Friday, December 31, 2021

A Tune For One And For All

It still is a time to celebrate, despite the trials, tribulation, and turmoil of the past 365 days. If we gather with family and friends around us or spend it quietly by ourselves, it it still an occasion in which to revel, even in a subdued way. These words, penned by Scottish poet Robert Burns and set to music in the late 18th. century, is a reminder that, while we will always have God with us, we also we have each other as well:

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 richly in 2022. May He bestow upon you every grace you need. May joy, peace, hope, and love be your companions.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Same Things, Different Year

Just a few hours left in 2021.

In some ways, it looked a lot like 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic still was the overarching story, as both the virus and the narrative continued to show variety. Until this disease goes away, this saga won't. And any associated drama and tension which this blankets, in terms of social and political activities, is going to hover below the surface, occasionally coming up for air. Heaven help us when these hells breaks loose. (And they will.)

Yet there are signs of recovery, however hindered by the threat of rising inflation or infection rates. However, just when people think they are going to turn the corner, even every so slightly, they realize they are in a roundabout. It is this awkward waltz of two steps forward, one back.

I did OK the past year. Physically, I still haven't encountered this menace. (Full disclosure--I am fully vaccinated and thinking about a booster.) My finances made a bit of a rebound as well. A small raise last year as a crossing guard took full effect as schools returned to five days in-person. And at the local amusement park, I picked up additional hours performing duties in hiring personnel as well as my duties in the park, as it was open as close to there normal hours this season. It all added up. For the first time since 2004, my total income for the year was a five-digit figure. Granted, that first figure is a one, but it is a victory on the economic front for me.

The park, on the other hand, had to suffer a couple of heartbreaks, both of which happened in the past five months. In August, this happened. I was there; I didn't see it happen, but I was about 50-60 feet away from where he landed. (Please say a prayer for the repose of his soul; I have a few times.) And just before Christmas, this happened. (Just another example of gains and losses.)

It was also a bit of a tease when it came to seeking full-time employment, especially when it came to jobs within the Church. Four positions involving liturgy and/or music (including one at the parish where I got my start as a church musician) got at least to the interview stage. Alas, none of them yielded any further consideration. But despite the fact of where I am in my life, I am still hopeful of landing something. I know what I have to overcome.

So, there you have it. The status quo is still status quo, ever so slightly trending up. Opportunities are going to present themselves in 2022. I still have to remind myself to "Go Forward; Be Bold." But all in all, there is a sense of eagerness and anticipation about the next twelve month.

I hope to see improvement.

I hope for blessings from God like never before.

I hope you continue to share my journey.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

2021 Christmas Card

May the Christ Child fill you with joy, hope, peace, and love.
May the newborn King of Kings reign in your life.
May He, born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger, bestow upon you abundant blessings in the coming year.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Friday, December 24, 2021

2021 Christmas Eve Reflection

The First Reading from the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--Vigil Mass:
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.  
Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall people call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

Isaiah 62:1-5

As has been my wont for the past few years, I once again turn to one of the readings found in the Masses celebrated on Christmas for inspiration. If you remember from last year, I only had five remaining amongst the twelve. Slim pickings only in number, not quality. (And if you truly want to do any justice to the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John, that can easily be broken up into digestible bits.) Let's just say the order of the next few reflections seems to be established.

The imagery found here begs for an act of lectio divina. Like last year, there are not a lot of short clauses to parse; however, on a quick first perusal, I do see a lot of parallelism. And with this post comes my usual disclaimer:  as an untrained laymen in theology or biblical exegesis, I am only expounding on what my poor brain is gleaning. Please feel free to use my meager musings as a point of departure for your own meditation.

For Zion’s sake...for Jerusalem’s sake... For the sake of the People of God, first the Israelites, then the entire world, something had to be done. Since the Fall, humanity has been in a pitiable state. (Makes one wonder if things have changed.) Mired in sin, cut off from Paradise, unable to see His face, the crowing glory of God's creation was one step short not of returning to the nothingness from which it was made, but entering the emptiness which is Hell.

...I will not be silent, ...I will not be quiet,... God is definitely speaking through this prophet. Return to the creation of the world. For six days "And God said...And it was good." (cf. Genesis 1) As the Father spoke the Word on the breath of the Spirit then, now He shall re-create and redeem the world in the same manner. Hence, the Annunciation.

...until her vindication...her victory... Here is a hint of what is to come in the rest of this passage. Like the prophet Hosea, who forgave the unfaithfulness of his wife time and time again, God is demonstrating His faithfulness to the covenant He established with Abram and his descendants. As creation was whole before the disobedience of our First Parents, so it would become again. As there was communion (common-union) between God and us, so shall that integrity return. "But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57)

...shines forth like the dawn...a burning torch. "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption." (Galatians 4:4-5) "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." (John 1:3b-4) And what is this light but none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the world (cf. John 8:12), the Resurrection and the Life (cf. John 11:25-26). 

