Sunday, December 31, 2023

After The Countdown

You know what my 2023 has been like. I have heard other people mention it wasn't a very good year for them. So be glad that we literally and figuratively can turn the page and start fresh. Let the words of the Scottish poet Robert Burns remind us to remember, but not repeat, the past:

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 abundantly in 2024. May you keep Him close to you the next 12 months. May He bestow upon you every grace you need when you seek Him.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

The Best New Year's Hymn

New Advent provides the background to this hymn.

The website provided the Latin and English.

From The Handbook of Indulgences:
A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who recite the hymn, Te Deum, as an act of thanksgiving.  The indulgence will be a plenary one if this hymn is publicly recited on the last day of the year.

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

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


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

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


Originally posted 12/31/2011.
Re-posted 12/31/2012.
Re-posted 12/31/2013.
Re-posted 12/31/2014.
Re-posted 12/31/2015.
Re-posted 12/31/2016.
Re-posted 12/31/2017.
Re-posted 12/31/2018.
Re-posted 12/31/2019.
Re-posted 12/31/2020.
Re-posted 12/31/2021.
Re-posted 12/31/2022.

The World Turned Upside Down

It is an observation of mine there seems to be one event in a person's life which overshadows and somewhat defines it. For me, it was simply called "The Move". That is not to say other events cannot compete for that ignominious crown, but they can be jewels in it. There was 2006, where the threat of homelessness gave way to the glory of God. There was 2007, when I was uprooted and transplanted. But the most ugliest time of my life has taken place within these past twelve months.

I think most of your have met Catherine Garcia. She is the one who took me in some 16 years ago. This year's review revolves around what has happened to her and, by causation, to me.

Janus' Ugly Face

The new calendar year actually didn't start very well for either Catherine or me, as we both contracted the latest strain of COVID-19 on December 30. My symptoms were mild (more to me like a moderate head cold), but recovery was longer than I wanted. It took about two weeks before I tested negative.

Then on January 14, a not so insignificant event occurred. Catherine was feeding the three cats we had their evening portion of wet cat food. She called to me into the master bedroom where they lived, "Ron, I think Willow is dead." I rushed in, and she asked me to look under the bed. There he was, a 14 year old male Ragdoll who had lost a lot of weight the past few years, rigor mortis already happening; he had died sometime during the day. The following Monday, having put him in a freezer over the weekend to preserve him, he joined the rest of the pets in our makeshift columbaria for them.

Then on January 30, another not so insignificant event occurred. Zoe, the Labrador-Border Collie mix Catherine received as a Christmas present eight years ago, was having significant trouble urinating over the previous weekend. While she had a history of urinary tract infections, this was much more serious. We took her to the vet mid-morning; an x-ray revealed a cancerous tumor growing around her bladder, severely restricting the ureters and urethra. We then took a trip to an urgent care clinic in another city early that afternoon, where a more detailed x-ray confirmed the previous diagnosis.

We were presented with three options. One was to catheterize her, but that would only alleviate symptoms. The second was surgery, but that only promised a limited extension of life for a cost which was unaffordable. I think everybody knows what the third was. And while their were times that day Zoe exhibited her energetic self, she was in a lot of pain. It was still a difficult choice, but euthanasia was the one made. Add more cremains to the collection.

But on January 27, a very significant event occurred. For the first time in 14 years, Catherine had a seizure around 1:05 PM, just as I was ready to leave for crossing guard duties. The 911 response was quick, but 30 minutes after the first, she had a second, just as the paramedics were wheeling her to the ambulance. I called my supervisor and informed her of the situation (letting her know I couldn't make this shift), then went to Catherine's workplace and informed her boss of the situation, they went to the emergency room. Once stabilized, we came home later that night.

The Bad News Items

The last MRI Catherine before this latest episode had revealed the location of the cause of her seizures, the meninges above her right ear. The MRI taken a month later after her last seizures was able to give greater detail. They revealed it was not meningioma causing them.

