Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Muted Celebration

While the gatherings to ring out the year will be limited in attendance, they will be nevertheless be occasions of joy. We give thanks for surviving what perhaps we be for most of us the most stressful twelve months we have encountered. We remember the souls that did not make this day, especially those who succumbed to COVID-19. We pray God will grant us relief and healing in the upcoming days. And as we listen to, and perhaps sing, the following words penned by Robert Burns, we may notice the melancholy in some of the verses and the hope in the refrain:

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 us in 2021. May His peace flow abundantly as He aids us in recovery. May we turn to Him in all hope and trust, resting with assurance in His merciful love.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Hindsight Being 2020

Well, I can't say nothing happened in 2020.

At least, without my tongue in my cheek.

To say it has been an eventful year would be an understatement. I finally experienced my first earthquake. (And there was an aftershock I felt exactly four weeks later.) Another major wind storm struck the area the day after Labor Day, hauntingly reminding me of the one which hit December 1, 2011. (Each of these, by the way, necessitated the installation of a new fence on the west side of the property where I live.) And then there was this small matter of a large viral breakout...

In various degrees, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of us. Although my younger brother caught it about two weeks ago and is recovering, physically, I have not contracted it yet. (Please, God, let it not infect me.)

Regarding my two jobs, I took a hit financially. As a school crossing guard for a local police department, I wasn't working in the early stages of the nation-wide lockdown. Fortunately, through the lobbying of the chief of police, we all as a group received the balance of our income for the rest of the school year. (Currently, the school schedule is four days of in-classroom sessions and Friday remotely. There are plans to return to a normal schedule in mid-January. We'll see.) As for the amusement park, where I have been for the past six seasons, that was a different story. Normally open on weekends starting at the tail end of March, the park didn't open until Memorial Day weekend. Along with a reduction in operating hours, they utilized the child labor laws to their advantage. What that meant was I only worked an average of 12-13 hours a week. All in all, my income was down about 20% over 2019. Ouch. (UPDATE--1/1/2021: I did the math again with more accurate figures. It is closer to 15%. Still ouch.)

As infinitesimal as this corner of the universe is, so were my problems. There is no way I can even come close to comparing my lot in life to others. I still have a way to make money; many have lost it all. I am still uninfected; many aren't. I am still am alive; many have succumbed. Indeed, I have been blessed. Indeed, I am grateful. Indeed, I need to pray for mercy and compassion for all.

The one thing which concerns me about all this was how this story is being written. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information and advice circulating. While people can and do question the accuracy, I am questioning the completeness. I think the same could be said about the escalation of racial tension, the rioting and looting which bordered on anarchy, and the election of the President of the United States. Which raises for me a bigger question--will the truth about these events be portrayed? (Remember what the first casualty of any war is.)

The postscript for 2020 has yet to be written, and it may be a long time before the final copy is published. I think the watchword for 2021 will be "recovery". How will we as individuals and society in all its building blocks return to some semblance of normal? And don't get me started on the phrase "the new normal". There is nothing normal about what we have experience the last twelve months. Change does happen, but growing from it is an act of will.

Perhaps the world will adopt my motto for the next 365 days, as I certainly will again.

Go Forward.

Traveling the other direction is not an option.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Poem From Middle Earth

While the date of this story is June, 2019 it contains a timeless message.

What a wonderful discovery.

2020 Christmas Card


May the Christ Child bring you peace, joy, hope, and love. May He, whose nativity we celebrate, bring you abundant life. May he shower you will blessings beyond belief.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 Christmas Eve Reflection

The First Reading from the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Day:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.

Isaiah 52:7-10

I did a little digging into my archives, looking for inspiration for this year's reflection. My research showed I have not used five of the twelve readings proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word for the various Christmas Masses which can be celebrated, as has been my wont for the past few years. Two of them were the Gospels for the Mass at Dawn (the continuation of St. Luke's nativity narrative) and During the Day (the prologue of St. John). Two of them were the other readings from the Vigil Mass. That left this one, which, after mulling it over, I have opted to use.

This will also be an exercise in lecto divina. Unlike other attempts, where I usually just take things as they come, I discovered when I was reading this passage things didn't grab my attention until the end. So this time, while it might look like a hodgepodge, I hope it will make sense at the end. (As a gentle reminder, I hope you use this for your own point of departure for contemplation and meditation. I am not a pro at this.)