Nations/all the kings...behold your vindication/your glory; "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before him. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations. All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage." (Psalm 22:28-30) Isaiah must have been very familiar with what King David had written in order to proclaim this. And is this not a foreshadowing of the visit of the Magi (cf. Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12)? But this beholding is not complete until "...when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." (cf. John 12:32)

...called by a new name..."See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are....Beloved, we are God’s children now;..." (Cf. 1 John 3:1-2) Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we are now adopted children of God, beloved in Christ. We are more than restored; we have been renewed. Our dignity as a creation of God has been elevated even more.

...a glorious crown/a royal the hand of the LORD/held by your God. When humanity was made, God finally pronounced all He made "very good" (cf. Genesis 1:31), and thus we became the crowning glory of His creation. When humanity sinned, that crown was tarnished beyond repair or replacement, as far as human hands were concerned. But for God nothing is impossible. Sacred Scripture is not nothing but what God has done and has done for us. Through Jesus Christ, we have become a new creation, even more fitting a jewel than before. But it is still up to us, "with the help of thy Grace," to continue to be fitting.

No more...“Forsaken,”...but “My Delight,”... Recall these words Jesus spoke upon the Cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46b; cf. Psalm 22:2) Recall also what St. Matthew said, "This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:  'Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight;...'" (Matthew 12:17-18a; cf. Isaiah 42:1a). Because Jesus assumed our humanity, we now have a share in his divinity. Because the Father sees the Son in His creation, this passage also applies to us.

No more ...your land “Desolate,” but...your land “Espoused." "Yes, the LORD will grant his bounty; our land will yield its produce." (Psalm 85:13) Our efforts at producing good fruit on our own in our soul, the land of which Isaiah is alluding, is a fool's errand. Our efforts at appeasement are in vain. Only being united with Grace will our works be fruitful. Only then will the admonition in the Letter of St. James come true (cf. James 2:17-18).

As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you;... Here is a return to the image of Bridegroom and Bride hinted at earlier. Here is where God pledges His love to us and for us. Here is where He forgives us. "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer." (Isaiah 54:7-8) It is from this covenantal image, along with the covenants God made throughout the Old Testament, that the Church's teaching on the Sacrament of Marriage comes.

...and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you. "Because God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome; there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of Hades on earth, for righteousness is undying." (Wisdom 1:13-15) God wants us to live and live forever. He rejoices when we are faithful to the covenant between Him and us and will take us back when we truly repent of breaking that covenant. Paraphrasing St. Augustine, while we were created by God without our consent, we can only be saved by God with it.

As I look back at the opening verse of this reading, like Isaiah, we cannot be mute in proclaiming the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ. Word and deed make us not only a disciple of Jesus but also a witness to the love of God. When we do those things, we affirm the reality of the Incarnation.

Just as it first came to be some 2,000+ years ago.

We announce vindication and victory.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Another Advent Plea

The original Latin was penned by none other that St. Ambrose in the 4th. Century. Martin Luther translated it into German in the 16th. Century. William M. Reynolds translated it into English in the 19th. Century. It is sung to the tune is Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland

Maranatha! Come, O Lord!


1. Savior of the nations, come;
Virgin's Son, here make Thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

2. Not by human flesh and blood;
By the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh,
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

3. Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

4. From the Father forth He came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell
High the song of triumph swell!

5. Thou, the Father's only Son,
Hast over sin the victory won.
Boundless shall Thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

6. Brightly doth Thy manger shine,
Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin overcloud this light;
Ever be our faith thus bright.

7. Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

Ero cras.

Friday, December 17, 2021

In The Correct "O"rder

Nearly everyone is familiar with the Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". It is a combination and paraphrase of the "O" Antiphons, the seven antiphons recited or chanted before the Magnificat during Evening Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours)/Vespers (Divine Office) beginning tonight. For many, this is the most and only exposure they have to these texts.

What those folks don't know or realize is that the order of the verses presented in the hymn is not the order the antiphons are presented. Properly edited in chronological order, the familiar first verse (O come, O come, Emmanuel) would be the last, with the other six moving up one spot and staying in the order presented. My guess is that having the last verse first keeps the traditional Advent theme of preparing for the coming of Christ (cf. Isaiah 7:14) at the fore.

Nevertheless, as has been tradition in this infinitesimal corner of the universe since its inception, I once again humbly submit my reflections on the "O" Antiphons. The first major series I undertook on this 'blog, it has undergone two revisions during it life (as I still have versions 1.0 and 2.0 archived). In its current form, it is still my hope that the next seven days of posts will provide food for meditation as we approach the final days of Advent.