It was a brain tumor. In those 14 years between images it had grown and became able to overcome the seizure medication she originally was taking. The surgery to remove it, an option back then, was now a necessity. Her medical care was now under the auspices of the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.

Meanwhile, while I had changed locations at my position as a school crossing guard in March, the situation at the amusement park also changed. I started the year as a supervisor again. The staff was being challenged to get to know the attendants better, starting by memorizing names and faces. The perception I had, whether or not it was correct, was that knowledge was to be instantaneously retained and summoned upon command. During a shift in April, I wasn't doing it, and I was starting to freeze. After a few discussions with my manager and some time to reflect, I returned my supervisor badge and remained on staff as an attendant.

That was just a tremor. Little did I know the earthquake was coming. And, in a sense, the title of this post.

The Unmerry Month Of May

The surgery to remove the tumor was May 5. It just so happen I was scheduled for jury duty the same day; however, a phone call the day before informed me I didn't have to report. In any case, Catherine and I agreed I didn't need to be in the waiting room while she was in surgery.

The operation was successful; the surgeon was able to remove all of it save for a few tendrils which would require radiation and chemotherapy to minimize if not eliminate. I visited her later that afternoon after the operation, stuck in my head the following afternoon as she was sleeping, and spent a couple of hours with her Sunday night.

The biopsy came back a few days later. It revealed it was a Grade 4 tumor, the equivalent of Stage 4 cancer. During a pre-operation consultation, that prognosis was given an estimated life expectancy of five years.

Catherine is having none of that. She is determined to see her grandchildren graduate from high school, and the youngest is three years old. Encouraged by stories of people who survived at least that long, it gave all some hope.

But it was the weekend of the surgery when my problems started. I am not going to get into any details, lest I be accused of detraction. Catherine's two adult daughters, for reasons only known to them, turned on me. They claimed I didn't love and cared for their mother and was basically being parasitical. They were making my life a living hell, especially the younger one, with threats of all types, most of all the threat to evict me from the house, seemingly by any means necessary. If they were, I couldn't call their bluff; I had to take them seriously, even though it seems they were taking the modern tact of making me defend every story they would create.

It created lots of stress. It created even more fear. After three weeks of this kind of harassment, perhaps crossing the line into bullying, the pressure finally got to me. During this time I was in contact with my sister, explaining the situation to her. She agreed to let me live with her temporarily.

The Flight Into Egypt

I formally resigned my position at the amusement park. I packed most everything I had, save for clothes, into storage and left for the Midwest where my sister lives the Friday before Memorial Day, arriving the following evening. After taking the holiday weekend to unwind a little, I restarted the job search.

The good news was there was more opportunities; I cast my net into a deeper job market. The obstacle was now a disconnect between where I worked and where I was living. The bad news was the results were still the same--nearly no interest, hardly any interviews, and almost no job offers

There were two. In late June, I was offered a position as a dealer at a nearby casino, but after 30 minutes of shuffling half a dozen decks at one time as part of training, my elbow tendonitis was telling me this wasn't going to work. I actually did accept an offer to work as a clerk at a 24/7 truck stop, but then got cold feet and changed my mind. (The thing about that was the Sunday before I was hired, I was assisting at Mass in the same city where the truck stop was located. A parishioner came up to me after Mass and said, "You belong here. God bless you." Did I ignore God's voice?)

It was this action plus another incident which put an end to my stay. My sister had put me on a short leash, reminding me this arrangement was temporary and pushing me to take anything. While she was generous enough, I violated what trust she had in me. And I had no argument.

I also had just enough money to do what I did next.

I went back to Utah.

The Return Of The Prodigal 

I returned the first weekend in August, following the same timeline as when I left. I spent the weekend in a motel room, thanks to the generosity of the Grand Knight of my local Knights of Columbus Council (of which I am a member), With the aid of the Council, I started living in a long-term motel the following Monday. I was able to return to the amusement park and started work there Tuesday. Since I never officially resigned, I also still had my crossing guard position when school started later that month. I had income, though very limited. 

