Saturday, December 31, 2022

Comes The Change; Comes The Song

I think there was much more to celebrate than to bemoan this year. I hope you mark this annual rite of the passage of time appropriately. With these words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns echoing in the background, let us recollect and rejoice:

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 more of God's blessings befall you in 2023. May you graciously receive the favors he bestows. May you experience more of His joy, peace, hope, and love.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Loose Ends To Tie

It is almost the end of the day. It is almost the end of the week. It is almost the end of the month. It is almost the end of the year.

Which means tomorrow brings a lot of firsts. And with those firsts, it also brings the promise of continuity and new beginnings. The chance to start and re-start (start again, not start over).

2022 saw some going forward and being bold for me. The boldness was exhibited in taking on a supervisory position at the amusement park where I work. While at times it had its challenges and I had my doubts, my sense of duty and commitment carried me through the season. There was plenty of room for improvement; I will have that opportunity to grow starting in February. And, yes, I still am escorting elementary school children across a street twice a day during the school year.

The forward motion was again economically. With the extra hours and higher wage at the park and a small pay increase as a crossing guard, I had an income gain of 29.6% over last year. A significant victory for me; a new status quo for the pocketbook.

My interior life has also maintained it status quo. It is where I am, but is it where God wants me to be with Him? Obviously not; the call to a more perfect union is always there. The questions are whether I hear His voice clearly and how I will respond to that infusion of grace that come with it. I don't think I have as restless a soul as St. Augustine, but it does yearn for Him.

Other than that, nothing else has changed. Perhaps it is a sign of stability. Perhaps it is a sturdier platform upon which to leap to greater heights. Hopefully is is not going to be a point of departure for regressing.

The new year begins soon.

The mantra remains the same:  Go Forward; Be Bold.

And this infinitesimal corner of the universe will still have a place for you.

"...In The Hand Of God..."

It is a day the whole Church Militant knew was coming but still did not wish to see.

The 265th. Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church for almost eight years until his surprise and nearly unprecedented resignation, the Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) is now of happy memory.

The Vatican reports the story. (UPDATE) They also published his official biography.

The tributes (as well at the criticisms) will be forthcoming.

With a breath and depth of writings on a variety of subjects, the suggestion of naming him a Doctor of the Church has been made. In order for that to occur, he will have to be canonized. It will not happen subito, but perhaps in my lifetime.

"Well done, good and faithful servant...."

Requiem in pace.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

2022 Christmas Card

May your celebration of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be filled with joy. May you find room at the inn of your soul for the Infant Jesus, so He may grant you peace. May the love of the Christ Child bring you abundant graces and blessings.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

2022 Christmas Eve Reflection

The Gospel Reading from the Nativity of the Lord--Mass at Dawn:
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another,  “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.

Luke 2:15-20
As the late radio personality Paul Harvey would say, "And now, the rest of the story."

The angels have finished singing the first Christmas carol, its echo we proclaim in the "Gloria". Now, like the shepherds, we must travel to the House of Bread. We must find that original makeshift church and actually participate in that inaugural Eucharistic Adoration, where the monstrance is not made of precious metals and rare gems but of rough wood and coarse straw.

As we re-present this first Christian pilgrimage, we recall how God has made known to us this thing which has happened. He announced it immediately after the Fall. He repeated it time and again throughout the Old Testament. Now, at last, "the Word was made flesh and dwelled amongst us." We need not ask, "What Child is this?" He is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel--God is with us.

And so we enter His presence. For those of you fortunate enough to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, you know the entrance to the cave is so small one has to stoop to gain access. Does our soul do that when we enter our local church, no matter how plain or grandiose the architecture of the place? Symbolically, are we like Moses and Elijah, who covered their faces as a sign of humility? If able, do we genuflect before the tabernacle, acknowledging the fact we are in the Real Presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords? He is here. He is Emmanuel--God is with us. 

The shepherds knew. When they came, they encountered a magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum. Did their awe foreshadow St. Peter's at the Transfiguration? Should we not have that same reaction? And from that, should we not act accordingly? He is here. He is Emmanuel--God is with us.