The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations. What He has promised from the time of the Fall, God has now delivered. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, true God and true man, who sits at the right hand of the Father, has now come down to earth from Heaven. Emmanuel--"God is with us"--has been revealed, first to the Chosen People through their representatives, the shepherds; then to the Gentiles through their representatives, the Magi.

The LORD restor(es) Zion; He redeems Jerusalem. His birth marks the beginning of the end of the process of redemption, culminating in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. He came not to condemn the world, but to save it, to give His life as a ransom for the many. The Lamb of God, born in a cave used as a stable, will become our Pascal sacrifice for the remission of sins, Original and personal.

The LORD comforts his people. It is Jesus who "brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'” His message of love and assurance, needed then as now, was so radically different that it drew both rants and raves. It divided people in His time (as He said it would); it does so in ours. Why is that? Is it too good to be true? Yes and yes. It is too good and it is true. Our fallen nature still recognizes goodness and truth. We have to utilize His grace to incorporate it into our lives; we have to do our part to be saved.

Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy (and) break out together into song. Christ's work did not end when He ascended into Heaven. It started in earnest at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon His Church in the Upper Room. We, the Mystical Body of Christ, are the new sentinels. The People of God have to continue the Great Commission found at the end of St. Matthew's Gospel. We have to do the evangelizing now:  bring glad tidings, announce peace, bear good news, announce salvation, and say, "Our God is King." And we have to do it with joy, so "all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God."

The "greatest story ever told" ends at the Second Coming. While we know the ending, we are still writing the chapters leading to it. And what is our inspiration?

Hodie Christus natus est.

It is enough.

The Promise Kept

The original (in German) was written by Johannes Olearius, with another able translation to English by Catherine Winkworth. The more familiar tune setting is "Freu dich sehr," found in the Geneva Psalter. Originally for the feast of St. John the Baptist, the herald's words, ringing in our ears for these past "four" weeks, are a fitting way to make our final preparation.

**********

1. Comfort, comfort ye my people,
    Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
    Comfort those who sit in darkness,
    Mourning 'neath their sorrows' load;
    Speak ye to Jerusalem
    Of the peace that waits for them,
    Tell her that her sins I cover,
    And her warfare now is over.

2. Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
    Blotting out each dark misdeed;
    All that well deserved His anger
    He will no more see nor heed.
    She hath suffer'd many a day,
    Now her griefs have passed away,
    God will change her pining sadness
    Into ever-springing gladness.

3. For Elijah's voice is crying
    In the desert far and near,
    Bidding all men to repentance,
    Since the kingdom now is here.
    Oh that warning cry obey,
    Now prepare for God a way;
    Let the valleys rise to meet Him,
    And the hills bow down to greet Him.

4. Make ye straight what long was crooked,
    Make the rougher places plain,
    Let your hearts be true and humble,
    As befits His holy reign;
    For the glory of the Lord
    Now o'er earth is shed abroad,
    And all flesh shall see the token
    That His Word is never broken.

Ero cras.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

"O" The Time Has Come

We are past the halfway point of Advent. While we have lit the rose candle to remind us to rejoice that the Christ Child is coming, He is not here yet. Meanwhile, in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkness continues to overtake us. We are a few days away from the Winter Solstice. Our yearning for light only magnifies.

It is in that yearning, especially now in the prayers of Vespers/Evening Prayer (depending on which form you use), which intensifies. As if the world groans and cries out for its savior to appear, it invokes some of the various titles which are associated with the Messiah. These are the basis for the "O" Antiphons, the seven antiphons which precede the Magnificat for the upcoming week. While sources mention their use in the 4th. Century, their use was firmly established by the 8th. Century.

As has been the tradition of this 'blog since its inception, I once again present my meditations on the "O" Antiphons. While there have been no changes to these posts for a few years now, I hope they are still edifying. They seem to still be my most popular writings, and for that I am grateful.

Expect them at their usual time, when the darkness of night has overtaken the light of day.

Remind yourself, however, the Light of the World is never overcome. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

December 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For a life of prayer. We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.

A reflection for this intention is found here. (NB)--As of the time of this post's publishing, there was no monthly reflection.)