When I wasn't working, I continue to search for a full-time position, either at a state unemployment office a short walk from my temporary home or the computers from the county library branches. Toward the end of August, I accepted what I though was a full-time position at a local office of a national testing center. I had investigated a couple of apartments I thought I could afford. It looked like I was starting to turn a corner.

My brother Knights had helped as much as they could. My stay in the hotel would end on the last day of August. I paid for an extra three nights to get me through Labor Day.

A week before the first rehearsal with the church choir with which I sing, I sent them an e-mail, briefly explaining my absence. I wrote near the end, "God is close to resolving my issues. I just have to get through September."

Little did I know I picked the wrong Latin prefix for the "-ber".

Mobile Home

After onboarding and orientation with my new job, the manager dropped a bombshell. While the position was advertised as full-time, she was only able to give me 20 hours a week at the most. She was also was not willing to work around my hours as a crossing guard. With the office a 30 minute drive from where I was, I kept the bird in hand; I resigned that job after three days.

But I had a bigger problem. I couldn't afford my room anymore. I only had one solution, as there was no one I knew who would house me.

My car became my home. For the next two months, my life took on a routine which allowed me to survive. Between 9:00 and 10:00 PM, I parked in the driveway of a neighbor who lived two doors east of Catherine's house, an area where I would be safe. (In talking to him later, he knew I was there, anyway.) The back seat became my bed; sleeping was in fits. Leaving around 6:00 AM every morning, I utilized a very gracious offer. The amusement park also had a campground with modern shower facilities; my manager made an arrangement with the campground manager to let me use them. I made sure I was in and out by 7:00 AM so as to not draw attention to myself. The cycle of work and job search continued, now with more urgency.

There had to be that sense. On October 25, the first snowfall occurred, a warning to me winter would soon be here. On October 29, the amusement park closed for the year, leaving me without that financial and hygienic asset.

Needless to say, I was very scared.

Then God said, "Fear not. Your vindication is at hand. Your prayers are answered."

Back From The Brink

The first step was gaining a roof over my head. The landlady of one of the apartments in which I was interested had a room for rent in the same house. Security deposit, first month's rent (thanks to the generosity of a husband and wife who also sang in the choir), and proof of rental insurance later, I moved in on November 2. I spent the night before in a motel, gratefully knowing I would be off the street soon.

I needed a back-up plan to replace the income from the amusement park. That plan came to fruition when a local family amusement center hired me. I would get enough hours at the same rate as the amusement park to keep me at the same income level.

I didn't need the backup plan (although I am still on staff and squeezing in shifts when I can), I finally gained the coveted full-time position I was seeking. On the third attempt, I finally was able to land a position with a locally owned grocery store, primarily as a cashier, secondarily as a courtesy clerk (i.e. grocery bagger). Now I could safely give up my hours as a crossing guard, although I remain on staff as a substitute and am getting as many shifts as my schedule allows and as needed to cover zones.


I don't think it will be possible to return to Catherine's house. The situation between her daughters and I is seemingly irreparable. While she still wants my companionship, the feud with her daughters is making it almost impossible to continue any kind of relationship. The stress cause by all this does not help Catherine's well being, as her doctors want her to reduce it as much as possible.

As of this post, Catherine's tumor is in remission. She is currently undergoing a cycle of chemotherapy, seemingly keeping the tendrils under control. However, the tumor was located in a part of the brain which controls her vision; unfortunately, she is almost legally blind. As with any brain injury, her mental acuity waxes and wanes; patience is required when interacting with her. The regimen of chemotherapy leaves her fatigued. Her personality has been muted by all this. But she is fighting this. And right now, she is winning.


Between the stress of this situation, not eating enough, and not eating well, I lost 25-30 pounds and 2-3 inches off my waist line. Not the best way to get to a more healthier weight, I admit. Now the challenge will be to maintain it.

I have returned to a more active role with my Council. I became a "silent Knight" during the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly due to the leadership style at that time. It is the least I can do to show my gratitude and appreciation for their help, including on September 30 the removal of the deck in the back of the house that had collapsed due to the passage of time.

