Monday, December 31, 2018

This Year's Final Rite

Whether we admit it or not, humans do like ritual. Certain spots on the calendar are a time for remembering and doing so in a mannered way. Tonight is especially no exception. And it all revolves around a clock drawing closer to midnight. And when it finally arrives, we make a secular joyful noise. The familiar tune set to the poem of Robert Burns marks the apex of that celebration:

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 bless and keep you even more in 2019. May you experience His face and may it shine upon your endevors. May He be even more gracious to you and yours and grant you an abundance of peace, joy, and love.

Happy New Year, Everybody! 

A Year-End Summary

What's the best thing that happened to me this past year?


And I am grateful for that.

The status quo peacefully remained the status quo. Nothing earth-shattering, soul-searching, mind- disturbing, or heart-wrenching rocked my life. I performed my tasks at my two job, I continued my participation in the church music ministries which welcome my talents, and I continue to live my life.

Who would have thought boring would be beautiful?

Yes, I did have my share of disappointments regarding the job search, especially an opportunity within the past few days. But I am working on not letting the rejection affect me more than it should and I have met with a modicum of success. I will just keep looking for the next opportunity. Perhaps I then can meet the Kipling standard.

But for now, I do expect 2019 to have it own demands of me, mostly of things where I can say "been there, done that, have the souvenir" and the occasional plot twist. What they will be, I have no clue. I just hope to be prepared to successfully deal with them, "with the help of Thy grace".

The resolutions are the same.

I pray the resolve with be there.

Be Bold.

Go Forward.

The calendar page turn comes soon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Celebration Of A Carol

I didn't know this until a few days ago.

"Silent Night" celebrated its bicentennial this past Christmas Eve.

Count me among the many who find it their favorite Christmas carol.

This article from the National Catholic Register provides the background.

The Wikipedia article add a bit more.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018 Christmas Card

May the Christ Child, Who came on this "Silent Night", bring "Joy To The World" and your heart.
May "the Babe, the Son of Mary", bring peace to you and yours this day and always.
May the "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing" bring you "light and life" and love.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018 Christmas Eve Reflection

The First Reading from the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Night:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Isaiah 9:1-6
This is such a familiar passage to us at this time of the year, particularly if you attend a performance of Handel's Messiah, and especially if you attend this liturgy. Maybe so familiar the message doesn't pack a punch anymore. While there are the obvious references to the Christ Child easily discerned in an act of "lecto divina", I would like to delve into the text and see if there is more than that. As I remind those who read this post, these are only the observations of a very ordinary person in the pew and meant as a point of departure for your own insights.

"The people who walked in darkness...those who dwelt in the land of gloom." That would be us. That darkness and gloom is sin, what we inherited from Adam and Eve and those thoughts, words, and deeds we have and haven't done. Are you the Pharisee or the tax collector mentioned in the Gospel of St. Luke (18:9-14)? Do you truly see your need for redemption and sanctification? Is your recitation of the Confietor during Mass and your Act of Contrition during the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as humble and sincere as possible? 

I echo the sentiments of those who bemoan the loss of a sense of sin in the world today, which is why I make mention of it at times when I write. And lest you think I am a hypocrite, the most oft repeated prayer of mine right now in my life is the "Jesus Prayer". While I don't know the state of your soul, I do know the state of mine.

"A great light...has shone." That would be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the World as mentioned in the Gospel of St. John, heard at the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Day (1:5). As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good. As humanity was made in the image and likeness of God, the first act of disobedience marred both in us. Light and goodness needed to re-enter the world. And so, in the Christ Child, it has.

"You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing." The birth of a child is always cause for joy. Now that God has given us His Son, that joy is infinite and everlasting. And that joy is because our salvation is now at hand, culminating in the victory over sin and death in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

"As at the harvest...when dividing spoils." For different reasons, these are occasions for celebration. The former is in gratitude for the blessings of life; the latter, in gratitude for the overcoming of an enemy. And what greater celebration can we have, as Jesus has overcome the Enemy and given us abundant life?

"For the yoke...the pole...the have smashed, as on the day of Midian." Historically, this passage refers to the conquering of Midian by Gideon (cf. Judges 6-7). Allegorically, this refers to the conquering of the yoke of sin, the pole of enslavement to evil, and the rod of the taskmaster Satan. God's hand was involved in both.

