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A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, December 28, 2002
 
The Mystery of the Holy Innocents by Charles Peguy

And the Apostle calls them primitiae Deo et Agno : first fruits unto Gad and to the Lamb. That is to say the first-fruits of the earth which you offer to God and to the Lamb. The other Saints are the ordinary fruits, the fruits in season. But they are the fruits
Of the very promise of the season.

And following the Apostle the Church repeats: Innocentes pro Christo infantes accisi sunt,

the Innocents for Christ
were massacred while infants,


ipsum sequuntur Agnum sine macula
they follow the Lamb himself without stain


(and the text is such, my child, that it is both the Lamb who is without stain
and they with him who are without stain).

But the Church goes further, the Church goes beyond, the Church goes beyond the Apostle.

The Church does not only say they are first-fruits to God and to the Lamb,
The Church invokes them and names them
flowers of the Martyrs
Thus meaning literally that the other Martyrs are the fruits but that these, among the Martyrs, are the flowers themselves.

Salvete FLORES Martyrum,

Hail FLOWERS of the Martyrs.


Stretched on the rack, tied to the rack like fruit tied to espaliers
The other martyrs, twenty centuries of martyrs
Centuries and centuries of martyrs
Are literally fruits in season,
In every season spread on espaliers
And chiefly fruits of autumn
And my Son even was gathered
In his thirty-third season. But they, those simple innocents
They are even before the fruit, they are the promise of fruit.
Salvete flores Martyrum, those children of less than two years old are the flowers of the other Martyrs.
That is, the flowers which produce the other martyrs.
At the very beginning of April they are the pink flowers of the peach-tree.
In the middle of April, at the very beginning of May they are the white flowers of the pear-tree.
In the middle of May they are the red flowers of the apple-tree.
White and red.
They are the flower itself and the bud of the flower and the down on the bud.
They are the burgeoning of the branch and the burgeoning of the flower.
They are the glory of April and they are sweet hope.
They are the glory of the woods and of the months.
They are early childhood.
Reminiscere Sunday is all for them, because they remember.
Oculi Sunday is all for them, because they see.
Laetare Sunday is all for them, because they rejoice.
Passion Sunday is all for them, because they were the first Passion.
Palm Sunday is all for them, because they were the palm branches which have borne so much fruit.
And Easter Sunday is all for them, because they are risen.
They are the blossom of the hawthorn which flowers in Holy Week,
And the blossom of the forerunner, the blackthorn, which flowers five weeks earlier.
They are the flowers of all rosaceous plants and trees,
Promise of so many martyrs they are the rose-buds
Of blood-bedewed roses.
Salvete flores Martyrum,
Hail flowers of the Martyrs,


quos lucis ipso in limine,
Christi insecutor sustulit,

ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

who on the very threshold of light,
the persecutor of Christ swept away,
(carried off)

ceu turbo nascentes rasas.

as a tempest the budding roses.

(that is, as the tempest, as a tempest sweeps off, carries away the budding roses).

Vos prima Christi victima,
Grex immolatorum tener,
Aram sub ipsam simplices
Palma et coronis luditis.

You, first victims for Christ,
Infant flock of sacrifices,
Even on the steps of the altar, simple ones
(Simplices, simple souls, simple children),
Palma et caronis luditis. You play with the palms and crowns. With your palms and crowns.


Such is my Paradise, God says. My Paradise could not be simpler.
Nothing is less elaborate than my Paradise.
Aram sub ipsam, on the steps of the altar itself
These simple children play with their palms and their martyrs’ crowns,
That is what is going on in my Paradise. Whatever can they play at
With palms and martyrs’ crowns.
I believe they play at hoops, God says, and perhaps at quoits
(at least I believe so, for do not think
that they ever ask my permission)
And the palm forever green they use apparently as a hoop-stick.



 
Enough for him .. a breastful of milk and a mangerful of hay...


from the Amesbury Psalter c.1240-50


In the Bleak Mid-winter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for him, whom cherubim worship night and day,
A breastful of milk and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for him, whom angels fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel, which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can give Him: give my heart.

- Christina Rossetti


 
Today in Church history

December 28, 1714: George Whitefield, called "the marvel of his age" for the way his preaching could move an audience, is born in Gloucester, England. His message kicked off America's first "Great Awakening".