I did return to the choir for the first rehearsal. I also recently returned to my duties as a cantor at my home parish in December. It's another way I'm reconnecting with society.

I am doing OK with my new employer. All I ask from me is to keep improving. As my own worst critic, I am not sure how well I am performing.

But the most important thing that happened was my own Eucharistic Revival. On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I finally was able to worthily receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 16 years. My situation wouldn't allow me until recently to have firm purpose of amendment, the necessary condition required for forgiveness. And at Mass that night as part of a parish celebration, I literally did "taste and see the goodness of the Lord". 

His goodness had been with me all along this ordeal.

What's Next

I was working December 21 as a courtesy clerk. As I was assisting a customer, I looked up and saw a former supervisor from the amusement park, five years removed. It was someone I thought I would never see again because she was moving on with her life. We briefly conversed. I asked her if she had heeded the advice I had given her, as she was wrestling with some inner turmoil. When I reminded her what I said, she briefly explained she had.

And what did I say way back when?

"Reclaim you."

(Is this why we crossed paths?)

It is now a case of "physician, heal yourself'". While the journey to recovery started last month, it still needs definition. The financial side is obvious. But it is my inner being which has been shaken to its very core. My psyche feels battered, bruised, bloodied, broken. All types of doubts and fears seem to be haunting me even more than usual, even as I start to dream again. The trauma of the past twelve months has made me ask if I need mental health therapy. While prayer will be the cornerstone, I wonder if counseling wouldn't be a worthwhile idea.

Speaking of which, please add or keep Catherine and me in your prayers for a while. Ask God for healing and the grace to bear our crosses. They are a part of my petitions.

And so ends this review of 2023.  The lyrics from the song " So This Is Christmas " by John Lennon sums up my hope and focus:

"Have a very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year!
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear."

Go Forward. Be Bold.

Reclaim me.


Monday, December 25, 2023

2023 Christmas Card

Nativity (1654)
by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1699)

May the newborn Savior of the world bring joy, peace, and love to you and yours. May the Infant Jesus dwell in you and guide your life. May the Christ Child bring you abundant blessings in the coming year.

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Proclamation Of The Birth Of Christ

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


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

The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. 
When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

Originally posted as "Behold, I Bring You Good News"; 12/24/2005.
Linked in "Repeat The Sounding Joy"; 12/24/2006.
Re-posted 12/24/2007.
Re-posted 12/25/2008.
Re-posted 12/24/2009.
Re-posted 12/24/2010.
Re-posted 12/24/2011.
Re-posted 12/24/2012.
Re-posted 12/24/2013.
Re-posted 12/24/2014.
Re-posted 12/24/2015.
Re-posted 12/24/2016.
Re-posted 12/24/2017.
Re-posted 12/24/2018.
Re-posted 12/24/2019.
Re-posted 12/24/2020.
Re-posted 12/24/2021.
Re-posted 12/24/2022.

2023 Christmas Eve Reflection

The Second Reading from the Nativity of the Lord--Vigil Mass:
When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue, he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said,  “Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm he led them out of it. Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;that he will carry out my every wish.’ From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am?  I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’”  
Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

As I began to prepare this year's reflection, I looked back on the Readings which I had already used and discovered I have only two choices. (I had used the Gospel Reading from the Mass During the Night as a basis for my 2006 and 2008 reflections.) One is the Gospel from the Mass During the Day--the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John (1:1-18). As I had mentioned before, while I have used the themes of Light and Word in other posts, there is plenty of material upon which to reflect. (Guess what's coming next year, at least?)

The other was this one. By default (or is is my fault?), this is the reading for this year. On first glance, one can see a synopsis of salvation history's promise--a Messiah. Let's apply a little lectio divina and see what is beyond that initial look. (Remember, I am barely qualified to do this, if at all. As to what you discern, your mileage can and should vary.)

"When Paul...entered the synagogue..." Remember, even after his Damascus moment, he still considered himself a Pharisee (cf. Acts 23:6). It was the Pharisees who originated the idea of a synagogue. And as teachers of the Law, my guess is they had preaching rights anywhere they went.