Bethlehem is not that far away.

The time of fulfillment is nearing.

Venite first; then, Gaudete.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

December 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Catechists. Let us pray for the catechists, summoned to announce the Word of God: may they be its witnesses, with courage and creativity and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

A reflection for this intention is found here. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

As We Await The Blessed Hope,...

 ...the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our 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.

Titus 2:13-14

And so it begins.

The first days of the new liturgical year.

Draped in purple, with just a touch of rose and a hint of white.

And while the world has already started its external preparations for Christmas, we start our internal ones.

Advent is here. And while the repeated "Veni, Veni" of the "O" Antiphons are still weeks away, pointing us to the "Venite, Adoremus" of "Adeste Fideles", that time will come sooner than we anticipate.

But now, it is time to prepare the way of the Lord. He Who cannot be confined bound Himself in human flesh, starting with the nine months in His Mother's womb. He Who is invisible is about to be seen. He Who is the Bread of Life will come to the House of Bread. He Who is the Lamb of God will be born in a stable.

How you prepare will be up to you.

But do prepare.

Love, the guest, the rose, the bird, the star, the Lord, is on His way.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

2021 Thanksgiving Day Card

May you rejoice always for all the blessings bestowed upon you by God. May your prayer of thanksgiving to Him be unceasing. May your gratitude both now and forever shine forth in thought, word, and deed so as to do His will.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Monday, November 22, 2021

A Cantata For A Lady

The Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, is today. As the patron saint of musician, there were times in history where concerts were performed in her honor and composition written in her name. George Frederick Handel composed this work in 1739, using a poem written in 1687 by John Dryden.

To all those involved in church music, no matter what level of competency, may you continue to "make a joyful sound unto the Lord."

Monday, November 01, 2021

November 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

People who suffer from depression. We pray that people who suffer from depression or burn-out will find support and a light that opens them up to life.

A reflection for this intention is found here. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

October 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Missionary disciples. We pray that every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization, available to the mission, by being witnesses of a life that has the flavour of the Gospel.

A reflection for this intention is found here. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Different "Brick By Brick"

For those of us who wish to see and work for more reverent, beautiful liturgies, progress is often measured, as Fr. John Zuhlsdorf would say, "brick by brick", one lasting incremental step at a time.

Here is another use of the phrase.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

PM: Special Edition--Feast Of The Exaltation Of The Holy Cross

While doing this series during the 2016 liturgical year, I knew I would inadvertently omit some major feasts. This is one of them. (I'm sure there are more.) Time to continue to correct those omissions.
We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.

V. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may he cause his face to shine upon us and may he have mercy on us

Gal. 6:14.; V. Ps. 66:2
This is also the Introit for the Mass of The Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. The Cross has brought us all into everlasting light and eternal life. Note how the verse hearkens back to Numbers 6:24-26.
Christ became obedient for us unto death, even death on a Cross

V. Therefore God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

Phil. 2:8; V. 9
This is also the Gradual for Palm (Passion) Sunday. By His obedience in being brought low by being raise on the Cross and therefore exalting Himself, so are we now raised to the position of adopted children of God.
O precious wood, O precious nails, gently bearing so precious a burden; you alone were worthy to carry the King of heaven, the Lord.
Does the Alleluia verse not invoke the veneration of the Cross during the Good Friday liturgy? Or even recall the words repeated during the Stations of the Cross? "We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you; because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world."
Protect your people, O Lord, by the sign of the holy cross, form the attack of all enemies; so that our service may be agreeable unto you and our sacrifice acceptable, alleluia.
And how quickly a variation of this verse will be heard. Just before the Prayer over the Offerings, the congregation responds to the priest's exhortation that the sacrifice being offered be worthy. "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church."
By the sign of the cross, deliver us from our enemies, O Lord our God.
In hoc signo crucis vinces. "But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14) "Behold the wood of the Cross upon which hung the Saviour of the world; come, let us worship"

Sunday, September 12, 2021

I, 16


Here I am again, celebrating another 'blogiversary. 

Some would say I am just taking up needless pixels and cloud space. I can see that point. This "still, small voice" may have gone past its expiration date a long time ago. Meaningful contributions to "the cacophony of chatter in the 'blogosphere", however defined, perhaps are few and far between. Whatever promise this 'blog had in its beginnings is long gone.

Yet, here I am again, celebrating another 'blogiversary.

One has to remember creating pixels and cloud space, even though a finite activity, seems to have no definite end in sight. As I have looked back at the times when I have re-use previous posts, taking from my store old material, it still has meaning; perhaps I think there is a timeless message within them. While new posts are rare, they still are built upon the foundation of wanting to say something thoughtful and meaningful. And who says the Holy Spirit couldn't spark a renewal? It might be akin to the resuscitation of Lazarus, or it could be more like coming out of a coma.