While we are in His presence, how are we like the Blessed Virgin Mary? How are we to be still and know He is Emmanuel--God is with us? Yes, time in prayer and with Sacred Scripture are sure foundations. But we also have to "remember what peace there may be in silence". And there is no "may" about it. "Amid the noise and the haste" of this world, there is something to be said about being quiet. The world continues to muffle the voice of God; the Word is sometimes barely a whisper, even more so an echo. But it is in only the soul can we encounter Him as He is. There in contemplation can we keep all these thing and reflect upon them, allowing His life to grow within us.

Because and after this encounter with the Christ Child, the shepherds left as the first evangelists. They heard Ite, Missa est long before we even established those words in our liturgy. So, how do we make this message known? It certainly has to start with the ongoing metanoia of our own lives. That starts with "naming and claiming" we are sinners in need of a Saviour. The follow up is a sincere examination of conscience, grounded in the truth of the Faith (something that seems to be ignored in the "primacy of conscience" arguments I hear), Finally, the use of Sacrament of Reconciliation is required, with all the sincerely of repentance one can muster. Repeat as necessary, which is to say as long as you live, move, and have being. (Lately, I have started to speculate why the lines at Communion are longer than those at Confession. I wonder if it is because people are thinking the Penitential Rite during Mass is a form of general absolution. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi?)

Only then can we preach the Gospel always and use word if necessary, paraphrasing an attributed quote from St. Francis of Assisi, the man who created the first Nativity scene. Only then can we amaze all those who hear what we are saying. Only then can we return, glorifying and praising God for all we have heard and seen, just as it has been told to us.

The rest of this story will occur as it has been foretold. But what of our role in it? How will you keep the salvation given to us by our God? We must see things with the eyes of Faith. Our churches are not only Calvary but also Bethlehem. The tabernacle is not only a tomb but also a manger. We will seek and find Him in these places to start. We will continue to believe, adore, trust, and love Him.

Hodie Christus natus est.

Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

Infinite Cost; Infinite Price

Here is an Advent hymn you won't find in today's mainstream hymnals.The words were written in 1664 by Johannes Olearius . It was set to the tune Darmstadt in 1699.


Come, Thou precious ransom, come,
Only hope for sinful mortals!
Come, O Saviour of the world!
Open are to Thee all portals.
Come, Thy beauty let us see;
Anxiously we wait for Thee.

Enter now my waiting heart,
Glorious King and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and ne'er depart,
Though I am but poor and lowly.
Ah, what riches will be mine
When Thou art my guest divine!

My hosannas and my palms
Graciously receive, I pray Thee;
Evermore, as best I can,
Saviour, I will homage pay Thee,
And in faith I will embrace,
Lord, Thy merit through Thy grace.

Hail, hosanna, David's Son!
Help, Lord, hear our supplication!
Let Thy kingdom, scepter, crown,
Bring us blessing and salvation,
That forever we may sing:
"Hail, hosanna!" to our King.


Do they not truly express our longing of body, mind, heart, and soul?

Ero cras.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Advent's Magnificent Seven

They are most familiar to those who make the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours a regular part of their prayer life.

They are very familiar to us at this time of the liturgical year as a hymn heard frequently throughout Advent.

They are rather familiar to you who visit this infinitesimal corner of the universe and seek them for whatever inspiration they may provide.

As is this 'blog's tradition, I once again present my series of meditations on the "O" Antiphons. These are the seven antiphons recited or chanted before the Magnificat during Vespers/Evening Prayer starting tonight. Each one focuses on a title given to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Each one begs for His coming into the world, not only as the Babe in the manger but also the Judge at the end of time.

It is my desire to take from my store these offerings of a simple pilgrim and share them once more.

It is my hope as we still await the blessed hope my meager musings are still "ever ancient, ever new".

It is my invitation to come and see, again.

Later today.

