Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The End Of The '10's

At the end of the day there will also not only be an end to the month, not only an end to the year, but also to the end to the decade.

Time sure flies when you're having fun.

But, then again, how much fun did I have the past ten years?

As for the past year, I could just re-post this. (The more things stay the same, the more they are the same.)

The search for a full-time job continues to bear no fruit. I don't mind it when an employer hires or narrow their search for someone who is a better fit for them; that's part of the process. It still bothers me a bit when applications seem to go into the rabbit hole of no acknowledgement (which seems to me say I'll get no consideration). It bothers me even more to have applied for something and then discover the position was filled by the person who was serving in an interim role. Then why bother to advertise an opening at all? But the one thing I don't understand is when someone says their search is going to go in a different direction. Is that just a polite way of saying I'm not what they seek? (Time to revive that post with the prayer to St. Anthony seeking his intercession in the job search.)

As I was reviewing all of my past posts about this day, I was reminded about what I said in 2015. I have to ask myself if I have grown in courage since I wrote that. The answer is, "Not enough, if at all." Fortitude, like all virtues, must be exercised. It only grows with grace. I can't talk a good game anymore. Actions do speak louder than words.

So, what's in store when the calendar gets changed?

"Give us this day" and let's see what happens.

"Go Forward. Be Bold."

Roar into the '20s.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

2019 Christmas Card

May the Infant Jesus bless you and yours.
May the Christ Child bring you peace, joy, hope, and love.
May the newborn King of Kings and Lord of Lords reign in your heart and life.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Christmas Eve Reflection

The First Reading from the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--At Dawn:
See, the LORD proclaims to the ends of the earth:  say to daughter Zion, your savior comes! Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the LORD, and you shall be called "Frequented," a city that is not forsaken. 
Isaiah 62:11-12
Of the four Masses offered at Christmas, the Mass at Dawn is probably the least attended. The Masses prior to this one claim the most attention--the Vigil Mass because of of its convenience; the Mass During the Night, its sentimentality. Event the Mass that follows this one, the Mass During the Day, has more of the faithful in the pews.

This is even more true if for "pastoral" reasons, only one set of readings is used for all the Masses of the Nativity regardless of time of day. This practice is a bit of a travesty. Each of these Masses has its own unique theme. When they are prayed in proper order, they speak the entirety of the message of the event we celebrate. (Lest you think I have never assisted at this Mass, think again. I have been assigned as a cantor a few times in my life.)

The reading for this Mass, save for the Gospel (a continuation of St. Luke's account of the Birth of Jesus), are not that well known. I have shared my reflections of the Second Reading in an earlier post. Once again, as a form of lecto divina, I will share my thoughts about what I have read. As always, take them as a point of departure for your own meditation.

See, the LORD proclaims to the ends of the earth. God is always speaking to us. Creation came to be by just a Word from the Father on the breath of the Spirit. He spoke to Adam and Eve. After the fall, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, "In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son" (cf. Hebrews 1:1).

Say to daughter Zion, your savior comes. Throughout salvation history, God has promised to deliver us from the effect of Original Sin. What He has promised, He now has delivered. The "O" Antiphons point us to the Savior under various titles for which He is known. But it is the last one--Emmanuel:  God is with us--which is the most relevant. The Son of God, Jesus (a variation of Joshua, meaning "God Saves"), has now come down to earth in a form we can recognize, if only we open our hearts.

Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. As I understand this sentence, "his" refers to the People of God while "him" refers to God. And what is this eternal reward, this infinite recompense? If it comes from God, it has to be that vast, for He is that vast, as has the waiting of humanity to be freed.

They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the LORD. Once again, and for the last time, God has begun to make a new covenant with humanity, first offering it to the Israelites, then to the Gentiles. The terms will be revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, climaxing in His Death and Resurrection. And as in all covenants, we have to uphold our end of the bargain. Once again, St. Augustine reminds us that while we were created without our permission, we will only be save with it.

This is the universal call to holiness to which the Second Vatican Council refers. We have been sanctified through and in Christ. As He has redeemed us by His Blood, we, like the door lintels of the Israelites at Passover, have to be marked with this sign. The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world. We only have to be properly disposed to receive this great grace. The Word has said the word; we have only to obey (hear again).

This is how we are adopted as children of God.

You shall be called "Frequented," a city that is not forsaken. God is with us always. He has never forsaken us, although by sinning we have forsaken Him. Through His Church and with the help of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, He stays with and within us. It is more than being "frequented"; it is indwelling.

While all the readings for this Mass are short, there is a sweetness and depth to them just waiting to be explored. Like Mary, we have the opportunity to ponder these things in our heart. Perhaps, if you still have things to do Christmas morning, you may first want to "go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." (cf. Luke 2:15)

And this thing?

Hodie Christus natus est.