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Seeking The Light

Sunset comes upon us; and with it, the beginning of a new liturgical year. As the Northern Hemisphere plunges headlong into longer stretches of darkness, humanity seems to take up the battle to bring more light into the world. As I made reference in my first Christmas Eve Reflection, this annual skirmish is a reminder of our fallen nature and the need for redemption.

Plenty of people have completed decorating for Christmas already, while others are still working on it. All the external trappings are welcome, but we as Christians enter a time for interior preparation. While we  wait in darkness, we prepare for Light. While we still see lots of green (and red and other colors), purple is the primary color for the next "four" weeks.

We have entered the season of Advent. A time of waiting, of anticipation, of longing, of hope. The focus is on the two arrivals of Jesus Christ:  recalling His first appearance on earth and leading up to His second. We know not the day of the latter, but the former has been fixed for quite a while. Now the People of God begin their annual journey toward Bethlehem with prayer and reflection, fasting (for we are readying ourselves for a feast), and counting down the time when the Blessed Virgin Mary's confinement will be complete and the beginning of the end of the salvation promised to us will commence.

Prepare the Advent wreath.

Prepare the creche.

Prepare the gifts.

Prepare the tree.

Prepare the food.

But most of all, prepare your hearts.

"Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths."

Thursday, November 26, 2020

2020 Thanksgiving Day Card

 


May we be truly thankful for all the blessings we have received from God. May we be truly grateful for the abundance and necessities He provides. May we become as generous and loving in our giving to others as He is.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Another Thankgiving Proclamation

Until President Abraham Lincoln fixed the date of Thanksgiving Day in 1863, there were sporadic proclamations for a national day of thanksgiving. Below is a resolution passed by Congress calling for the people to gather together and be grateful.

**********

Whereas the Congress of the United States, by a joint resolution of the two Houses, have signified a request that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of public humiliation and prayer; and

Whereas in times of public calamity such as that of the war brought on the United States by the injustice of a foreign government it is especially becoming that the hearts of all should be touched with the same and the eyes of all be turned to that Almighty Power in whose hand are the welfare and the destiny of nations:

I do therefore issue this my proclamation, recommending to all who shall be piously disposed to unite their hearts and voices in addressing at one and the same time their vows and adorations to the Great Parent and Sovereign of the Universe that they assemble on the second Thursday of September next in their respective religious congregations to render Him thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed on the people of the United States; that He has blessed them with a land capable of yielding all the necessaries and requisites of human life, with ample means for convenient exchanges with foreign countries; that He has blessed the labors employed in its cultivation and improvement; that He is now blessing the exertions to extend and establish the arts and manufactures which will secure within ourselves supplies too important to remain dependent on the precarious policy or the peaceable dispositions of other nations, and particularly that He has blessed the United States with a political Constitution rounded on the will and authority of the whole people and guaranteeing to each individual security, not only of his person and his property, but of those sacred rights of conscience so essential to his present happiness and so dear to his future hopes; that with those expressions of devout thankfulness be joined supplications to the same Almighty Power that He would look down with compassion on our infirmities; that He would pardon our manifold transgressions and awaken and strengthen in all the wholesome purposes of repentance and amendment; that in this season of trial and calamity He would preside in a particular manner over our public councils and inspire all citizens with a love of their country and with those fraternal affections and that mutual confidence which have so happy a tendency to make us safe at home and respected abroad; and that as He was graciously pleased heretofore to smile on our struggles against the attempts of the Government of the Empire of which these States then made a part to wrest from them the rights and privileges to which they were entitled in common with every other part and to raise them to the station of an independent and sovereign people, so He would now be pleased in like manner to bestow His blessing on our arms in resisting the hostile and persevering efforts of the same power to degrade us on the ocean, the common inheritance of all, from rights and immunities belonging and essential to the American people as a coequal member of the great community of independent nations; and that, inspiring our enemies with moderation, with justice, and with that spirit of reasonable accommodation which our country has continued to manifest, we may be enabled to beat our swords into plowshares and to enjoy in peace every man the fruits of his honest industry and the rewards of his lawful enterprise.