Friday, December 02, 2022

December 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For volunteer not-for-profit organizations. We pray that volunteer non-profit organizations committed to human development find people dedicated to the common good and ceaselessly seek out new paths to international cooperation.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Four Full Weeks, Again

Well, what do you know?

For the first time in six years, Christmas falls on a Sunday. And because of three Leap Days, it will not happen again until 2033.

We have a full twenty-eight days of Advent this time around.

How will you "prepare the way of the Lord" so when that last Sunday of December comes you are ready to "see the salvation of our God"?

There is never anything wrong with the tried and true. Daily Mass (if you don't already), extra prayers, more Bible reading, adding spiritual reading, the Sacrament of Penance, some Corporal Work of Mercy--all these still can help you prepare spiritually as you prepare materially. And unlike the innkeeper mentioned in the Gospel of St. Luke, you can reserve a space in your schedule for some of this.

It is all about focus. It is about going to a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the season. It is about being still and coming to know more about God. It is about looking east instead of north.

The whole world waited since the fall of Adam for the Savior to arrive. The Blessed Virgin Mary waited for nine months. Compared to those, this is a short vigil.

Prepare your Advent wreath to once again mark the time.

This year, you will get more use out of the last purple candle.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

2022 Thanksgiving Day Card

May you truly be thankful for all the blessings you have received. May today be fill with gladness and fellowship. May you praise and thank God for all His graces and favors.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

This Musical Maiden

Today's Collect/Opening Prayer:
O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of your handmaid Saint Cecilia, grant, we pray, that what has been devoutly handed down concerning her may offer us examples to imitate and proclaim the wonders worked in his servants by Christ your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
A 'blog post from the Catholic Truth Society gives more detail about her.

St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians. pray for us.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Flowery Symbol

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields (1915)
John McCrea (1872-1918)

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

PM: Special Edition--Feast Of The Dedication Of The Lateran Basilica

Here is another one of those feasts which would supercede the Sunday of Ordinary Time if today's date would fall on the first day of the week. It is officially the cathedral for the Bishop of Rome. This church honors two St. Johns--the Baptist and the Evangelist. 
God is in his holy place, God who unites those who dwell in his house; he himself gives might and strength to his people. 

V. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let those who hate him flee before his face.

Ps. 67:6, 7, 36; V. 2
This is also the Introit for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. While God is everywhere, He is especially present in His sacred buildings, where He provides for His people.
I rejoiced when it was said unto me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" 
V. Let peace reign within your walls, and abundance in your towers.

Ps. 121:1; V. 7
This is also the Gradual for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Our hearts should be glad when we go to meet Him where He is, as He is. 
The house of the Lord is solidly built upon a firm rock.
A rare non-biblical Proper, this Alleluia displays the unity of the People of God with the Supreme Pontiff. "Where Peter is, there is the Church."
O Lord God, in the simplicity of my heart I have joyfully offered all things: and I have beheld with immense joy your people gathered here. God of Israel, preserve this good intention, O Lord God.

1 Chron. 29:17, 18
What a sincere request during the Offertory. Reminds one of the request Solomon had before he became king, when he asked for wisdom. 
Jerusalem is built as a city bonded as one together. It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord.

Psalm 121:3-4
This is used at Communion on the Fourth Sunday of Lent when the Gospel is not either the Man Born Blind or the Prodigal Son. Again the unity of those who make up the visible Church and their primary duty is presented.

Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.

Of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

November 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For children who suffer. We pray for children who are suffering, especially those who are homeless, orphans, and victims of war; may they be guaranteed access to education and the opportunity to experience family affection.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

October 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For a Church open to everyone. We pray for the Church; ever faithful to, and courageous in preaching the Gospel, may the Church be a community of solidarity, fraternity and welcome, always living in an atmosphere of synodality.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Monday, September 12, 2022

When I Was Seventeen

This infinitesimal corner of the universe celebrates only two events directly related to it host. The first is, naturally, the host's natal day. The other is the birth of this collection of pixels created by the host.

Yes, this my 'blogiversary.