For better or worse, there still is interest in maintaining this. While life has gotten in the way, this continues to be a part of mine. I think it can still serve some kind of purpose; discerning it is still ongoing.

So I will continue apace with what is routine, even traditional in the life of this 'blog. There are still "so many subjects, so little time", although I have narrowed down what catches my interest. I don't promise anything other than a honest and sincere appearance whenever I do take fingers to keyboard.

Yes, here I am again, celebrating another 'blogiversary.

The light is still on; the invitation is still outstanding.

You are always still welcome to my infinitesimal corner of the universe.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Day A Score Away

20 years now.
Where'd they go?
20 years.
I don't know.
I sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they've gone.

From "Like A Rock", by Bob Seger

The word "score" has quite a few definitions. Three of them stand out to me. First, as a sports fan, it is the fulfillment of the requirements in the rules to create a point or points. Second, as a musician, it is the manuscript which contains all parts of a composition. But it is the last one which sets the tone for this post. It is a measure of time which spans twenty years.

That is where we are today.

We are two decades removed from the greatest terrorist attack in this country's history. Four hijacked airplanes. Three cities now forever linked in history's annuls:  New York, NY; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, PA. 2,996 lives lost; thousands more altered. A blood red-letter day when we recall where we were when it happened.

Even now, as the country seems to be taking a new approach to the "war on terror" after twenty years, we still have unresolved questions. As I have suggested in other tribute posts, this is as much a spiritual battle as it is as ideological one. This was an incident where Satan just decided to discard his facade and give us a direct look at his face. "I caused this effect. Look at me. Look at my power. Fear me. Bow to me. Give up and give in." And then we are reminded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, "I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:33) The victory is won; however, the battles in this spiritual war still need to be waged. Part of those battles will involve terroristic acts by the enemy and those who agree with him. Turning the other cheek cannot be an option if true justice is required.

We as a country vowed to "Never Forget". Ceremonies and tributes have and will take place from sea to shining sea. Attend one if you can. Find more eloquent words than mine (in terms of finding them and they being more eloquent, it shouldn't be difficult). And while the idea of turning this into a national "Patriot's Day" has faded, what this means to us as a nation shouldn't. This was a rallying point which allowed us to set aside our differences and come together in a common cause. It is that spirit of unification which is needed now more than ever as we contend with enemies both foreign and domestic, those that legitimately want to do "We the People" great harm.

We grieve with those who still mourn. We aid those who still need our help. We honor those who for seemingly no good reason are not with us. I once again offer these intercessions for your prayerful consideration (as I did in 2007, 2013, and 2018):

1. The souls of all who died.
2. Those who still mourn.
3. Those who seek a just solution. (While this may have been accomplished May 1, 2011, have we really solved the problem?)
4. Forgiveness toward our enemies.
5. Our enemies (didn't Someone command us to do this?).
6. The courage to continue the fight.
7. Peace.

Where have these twenty years gone? Seemingly no closer to solutions. Some peace, but yet an uneasiness still lingers. So does the sadness. Yet we are here. An obligation we have voluntarily undertaken and so will continue to do. And, perhaps someday with the grace of God, it will still retain its meaning without the underlying motivations and become a fitting tribute to a time when Uncle Sam got a black eye and overcame it.

Never Forget.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

September 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

An environmentally sustainable lifestyle. We pray that we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

August 2021 Morning Offering Prayer intention

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

The Church. Let us pray for the Church, that She may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The First Jesuit

The Society of Jesus has been my favorite religious order, despite the turmoil and tempests they have caused in the past. I have always admired their academic rigor as part of their formation. In my opinion, they are, in a manner of speaking, the "brain cells" of the Body of Christ. His "Spiritual Exercises" are not for the faint of soul. I understand it takes a great deal of humility and maturity to apply them. Someday.... 

His biography is here.

His famous prayer:
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.
Truly, a soldier for Christ.


Originally posted 7/31/2008.
Re-posted 7/31/2020.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Still Another "Prime" Birthday Time

For the 17th. time in my life, I have reached an age which is only divisible by itself and one. (And here's hoping I will see the 18th. edition as well, God willing. Because that will mean I have seen another x0 th. birthday.)

As I have done since the inception of this 'blog, I gratefully acknowledge the first and best natural gift I have received:  existence. Yet despite "all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams," it is still worthy of being. Have I made the best of it? Not by a long shot; "what if" is a game I play way too often. I still curse the darkness too much instead of lighting a candle. But by realizing I have fallen short of the glory of God, understanding the many times I haven't done His will, I can continue "with the help of Thy grace" to pursue metanoia, knowing perfection on earth is a worthy struggle. There is still a lot of Augustinian resistance, however. As I have said before, the four hardest words in Christianity are "Thy will be done."