If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be that in which those who join in it are guided only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences; and such a spectacle must be interesting to all Christian nations as proving that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, freed from all coercive edicts, from that unhallowed connection with the powers of this world which corrupts religion into an instrument or an usurper of the policy of the state, and making no appeal but to reason, to the heart, and to the conscience, can spread its benign influence everywhere and can attract to the divine altar those freewill offerings of humble supplication, thanksgiving, and praise which alone can be acceptable to Him whom no hypocrisy can deceive and no forced sacrifices propitiate.

Upon these principles and with these views the good people of the United States are invited, in conformity with the resolution aforesaid, to dedicate the day above named to the religious solemnities therein recommended.


Given at Washington, this 23d day of July, A. D. 1813.


JAMES MADISON.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

"Ode" To St. Cecilia

This year, with the feast of St. Cecilia falling on the same day as the solemnity of Christ the King, I decided not to create an original post honoring the patron saint of musicians. Instead, I will provide a list of past posts on the subject. (It also gave me a chance to clean up some of the typesetting removed when I switched to this version of Blogger.)

While I try to make this an annual contribution, there is no post for 2019.There are occasions when something like this slips my mind. This is an example. Oh, well; life goes on.

I hope you find them worthy of your consideration now as you did then.

2005:  Musical Quotes And Thoughts

2006:  Quotes And Notes

2007:  Quotable On Notes

2008:  Canto; Ergo, Sum

2009:  Mechanical Musicianship

2010:  Make We Music

2011:  Cecilia: Virgin & Martyr

2012:  To The Musical Maiden

2013:  A Poet's Notes On Notes

2014:  A Church Musician's Musings

2015:  "Music, When Soft Voices Die"

2016:  Producing Melody; Making Harmony

2017:  Cantate Domino 

2018:  Musical Quotes Through The Ages

Thursday, November 12, 2020

November 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Artificial Intelligence. We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

October 2020 Morning Offering Prayer intention

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

The Laity’s Mission in the Church. We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

"I Am Fifteen..."

Can you believe it?

I can and can't at the same time.

I've managed to make this infinitesimal corner of the universe last another year.

I'm amazed I've had a 'blog for as long as I have. Prudence suggested a long time ago to place it along side the myriad of other defunct 'blogs. I'm just not ready to do that. It is still a "small, quiet voice" and I'm fine with that. These posts have been a reflection of my personality. And while there have been any number of subjects upon which to put fingers to keyboard, I still keep my powder dry until I'm ready to use it.

I don't think that's such a bad thing. Twain's admonition is something that current discourse needs right now. The motto of the Society of Jesus helps keep my eye on the prize. I do want to use this for good.

Looking back on prior posts reflecting this remembrance, I noted I kept making the same promise to be more active. I'm not going to say that this time. When I post, whether something old or new, it will be on my terms, as it has been for quite a while now. I don't 'blog to live.

And so this very part-time hobby will go on.

"...Going on sixteen?" Only with the grace of God.

The welcome mat is still out.

Do drop by on occasion. 


Friday, September 11, 2020

Nine(teen)-Eleven

 


Not even COVID-19 can deter the country from remembering this day. The ceremonies will be wanting only for lack of crowds. The solemn and sober nature of this day gives all of us a rallying point amidst the isolation.

This is, of course, the 19th. anniversary of the coordinated assault of terror upon the United States. Four commercial airliners, hijacked shortly after their respective take-offs were used to strike fear into the heart of our country. Two hit their mark by demolishing the "Twin Towers" in New York, NY. A third found its way to the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The fourth never made its intended target, as the terrorists were thwarted by the passengers on board and crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA.

2,996 lives lost. A emotional scar permanently remaining with those who lost loved one, acted to save others, or directly witnessed the events. The psyche of a nation shaken to it core. What started as an unremarkable Tuesday morning suddenly became one of the most horrific dates in history.

Even to this day, we still wonder what to think of it. It is a moment in time when evil decided to discard its disguise and allowed its ugly face to been seen. It is a moment when it decided it wanted to be brazen, brash, and bold in its self-centered persona. It made no pretense in taking the stage front and center and declaring, "See what I can do! Live with it!"

Yes, we do live with it. Unfortunately. A spiritual war existing before time uses our material world here and now to reek havoc. And while we Christians know how the story ends, we still have to play our part in overcoming it in our own lives as well as outside our selves. The battles and skirmishes seem to never end. Yet, with the grace of  God, we persevere. There are time we win, which sustain us for the next wave. We take comfort and hope from those small victories.