Has 'blogging gone out of fashion? I would say, given the development of other social media, that answer leans toward the affirmative. Yet there are still very predominate and influential  people who include this as part of their virtual footprint. I still think it has a purpose.

Perhaps that is why this is still around. I have never claimed to be proficient or that profound, despite a promising beginning. I always work toward being thoughtful and relevant, although being part of the news cycle has never been a fabric in this outfit. (And there have been plenty of things upon which to comment.) I don't mind being a "small, quiet voice". It is my hope that my words give you a point of departure for contemplation.

So once again, I renew my commitment to keep this going. It has never been on life support; rather, I would think it is more in hibernation. Yes, there will be the usual re-posts and monthly reminders. I just need to move the spirit and post on what interests me and upon which I can expound from my limited background, knowledge, and experience. For now, that it how I am defining how successful this is.

Do continue to come and visit; I enjoy your company.

The welcome mat is still out.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

"Remember, Remember..."


 "...the eleventh of September."

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 
George Santayana (1862-1952)

And those who will not remember the past are condemned to make a worse mistake.

The Augustinian privilege is invoked again today. For on this day 21 years ago, the worst terrorist act in the history of the United States was perpetrated. Two passenger planes were deliberately flown into the "Twin Towers" in New York, NY. A third found its way to the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth, seemingly headed for the Capitol building, was forced to crash land in a field near Shanksville, PA due to the heroic efforts of the passengers.

2,996 lives were lost. It was a brilliant act of evil. Satan had to be more proud of himself than ever.

And so we made vows. One was to "Never Forget". There will be tributes and memorials all over the country and the interwebs today. As always, I encourage you to go to one in person and find more eloquent and elegant words than what are here.

The other was to take the fight to the enemy. In this "War on Terrorism" the battles have seemingly been few and far between. While we have somewhat succeeded in eliminating some cells and some major leaders, one has to wonder if this task is not a version of Hydra.

I am still tinged with sadness recollecting the events of that day. It still makes no sense. But spiritual battles never will, given our limited reasoning abilities. We are fighting powers we will never comprehend. But, as God has assured us the victory over evil by the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we still must combat it.

And so we pause to recall and reflect.

And so we will carry on.

Never Forget.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

September 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For the abolition of the death penalty. We pray that the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Very Stones Crying Out

I received this e-mail yesterday. (They have my e-mail address due to a job application I sent them.) While I won't be able to attend, if anyone in the Twin Cities area is reading this, they are certainly most welcome. (The original message has been slightly edited.)


The Father William Baer Memorial Lecture Series features speakers who proclaim the Gospel with clarity, force, and joy. Fr. Baer died unexpectedly on January 14, 2018, as pastor of Transfiguration Catholic Church in Oakdale, Minnesota. Fr. Baer touched the lives of many through his strong devotion to the Sacraments, incredible homilies, and brilliant sense of humor.

The fourth annual series in Fr. Baer’s honor will take place at Transfiguration on Friday, August 26th at 7:00 PM and Saturday, August 27th at 9:00 AM. Dr. Denis McNamara will speak about biblical insights into true beauty and the influence these have on sacred art and church architecture. Dr. McNamara will visit from Benedictine College in Kansas where he is the Director of the Center for Beauty and Culture. Dr. McNamara holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the History of Art from Yale University and a Doctorate Degree in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. Please plan to attend this significant and fitting event in honor of Fr. Baer, who earned a degree in architecture from Georgia Tech and worked briefly as an architect before entering seminary.

Transfiguration Catholic Church
6133 15th. Street North
Oakdale, Minnesota

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

August 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when prayer the Morning Offering:
For small businesses. We pray for small and medium sized businesses; in the midst of economic and social crisis, may they find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Scored 3X

My chronological odometer rolls over today.

There is now a zero at the end of my age.

Which means the first number has changed as well.

(And, yes, I have no problem saying it.)

I am always grateful to see my natal anniversary. It means I still "live and move and have my being" on earth. Deo gratias.