"Every boot...every cloak...will be burned." These remnants of war will be destroyed so that peace may be the order of the day. In the war for our souls, either the remnants of sin will be destroyed through the flames of Purgatory or sin remain with us in the flames of Hell. As St. Augustine reminds us, while God created us without our consent, He can only save us with it.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given us." Emmanuel. God is with us. "...Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages....For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man."

"Upon his shoulder dominion rests." Recall the words of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunication:  "He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33) The Father has given the keys of the kingdom to His Son (cf. Isaiah 22:22). Heaven and earth are full of His glory.

"They name him..." When I was an undergrad, I remember seeing a poster with the various names and titles ascribed to Jesus, each complete with a biblical reference. In the middle of the poster were the words "I AM", mentioned various times in the Gospel of St. John (and especially in the Passion Narrative). This is the ultimate reference to Who He Is. Any other title, including the ones mentioned here, is only a signpost leading us to the Tetragrammaton.

"His dominion is vast and forever peaceful.". It is evil and sin which destroy peace, both within us and throughout the world. Only when "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", only when "people of good will" do the will of the Father, only when we allow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to reign over us, only then will the song of the heavenly hosts ring true.  Only then will there be "peace on earth".

"From David's throne, and over his kingdom." The beginning of the Gospel of St. Matthew establishes the Messianic Lineage. Israel longing for a king like David would have to wait some 28 generations, yet very few recognized Him when He came. The same question to the new Israel, the People of God, could be asked today. Are we the shepherds and Magi, or are we Herod? Who is our true ruler?

"He confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever." There has been so much emphasis on the mercy of God the past few years that His judgment and justice is being downplayed and overshadowed, if not completely ignored. Remember, He will come again to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 25:31-46). Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said we could be surprised at who we would and wouldn't find in heaven and that could include us.

"The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." And what is that zeal? It is nothing less than God's love for us. John 3:16, anyone?

You have to read the preceding verse to get a better sense of the walking in darkness the Israelites was doing:
There is no gloom where there had been distress. Where once he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, now he has glorified the way of the Sea, the land across the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations.

Isaiah 8:23
The gloom is gone. The Light of the World now shines. No darkness shall overcome it.

Hodie Christus natus est.

With Eyes Toward The New Dawn

This is probably my favorite Advent hymn, one I often use as a recessional on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Originally found in the 1928 edition of The Oxford Book Of Carols, the words of Eleanor Farjeon are set to a traditional French carol tune (Besancon):

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Yes, indeed.

Ero cras.

Monday, December 17, 2018

In The "Coming" Week

The winter solstice falls this year on December 21. We are in the last days of decreasing daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. The yearning for light becomes more pronounced.

That yearning finds its fulfillment in the Light of the World. That yearning finds its most exquisite expression in the "O" Antiphons, the petitions which proceed the Marian canticle during Vespers/Evening Prayer the next seven days and are also used as the Gospel Acclimation during Mass in the Ordinary Form during this time. They are, in as sense the embodiment of St. John the Baptist, who as herald and forerunner to Jesus, pointed the way to the Messiah while his position dwindled--"He must increase; I must decrease." (John 3:30)

Once again I present my posts on these signposts which lead to the Christ Child. Along with my most modest meditations, I include those from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and Fr. Mark Kirby, OSB, the main courses to my appetizers. Perhaps the most popular presentations from this infinitesimal corner of the universe, I consider these a final (and, hopefully, useful) part of your final preparations during Advent.

Look for them later today, when the darkness had overcome us.

Then look for Him, "[T]he light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:

Evangelization: In the Service of the Transmission of Faith. That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Pre-Christmas Season

The first Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30) marks the beginning of the Advent Season.  It can be anywhere from 22 to 28 days long, depending when on the calendar Christmas falls. It also marks the start of a new liturgical year; and for those of use involved in the preparation of music, it is the final preparation time for the first set of major celebrations (Advent/Christmas/Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord) as well as any other musical activities that are planned.

Preparation. The watchword of this season. With its penitential undertones, the cry of St. John the Baptist is like a descant over all the hustle and bustle, the hurrying and scurrying, the sights, sounds, and smells of the season as the secular world's idea of "the most wonderful time of the year" bears its weight upon us. But it forgets "the reason for the season". While it began with the Annunciation nine months ago, the beginning of the end of the work of salvation draws nigh.

As we plunge into longer periods of darkness, climaxing with the winter solstice, we "rage against the dying of the light". The Advent wreath, with candles marking each Sunday and standing sentinel over the week, is the reminder we are not only remembering His first coming, but also are preparing for His second. The flames of each taper, in a nod to the Holy Spirit, are a tribute to the Light of the World, a Light which no darkness can overcome.

