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!

The Best New Year's Hymn



New Advent provides the background to this hymn.

The website FishEaters.com provided the Latin and English.

From The Handbook of Indulgences:
A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who recite the hymn, Te Deum, as an act of thanksgiving.  The indulgence will be a plenary one if this hymn is publicly recited on the last day of the year.
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Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi Caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae!
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

V. Benedictus es, Domine, Deus patrum nostrorum.
R. Et laudabilis, et gloriosus in saecula.
V. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium, cum Santo Spiritu.
R. Laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula.

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O God, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
Thee, the Father, all the earth doth worship.
To Thee all the Angels, the Heavens and all the Powers,
To Thee the Cherubim and Seraphim cry out without ceasing:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Full are the Heavens and the earth of the majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles praises Thee,
The admirable company of Prophets praises Thee,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Thee, the Holy Church throughout the world doth confess:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou, O Christ, are the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou, having taken it upon Thyself to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Thou, having overcome the sting of death, hast opened to believers the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Thou, we believe, art the Judge to come.
We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance!
And govern them, and exalt them forever.
Day by day we bless Thee
And we praise Thy Name forever: yea, forever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, this day to keep us without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have trusted in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee I have trusted; let me not be confounded forever.

V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers.
R. And worthy to be praised and glorified for ever.
V. Let us bless the Father and the Son, with the Holy Ghost.
R. Let us praise and magnify Him for ever.


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Originally posted 12/31/2011.
Re-posted 12/31/2012.
Re-posted 12/31/2013.
Re-posted 12/31/2014.
Re-posted 12/31/2015.
Re-posted 12/31/2016.
Re-posted 12/31/2017.
Re-posted 12/31/2018.
Re-posted 12/31/2019

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

Proclamation Of The Birth Of Christ

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono:
A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:
A nativitate Abrahae, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:
A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:
Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:
Hebdomoda sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:
Olympiade centesima nongentesima quarta:
Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:
Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo:
Toto urbe in pace composito:
Sexta mundi aetate:
Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:
NATIVITAS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!

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The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:
From the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:
From the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:
From Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten:
From David's being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel:
In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad:
From the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:
In the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:
The whole world being in peace:
In the sixth age of the world:
Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH!

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The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. 
When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy,He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
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NOTES:
Originally posted as "Behold, I Bring You Good News"; 12/24/2005.
Linked in "Repeat The Sounding Joy"; 12/24/2006.
Re-posted 12/24/2007.
Re-posted 12/25/2008.
Re-posted 12/24/2009.
Re-posted 12/24/2010.
Re-posted 12/24/2011.
Re-posted 12/24/2012.
Re-posted 12/24/2013.
Re-posted 12/24/2014.
Re-posted 12/24/2015.
Re-posted 12/24/2016.
Re-posted 12/24/2017.
Re-posted 12/24/2018.
Re-posted 12/24/2019.

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.

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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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

O Antiphon: God Is With Us



Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:10-14
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Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25


Emmanuel. God is with us. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

Even though man left God, He never left us. The Word was always there: in the rainbow, the visitors to Abraham, the plagues, the cloud, the manna, the tablets, the ark, the temple, the tiny whispering sound, the speech of the prophets and psalmists, and whatever examples you may find elsewhere in the Old Testament.
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe,who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
Hebrews 1:1-3

Echoes of sound and glimmers of light. The faintest sensory perceptions for the soul damaged by Original Sin. Reflections of true reality. All pale in comparison.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14
Emmanuel.

God is with us.

God is still with us.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)
Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God).

Revelations 21:3

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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

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O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

O Antiphon: King Of Kings


Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices; They will be acceptable offerings on my altar, and I will enhance the splendor of my house.

Isaiah 60:1-7
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When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage....Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance....After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-2,7,9-11

It was a question which framed the beginning and end of His life.

A question of identity.

"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." (Matthew 2:2)

Strangers in a strange land, the Magi saw a glimmer of the Light and inquired about to Whom it lead. When told, they were able to hear the Word and find Him, while those who help them wanted to silence the echo. The echo would now grow louder because more would be able to hear it.