The 'blogosphere will have other posts more eloquently describing what this day means. Go find them. Ponder their words in your heart and soul.

Light a candle to remember those who befell this tragedy. It will be that same light that will dispel the darkness. It will also help you see when evil decides to step out of its shadow again.


Never Forget.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

September 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Respect for the Planet’s Resources. We pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

August 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Maritime World. We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

29, Again (And Again)

It happens once a year for everyone.

My time is today.

And, as the saying goes, if you think it's not important, just try skipping one.

It still is. As I attempt to do with this annual post, I make it a point to reflect upon the occasion. Most importantly, to give thanks to God for this first gift. Secondly, to rejoice that I still "live and move and have my being," not knowing how many more times I will be able to do this. Finally, to reflect upon both what has been bestowed and beset to me, trusting on God's providence to get me to and through whatever comes my way.

Sometimes, it's restful waters; sometimes, raging seas in a storm. The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.  This reminds me of St. Peter's response to walk to Jesus on the water. How much faith we have in Him will determine if we stride, swim, or sink. While I do believe, I really need a lot of help with my unbelief.

My birthday wish is for goodness and kindness to follow me for the next twelve months, so I may be able to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. I know there will be crosses to carry along with the grace to strengthen me in that part of the journey. All I have to do is to let go and let God.

 "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

 May my feet be firm as I continue to walk humbly with God.

May He uphold me in this time of my journey.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

July 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Our Families. We pray that today’s families may be accompanied with love, respect and guidance.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

June 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Way of the HeartWe pray that all those who suffer may find their way in life, allowing themselves to be touched by the Heart of Jesus. 
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Friday, May 01, 2020

May 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
For Deacons. We pray that deacons, faithful in their service to the Word and the poor, may be an invigorating symbol for the entire Church.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

2020 Easter Card


May our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bless you abundantly and keep you close to Him. May He who broke the bonds of sin and death raise you up to this new life in Him. May He, with the Father and Holy Spirit, grace us with love, mercy, joy and peace.

Happy Easter, Everybody!

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Echoes In The Light

Thanks to EWTN, I have seen a few of the Triduum Liturgies via the host's livestream media. With only a minimal amount of people assisting, both clerical and laity, the starkness of the empty church seems to me to bring out more of the solemn nature of the rituals. I don't think this is what the Church Fathers had in mind when they spoke of "noble simplicity", but the bare-bones nature of the execution of these rites is more out of necessity than anything. They have their own beauty, just as much as a full-blown "smells and bells" service would.

So how does one approach tonight's Vigil Mass? When normally "this is the night" to wrap the glory of the Resurrection and its accompanying Rites of Initiation with all the pomp and circumstance befitting the moment, this is not going to be the case this year. Less will be enough. But this "less" takes nothing away from the actions.

Consider the beginning of tonight's festivities as an example. The creation of the Vigil fire and the preparation and procession of the Paschal candle will be done in its required red and black. What will be missing is the myriads of candles held by the People of God in attendance. This may not be such a bad thing. It will allow the light of Christ to shine even brighter throughout the Church.And isn't this what we need right now?

This "enhancement" of sight will also apply to the intoning of the Exsultet, the Church's great hymn of praise and thanksgiving to our risen Lord and Savior. Without the pews full of the Church Militant, the sound will symbolically carry farther, alerting the world to the ultimate message of the Good News:  "He is not here. He is Risen." Is this also not a message we need to hear?

The Light of the World shining brighter because of the darkness enveloping us right now. The Word made Flesh made more audible because of the silence which has fallen upon us right now. This is noble simplicity at its finest. This is the worship done in spirit and truth.

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

Sunday, April 05, 2020

"Words" For All Time In This Time

Interesting times, no?

While the People of God have no direct access to the liturgies of the Church, we are reminded they are still our public expression of our Faith, even when they are seemingly done in "private". The Communion of Saints still shine in all its glory, even when this veil has been placed over them. (Which begs the question--do all these wonderful attempts around the world to use media old and new to bring the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office to screens on various devices a form of "active" or "actual" participation?)