In this time where gift-giving is a welcome surprise, God has given to us the ultimate gifts in the Word made Flesh--eternal life, forgiveness of sins, reunification with the Father as adopted children.
For this we can sing "Joy To The World", but only after we sing "O Come, All Ye Faithful". And then we cannot be premature with these carols; their place is after midnight on December 25. The time now is for readiness, to find the balance between Martha and Mary. It is a time of waiting to be delivered, just like the Blessed Virgin.

"Prepare the way of the LORD."

The time for that is now.

Besides, anticipation makes for greater gladness when the task is done.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Musical Quotes Through The Ages

Plato (427-347 BC) defined music as "the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue." He also said, "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything." Throughout history, his words have been proven true. On this feast day of St. Cecilia, patron of musicians, I offer you other worthy quotes to enforce his definition:
"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without."
Confucius (551-479 BC)

"Do you know that our soul is composed of harmony?"
Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519)

"He who sings scares away his woes."
Miguel Cervantes (1547-1616)

"What passion cannot music raise and quell!"
John Dryden (1631-1700)

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents."
Ludwig van Beethoven (1712-1773)

"Music is the occult metaphysical exercise of a soul not knowing that it philosophizes."
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

"All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls!"
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

"Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man
is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite."
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

"Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies."
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)
(And to think he never wrote a worthy sentence.)

"Music is the universal language of mankind."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

"It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible."
Victor de LaPrade (1812-1883)

"There is no truer truth obtainable/By Man than comes of music."
Robert Browning (1812-1889)

"There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music."
George Eliot (1819-1880)

"There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is."
William P. Merrill (1832-1902)

"Without music life would be a mistake."
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

"Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) 

"Truly to sing, that is a different breath."
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

“To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

2018 Thankgiving Day Card

May the blessing of God this day keep us in His grace and favor. May He show us His countenance in the abundance of His gifts and His generosity in bestowing them. May He look upon us with kindness and peace as we show our gratitude for all the good things that come from Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

November 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal: In the Service of Peace. That the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Monday, October 01, 2018

October 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Evangelization: The Mission of Religious. That consecrated religious men and women may bestir themselves, and be present among the poor, the marginalized, and those who have no voice.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Adolescent 'Blog

A not-so long time ago in a 'blogosphere very close to here a first post appeared.

It was a very modest beginning. The author, with all the enthusiasm of any rookie 'blogger, announced his presence with a short and sweet blast upon the internet. He knew he wanted to get involved, but was going to be thoughtful about topic and tone. He even managed to create a somewhat memorable catch phrase in his opening words.

It seems like he met with a modicum of success his first two years, then life started handing him lemons and stalled the momentum of his writing. Posting became sporadic and repetitive, with lots or rehashing of old material, with a rare occurrence of something fresh, with mostly long stretches of silence. A star that was seemingly becoming brighter started flickering like a dying nova. Now one has to peer hard to see if it still exists.

Well, a baker's dozen years later, it does. Deo gracias.

I hope that is an accurate assessment of the style and substance of this still "small, quiet voice". It has been and still is an enjoyable part of my life, one which is not ready to be retired, despite the times I have entertained that thought. If I had any place of prominence in the 'blogging world, it's long gone.

Yet my ego is the last thing that needs to be placated. While there have been times the subject has been my life, I have never wanted the 'blog to be about me. The very few times I have had something meaningful to write, when the focus has been about and on God, that is when this star has shined the brightest. And that has brought me enough satisfaction.

I will be the first to admit this infinitesimal corner of the universe does need to be refurbished, just to keep in step with the technology. But I have more immediate and pressing concerns. While not as active, I still keep on eye on events. When I comment, I want my words to have an impact, however small it is. I will continue to bide my time, as long as I still have it here on earth.

While the status quo is status quo, I still have hope for the best, both in this 'blog and in my life. As I said thirteen years ago, "I have some ideas, though." The fertile ground is there, I just need to prepare it.

May God grant me the grace to do it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"...Going On 17"


Here we are again.

It is starting to become familiar to us as individuals and a country--the ceremonies, the tributes, the memorializing. In the places where it happened--New York, NY; Washington, DC; Shanksville, PA--there is more poignancy to the rituals. It is as if we are still returning to "normal" while we are still grieving.