"Are you the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33b)

An earthly ruler, feeling threatened by the Word (history does repeat itself, doesn't it?), asked again. He directly heard, but could not respond. In the end, he would help to attempt to silence once and for all the Word.

And even in between those two questions, people wanted to know if they were among royalty.

They were right.

Found in the Book of Revelation (cf. 11:15, 19:6 and 19:16, KJV), used by Charles Jennens in a libretto, and set to music by Georg Frideric Handel, the Word reigns just as true at His birth, death, resurrection, Good Friday of 1742, and today.
Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's refection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

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O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Monday, December 21, 2020

O Antiphon: Light From Light


Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
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 men 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.
Isaiah 8:23b-9:4

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Jesus said to them, "The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light....Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me."

John 12:35-36; 44b-50

Return again to the creation story. What was the first thing formed from nothing by the Word? Light. But Who was this Light? St. John gives the answer (and expounds on it further in his first letter):
What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:3b-5)
Yet, once it thought it had succeeded with Adam and Eve, the darkness tried and tried again to overcome the Light during salvation history. But just as the echo of the Word still remained, so did a glimmer of Light. Noah saw it in the rainbow. Moses, who already viewed the burning bush, was privileged to see more than a glimmer on Mt. Siani. The Magi followed a star.

All of these pale when the Word spoke plainly:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b)
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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

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O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom


Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts: Up, go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace,
Who has hewn for himself a sepulcher on a height and carved his tomb in the rock: "What are you doing here, and what people have you here, that here you have hewn for yourself a tomb?"
The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man! He shall grip you firmly
And roll you up and toss you like a ball into an open land To perish there, you and the chariots you glory in, you disgrace to your master's house!
I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;
On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 22:15-2
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When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Matthew 16:13-19

How powerful is the Word. From nothing, creation sprang forth when He was uttered. He speaks and the Law is given. Any oration from Him is full of wisdom and truth.

Perhaps, as is suggested in the verse from Isaiah above, the ability to bind and loose is the most powerful message He delivers. To bind a not so heavy yoke upon us, unlike the Pharisees he chastises in His ministry. To loosen us from the bondage of sin. To bind us together as brothers and sisters in Him. To loosen us from the fear which keeps us from loving each other. To bind our sufferings with His. To loosen the grip of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But the most powerful thing this Word says is to the gates of Heaven, "Open. I closed you when Adam and Eve did not listen to Me. Because I now have taken on the nature of the crown of My creation and have redeemed them with My life, because I obeyed My Father, I make it possible for them to enter the Kingdom if they heed My voice. My church, My bride, has been entrusted with My words, My teachings, My sacramental grace to make heeding My voice an easy yoke. Those who heed My church heed My voice, and I will raise them up on the last day."
"The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices."

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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

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O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Advent Wreath

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree


But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-10

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The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:1-17


The genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (1-17), the Gospel proclamation for the Mass of Christmas Eve, established Him as a descendant of the royal bloodline of David. It also connects Him to our father in faith, Abraham. Through the trials he endured, the father of many nations faithfully obeyed (heard) the Word.

How appropriate the Word would once again be proclaimed through his lineage. Some 42 generations later, a man who was in that line would have to do the same thing as Abraham. Like his ancestor and his betrothed, Joseph was visited by an angel. The heavenly being brings a similar message which Gabriel announced to Mary. Again, the words were only secondary. Again, the Word is more than an echo.

Like "father of faith," like "son." Two righteous men, the same act of faith. Both obeyed a timeless Word.