I also take it as a sign God is not done with me, yet. And while I do not know the time or place when I will see Him face to face, it means I must continue to seek and find Him. Being sanctified, becoming holy, remaining redeemed is not a "one and done" proposition.

Believe me, there is much work to be done. I am nowhere near being the rich young man (cf. Matthew 19:16-30 and Luke 18:18-30). You want identity politics? The tax collector (cf. Luke 18:9-14) and the Centurion (cf. Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10) are the people with whom I relate. And they have a step on me because of their humility.

I do believe, Lord; help my unbelief.

Then there are some lines to the horizontal beam of my "cross" which are asking for my attention:

1. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

2. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

3. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

4. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

There may be a bit of "rage, rage against the dying of the light." But that is only because I still want to proceed in this journey called living. I'm nowhere near ready to throw in the towel.

Let's see where the next 365 days lead.

Hopefully, with another post like this.

And, therefore, another change in the chronological odometer.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Halftime Speech

This is the 183rd. day of the calendar year (184th., if it is a leap year).

We are half-way through.

Go back to your New Year's resolutions, if you made them. How are you doing with them? Which ones have you successfully completed? Which ones are still a work in progress but moving steadily toward your goal? Which ones have faltered, even though they still are worthy of your effort?

Take an honest look at where you were, where you are, and where you would like to be. Have you seen a change, even though it may seem imperceptible? Perhaps now is the time to renew your resolve and commitment, whether with what you are striving to accomplish or some new challenge.

As Theodore Roosevelt stated, humanity is at its best when it is in striving for something:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Go Forward.


Originally posted 7/3/2006, including the year and this {UPDATE (7/5): I goofed. July 2 is the half-way point of the year. The message still stands.}
Re-posted 7/2/2021.

Resolutely Free

There are claims that today should be our Independence Day, based on the approval of this resolution present by Richard Henry Lee to the Continental Congress this day in 1776:
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
While eloquent enough, what followed two days later is certainly more edifying.


Originally posted 7/2/2011.
Re-posted 7/2/2013.
Re-posted 7/2/2019.
Re-posted 7/2/2020.
Re-posted 7/2/2021.

Friday, July 01, 2022

July 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when prayer the Morning Offering:
For the elderly. We pray for the elderly, who represent the roots and memory of a people; may their experience and wisdom help young people to look towards the future with hope and responsibility.
A reflection for this intention is found here

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

June 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

Here is the intention for this month when prayer the Morning Offering:
For families. We pray for Christian families around the world; may they embody and experience unconditional love and advance in holiness in their daily lives.
A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

May 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For faith-filled young people. We pray for all young people, called to live life to the fullest; may they see in Mary’s life the way to listen, the depth of discernment, the courage that faith generates, and the dedication to service.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

2022 Easter Card

May our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bring you joy and peace. May His Resurrection bestow upon you blessing upon blessing. May the Lamb of God, slain for our salvation, abide with you forever.

Happy Easter, Everybody!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Candlelight Becomes Us


What a fascinating invention.

The National Candle Association provides a brief history lesson about how they came to be and evolved.

The final line is a great summation:
Today, candles serve to symbolize a celebration, ignite romance, soothe the senses, honor a ceremony, and accent home decors — casting a warm and lovely glow for all to enjoy.
Let's focus on two phrases--symbolize a celebration and honor a ceremony, especially in context with our liturgical and religious expressions.

Beginning with the Sacrament of Baptism in its formal rite, we hear these words:  "Receive the light of Christ." Then our baptismal candle is presented to our parents and godparent with these words:
Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This
child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of
the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord
comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
A pious custom is then to relight that candle on the anniversary of one's baptism.

(Speaking of candles lit at sacraments, is the Unity Candle still a thing at weddings?)

No mention of ceremonial candles would be complete without the Advent wreath. The three purple/violet and one rose tapers, one for each week of Advent, symbolizing the roughly 4,000 years the world waited for it Savior, is not only a worthy reminder of our preparation for Christmas, but also a welcome relief from the gathering darkness of winter. And let's not forget that Christmas trees were also illuminated with candles before electric lighting existed.