I thank God "I am fearfully, wonderfully made."

In Him do I "live and move and have my being."

May I strive in the next twelve months to be more of the creature the Creator intended me to be.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

July 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Social friendship. We pray that, in social, economic and political situations of conflict, we may be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue and friendship.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

June 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

The beauty of marriage. Let us pray for young people who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community: may they grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

May 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

The world of finance. Let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate the financial sphere and protect citizens from its dangers.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

2021 Easter Card

May our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ grant you abundant blessings. May the Lamb of God Who once was slain bestow upon you mercy and peace. May He Who is the Resurrection and the Life endow you with love, light, and joy.

Happy Easter, Everybody!

He Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed! 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Haec Igitur Nox Est

In the crown which is the Church's liturgical rites, tonight and tomorrow are the shiniest jewels in it. Only rivaled by Christmas and Corpus Christi processions in its pageantry and splendor, this weekend is the apex of how the source and summit of our Faith is majestically presented. This is especially true of the Easter Vigil, with the added emphasis of initiating new members into the Mystical Body of Christ.

Truly, "this is the night". Like Christmas, we acknowledge and welcome our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in all His Divinity and Humanity coming into the world . However, He is "veiled in flesh" in a different way and comes forth from a different place. The "glory" in which He manifests Himself, partially revealed at the Transfiguration, is now on full display in the Resurrection. And while the eternal interjected itself in the temporal at the Nativity, it has now "overcome the world" on this third day.

Such an event should be a cause for the greatest celebration we can execute. And the tone is set when the great hymn of praise, the Exsultet, is proclaimed after the lighting and presentation of the Paschal Candle. We are exhorted to exult, be glad, and rejoice as we recall the events of salvation history, not only in this hymn, but the entirety of this Mass.

"This is the night." Listen carefully when you hear this phrase, repeated time and again throughout its proclamation. Marvel in awe and wonder of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

Both the Latin and English texts are provided for your meditation.

Haec igitur nox est.

Friday, April 02, 2021

A Call For Mercy

Today marks the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena. A devotion which has gained popularity over the last two decades, it recitation over the next nine days earns those who pray it a plenary indulgence (subject to the usual conditions).

I have sporadically posted about this, mostly as a reminder about the start of the novena. For further information, go here.

"Jesus, I trust in You."

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Night Shadows Falling

"Tenebrae factae sunt super universam terram."

"There was darkness over the whole earth."

This fragment from the Gospel of St. Matthew (cf. 27:45) sets the mood for the next three liturgical days.

The Light of the World is preparing to be extinguished.

Up to this point He had never shone brighter. His entrance into Jerusalem showed that. The crowds were at fever pitch. Sacred and secular authorities wondered what would happen now.

Satan was ready to strike. He had prepared someone to aid in his bidding. It only cost 30 pieces of silver.

But there was still much to be done. His last Passover meal on earth, merged with the eternal Wedding Feast. The "first" Tenebrae service in Olivet. The two trials. All the tribulations. The "Via Dolorosa".

The somberness underlying Holy Thursday morphs into the utter desolation of Good Friday and the grieving of Holy Saturday. The Church dutifully notes this in Her rites and rituals.

There is still much to be done. While "Do this in remembrance of Me" specifically refers to the institution of the Mass, could it not be said in a general way about the whole of the liturgical calendar and even more so the Sacred Triduum? It is these next three days, our High Holy Days, with all of their ceremonies, that our Lord and Saviour will shine the brightest.

Take part as best as you are able. “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.” (John 12:35-36)

The darkness comes soon enough.

Lent is over.

Tenebrae factae sunt super universam terram.

April 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Fundamental rights. We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.

A reflection for this intention is found here. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Those "Words" Again

Holy Week is here.

Palm Sunday is upon us.

The most important time in the liturgical year has arrived.

Once again, we begin our journey with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as He begins "His hour". And while the route seems familiar and the events easy to recall, one can find a way to perceive this most sacred event in a new way. We can enter into the Paschal Mystery humbly and open our ears, minds, hearts, and souls to the denouement of "The Greatest Story Ever Told".

As I have since the inception of this 'blog, I once again offer you my reflections on the "Seven Last Words", the sentences spoken by our Lord while He hung upon the Cross. This series of short meditations, incomplete as they are, are nothing but an invitation to discover others who have much more to say, both in volume and in profundity. Like my series on the "O" Antiphons, they are a way to bring this time of preparation to a culmination.

I hope you find them useful.

I hope to see you later.