“'Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing,...'" Not only was he addressing the Chosen People, but also those who believed in some divine being who they were getting to know. Recall that Jesus also did this (i.e.--the Samaritan woman at the well). The People of God were not only the Twelve Tribes, they now included the Gentiles, meaning all of humanity shall see the salvation from God.

"...Listen." How often has this word appeared in my posts. It comes from the Latin obaudire (to hear), from which we get our word obey. From Adam and Eve to even today, our degrees of listening and properly responding (obeying) vary. It is the Word made Flesh we hear, grounded in its triune foundation of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Magisterial Teaching. We would do well to be that grounded.

"The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors..." We go back all the way to Abraham. It is God seizing the initiative to bring back humanity to Him.  In His immensity, He started with one person; in His omnipotence, He found our Father in Faith. And so salvation history continued.

"...and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt." And so their numbers grew until they were a threat to the Egyptians. What followed was then the first attempt at a holocaust of the Jews, albeit by indirect methods. Their captivity is an allegory to our slavery to sin.

"With uplifted arm he led them out of it." We now turn to Moses. God worked through him to liberate the Chosen People via the ten plagues, most notably the Passover event. Then came the Decalogue, the Word for the first time in written form. Then there was the forty years in the desert, the habitation of the Promised Land, and another time of flourishing.

"Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king;..." We now jump ahead to the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel after the rule of the Judges. Like his namesake, the Saul of the New Testament was not a man after God's own heart. It literally took a flash of light for that conversion to begin.

Remember, the Gospel Reading for the Vigil Mass (in its Long Form) begins with St. Matthew's genealogical account of Jesus. The Messianic line had to be reestablished. So God chose the youngest son of Jesse to be that connection.

"'I have found David,... he will carry out my every wish.'" While David was somewhat more successful in obeying God, there were times he didn't. Yet this shepherd-king became an archetype for the true Shepherd-King, who would be a man after God's own heart because He is God. The imperfect passed away so the perfect could come. (Not the same meaning as what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, but I think there is a bit of truth in it.)

"From this man's descendants..." We now skip ahead past the time of the prophets. The four major and twelve minor prophets, throughout more times of captivity and exile, repeated and repeatedly proclaimed the promise of a savior. While they were also men after God's own heart, the imperfect was still passing away.

"...God, according to his promise,..." Ever since the Fall, God has never abandoned us. Throughout all generations, He has made a covenant, first with Himself, then with Abraham and his seed, to send a savior to redeem us from our sins. He would do this in "the fullness of time". That time is now.

" God...has brought to Israel a savior... " Recall the Annunciation. Because nothing is impossible for God, He begins the penultimate chapter of salvation history with an act inconceivable to the human mind (pun intended). Angelic hosts celebrated; demonic legions howled in agony. A woman assisted in the Fall; a woman would assist in the restoration.

"...Jesus." The name above all names. A variation on Joshua, meaning "God saves". The one who comes to deliver us from sin and death, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who became for us the Lamb of God of the ultimate Passover in the New Covenant, the Body and Blood of the eternal Wedding Feast we experience as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

With and because of God's grace, I have never lost belief in the Real Presence. In this time of Eucharistic Revival, I gently but firmly challenge and exhort those who have to sincerely face your doubts. He waits for you in tabernacles and monstrances. He still commands us to eat of His Body and drink of His Blood so you may have Life within you. He desires to be one with you.

" John heralded his coming..." That began in Elizabeth's womb and continued throughout his life. The bridge between the Old Testament prophets and Jesus, his was the loudest echo of the Word. But, he knew his role.

" proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel;..." His message was simple and consistent. He even called out those who were hypocrites of this action. His calling out of hypocrisy would cost him his life.

" John was completing his course,..." Is this not a foreshadowing of what Paul wrote to Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7)?  John had run his race and ran it well. May we do the same.

"...John...would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.'" The Baptist knew who he was. He was a child of God preparing the way of the Lord. Nothing more, but nothing less. This is the foundation of Advent. How well prepared are you?