Why, there is even a Mass whose focus is briefly on candles. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 was commonly known as "Candlemas" because of the blessing of candles which preceded the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Marking the end of the Christmas season for those who follow the calendar related to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, it is still about the Light of the World being revealed to the world. Ask Simeon and Anna.

Let's not forget the times we do see candles in the pews being held aloft by the congregation. It is part of the procession of the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Night (as well as during the post-Communion reflection of that same Mass, accompanied by the singing of "Silent Night".) They are also part of the procession at the Feast of the Presentation. I have also seen them used during various points of a Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

But, in a sense, the source and summit of all this ritual use of candles is the opening of the Easter Vigil. The lighting and blessing of the fire, the preparation of the new Pascal Candle and its lighting, its procession, the distributing of its flame--all to remind us the Light of the World, while it seemed to be quenched, is still burning.

The earth is glad, "ablaze with the light of her eternal King". This is Jesus Christ, hidden in the pillar of fire which "led our forebears, Israel's children" and "banished the darkness of sin", now seen in the soft, flickering glow emanating from "the work of bees and of your servants' hands". His sacrifice on Good Friday finds its fulfillment on Easter Sunday, on which tonight is just but a prelude.

And yet this candle is not only seen during Easter. It also brackets our earthly life. It is from the Pascal Candle your baptismal candle was lit. It also awaits you at the Mass of Christian Burial. It is a reminder we are His and He is ours.

May the final lines of the Exsultet remind us of how precious our redemption and salvation is:
Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honor of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night....May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star:  the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who...has shed is peaceful light on humanity....
"This is the night of which it is written:  The night shall be as bright as day." (Cf. Psalm 139:12).

Both the Latin and English texts of one of the Church's most glorious hymns are provided for your meditation.

Friday, April 15, 2022

This Merciful Novena, Again

As I have mentioned from time to time, today marks the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena.

This post details some of the particulars of this devotion.

Its bare bone version is part of my prayer routine, for if there is anyone who has experience more than his fare share of God's mercy, it would be me. (And for that I am grateful.)

With each recitation, may we all come closer to abandoning ourselves to Him.

"Jesus, I trust in You."

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The True Narrow Way

It is a well-worn and familiar path we travel these next three days.

From the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives to Annas's house to the Praetorium to Herod's residence back to the Praetorium to Calvary to Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.

Is it too familiar, however?

The Church's annual retreat is over. Lent is a time to shake us from our lethargy. It is supposed to be spiritual preparation for Catholicism's High Holy Days--the Sacred Triduum, where we commemorate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all that entails and His instituting the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Holy Orders, and Penance.

Are we indifferent to receiving these gifts? Especially our salvation? Remember, lukewarmness is not a desirable trait.

Of all the times the liturgy draws us into the Trinitarian Life, the rites and rituals we celebrate from now until Sunday have the most significance. This is the source and summit of our "source and summit". This is when it all begins in earnest.

Are you earnest?

Do partake in as many as you are able.

"Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly-minded...."

Sunday, April 10, 2022

All These "Words" Once More

It begins again.

We remember once more the Passion and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We have traveled with Him to Jerusalem to celebrate the most important Passover since the Exodus from Egypt. The Upper Room as well as the Cross had been readied for Him. Yet His followers are not prepared for what is to come, despite His admonitions. (Which begs the question for us as Lent has concluded--"Are we?")

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion is but a synopsis of what will happen this week. It is the most psychologically jarring liturgy we pray. If one is not aware of the change of tone and timbre as the Liturgy of the Word begins, going from joining in the procession and raising our palm leaves as well as our "Hosannas" to joining in the condemnation and raising our voices to "Crucify Him", your soul may be more lukewarm than what you think.

Again we keep this somber remembrance. Again I present to you during Holy Week my meditations on the "Seven Last Words", the finals sentences Jesus spoke in His three hours hanging on the Cross. Again, while they may not be the most elegant or eloquent of thoughts, I hope they may be a point of departure for you to find those who go into more depth on this topic.

Come back later in the day.