When "His hour" arrives at last.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Another Death Remembered

For many, 2020 will always be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and all the drama surrounding it. Yes, that affected me as well, but it wasn't the most important event of that year. Something more personal took center stage, a different kind of life-or-death scene, one I didn't mention in my annual year-end review because it deserved a post of its own.

Well, this is it.

This is the one-year anniversary of the death of my mother, Helen Marie (Sheely) Rolling. Unlike my father, I knew her demise was coming. However, like my father, the promise to stay close to her was never realized.

And, like my father, let me relate the story of her final moments on earth, as best as I know them.

Lines Of Communication(?)

You have met her before. I mentioned her in my re-telling of my father's passing and my move to Utah. Like me, she had her financial struggles, but at least she was able to find work as a waitress in the small town where she lived, much like she did when I was growing up. It would seem she did alright, for there were two occasions when she gave me money. Let's just say I owe my siblings and nieces and nephews a little something for her dipping out of her estate like she did. (Only a mother's love....)

The contact between us was sporadic at best, especially after my move here. She was better at calling me than I ever would be. There would be the occasional letter from her, many of them obituary notices of relatives. And while I would send Mother's Day and Christmas cards, I would frequently miss her birthday. There was encouragement to be more communicative. I do and don't know why I wasn't. (The knowing why is an excuse.)

She kept things to herself so as to not worry those around her. That made the next piece of information stunning.

"Double, Double Toil And Trouble...."

My younger and only sister has been the go-between for her and my other siblings, communicating things on a need to know basis. When she contacted me in late September, 2011 requesting a phone call, what she relayed to me during that conversation was troubling.

Mom had developed breast cancer about two months earlier. She was set for removal of some lumps the doctor found and then would start chemotherapy about a month after that, I was told. I was glad it was discovered early. I was optimistic about her chances for recovery. However, she did not respond well to the chemo after two rounds, so she went on a hormone regimen that was to last for 5 years. I was still optimistic. 

Shortly after that conversation with my sister, my maternal grandmother, her mother, died. The trip back to the midwest for the funeral would be the first time in over four years that I had seen her; in fact I spent that time living with her in her apartment. Unfortunately, we didn't have much to say to each other. (Was that really the right time to thaw out a relationship which seemed to have grown icy?)

Then, early in June, 2012, my sister infomed me Mom had surgery to remove part of her colon. She had developed cancer there. But, again I was hopeful because they caught it early.

And on the medical front, nary a peep was heard. Until...

The Beginning Of The End

It was a short note written by Mom. (While the only postmark was December 6, 2019, after I had re-read it, I just wonder if it wasn't written a day earlier.):

Hi Ron!

I should have written this back a while ago.

The cancer has come back, also I have a mass in my stomach.

There isn't much more I can tell you at this time. I've been through a lot of tests and now it seems to be a waiting game.

If you think you want more information you can talk with (my sister's name).

Take care!

Love you!


Quite the Christmas present.

It wasn't until early January when my sister called me. She told me the breast cancer had metastasized in her ribs and the mass in her "stomach" (actually, her colon) would require complete removal of that organ, which my mom didn't want. My sister confirmed what I had suspected--any further treatment was only going to delay the inevitable. After 8 and 1/2 years, she wasn't going to fight it anymore.

She was preparing to die.

End Of Days

And I had to prepare for that as well. No prognosis was given. And I had no way to get out to see her at that time. My plan was to save up enough money and go see her during spring break, which was the end of March.

That didn't happen.

A message from my sister on February 27:

I got a call early this morning that mom was in a lot of pain. I've been with her all day and we seem to have the pain under control. The nurses said she couldn't be alone any more so I will be taking her to (a hospice in the city where my sister lives) tomorrow morning.

I had sent a birthday card earlier that week; I could only hope it got to her in time. March 1, her birthday, came and went; but I could only wonder when the hourglass would run out of sand.

The answer came March 8 (from my sister):

Morning. The nurse on duty feel that Mom will pass today. I'll call when she does but trying to give a little notice. I have my phone on silent so you can call but I might not catch it right away.

And the waiting began. It ended at about 10:55 PM, when the phone finally rang. My sister told me about what time she died and that she went peacefully. (Thank you, St. Joseph.)


Monday was spent getting ready to leave:  purchasing a bus ticket, arranging for substitutes crossing guards until next Monday, and letting my supervisor know. The director of the choir in which I sing, who had been in the loop for the past two months, provided some funding for my trip. The bus route was all too familiar and relatively uneventful; the leg to Denver, with a full coach, some hints of sickness, and a cranky toddler, was the only unpleasantness I encountered. My sister picked me up at Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday morning for the drive home, where I took possession of my mom's car (pre-arranged in January) and some items from my mom's apartment. A maternal cousin offered me a room in her home for the duration. Thursday morning saw me driving to Mankato, MN, where I reintroduced myself to my storage unit, picking up a few more items and re-arranging things.