"'Behold, one is coming after me;..." Here again, the Herald understands what God is asking of him. He has obeyed in humility, the same as the Blessed Virgin Mary. While a martyrs crown washed him, his reward in Heaven was already great.

"...I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'" In this phrase are the final words we say as a congregation before receiving Holy Communion. They are words best remembered. We never could make ourselves worthy of God after Original Sin, much less our own sins. It is only with the help of His Grace, made possible by the Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we are not only made worthy, but also become adopted children of God.

Thus did the Apostle to the Gentiles speak to his own people. But this only happens because of a much earlier event. Buried in this short synopsis is the whole point of what we celebrate now.

Hodie Christie natus est.

For without His Birth on Earth today, there would be no Death and Resurrection.

And, therefore, no Heaven.


Foreshadowing The Second Advent

Something old--the tune is GAUDEAMUS PARITER, composed by Johann Horn, circa. 1544.

Something new--a paraphrase of Isaiah 35 by Christopher M. Idle, circa.1975.

Something borrowed--well, I did for this post. (NB:  I capitalized the first word in each phrase; they are lower case in the hymn.)

1.  When the King shall come again, all his power revealing,
     Splendor shall announce his reign, life and joy and healing;
     Earth no longer in decay, hope no more frustrated;
     This is God's redemption day longingly awaited.

2.  In the desert tree take root, fresh from his creation;
     Plants and flowers and sweetest fruit join the celebration;
     Rivers spring up from the earth, barren land adorning;
     Valleys, this is your new birth; mountains greet the morning!

3.  Strengthen feeble hands and knees, fainting hearts be cheerful!
     God, who comes for such as these, seeks and saves the fearful;
     Deaf ears, hear the silent tongues sing away their weeping;
     Blind eyes, see the lifeless ones walking, running, leaping.

4.  There God's highway shall be seen where no roaring lion,
     Nothing evil or unclean walks the road to Zion;
     Ransomed people, homeward bound, all your praises voicing,
     See your Lord with glory crowned; share in his rejoicing!

Something true--when the King shall come again.

Ero cras.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

O Antiphon: God Is With Us

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

Isaiah 7:10-14

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

Matthew 1:18-25

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

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

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

John 1:14

God is with us.

God is still with us.

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

Revelations 21:3


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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Advent Wreath

Friday, December 22, 2023

O Antiphon: King Of Kings

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

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

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

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

A question of identity.

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

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

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

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

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

They were right.

Found in the Book of Revelation (cf. 11:15, 19:6 and 19:16, KJV), used by Charles Jennens in a libretto, and set to music by Georg Frideric Handel, the Word reigns just as true at His birth, death, resurrection, Good Friday of 1742, and today.
Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Thursday, December 21, 2023

O Antiphon: Light From Light

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, And the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.
Isaiah 8:23b-9:4


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

John 12:35-36; 44b-50

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

All of these pale when the Word spoke plainly:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b)

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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom

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

Matthew 16:13-19

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

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

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


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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree

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


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

Matthew 1:1-17

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

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

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


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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Monday, December 18, 2023

O Antiphon: The Law Giver

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

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

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

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

Enter Moses.

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

Now, fast forward to Mount Sinai.

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

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

God gave them the Decalogue.

The Word became, in a sense, visible.

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


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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Sunday, December 17, 2023

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom

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

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

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


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

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

Matthew 11:25-30

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

Then entered sin.

Then entered the need for salvation.

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

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

Et Verbum caro factum est. Et habitavit in nobis.

There would be no more echoes.


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


Click here to listen to the chant.

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


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

Another Week Full Of "O"s

As is tradition in this infinitesimal corner of the universe, I once again present my series of reflections on the "O" Antiphons.

For those of you who regularly pray the Divine Office/Litany of the Hours, you welcome their coming (no pun intended). For the rest of us, these are the antiphons which precede the reciting/chanting of the Magnificat during Vespers/Evening Prayer. Each of them are based on a title in reference to the Messiah, found in the prophecies of Isaiah.