So while we are for a time deprived of the horizontal aspect of our worship, it would be interesting to see how much of an increase there has been in private devotions. The Rosary has always been an excellent fallback. Chaplets (including and especially the Divine Mercy Chaplet) could find a bit of a renaissance. Perhaps the eight officially approved Litanies of the Church are finding their way into your prayer life. And then devotional reading, whether the Bible or other pieces of literature, are another tried and true method.

In that regard, I once again step into the breach. Allow me once again to offer my meditations on the "Seven Last Words" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the sentences He uttered while hanging on the Cross. A traditional service of this 'blog since its inception, I hope they will provide a point of departure to find other deeper insights into what became Jesus' last "sermon" before His Resurrection.

In a time when comfort is needed more than ever, what could be better than the consoling words of the Suffering Servant.

"Come to me, all you who are weary...."

"I will not leave you orphans...."

"And know that I am with you always...."

Re-acquaint yourself with what He said.

They appear for the next seven days "at the hour of His death."

April 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Freedom from Addiction. We pray that those suffering from addiction may be helped and accompanied.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

March 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Catholics in China. We pray that the Church in China may persevere in its faithfulness to the Gospel and grow in unity.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

These Days Of Penitence



Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. 
cf. Joel 2:12-13a
As a Christian, our lives are spent in conversion. The interior life strives to become perfected. Our whole being, seeking the beatific vision, searches for He Who is our source and summit so as to behold Him face-to-face.

To be in communion with God is always a work in progress. His Grace is continually offered to aid us in this process. And while we ask, seek, and knock for this gift at all times, there are times when it seems it is more abundantly available.

Lent is one of those times. The Church's annual retreat before the celebration of the Lord's Passion, Death, and Resurrection is a more direct call to repentance. We are still sinners. We are still being refined as if by fire. This part of the liturgical calendar is set aside for us to make a more conscious effort to become holier.

Whether with baby steps or giant strides, we have an opportunity to become more worthy of our calling as the People of God. Upon the three-legged stool of fasting, praying, and almsgiving can we sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to lead us to the Father. With equal parts of Mary and Martha we can again and some more be more closely united to God.

It starts today in purple.

It starts with ashes.

It starts with a reminder:  Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Listen to the Migrants’ Cries. We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal trafficking, may be heard and considered.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

(Another case of "better late than never".)

Friday, January 24, 2020

In Another's Words

On or around January 22, the anniversary of the two Supreme Court decisions which allows abortions to be performed for any reason at any time during the entire length of the pregnancy, I attempt to write something about this.

This year, on the 47th. anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, I have decided not to comment.

Instead, I am going to let someone else speak.

For the first time in the history of the National March For Life, the sitting President of the United States made a live appearance and gave a speech.

Yes, I realize a majority of the country does not like how he has conducted himself in the office, much less the policies he has enacted so far in his first term, especially regarding this topic. And, yes, since he is up for re-election, assuming he is not removed from office and banned from seeking the position ever again during the on-going impeachment trial, this may seem to be a part of his election campaign. But this is a significant, even a watershed moment for the pro-life movement. The incumbent, who has done so much in advancing a pro-life agenda, despite legislation enacted in New York State and Illinois and the machinations of the governors of Virginia and California in the past year, has earned the right to rally the troops at their most important event.

Courtesy of LifeSite News, here is the text of President Donald Trump's speech to those gathered at the National Mall:

**********

Thank you very much and thank you, Jeanne. It is my profound honor to be the first president in history to attend the March for Life. We are here for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential.

For 47 years, Americans of all backgrounds have traveled from across the country to stand for life. 

And today as President of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you.

I want to welcome tens of thousands – this is a tremendous turnout – tens of thousands of high school and college students who took long bus rides to be here in our nation's capital. And to make you feel even better, there are tens of thousands of people outside that we passed on the way in. If anybody would like to give up their spot, we can work it out.

We have a tremendous group of people outside. Thousands and thousands wanted to get in. This is some great success.

Young people are the heart of the March for Life. And it’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.

The life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students who carry on the legacy of pioneers before us who fought to raise the conscience of our nation and uphold the rights of our citizens. You embrace mothers with care and compassion. You are empowered by prayer and motivated by your unselfish love. You are grateful and we are so grateful ­­– these are incredible people – to be joined by Secretary Alex Azar and Kellyanne Conway.