The wake was Thursday night. Familiar faces came and went (sometimes after they reminded me who they were).Townsfolk spoke glowingly about my mom, and for seemingly good reason. The priest modified the rite a bit, I think mostly to appease the lapsed and non-Catholics there. But he also said my Mom received the Apostolic Pardon. I still prayed a Rosary before her coffin, as it wasn't done until then.

The Mass of Christian Burial was Friday morning. Mom had selected both readings and hymns for this liturgy. I found myself in a very familiar role--Lay Reader. The selections for the Liturgy of the Word:

1st. Reading:  Isaiah 25:6-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-6
2nd. Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-10
Gospel: John 14:1-6

I had an opportunity to speak to the cantor/psalmist and keyboardist before Mass, just to make sure we were on the same page. (UPDATED 5/22/2021--I had the Entrance and Communion hymns reversed.) The hymns:

Entrance:  Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Offertory:  You Are Mine
Communion:  We Walk By Faith
Song of Farewell:  O Loving God (The text is a variation of In Paradisium, sung to the tune of "Londonderry Air".)
Recessional:  On Eagle's Wing
(My only critique of the soloist was with the Responsorial Psalm. It seemed like she put every syllable in its own box, instead of a more recitative-like quality.)

The homily was very good. The priest paralleled the last two months of Mom's life with Lent. He noted she started Lent early and was well prepared for Easter.

After the Rite of Christian Burial, I reacquainted myself with the parish cemetery. My parents are not the only family members interred there; there are also both of my paternal grandparents, a paternal aunt, and my paternal great-grandfather. (There may be other, but those graves were in the area.) Extra prayers were in order.

The lunch afterward was a great time to begin reconnecting, however slightly, with both sides of my family. The last time anyone on my dad's side saw me might have been at his funeral. The bonds are tenuous but there. The ball's in my court to strengthen them.

After a couple of hours everybody began to go their separate ways. I spent one more night here.

The Return Trip

I wanted to stay an extra day, but the weather forecast heading back was a bit iffy. The country was also beginning to shut down, as the pandemic was just beginning to rear its ugly head. Come late Saturday morning, I was on the road, stopping for lunch in Mitchell, SD.

The goal was to overnight in Cheyenne, WY. Other than a brief rain/snow mix outside of Rapid City, SD, the weather held. I left Rapid City around 6:00 PM, traveling unfamiliar roads. Fortunately, I did borrow a GPS, so that made navigation a little easier. It was a very winding route, though, Then, about an hour outside of Cheyenne, I ran into one of those famous Wyoming snow storms. Visibility was minimal; the fact one of my headlights burned out didn't help. Just on the outskirt of the capital city, a signal warning me I was running very close to empty sounded. I made it, and then found a gas station and a room for the night.

Sunday morning broke clear and cool, as if the squall the night before never happened. I assisted at Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary and was headed west shortly after 11:00 AM. A lunch stop at Larramie, a gas stop at Evanston, WY, and shortly after 6:00 PM, I was back home.

Just in time, as it turned out.

Teachable Moments

Now, after a year, there are things upon which to reflect.

My mom did reach out to me at various points in my life. She was the one who told me how proud she was of me after I graduated high school. She was the one who said to me, "I love you;" words that had never been uttered in that household until after my father's death. I never doubted her sincerity; I still haven't been able to enthrone them in my being. I didn't know how to accept them. I know she was trying to en-courage me; I don't think she knew how many holes I had (and have) in my psyche. There will always be a perception in me that I have failed my parents.

But, if I ever want an example of how to die well, I don't have to look far. She showed grace, dignity, peace of heart, and acceptance of God's will in that moment.

I can't make my relationships with my parent right anymore, but perhaps this is the motivation to start mending fences with my siblings. The focus of the 4th. Commandment is gone, but not its intent.

I know nothing on earth last forever. But what I can make better, I should.

Dad and Mom, I do love you. I just didn't know how.

Requiescat In Pace.

Monday, March 01, 2021

March 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Sacrament of reconciliation. Let us pray that we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

First--Fast; Finally--Feast


Lent is upon us. (Or is last year still with us?)

We come to this time in the liturgical calendar when we make our preparation for the celebration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the culmination of of His salvific work. This is a time to rend hearts (yes, even more than they have been at times for the past year). This is a time to examine our conscience and to renew our efforts to root out sin in our lives. This is a time of atonement, penance, more earnest and sincere prayer and almsgiving. This is a time of fasting, of pruning, of weeding. This is a time to be in the presence of God, acknowledging our fallen nature and asking for forgiveness and mercy.