December 28, 1797: American theologian Charles Hodge, whose three-volume Systematic Theology has influenced seminarians for over 100 years, is born.


Friday, December 27, 2002
 
The beautiful Scripture readings for today's (Christmas) Feast of Saint John the Beloved Disciple.

The prayers and other Scripture readings, along with a selection from Saint Augustine, from today's Office of Readings.

In some religious orders, today's feast was kept by each member of the community taking a sip of wine in honor of the beloved disciple (yes, even novices!). I am not sure of the symbolism of this ritual, but suspect it had something to do with sharing in the friendship (joy) and passion (sorrow) of the Lord: the wine of gladness and the wine of suffering. (Maybe, too, it was based on some legend about John drinking poisened wine and not being harmed?). Anyone know?

At any rate, it gave a special feel to this Christmas Feast and recommend to all who can safely do so: take a sip of wine in honor of Saint John the Beloved Disciple, and while doing so, say a little prayer for me too. Thanks!


 
A Child My Choice

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child,
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love are His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due.
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young yet wise, though small yet strong; though man yet God He is;
As wise He knows, as strong He can, as God He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!

- Saint Robert Southwell, S.J. (1562-1595)


 
For Cloistered Nun, a Computer Vocation

This nun lives at the same Carmelite monastery that made the most beautiful rosary I have ever seen, felt, or smelled, from the roses I gave them. They are truly cloistered! I spoke with a nun who was behind the grill and put the roses on the turntable. We spoke but did not see each other. This historic Carmel is worth a visit!




 
Today in Church history

December 27, 1784: Francis Asbury is ordained superintendent of the Methodist Church in America. He later took the title "bishop," against the wishes of John Wesley.

December 27, 1899: American temperance leader Carry Nation wrecks her first saloon in Medicine Lodge, Kansas.


Thursday, December 26, 2002
 
Taize sponsored Meeting of Youth in Paris

PARIS, DEC. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The international Christian community has appealed to young people to become agents of reconciliation and peace in the world.

This is the essence of messages received by the Taize Community on the eve of the 25th European Meeting, set for Dec. 28 to Jan. 1 in Paris. Some 80,000 young people are expected to attend.

"This gathering is a sign of hope for our world," John Paul II said in his message. "It shows that the young of today are thirsting for truth, happiness, beauty and for an absolute, and that they are striving to give meaning to their lives."

"In regular prayer, by reading the Scriptures diligently, by a strong sacramental life, the young will encounter Christ, who will show them the Father's face of kindly love and who will manifest his presence to them throughout their lives," the Pope added..

Young people, like "the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:11)" will "have their eyes open to see the new dawn arise - hope in a future of justice and peace, of love and reconciliation, gifts of God for our earth, toward the development of which each person has to make his contribution," the Pope wrote.

Likewise, Alexy II, the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, reminded young people of their role in the construction of peace.

"Today, while the forces of evil are threatening people across the world, sowing hatred and death, we need to come together for reconciliation among those who belong to different cultures and denominations," the Orthodox leader said. "You are called to share a common responsibility in strengthening justice, concord and mutual respect."

"If we do not unite around Christ, we cannot resist the spirit of this world -- individualism, consumerism, divisions and conflicts," Alexy II added. "To conquer evil, it is up to us to transfigure the contemporary world by the truth of the Gospel; it is up to us to follow Christ."

Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople invited young people to pray "for the unity of the Church and for reconciliation of human beings with God and among themselves."

"Pray for peace throughout the world, a world again in danger. Pray for the protection of nature, damaged by human greed and irresponsibility," he added.

"God is giving the young extraordinary opportunities to become his collaborators for the purpose of bettering the quality of life and ensuring the advancement of society, in which justice, gentleness, tolerance, brotherhood and solidarity will reign," Bartholomew I emphasized.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also addressed a message to the participants in the forthcoming gathering of the Taize Community.

"In this world where at times it seems that intolerance is gaining each day, your meeting offers a powerful message of tolerance and solidarity," he said. "May the faith that unites you help you to bring this message beyond your own community!"

Since 1978 - venue of the first meeting in Paris - the annual European gathering can attract as many as 100,000 young people. They stay in parishes during the event.