And thanks also to Senators Mike Lee and James Lankford who are here. Thank you, fellas. And Representatives Steve Scalise, Chris Smith, Ralph Abraham, Warren Davidson, Bob Latta, John Joyce, Lloyd Smucker, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Brad Wenstrup. Thank you all. I have to say – and I look at it, and I see it exactly – we have many more politicians in the audience. But if you don't mind, I won’t introduce them all.

All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God.
Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.

When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God's creation.When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world – from my family, and I can tell you, I send love, and I send great, great love – and from the first day in office, I have taken historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn.

And during my first week in office, I reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy and we issued a landmark pro-life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding. I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policy or that encourages the destruction of human life.

At the United Nations, I made clear that global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that protect innocent life. Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.

As the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made.

We have taken decisive action to protect the religious liberty – so important – religious liberty has been under attack all over the world and frankly, very strongly attacked in our nation. You see it better than anyone. But we are stopping it. And we’re taking care of doctors, nurses, teachers, and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

We are preserving faith-based adoption and to uphold our founding documents, we have appointed 187 federal judges, who apply the consultation as written, including two phenomenal supreme court justices – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

We are protecting pro-life students’ rights to free speech on college campuses. And if universities want federal taxpayer dollars, then they must uphold your First Amendment right to speak your mind. And if they don't, they pay a very big financial penalty, which they will not be willing to pay.

Sadly, the far left is working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious leaders from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life. They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice. And we will win because we know how to win. We all know how to win. We all know how to win. You’ve been winning for a long time. You’ve been winning for a long time.

Together, we are the voice for the voiceless. When it comes to abortion – and you know this, you’ve seen what’s happened – Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken and seen in this country for years and decades, and you can even say, for centuries.

Nearly every top Democrat in congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth. Last year, lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb right up until delivery.

Then, we had the case of the Democrat governor in the state of Virginia, the commonwealth of Virginia. And we love the commonwealth of Virginia, but what is going on in Virginia? What is going on? The governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth. You remember that.

Senate Democrats even blocked legislation that would give medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions. And that’s why I’ve called on Congress – two of our great senators here, so many of our congressmen here – I called upon them to defend the dignity of life and to pass legislation prohibiting late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in their mother's womb.

This year, the March for Life is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which forever enshrined women's rights to vote in the United States and given by the United States constitution. Such a big event. Today, millions of extraordinary women across America are using the power of their votes to fight for the right and all of their rights as given in the Declaration of Independence – it’s the right to life.

To all the women here today, your devotion and your leadership uplifts our entire nation and we thank you for that. The tens of thousands of Americans gathered today not only stand for life – it’s really here that they stand for it so proudly together. And I want to thank everybody for that. You stand for life each and every day. You provide housing, education, jobs, and medical care to the women that you serve. You find loving families for children in need of a forever home. You host baby showers for expecting moms. You make – you just make it your life's mission to help spread God's grace.

And to all the moms here today, we celebrate you and we declare that mothers are heroes. Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. Because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of human history.

We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve. The dreams they will imagine. The masterpieces they will create. The discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting.

And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.

Together, we will defend this truth all across our magnificent land. We will set free the dreams of our people. And with determined hope, we look forward to all of the blessings that will come from the beauty, talent, purpose, nobility, and grace of every American child.

I want to thank you. This is a very special moment. It’s so great to represent you. I love you all. And I say with a true passion, thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January 2020 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Promotion of World Peace. We pray that Christians, followers of other religions, and all people of goodwill may promote peace and justice in the world.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

(Another case of "better late than never".)

December 2019 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here was the intention for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
The Future of the Very Young. That every country determine to take the necessary measures to make the future of the very young, especially those who suffer, a priority.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

(Caught up in the Advent spirit? Nope. Just plain forgot.)

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Old Song For A New Decade


Tonight is a unique ocassion. The new year that arrives will have a zero at the end of it. While time is a normal way to mark milestones, this one should be a bit more festive. And when the time for that special chime comes, the one that marks end and beginning of a year and a decade, may these words from Robert Burns ring out with more meaning:

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 you as you begin 2020. May His grace and favor shine in what you do, say, and are. May He bestow upon you and yours an abundance of virtue in your lives.

Happy New Year, Everybody!