The imposition of ashes is a reminder of all that. It is an aid in recalling from where we came, where we are, and where we shall go. From the remnants of last year's palm branches, this sacramental marks us as children of God--entirely dependent on our Father, co-heirs with His Son, and one in the Spirit.

And so we enter the desert again. For the next forty days we are on a retreat. Our God will come to meet us as He did Elijah:  Cor Ad Cor Loquitur. We will encounter Jesus much like the woman at the well did:  only by knowing Who He Is will we know who we are.

And hopefully, when this concludes with the celebration of the Sacred Triduum, we will be a little more ready to enter this Passover Feast, where the Lamb once slain becomes our food. At this wedding banquet, the Bridegroom really and truly gives Himself to His Bride. Are we prepared to be a little more worthy to receive Him--Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity?

It takes time to prepare such a great meal. It take time to prepare ourselves for such a great meal. Forty days is no where near enough time, but it will do.

Besides, we'll have fifty days to celebrate. 

Monday, February 01, 2021

February 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Violence against women. We pray for women who are victims of violence, that they may be protected by society and have their sufferings considered and heeded.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Friday, January 29, 2021

What If...?

Last Friday was the 48th. anniversary of the two United States Supreme Court decisions which in essence struck down all laws and regulations regarding abortion, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

Today is the day for the 48th. annual March For Life in Washington, DC, the largest gathering of those who promote the sanctity of the unborn.

However, this and other like demonstrations around the country have also fallen victim to the Covid-19 epidemic. The flagship march will be a virtual event. Tomorrow, here in Utah, instead of marching, they will be driving past the state capital in support of life. Accommodations and adaptations are in place all over the place.

Prudence does dictate not to gather en masse. But something is nagging at me and creating forehead furrows. This virus has (of this post) claimed over 2.1 million lives world wide. The economic toll, on both macro- and micro-levels, is devastating; one wonders how corporations and individuals if or will recover. But the focus of this writing is the concern I have for the pro-life movement.

Will it survive?

Why do I raise this question?

Consider the following items:

1.  The current President of the United States, Mr. Joseph R. Biden, a baptized and (self-professed) devout Roman Catholic, has been throughout his entire political career a poor-(pro-)choice advocate, even finally disavowing his support for the Hyde Amendment. Serving as Vice-President under what many people believe to be the most poor-(pro-)choice President in this country's history, Mr. Barack H. Obama, he has made it a point of not only wanting to reverse the many gains the pro-life movement made over the last four years, but also to enshrine this "Constitutional right" into federal law, perhaps along the lines of what the states of New York and Illinois enacted.

(And to his claim of being devout:  while I cannot judge the state of his soul, and understanding all too well no one perfectly practices the Faith, may I humbly suggest James 2:14-26 as a point of departure for discussion.)

2.  The Democratic Party has an unwavering commitment to "reproductive rights" and "women's health care" (their euphemisms for unrestricted abortion services), among other positions which are incompatible with Catholic teaching. Now with control of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, their policies in this regard will have an easier time becoming true.

3.  Yes, the abortion issue had always been on a political seesaw, with the pro-life side having been in the ascendency for a while. The side in power has control over the direction it takes. Now, consider how power has shifted during this past election. With questions over the conduct of the presidential election persisting, notice which party ultimately benefited, despite the other side holding its own down the ballot. And it seems the side now in control has no interest in assuring this won't happen again.

4.  "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." While I think both political parties do condescendly look upon those who they purport to serve, it appears the Democrats do it a touch more overtly. And they seem to have the ways and means to act more like a bully. As an example, look at the tolerance exhibited by those whose control social platforms. Traditional, orthodox, or conservative voices are being "told" to "sit down and shut up" or else. Is that a sign of wanting total control?

5.  And you don't believe they have the tools or the will? Consider the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, and the videos he produced exposing the selling of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. The State of California then charged him under the state's eavesdropping law. The Attorney General at that time? The current Vice-President of the United States, Ms. Kamala D. Harris, a more ardent supporter of abortion rights than the President. What the resolution is to this is not the point. The point is that it was done. Retaliation and retribution? 

Having said all that, people more intelligent than I could conjure a way to silence the pro-life movement once and for all. It would take lots of time and and lots of incremental actions. I fear it could happen. You think it can't? Remember the only rule the enemy has is the end justifies the means. If the poor-(pro-)choice crowd doesn't have any regard for the unborn, how easy could it be for them to cross the line and have no concern for those who who disagree with them? 

So, where does the pro-life movement go from here?

It will carry on, having to work harder than ever before.

It will have to watch its back.

It will need God all the more.

"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle."

Friday, January 01, 2021

January 2021 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

Human fraternity. May the Lord give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions, praying for one another, open to all.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

A reflection for last month's intention is found here.