holy Family

God is in his holy dwelling place; the God who causes us to dwell together, one at heart, in his house; he himself will give power and strength to his people.  
V. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let those who hate him flee before his face. 
Ps. 67:6, 7, 36 and 2
Emannuel--God is with us. While Our Father is in Heaven, He now calls Earth home and us His siblings. From Him is the grace to be called "children of God", according to St. John.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Corpus Christi???

11/25/2015:  A story just broke on a local TV newscast about a potential Eucharistic miracle at a church in the Salt Lake City metro area.

The matter is being investigated by the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

More details to come.

11/26/2015:  The story as originally presented, include the video of the newscast. and another local TV station have picked up the story.

11/27/2015: A statement from the Diocese via their official newspaper, the Intermountain Catholic.

12/1/2015:  A similar incident occurred in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis this past summer. The findings there have been released.

The National Catholic Register, among other Catholic newspapers, has also picked up the story.

12/12/2015:  The latest, courtesy of the National Catholic Register.

UPDATE:  The investigation has concluded; the result is made known.

PM: Communion Fridays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. 
Isaiah 7:14
Emmanuel. God is with us. As He was with us on Earth, as He is with us in His Real Presence, as He will be for all eternity if we but only give our lives to Him.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Seven "O"s Of Advent

We draw toward the latter stages of Advent. Preparations on a secular level are rapidly drawing to a conclusion; presents, cards, decorations, and parties have been or are being finalized. The pace to finish becomes more harried. Just as the winter solstice draws nigh, we seem to be running out of time to get all ready.

But preparations on the sacred level move along at a much slower pace. While the Christmas Masses are still more than a week away, our hearts and souls still have work to do. And through all the hustle and bustle of the season, the voice of Jesus invites us to go to a place away from the crowd and be more like Mary rather than Martha.

With that in mind, it is time for my annual presentation of meditations on the "O" Antiphons. Based on the seven antiphons found as part the Canticle of Mary in Evening Prayer, the next half-fortnight is meant to provide you with a reflection on the coming of the Christ Child. The format remains as it has for the last few years; I hope you are inspired to find other worthy notes about these gems in the Liturgy of the Hours.

It is my honor and pleasure to present them once again. 

May you glean something useful from their reading.

See you in a few hours.

PM: Offertory Thursdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 
Luke 1:28
Gabriel's greeting; the opening to Catholicism's second most familiar prayer. At this time of the Mass, it would be worthwhile to honestly see if we are"full of grace" in a sense (free from Mortal Sin) so that when Communion comes, the Lord can truly be with us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Come Lord! do not delay. Pardon the sins of your people.
There are Propers which are not directly from the Scriptures; this is an example. But you can even see a hint of the end of the Book of Revelation (22:20):  Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus. We long to see You; we beg for your forgiveness.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

The Lord is close to all who call him, who call on him in the sincerity of their hearts. 
V. My mouth shall speak the praises of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy name. 
Ps. 144:18; V. 21
God is with us (Emmanuel), only a prayer away. We for our part must pray from the depths of our hearts, beginning with the adoration, praise, and worship He deserves. Then do we draw closer to Him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--4th. Sunday Of Advent

Skies, let the Just One come forth like the dew, let him descend from the clouds like the rain. The earth will open up and give birth to our Saviour. 
V. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. 
Isaiah 45:8; Ps. 18
Anticipation about the birth of the Child is at fever pitch. We do not wish to wait any longer, but we must. Just as God determines when the rains fall, so did He determine when the Nativity will be.

Friday, December 11, 2015

PM: Communion Fridays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Say: "Take courage, you who are fainthearted, and do not fear; behold, our God will come and he will save us." 
Cf. Isaiah 35:4
Our God has come and saved us. As we eat His Body and drink His Blood, the divine life within us is renewed and strengthened. Each party upholds the New Covenant.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

PM: Offertory Thursdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

O Lord, you have blessed your land, you have put an end to Jacob's captivity; you have forgiven the guilt of your people. 
Ps. 84:2
And now we return some of those blessings as an offering back to God as the New Israel, forgiven and free. With grateful hearts and souls we begin to participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Stir up your might, O Lord, and come to save us. 
Ps. 79:3
Once again, we call upon God to deliver us from our sins, for He is the only One Who can. We recognize how small and dependent we are and seek the power of God.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