It seems history's most memorable moments are written in blood. So it is with the terrorist attack that claimed 2,996 lives seventeen years ago this day. We have sworn as a nation to "Never Forget" what happened; to this day, we have lived up to our vow.

The images we saw that day and for the next few are still indelible in the country's psyche. Secular icons, yet with an ennobled meaning.

The attacks were a challenge to the core beliefs of the nation. The honor of being the flag bearer for freedom and liberty was insulted. Once again, in my very humble opinion, we defended that honor and those core beliefs against this act of aggression, as we have before. As it is said, "Freedom is not free." In our own way, we pay the price for it and count the cost as nothing.

So once again, as we have in our very recent past, let us remember this day. If there is a tribute in your area, think about attending. This post will be one of many on the 'blogosphere; as always, I encourage you to seek those whose eloquence will far surpass this very humble offering.

Keep in mind the prayer intentions I suggested in 2007 (and updated in 2013). Pray for--
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.
It is a time to pause, to reflect, and to mourn. It is a time to come together as a nation and remember E pluribus unum. It is a time to firm our resolve to be a beacon of light for the world.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

September 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal: Young People in Africa. That young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

August 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal:  The Treasure of Families. That any far-reaching decisions of economist and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

A Death-Defying Age

Today is a rather important day in my life.

That's right--I had to get my driver's license renewed.

Besides that task, nothing else matters. Because without this day, nothing could matter.

(Besides having a fraternal twin brother, I also share today's good wishes with another pair of twins, fraternal male cousins who are identical, and a gentleman whom I've met through our association with the Church Music Association of America.)

But this particular birthday holds a significant milestone. As you may recall, my father only lived 56 years and 256 days. The count down now truly begins to see if I "outlive" him. If my calculations are correct, that 257th. day will be March 19, 2019, the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death. It would be five days short of what would have been his 84th. birthday. (Thank you, Emily Dickinson.)

(And, yes, I still miss him. Requiescat in pace.)

Every expereince is an opportunity to seek and find God in all things.  Every breath is a moment to be in communion with He Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come. Every heart beat is a way to be in unison with the One Who created, redeemed, and sanctified me. Every day is a chance to "Go Forward". So for the next twelve months, I will continue to learn in earnest to count my blessings, especially the one of just existing.

Each day should be a gift.

After all, isn't is why it's call the present?

Sunday, July 01, 2018

July 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Evangelization:  Priests and their Pastoral Ministry. That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Friday, June 01, 2018

June 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal: Social Networks. That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

May 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Evangelization: The Mission of the Laity. That the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

2018 Easter Card

May our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fill you with peace, joy, and love.
May the Lamb of God Who has taken away the sins of the world bless you abundantly.
May the Light of the World and the Word made Flesh reign over you as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed!"

Happy Easter, Everybody!

April 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
For those who have responsibility in Economic Matters:  That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Fire Into Many Flames

In a previous post, I attempted to make a connection between Christmas and Easter using a text from the prophet Isaiah. (Your mileage may vary depending on how insightful you thought I was. Remember, my theological musings are as infinitesimal as this 'blog.) However, going where angels fear to tread (out of fear they would be a laughingstock), I shall again look toward some parallelism.

So, let us compare and contrast again the openings of Mass of the Feast of the Nativity:  Mass During the Night with the Easter Vigil liturgy.

The Church is plunged into darkness at the start of both, reminding us of the darkness of sin that has overcome the world via the "happy fault" of Adam. The Light of the world must be brought forth so we may be able to see again. And so it is, although in very different measure.

At the Christmas Mass a statue of the Christ Child is processed to the creche, the way illuminated only by the light of candles from the faithful. The introit "Dominus Dixit" (if Gregorian chant is used) and/or "Adeste Fideles/O Come, All Ye Faithful" fills the air as the "Gloria" of the angels originally did. At the Easter Vigil the Pascal Candle is processed to the ambo, the way illuminated only by the light of the candles from the faithful. "The light of Christ./Thanks be to God" fills the air (although I wonder if "Alleluia" rang out in Heaven upon His Resurrection).

But, you ask, from where did the original flame for the candles come? At Christmas there is no specific or special ritual. The Vigil, however, provides one. Perhaps symbolizing the first command from God in ordering creation, a fire is lit and blessed. This is use to light the Pascal Candle after it has been prepared. That flame is then passed to the candles used in the congregation.

And so the Light of the world, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, appears on earth. At Christmas, He came from a womb; at Easter, a tomb. At Christmas, His Glory was "veiled in flesh"; at Easter,  "flesh" was glorified. At Christmas, it was the beginning of our redemption; at Easter, its culmination.