Pause to consider what Christ has spoken to all of us.

Then be like Mary, His Mother.

Friday, April 01, 2022

April 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For health care workers. We pray for health care workers who serve the sick and the elderly, especially in the poorest countries; may they be adequately supported by governments and local communities.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Lenten Prayer

Oh, Lord, and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk; but give, rather, the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servants. Yea, Oh Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother. For Holy art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.
St. Ephraim


Originally posted 3/1/2006.

On The Way To Easter

Easter Sunday this year is April 17.

Which means Lent is upon us today.

Once again, the Church provides us with a time specifically for repentance and spiritual renewal. It symbolically begins with the imposition of ashes upon our foreheads and the admonition of "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return". It concretely begins with the observance of the fasting and abstinence laws during these next forty days. It spiritually begins with focused acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

I have mentioned before I agree with those pundits who say we have lost a sense of sin both collectively and individually. Just remember one the Gospel readings you may hear during this time hints at that blindness. Whether we want to admit it or not, we can always do more to respond to the universal call to holiness. The Augustinian warning about our salvation comes into sharper focus now.

Take heed of the First Reading at Mass today:  Joel 2:12-18. (If you were unable to assist at Mass today, pick up your Bible and meditate upon it.) Honestly ask yourself if you are the Pharisee or the Tax Collector (cf. Luke 18:9-14). Examine your conscience. While we all fall short of the glory of God, the first step is to humbly admit that and strive for a sincere Act of Contrition.

We are striving to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is.

We are given another opportunity to commit more to that ideal.

We are now on the way to Jerusalem with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

March 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For a Christian response to bioethical challenges. We pray for Christians facing new bioethical challenges; may they continue to defend the dignity of all human life with prayer and action.

A reflection for this intention is found here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

February 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For religious sisters and consecrated women. We pray for religious sisters and consecrated women; thanking them for their mission and their courage; may they continue to find new responses to the challenges of our times.

A reflection for this intention is found here.  

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Marching--Onward To Victory?

What a difference a year makes.

Last year was the 48th. edition of the National March for Life. Held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a stark change of attitude overshadowing it. The incoming party, in charge of the federal government with the barest of  "majority status", started to impose its will. Lead by the newly inaugurated President, it began to dismantle all the gains the pro-life movement accumulated in the past four years.

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing." (Or do they?)

Deep down, I wonder if the leaders of the pro-life movement and, perhaps, those grassroots supporters  thought the battle would now become a siege. All the work since the infamous Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalizing abortion throughout the entire pregnancy, was seeming being swept away. The promise made of enshrining this permanently into law was more real than ever.

The strife is o'er; the battle, done?

Not so fast. Those grassroots were very hardy. Pro-life laws enacted at the state level, while always part of the arsenal, were now becoming more front and center of this conflict. Intentionally or not, one of these pieces of legislation was going to become the legal counter-strike required, as the two rulings left it vulnerable to such an attack.

And, then, it happened.

The first significant salvo since the 1993 challenge of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey was fired. The Supreme Court announced and then accepted oral arguments regarding the lawsuit Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The question the Court will decide is the constitutionality of pre-viability prohibitions, a decision expected in late June.

Many people on both sides of the issue are anticipating a ruling favoring the pro-life movement. While this may not overturn Roe or Doe, it will do some damage. Which is why you are seeing state laws enacted which, depending on which side you champion, are anticipating a return of the question to the state level.

So, it ain't over. In fact, it just may be getting started. Which leads me to a parallel event. (Admittedly, this will be a stretch; but I still like the analogy.) The country has been embroiled in a cultural civil war since the 1960, much like it was embroiled in a cultural (as well as physical) one nearly 160 years ago. And where was one of the turning points? A battle in Mississippi.

Looks like there might be early fireworks this Independence Day.

And then, after that, the real work begins.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

January 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

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

For true human fraternity. We pray for all those suffering from religious discrimination and persecution; may their own rights and dignity be recognized, which originate from being brothers and sisters in the human family.

A reflection for this intention is found here.