The format hasn't changed for a few years. While a link to a reflection by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf still works, the one by Fr. Mark Kirby, OSB, is no longer available. (Looks like a reworking of the posts will be in order for next year.) And then there are my very meager musings, along with the chant.

With December 17th. falling on a Sunday this year, it allows all of the "O" Antiphons to be seen starting on "the first day of the week". As the birth of the Christ Child draws near, I hope these posts still are edifying and help you finish your Advent preparation well.

Come back later in the day.

For the next seven days.

They will be waiting for you.

Friday, December 08, 2023

A More Worthy Read

I was not the only one who started a 'blog in 2005.

This is the first post of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf when his 'blog was originally know as What Does The Prayer Really Say. Believe me, he has posted more interesting things in a month than I have in my existence. And yes, I do link to him on occasion. 

Happy 'blogiversary, Father. A fedora doff to you and your pixels. May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

Ora Pro Nobis

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


Originally posted 12/8/2005.
Re-posted 12/8/2006.
Re-posted 12/8/2009.
Re-posted 12/8/2011.
Re-created with new image 12/8/2015.
Re-posted 12/8/2016.
Re-posted 12/8/2017.
Re-posted 12/8/2018.
Original and re-created posts combined and edited 12/8/2020.
Re-posted 12/8/2021.
Re-posted 12/8/2022.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

In Memory Of...

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


Originally posted 12/5/2005.
Re-posted 12/5/2008.
Re-posted 12/5/2009.
Re-posted 12/5/2010.
Re-posted 12/5/2011.
Re-posted 12/5/2012.
Re-posted 12/5/2013.
Re-posted 12/5/2014.
Re-posted 12/5/2015.
Re-posted 12/5/2016.
Re-posted 12/5/2017.
Re-posted 12/5/2018.
Re-posted 12/5/2019.
Re-posted 12/5/2020.
Re-posted 12/5/2021.
Re-posted 12/5/2022.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Advent Prayer

O Lovely Infant Jesus, You will abide with me once more.
O that I might prepare for You an agreeable dwelling place in my heart.
Jesus, Almighty Savior, come to my aid!
Bless me, hands of my infant Savior!
May Your love remain in my heart, dear Jesus!
Be born again in me.
Bless me and give me simplicity of heart, humility, and obedience.

St. John Neumann (1811-1860)


Originally posted 11/26/2005.
Re-posted 11/29/2008.
Re-posted 11/28/2009.
Re-posted 11/27/2010.
Re-posted 11/26/2011.
Re-posted 12/2/2012.
Re-posted 11/30/2013.
Re-posted 11/29/2014.
Re-posted 11/28/2015.
Re-posted 11/29/2016.
Re-posted 12/2/2017.
Re-posted 11/30/2019.
Re-posted 11/29/2020.
Re-posted 11/28/2021.
Re-posted 11/27/2022.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

The Shortest Season

With Christmas falling on Monday this year, we will not have "four full weeks" of Advent.

Starting tonight, it's more like 22 days.

The final purple candle will not get much use this time around.

But that's OK. The Advent wreath marks the time for preparation. The more important thing is that we do prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

We have arrived at the start of a new liturgical year. We begin what should be a familiar cycle of celebrations, times of fasting and feasting, recalling "the greatest story ever told", and being inspired by "those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith", both living and deceased. Ever ancient but ever new, this sacred cycle allow us to be both citizens of heaven and earth, pilgrims on the journey to the New Jerusalem, and witnesses to what we believe.

Because the feast of St. Andrew determines the beginning of the calendar, it also determines the length of this liturgical season. We are at the whims of how it meshes with the Gregorian calendar. It just so happens when November 30 falls on Thursday, we lose six days between the 1st. Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day.

Let us remember the time is at hand. While not as rigorous a penitential season as Lent, some mortification is in order. It is an opportunity upon which to focus and fortify our spiritual life.

While we don't have as much time this time around, we do have it.

Make the most of it.

"Prepare the way of the Lord."