On some occasions, meetings have been held in other continents, such as those organized in Madras, India; Manila, Philippines; Dayton, Ohio; and Johannesburg, South Africa.


 
Warm welcome to Saint Blog's

Well - Heidi
A Discipleship of Letters - Jerome
Extreme Catholic - Patrick
Catholic Analysis - Oswald Sobrino
Mommentary - Elinor Dashwood
Mysterium Crucis - Will


 
I Saw A Stable

I saw a stable, low and very bare,
A little child in a manger.
The oxen knew him, had him in their care.
To men he was a stranger.
The safety of the world was lying there,
And the world's danger.

- Mary Coleridge


 
On the feast of Stephen

Yes, in the Christmas carol, it sings of "good King Wenscelaus" who went out "on the feast of Stephen." For a long time, the feast of the first day of Christmas has been given over to the remembrance of the first martyr, the deacon Stephen, who was stoned to death for his faith in the Word made flesh (while Saul of Tarsus watched).

Yes, the Church in her wisdom and concern stops us in our celebratory tracks so to speak and vividly reminds us of the cost of our discipleship of the One born and cruficied for our salvation. The Church shows us vividly that there is indeed a seriousness to it all, even amidst the ecstatic joy of the Nativity of the Lord.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A GOOD FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN, PROTO-MARTYR!


 
Merry Christmas to my Jewish mother

A lovely piece in The Natinal Review online.

"A few years ago my mother contracted colon cancer. She was only 67 — it was a bad break for a great gal who had a tough life. In the end she was cared for 'round the clock in an incredible facility: Mary Manning Walsh on the east side of Manhattan. She died on the sixth floor, loved and comforted and eased into the next life by some of the most wonderful people on earth: Gloria, George, Nurse Jackson, Conchita, Theresa. And, of course, prayed for by Sister Noreen and all the loving nuns and priests at this Catholic institution.

It's been five years now. Like a good Jewish boy I think of her at this time of year. Merry Christmas, Mom."


 
Yesterday and Today in Church history

December 25, 496: King Clovis, who united Gaul and founded France, is baptized in the Cathedral of Rheims, followed by 3,000 of his soldiers. "Worship what you once burned, and burn what you worshipped," the priest instructed him. However, Clovis and his troops showed little change after their "conversion" and apparently believed Christ was merely a war god who would grant them victory if they prayed for it.

December 25, 800: Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne, the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

December 25, 1814: First Protestant sermon on New Zealand soil preached by Rev. Samuel Marsden, colonial chaplain of New South Wales. Spearhead of the CMS mission to the Maoris, who were baptised in droves in the 1830's.

December 26, 1065: The first building of Westminster Abbey is dedicated, though legend holds that the abbey was founded as early as 616.


Wednesday, December 25, 2002
 
URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE OF POPE JOHN PAUL II




CHRISTMAS 2002

1. "To us a child is born,
to us a son is given" (Is 9:5).
Today the mystery of Christmas is renewed:
this Child who brings salvation to the world
is also born for the men and women of our own time,
bringing joy and peace for all.
We approach the crib with emotion;
together with Mary we go to meet
the Long-Awaited of the Nations, the Redeemer of humanity.

Cum Maria contemplemur Christi vultum.
With Mary let us contemplate the face of Christ:
in that Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths
and laid in the manger (cf. Lk 2:7),
it is God himself who comes to visit us,
to guide our feet in the way of peace (cf. Lk 1:79).
Mary watches him, caresses him and keeps him warm,
pondering the meaning of the wondrous signs
which surround the mystery of Christmas.

2. Christmas is a mystery of joy!
The Angels sang in the night:
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lk 2:14).
To the shepherds they described the event
as "a great joy for all the people" (cf. Lk 2:10).
Joy, despite distance from home,
the poverty of the manger,
people’s indifference,
the hostility of power.
A mystery of joy nonetheless,
for in the City of David
"to you is born this day a Saviour" (Lk 2:11).
The Church shares in this same joy,
surrounded today by the light of the Son of God:
the darkness can never obscure it.
It is the glory of the Eternal Word,
who out of love has become one of us.