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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

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O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Friday, December 18, 2020

O Antiphon: The Law Giver


Now will I rise up, says the LORD, now will I be exalted, now be lifted up.
You conceive dry grass, bring forth stubble; my spirit shall consume you like fire.
The peoples shall be as in a limekiln, like brushwood cut down for burning in the fire.
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: "Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?"
He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil--
He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.
Your mind will dwell on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed? Where is he who counted the towers?"
To the people of alien tongue you will look no more, the people of obscure speech, stammering in a language not understood.
Look to Zion, the city of our festivals; let your eyes see Jerusalem as a quiet abode, a tent not to be struck, Whose pegs will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes severed.
Indeed the LORD will be there with us, majestic; yes, the LORD our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the LORD our king, he it is who will save us.
Isaiah 33:10-22

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Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:17-20



The first "O Antiphon" speaks of wisdom and how it created order from the chaos. It was the first time the Word was heard clearly and obediently. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed (did not hear), God would not abandon the crowning glory of His creation to death. There were always glimmers of hope in early salvation history when the Word was more than an echo, for example, when Noah and Abraham obeyed the commands given them by God.

It was, however, time for the Word to become, in a sense, visible.

Enter Moses.

God was once again speaking His Word, this time through a mouthpiece which only knew how to stutter. The strange and awesome sight of the burning bush, where and when the Word revealed His name for the first time, was just the opening dialog. The ten plagues was a not so subtle way of getting everyone's attention. The parting of the Red Sea was just an exclamation point.

Now, fast forward to Mount Sinai.

The Word was about to become, in a sense, visible.

Recall the scene from the Book of Exodus. God came as a dense cloud. This holy mountain shook from the conversation between God and Moses. The Chosen People were commanded to worthily prepare themselves. Then, on the third day, when God finished speaking to Moses, He then spoke to the Israelites through Moses.

God gave them the Decalogue.

The Word became, in a sense, visible.

Despite it being "ten words" on stone tablets, it is still the undivided Word.

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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

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O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom


"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

"When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.

"So now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject!
Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Proverbs 8:22-36

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At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Matthew 11:25-30


Looking at the beginning of this antiphon, I am drawn to the opening of the Gospel of St. John, which is proclaimed at the Mass of Christmas Day:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
It is tied together with the creation story found in the first chapter of Genesis. Each day is climaxed by the phrase "Then God said." Each time, the Father, on the breath of the Spirit uttered the Word, His Son, Jesus Christ. "And so it happened." No matter what was created, it came about through the Trinity. The whole of creation from "one end to another" is ordered mightily and sweetly--it is "very good."

Then entered sin.

Then entered the need for salvation.

Throughout salvation history, the Word was uttered repeatedly, from Abraham to Moses to David to the prophets to John the Baptist. Some did heed the Word again, much like Elijah hearing the faint whispering sound (1 Kings 19:11-12). But these utterings were only echoes of Genesis. One knows how faint an echo becomes after the first repetition, no matter how loud the original sound.

So became the need for re-creation. The Word was then uttered "to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary." Note that when she accepted ("Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word"), she was not heeding the words of Gabriel. She heard the Word as clearly as the first fruits of creation.

Et Verbum caro factum est. Et habitavit in nobis.

There would be no more echoes.

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Fr. Z's reflection can be found here.
Fr. Kirby's reflection can be found here.

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Click here to listen to the chant.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!

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O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

"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 08, 2020

Ora Pro Nobis



As patroness of the United States of America under this title, we are under her care. On this feast day, let us pray for the welfare of our country, that we may continue to be "one nation, under God".
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone that fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly to you, O virgin of virgins, my mother; to you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer them. Amen.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

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Originally posted 12/8/2005.
Re-posted 12/8/2006.
Re-posted 12/8/2009.
Re-posted 12/8/2011.
Re-created with new image 12/8/2015.
Re-posted 12/8/2016.
Re-posted 12/8/2017.
Re-posted 12/8/2018.
Original and re-created posts combined and edited.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

In Memory Of...

Francis Joseph Rolling
Born: March 24, 1935
Died: December 5, 1991
Requiescat In Pace.

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Originally posted 12/5/2005.
Re-posted 12/5/2008.
Re-posted 12/5/2009.
Re-posted 12/5/2010.
Re-posted 12/5/2011.
Re-posted 12/5/2012.
Re-posted 12/5/2013.
Re-posted 12/5/2014.
Re-posted 12/5/2015.
Re-posted 12/5/2016.
Re-posted 12/5/2017.
Re-posted 12/5/2018.
Re-posted 12/5/2019.

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.)