In our unending joy, we give thanks and praise for this marvelous work of His hands.

The Exsultet "sounds aloud our mighty King's triumph".

The text of this prayer, in both Latin and English, is provided for your meditation.

Friday, March 30, 2018

"Remember Your Mercy, O Lord"

Today marks the beginning of the Novena of Divine Mercy.

From now until the 2nd. Sunday of Easter the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is recited, leading to a plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions).

If you are new to this devotion, this website will provide the information you need.

If you practice this with regularity, you know what to do.

What the world needs now is both Love and Mercy.

Here is an opportunity to practice both.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

13th. Echo Of "Last Words"

For those of you who visit this infinitesimal corner of the universe on a somewhat consistent basis, you know I have a habit of re-posting things I have previously written. In a way, it is a type of laziness, as new material is few and far between. But like the rhythm of the liturgical cycle, you can also come to expect things in due season.

So it is as we begin Holy Week this year. Once more, I humbly present my series of brief meditations on the "Seven Last Words" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, uttered in the three hours He hung upon the Cross. I offer them with my usual caveat:  they are a point of departure for you to find more substantial literature to help in your recollection of the pinnacle of His Passion. I have made no changes to them since they first appeared in 2006, save for adding images of famous paintings of the Crucified. But if they get you to reflect on "what wondrous love is this", then they have served their purpose.

One a day, every day this week, appearing at the hour of mercy.

Come, draw near to Him at Calvary.

Listen with a grateful heart.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

March 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Evangelization: Formation in Spiritual Discernment. That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Into The Desert Again

And so it begins.

Our preparation for the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, celebrated this year on April 1 (no fooling).

The liturgical season of Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, which is today. The next forty days the People of God, as a whole and as individuals, are called to repentance and conversion, to seek the face of the Lord and abide in His shadow. While this should happen every day, the next 6+ weeks brings it more into focus.

Like lost sheep, we have strayed. Like the Prodigal Son, we have lost our way. But like the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the paralytic man--like anyone who has sinned, if and when we return to the loving and merciful presence of God, we are on the way to fulfilling the redemption won by Christ on the Cross. As St. Augustine said, while He has created us without our co-operation, we will not be saved without it either.

The clarion call of more prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will be heard again in today's Gospel reading. How well we heed it, how well we implement those things even more into our lives, in short, how we become more loving of God and neighbor is set before us as a challenge to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is. The universal vocation to humanity is holiness. We who were created in His image and likeness must, with the help of His grace, remove the tarnish so that His light shines brighter in a world that seemingly doesn't recognize the darkness in which it lives.

It is time to rend our hearts. It is time to amend our lives. It is time to be purified.

It is a lifetime journey.

It can start with the steps adorned in purple.

Friday, February 02, 2018

PM: Special Edition--Feast Of The Presentation

In the calendar associated with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, this marks the end of the Christmas season. In Simeon's canticle is another recognition of the Savior of the world.

The celebration of this feast has a similar form to Palm (Passion) Sunday. Instead of palm leaves and branches, however, candles for use throughout the coming year are blessed.
Behold, our Lord will come with power, to enlighten the eyes of his servants, alleluia.
Is. 35:4-5
This antiphon gathers the faithful before upcoming procession. The Light of the world has arrived and will be recognized by those who have sought Him.