The Morning Star waits for you in this new dawn.

Preparing For A King

It's been a long time since I have heard this hymn, much less sung it (the tune, by the way, is Truro). I never realized it is an Advent hymn until this year. But the lyrics, based on Psalm 24:7-10, originally written by George Weissel and translated by Catherine Winkworth, fit the themes of preparing and waiting:

1. Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates; 
behold, the King of glory waits; 
the King of kings is drawing near; 
the Savior of the world is here! 

2. Fling wide the portals of your heart; 
make it a temple, set apart 
from earthly use for heaven's employ, 
adorned with prayer and love and joy. 

3. Redeemer, come, with us abide; 
our hearts to thee we open wide; 
let us thy inner presence feel; 
thy grace and love in us reveal. 

4. Thy Holy Spirit lead us on 
until our glorious goal is won; 
eternal praise, eternal fame 
be offered, Savior, to thy name!

Ero cras. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

"O" We Came Once More

The Catholic Church is wonderful in its liturgical rhythm, both during the day as well as throughout the year. The genius of the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours shows the beauty of the request to pray at all times. And as one gets drawn into the rich cycles of prayers and antiphons, one will find favorites.

Among the most favorite section of the entire prayer are the antiphons sung before the Magnificat used during Vespers/Evening Prayer from December 17-23. Each sunset, a different title of the soon-to-be-born Christ Child is referenced. These words show how the words of the prophets come to fruition in the blessed fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary.

These seven antiphons, collectively known as the "O" Antiphons, were an inspiration in my early days as a 'blogger. Every year since this 'blogs inception, I have presented them as a series of meditations, adding things as I saw fit. They have been some of my most popular posts as well a a good way to finish the Advent season. While I do bring out a lot of repeats, these are still worth the effort to re-post.

I hope you have enjoyed them again.

I promise to have a preview for these next year.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Days Of Waiting

We have arrived at the beginning of a new liturgical year. The first major solemnities come quickly:  Immaculate Conception; Nativity of the Lord; Mary, Mother of God; Epiphany; Baptism of the Lord. It seems the pace of our spiritual life has suddenly quickened.

Yet the watchwords from now until December 25 are prepare and wait. As we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ (cf. Titus 2:13), we must also prepare the way of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 40:3). Such a odd juxtaposition of concepts--doing something and doing nothing. Mary and Martha at the same time. (How Chestertonian.)

Such is the nature of the season we celebrate. But the "four weeks" of Advent are as necessary as the nine months following the Annunciation. It is the "time" required to be completed. Such a great celebration needs that kind of anticipation and planning.

The time will come for Mary to give birth to Jesus. We know the hour, and it will come as appointed. How we ready ourselves for it will make all the difference in the world.

The days of waiting, the time for preparation, have begun.

It will be here sooner than you realize.

Ready the wreath, ready the candles, ready yourself. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

2019 Thanksgiving Day Card

Give thanks to God for all the blessings you have received. Praise Him for the goodness He has bestowed upon you. With a grateful heart, rejoice in His love.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

November 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Dialogue and Reconciliation in the Near East. That a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Near East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

October 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
A Missionary “Spring” in the Church. That the breath of the Holy Spirit engender a new missionary “spring” in the church
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The "Double Perfect" Anniversary

Is it that time again?

Yes, it is.

Fourteen years of some kind of presence on the internet is celebrated today.

In some ways, it is quite an achievement. Many 'blogs far, far better that what this infinitesimal corner of the universe offers have fallen by the wayside. Those 'bloggers were far more knowledgeable and articulate that I could ever hope to be. (And, yes, I would link to their posts. As I acknowledged one time, I know good material when I steal it.) But, I have persevered by the grace of God fortifying my own determination to just remain on-line, sporadic as I have been for much of this 'blog's existence.

It has never been about quantity, but rather quality. It has never been about recognition, but rather glorification. It has never tried to be about me, but rather God working through me. And when the focus has been just that, the results have been satisfying.

That has been my mindset since the outset. I am not a professional writer; even being called a hack would be a compliment. I offer what I can when I can. I want what I post to reflect truth, goodness, and beauty. Do I want to do more? Sure I do; the fire, while its just an ember, is still glowing. I just want to be authentic when I hit the publish button.

As long as I remain grounded in these principles I have established for myself, I will still be here. I still enjoy doing this, which has also helped my longevity. This 'blog is not on life-support; I would say it's more in hibernation. And that's OK. I'll come out of hiding when it's appropriate.

So, on I go with some things old, some things new, some things borrowed, but all things for God.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, will all the sincerity I've had since that very first post:

"Welcome to my infinitesimal corner of the universe!"

September 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Protection of the Oceans. That politicians, scientists, and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Legal Memorial

The day is almost over.

The memorials have been held.

One of the most tragic events in this country's history has been commemorated.