3. Christmas is a mystery of love!
The love of the Father, who has sent into the world
his only-begotten Son,
to bestow on us the gift of his own life (cf. 1 Jn 4:8-9).
The love of "God-with-us", Emmanuel,
who came to earth in order to die on the Cross.
In the cold stable, wrapped in silence,
the Virgin Mother, with prophetic intuition,
already tastes the violent drama of Calvary,
the traumatic struggle between darkness and light,
between death and life, between hatred and love.
The Prince of Peace, born today in Bethlehem,
will give his life on Golgotha,
so that love may reign on earth.

4. Christmas is a mystery of peace!
From the cave of Bethlehem
there rises today an urgent appeal
to the world not to yield
to mistrust, suspicion and discouragement,
even though the tragic reality of terrorism
feeds uncertainties and fears.
Believers of all religions,
together with men and women of good will,
by outlawing all forms of intolerance and discrimination,
are called to build peace:
in the Holy Land, above all, to put an end once and for all
to the senseless spiral of blind violence, and in the Middle East,
to extinguish the ominous smouldering of a conflict
which, with the joint efforts of all, can be avoided;
in Africa too, where devastating famines and tragic internal conflicts
are aggravating the already precarious conditions of entire peoples,
although here and there signs of hope are present;
in Latin America, in Asia, in other parts of the world,
where political, economic and social crises
disturb the serenity of many families and nations.
May humanity accept the Christmas message of peace!

5. Adorable mystery of the Incarnate Word!
Together with you, O Virgin Mother, may we stop and reflect
at the manger where the Child lies,
to share your own amazement
at the immense "condescension" of God.
Grant us your own eyes, O Mary,
that we may understand the mystery
hidden within the frail limbs of your Son.
Teach us to recognize his face
in the children of every race and culture.
Help us to be credible witnesses
of his message of peace and love,
so that the men and women of our own time,
still torn by conflicts and unspeakable violence,
may also recognize in the Child
cradled in your arms
the one Saviour of the world,
the endless source of that true peace
for which every hearts profoundly yearns.


 
A CHRISTMAS BALLAD

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton


Tuesday, December 24, 2002
 
DEI GENITRIX


The Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico

He shared the blissful transport
With only one.
Joy of the bright-begotten -
My Son! My Son!

0 crown no other creature
Can ever claim!
From her as from the Father
Sweet Jesus came.

Blent in that temporal bearing
Two natures shine.
"Mine," proclaims the Father...
"And also mine."

Assumed to that relation
Which makes God's bliss,
She shares with God the Father
The borning kiss.

Word of the Father's stillness,
No sound is heard.
She too from virginal silence
Speaks the hushed Word.

Lily of coolest purity
In the deep night,
Brushing vast darkness - and the dew
Gathers down bright.

Star-throb in evening air,
Cool virgin blue,
Then the bright Jesus dartle,
White light clear through!

Childing by God the Spirit:
A deed like light -
White as the touch of snow
On snow as white.

Starshine and snow, pure lily
Where the light quaked...
Ah, blessed the womb that bore Him,
The milk that slaked!

He shared the blissful transport
With only one.
Joy of the beautiful bearing -
My Son! My Son!

- John Duffy, C.Ss.R. -
+died on Christmas Eve, 1993


 
For those sorrowing this Christmas

A WAYSIDE SORROW

These blowing, floury nights
When north winds with their broom
Gust the thick-falling snow against the door
And fill with mystery the freezing gloom,
And hillside Christmas lights
Burn like dim sea coal through the gauzy pour,
My eyes turn misty, and my heart
Is suddenly drained of shallow self-delight,
Remembering a small pathetic form
One Christmas night
Down the long dark of forty years ago -
A sorrow grieving in a place apart,
A wayside sorrow in a shrine,
Mute and bewildered through the grey dream of snow.

Back from the whirling storm,
Safe from the arc-glare of the corner light
That clicked and shimmered through the sifting fall,
He stood where the old snow-brushed tenement wall
Wrapped him in shadow. More than snow
Was settling on his head,
Dusting his mournful cap.
More than the icy blow
Shook him. Oh, it was grief, too much
For one small heart, too great a load for such

A bending branch; the branch would snap.
His Christmas sled
Grieved there beside him, unremembered now
After the coasting down the hill.
His brow, the round big brow of seven years,
Was dark as an old man’s with a world of woes.
His meek back eye-buds flashed with tears.
One mittened fist
Pressed on the open mouth to keep it still;
And on the mitten there was frozen mist
Where eyes and nose
Had drizzled into it for comfort or for shame.