After the blessing of the candles, the faithful proceed to the church, lighted candles in hand. One of the following antiphons are sung:
A light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
V.  Lord, now you let your servant go in peace, according to your word.
V. For my eyes have seen your salvation.
V. Which you have prepared in the sight of all people.
Luke 2:32; V. 29-31
The last of the Lucan canticles continues the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Israel's glory can now be shown to the rest of the world.
Sion, adorn your bridal chamber and welcome Christ the King; take Mary in your arms, who is the gate of heaven, for she herself is carrying the King of glory and new light. A Virgin she remains, though binging in her hands the son before the morning star begotten, whom Simeon, taking in his arms announced to the peoples as Lord of life and death and Saviour of the world.
The Old (and soon to be New) Covenant are called to worship the Infant King, the Promise of Ages. The Ark of this New Covenant is also honored, but only in relationship to the "blessed fruit of her womb."
Simeon had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. And  when they brought the child into the Temple, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying, "Lord, now you can let your servant go in peace."
Luke 2:26-29
Contrast this to what St. Thomas said after the Resurrection. But Simeon always believed before he saw; his touching was an absolute "faith seeking (and finding) understanding."
They offered for him unto the Lord "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" as it is written in the law of the Lord.
V. When the time of Mary's purification had been completed, according to the law of Moses, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.
Luke 2: 24, 23; V. 22
How fitting is this Responsory. As the Lord was offered in the Temple, we now offer Him in our Church.
Your merciful love, O God, we have received in the midst of your temple. Your praise, O God, like your name, reached the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with saving justice.
V. Great is the Lord and worthy of all praise, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain.
Psalm 47: 10, 11; V. 9
How fitting this Introit, also heard on the 14th. Sunday of Ordinary Time. Like Simeon, we prepare to receive His Real Presence in true worship.
Behold, the Lord, the Mighty One, has come; and kingship is in his grasp, and power and dominion.
V.  Endow the King with your judgment, O God, and the King's son with your righteousness.
Malachi 3:1, 1 Chronicles 29:12; V. Psalm 71:2
And why not the Introit from the Solemnity of the Epiphany as an option? It is, in a very real sense, another manifestation of the Lord to all the world.
We have received your mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple; even as your name, so does your praise extend to the ends of the earth.
V. All that we have heard, we have now seen, in the city of our God, on his holy mountain.
Psalm 47:10, 11; V. 9
If it was not heard as the Introit, it will be as the Gradual (as it is heard on the 31st. Sunday of Ordinary Time). We have received Love and Mercy Incarnate; praise and adoration is the only response.
The old man was carrying the infant child; but it was the child who was guiding the man.
In the Alleluia, Simeon was carrying the Child in his heart long before he carried Him in his arms. May we all be blessed as he was.
Grace has been poured out on your lips; therefore, God has blessed you for ever, world without end.
In the Offertory, recall the Second Reading of the Mass of the Nativity:  During The Night--"The grace of God has appeared...." (cf. Titus 2:11) As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
Simeon has received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
Luke 2:26
In the Communion, Simeon had seen and worthily received the Lord. Have we?

Thursday, February 01, 2018

February 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal: Say “No” to Corruption. That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Marching On

Label this post "making up for lost time".

I traditional comment on the annual Right-To-Life March in Washington, DC. Normally held on the anniversary of the two Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, last year's event was pushed back to January 27 so as to not conflict with Inauguration Day events. Thinking I had more time to compose something, I put it on the back burner of my mind. Guess what happens when you forget about something being on the stove?

Last year's march was highlighted by a live speech made by the newly inaugurated Vice-President of the United States. This year's rally, taking place today, ups the ante. The President of the United States, the man who was sworn into office last year, will speak via teleconference from the White House to those gathered this year.

So what has happened on the front of the battlefield of abortion in the culture war the past two years?

Perhaps the most significant developments for the pro-life movement since January 22, 1973.

The largest provider of abortions is under tremendous pressure, both legally and financially. Undercover film has exposed illegal practices related to this medical procedure. More states have discontinued funding to them, causing more of their clinics to close. The federal government is further scrutinizing their actions in a more serious vein than ever before.

Legislation at state and national levels are being proposed and enacted. A very significant bill is working its way through the process at the Capital; similar bills are being considered at state houses. If any are passed, they certainly will be challenged in the courts, as it strikes at one of the pillars of the Supreme Court decision of 45 years ago.

Perhaps the biggest change of all is one of perception. I do not doubt the sincerity of those at the forefront who have worked tirelessly to reverse the damage this scourge has caused. Theirs is one of heroic virtue. Perhaps there are those in the political world who only give lip service to the pro-life cause, who only talk a good game but don't follow through. Then there are those who actually play the game, with results ranging a wide spectrum of success. But it seems like in the past two years the gains made are going to last. It has not hurt that the current occupant of the Oval Office has strongly supported the effort since his campaign and election, giving an empowerment rarely experienced. Momentum seems to be on the side of life more than ever; the pro-(poor-) choice side seems to have displayed more fear in the face of their defeats.

The pro-life movement can rejoice at their recent successes. It can retain its confidence and optimism. Yet, it still needs to be vigilant and persistent. While it is closer to its ultimate goal, history also teaches how gains can become losses in a heartbeat.

Which is why today is needed and will continue to be needed until it finds the ultimate success. And that will only be possible if the words of Francis Scott Key are applied:
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And we continue to do the hard work.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

January 2018 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Evangelization: Religious Minorities in Asia. That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.
A reflection for this intention is found here.