From coast to coast, and especially in New York, NY, Washington, DC,and Shanksville, PA, we have dutifully recalled what happen 18 years ago today. This new Patriot's Day carried with it, as it has since its inception, all the sadness and solemnity as is its due.

And how could it not? We recall the loss of life, the grieving that still exists, and the renewal of the promises we made as a country regarding this. I hope you availed yourself to some of this ceremony or in some way honored all those victimized.

I don't know if we are trying to make sense of  this still. But, then again, how does one make any sense of evil?

A lot of faith has carried a lot of people through this. And it still will.

These words are just an infinitesimal attempt to mark the occasion. As there is this time of the year, there are far better tributes on the interwebs.

All I wanted to do today is what this country should always do when this date comes on the calendar.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

August 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Families, Schools of Human Growth. That families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly “schools of true human growth”.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Better late than almost never (see last month).

July 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

This was the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Integrity Of Justice. That those who administer justice may work with integrity, and that the injustice which prevails in the world may not have the last word.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

My sincere apologies for failing to post this when it was time.

Friday, July 05, 2019

An Age Of Variety

I got here.



Writing these posts about the most important event in my has always been an act of gratitude. They are a reminder to me to be thankful for the greatest natural gift God will ever give. (The greatest supernatural gift He has bestowed upon me is the gift of Faith.) And while I grumble and grouse about where I am in my life and how I got here, deep down I know how blessed I am to be alive.

Be humble or be humbled. With our fallen nature, it is the lesson we all need to learn continually. I hope you don't have as hard of a head and heart as I do. Maybe that's why I seem to be stuck. (By the way, there is a pass/fail test at the end of this class called life. Here's hoping I pass.)

What blessings or crosses God has in store for me the next twelve months is beyond my knowledge, understanding, or control. I have to be like St. Paul. There is more than enough grace to get me to it and through it.

The next year of my life begins at the moment the this post appears.

May God grant me the ability to say, "I got here. Again. Alleluia."

When that time comes next year.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

June 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Mode of Life of Priests. That priests, through the modesty and humility of their lives, commit themselves actively to a solidarity with those who are most poor.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

May 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Church in Africa, a Seed of Unity. That the Church in Africa, through the commitment of its members, may be the seed of unity among her peoples and a sign of hope for this continent.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

2019 Easter Card

May our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, pour out abundant blessings upon you.
May the Lamb of God, slain for our salvation, bring you joy and peace.
May He Who died and rose from death grant us grace upon grace, favor upon favor.

Happy Easter, Everybody!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

In Sacred Triplicate

The use of the number three is quite prevalent in the Church. There is, most obviously, our Triune God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and love. There is the Communion of Saints:  the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant. There is the Holy Family:  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There are the three temptations of Christ after His Baptism. There is the scene of the Transfiguration with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah being seen by Peter, James, and John (with this specific group of Apostles figuring prominently in other scenes). There is both Peter's triple denial of Jesus and his triple forgiveness. There were the three crosses on Calvary. And then there is something about "on the third day"....

It is prevalent during the Mass. It is heard in the Confiteor ("...through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.") and the prayer that follows. The Kyrie in the Extraordinary Form is a three-fold repetition. The Preface Dialogue has three parts. The beginning of the Sanctus praises our thrice-holy God. The end of any Eucharistic Prayer begins, "Through Him, and with Him, and in Him...", with a triple "Amen" sung at times in reply. The Agnus Dei is obvious. And when used, the Solemn Blessing at the end has three petitions.

It even has places in the Sacred Triduum. During the Good Friday liturgy, the cross used for veneration pauses three times on its way to the sanctuary. It is the same with the Paschal candle at the Easter Vigil. From there, the minimum number of readings before the Epistle and Gospel is three, with the account of the crossing of the Red Sea (the third of the seven) being mandatory. The Alleluia returns from its hiatus with a three-fold recitation. And the Church receives new members with Her three rites of initiation:  Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.

And during the Vigil, there is one more example. It comes at the singing of the Exsultet. The opening three lines use the same melodic pattern. This unites the three expressions of joy found in the text:
Exsultet/Exult--the exultation of the angels in Heaven.
Gaudeat/Be glad--the gladness of the earth. (Notice the connection to the 3rd. Sunday of Advent, which is also known as Gaudete Sunday.)
Laetatur/Rejoice--the rejoicing of the Church. (Notice the connection to the 4th. Sunday of Lent, which is also known as Laetare Sunday.)
So may our joy at this most awesome, marvelous, and wonderful event--the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ--may be united, complete, and limitless.

May those who have the privilege to chant this bring out this joy.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fulfilling The Baptist's Cry

Since Ash Wednesday, we have been preparing.

We prepared with our prayers, that we may be more receptive to God's Word. We prepared with our fasting, that we may know God will fill any void. We prepared with our almsgiving, that we make manifest God's love to the world.