PM: Special Edition--Solemnity Of the The Immaculate Conception

During the liturgical year some Feast Days and Solemnities will fall during the week. When that happens, the Propers for that Mass will be done in one post.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; and with the robe of righteousness he has covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels. 
V. I will extol you, O Lord, for you have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 
Isaiah 61:10; Ps. 29
Don't you just love the image of a wedding in this Introit? In a very real sense, there is a marriage. There is also an echo of the Magnificat as well.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord, the most high God, beyond all women upon the earth. 
V. You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honor of our people. 
Judith 13:18; V. 15:9
These verses actually speak of the deeds of Judith after she delivered the Israelites from their enemy at the time. This Gradual takes this as an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her assistance in delivering Israel. Read the two chapters to get a fuller sense.
You are most fair, O Mary, and the taint of original sin dwells not within you. 
Song 4:7
The Song of Songs is a love song about and between two lovers. This Alleluia echoes it in a condensed fashion, highlighting the total purity of the Mother of God.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, alleluia. 
Luke 1:28
Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin before she received the Body of Christ. So does this archangel say the same to us in this Offertory. Finish the prayer as Elizabeth did, at your leisure (Latin optional).
Glorious things have been proclaimed concerning you, O Mary; for the Almighty has done marvelous things on your behalf. 
Ps. 86:3; Luke 1:49
This Communion holds a promise to us as well as it did to Mary. As frequent, worthy reception of Holy Communion makes us more like Christ, the example of its effects par excellence is Mary. Another example of the Mother pointing us to her Son.

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

The Gregorian Missal has two Graduals for this Sunday: the first for Lectionary Cycles A and C; the other, Cycle B. They will be presented in that order.
O Lord, who are enthroned upon the Cherubim, stir up your might and come forth. 
V. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock. 
Ps. 79: 2, 3; V. 2
The phrase "stir up your might" hit me immediately. It is the same phrase found here.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John; he came. 
V. To bear witness to the light, to prepare an upright people for the Lord. 
John 1:6; V. John 1:7 & Luke 1:17
A reading of these two Gospel passages (John 1:6-9 and Luke 1:13-17) is very much in order. You will see how these interplay with each other.

Monday, December 07, 2015

PM: Introit Mondays--3rd. Sunday Of Advent

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious over anything; but in all manner of prayer, let your requests be made known unto God. 
V. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have put an end to Jacob's captivity. 
Phil. 4:4-5; Ps. 84

This is why rose is the liturgical color of the day, both in vestments and Advent wreath candle. We are again to be joyful in the Lord, for He is always near. For this reason, we can confidently approach the throne of Grace.

Friday, December 04, 2015

PM: Communion Fridays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high; and behold the joy that shall come to you from your God. 
Baruch 5:5; 4:36

We, the New Jerusalem, have been called to see Him face to face in His Real Presence. We behold Him Who is our true joy and peace.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

PM: Offertory Thursdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

You will turn toward us, O God, and restore our life again, and your people will rejoice in you. Show us, Lord, your mercy and grant us your salvation. 
Ps. 84:7-8

What an appropriate thought as we begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist. He not only shows His mercy, but also grants us salvation as the Sacrifice of the Mass unfolds the final act of our redemption.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

I rejoiced when it was said unto me: "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" 
Ps. 121:1

Is there not an echo of the Magnificat in this, when the Blessed Virgin Mary's soul also called out in gladness? Hopefully, this should this also be our response when we have been judged worthy to be in His presence upon the end of our lives.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December 2015 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Experiencing God's Mercy. That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of for giving.
Evangelization Intention - Families. That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Advent

Out of Zion his perfect beauty shines forth. God is coming in broad daylight. 
V. Summon before him the consecrated nation who made a covenant with him by sacrifice. 
Ps. 49: 2, 3, V. 5
We are that consecrated nation, the new People of God under a new and eternal covenant--the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. How well are we keeping our end of the deal?