Then we prepared the way into Jerusalem with our palms and cloaks. Then we prepared the body in anticipation of His death. Then we prepared to betray Him.

Now, we enter the Sacred Triduum. But we are not done with our preparation. Far from it.

We must prepare the Upper Room. We must prepare the Passover banquet. We must prepare ourselves for what is to come.

We must prepare to hand Him over. We must prepare for His trials, the two legalistic ones as well as what He endure along the way. We must prepare for His sentencing. We must prepare for His execution.

We must prepare for His death. We must prepare for His burial. We must prepare for His proper entombment.

So, there is still much to do over the next three days. I encourage you to attend as many of the liturgies and devotions as you are able. This can and should be the culmination of your preparation.

We can then hope all this preparation will help us be fruitful.

Then we shall be prepared for what happens "on the third day".

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Everlasting "Words" Again

Palm Sunday is upon us again. We are seven days away from celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But in order to get to the empty tomb, we have to get to Calvary.

Once again I present to you a series of short meditations on the "Seven Last Words" of Jesus as He hung upon the Cross. His final sentences are mini-sermons, pondered upon by more brilliant minds than mine. Like my series on the "O" Antiphons, if my widow's mite inspires you to find something more substantive, then it will accomplish its mission.

As we finish Lent and head into the Triduum, let His final orations enliven your hearts and souls.

One per day for the next week, starting today.

They come at the hour of mercy, the hour of His death.

Monday, April 01, 2019

April 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Doctors and their Collaborators in War Torn Areas. For doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in war torn areas, who risk their lives to save the lives of others.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Day One Of Forty

"And the morning and the evening was the first day."  (With apologies to Genesis.)

And so begins Lent. The obligations of fasting and abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday have been fulfilled. The cross made of ashes and placed on the forehead is gone. Plans to incorporate the three traditional Lenten disciplines are decided. The journey to the Triduum has started.

As I was listening to a program on a Catholic radio show earlier this week, a phrase from Scripture caught my attention:  "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4b). The first part is also found in St. Luke's account of the temptations in the desert (4:4), the Gospel reading for this First Sunday of Lent (Cycle C). It references Deuteronomy 8:3, where Moses recalls the Israelites being fed with manna.

It made me think about how much more truth is in that statement than one realizes. The word that comes from the mouth of God is none other than the Word Incarnate, Jesus. And while that Word is also found in Scripture, its most perfect manifestation is found in the Real Presence, the Bread of Life which He established in the Upper Room on Holy Thursday. Spiritually, we live on both Bread and Word.

Which leads to the question of how we will supplement this nourishment the next six weeks. Which leads to how we will pray, fast, and give alms. Which hopefully will lead to a closer union with God. Which will hopefully make our Easter triumph and joy more complete.

While God created the world in six day, let us resolve to make

Friday, March 01, 2019

March 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Recognition of the Right of Christian Communities. That Christian communities, especially those who are persecuted, feel that they are close to Christ and have their rights respected.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Friday, February 01, 2019

February 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Human Trafficking. For a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

January 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

NB: My apologies for not posting this on time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Between Marches...

...the troops get to rest.

There are many marches in protest of the two Supreme Court decisions which legalized and gave unrestricted access to abortion, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The primary one is held in Washington, DC around the anniversary of these ruling; this year it was January 19. The other one which has gain fame is held in San Francisco, CA, also around the anniversary date; this year it will be January 26. While there are also many state and local marches as well, these two are the events which energize and galvanize both sides of this issue.

This is the 47th. anniversary of those rulings. While I agree with the sentiments of the current Vice-President of the United States, who along with his wife made a surprise appearance at the march in the nation's capital, the pro-life lead is once again shrinking. The gains made on the political level are under threat to be negated. The grass roots remain strong, so I think there is hope that what progress has been made the past two years will not erode too much.

Make no mistake--the battle has intensified. The poor-(pro-)choice side has redoubled their efforts, emboldened by this past mid-year election results. Despite the statements they have made regarding their position are not anywhere near the truth, the current climate of the culture, with its emphasis of subjective feeling being greater that objective thought, where emotions rather than will rule the roost, still give them life and nourishment. And while I have said that evil doesn't play by any rules, Satan has a game plan and his scribe was Saul Alinsky.

The pro-life side has the ammunition to win the intellectual battle. But this is now about softening hearts. Can the truth be spoken with true love? Can authentic alternatives be realistically recommended? That is the next skirmish.

In what is the largest battlefront in the culture war, it will be interesting to see which side can make any inroads in the coming months. A stalemate would be a win for the pro-life movement, for no concessions were made.

But allow me to ask the opposition a question, especially some believe God is on their side.

Actually, it's not me doing the asking:

Luke 6:9