I was a boy myself, and with the crowd
Had coasted down the slope in the cold glow
Of street lights and their clicking sodium flame.
Now I was headed home, with bowed
And flowery-pelted head,
Wind on my cheek like a cold kiss,
My new boots scuffing the loose snow,
And singing in my heart for Christmas bliss,
For cocoa and the sweet Irish bread,
And the hot kitchen stove, and fairy tales -
Lost in the new fairy tales, with stockinged feet
Plunged in the oven heat,
While the great snowstorm’s crystal sails
Out in the blasting air
Carried the creaking world away.

I saw him in the shadows there,
Poor Joel by his house. I stopped to say
Some soft irrelevance. But he,
Buried alive in grief and the powdery dim,
Said not a word nor even looked at me.
Poor Joel had a sister, twin to him;
But she had died three nights ago,
And they, broken with grief that never made a sound,
After the choke of mourning buried her
One day, one little day
Before the coming round
Of Christian Christmas, and before the snow,
Out in the Jewish graveyard miles a way.
There were no Christmas lights - there never were -
Up in the third-floor window; there were none
Down in the cellar of his heart.
A little broken urn, poor Joel’s heart
Lay with the far away and long ago,
Cast hopeless under half a ton
Of earth and drifting snow.

- John Duffy, C.Ss.R. -
+died on Christmas Eve, 1993


 
A CHRISTMAS CARD TO YOU!

What shall we offer thee, O Christ, who for our sakes hast appeared on earth as man? Every creature made by thee offers thee thanks. The angels offer thee a hymn; the heavens, a star; the magi, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, a manger; and we offer thee - a Virgin Mother. (Byzantine Liturgy)



A most blessed, joyous, and merry Christmas to you, dear and faithful visitors and readers. I am blessed (and humbled) to have you take the time to stop by and visit (I always hope you feel welcomed!). I hope your Christmas season is wonderful and full of wonder; and it is nice to have the long Christmas season in the liturgical year to celebrate (way after the "world" has moved on). ENJOY the season fully until the Baptism of the Lord! Let the beautiful music of the season sing of Christ and the joy of His Birth! And let love cover a multitude of sins!

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Gerard and ONION!



 
FINDING THE LAMB

I went into the Christmas cave;
there was no Child upon the straw.
The ox and ass were all I saw.

I sought His stable where He gave
His goodness in the guise of bread.
Emptiness came to me instead.

Filled with my Father's words, I cried,
"Where have You hid Yourself?" and all
the living answered to my call.

I found Him (and the world is wide)
Dear in His warm ubiquity.
Where heart beat, there was Christ for me.

I went back to the Christmas cave,
Glad with the gain of everywhere.
And lo! the blessed Child was there

Then at His feasting board He gave
embrace. He multiplied His good
and fed in me the multitude.

- Jessica Powers


 
AWAKE, MANKIND!

from a sermon by Saint Augustine

Truth has arisen from the earth and justice has looked down from heaven

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened 'to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God's glory.

He does not say: "of our glory," but of God's glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will. For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.


 
Today in Church history

December 24, 1223: Francis of Assisi stages history's first living nativity scene, complete with live animals, in a cave near Greccio, Italy.

December 24, 1491: Spanish ascetic and theologian Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is born in Guipuzcoa, Spain. His order quickly became a great power in Roman Catholicism and led the Counter-Reformation.

December 24, 1818: Catholic priest Franz Gruber composes "Silent Night" in the St. Nicholas Church of Oberndorf, Austria.


Monday, December 23, 2002
 
A CHRISTMAS THOUGHT by Sigrid Undset



Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian writer, who received the Nobel Prize of Literature, and a devout Catholic convert. Her masterpiece might well be the triology, KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER. Nice to know about another Norwegian Catholic (my father was born in Norway)!


 
The Incarnation

We may call the doctrine of the Incarnation exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting?

- Dorothy Sayers


 
The Hour draws near.....

Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum
(Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One
).

Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem
(Let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior).


 
"O" Antiphon for December 23

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

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God. Amen.


 
Today in Church history

December 23, 1569: Russian czar Ivan IV ("the Terrible") has Philip, bishop of Moscow, killed in his prison cell after the bishop criticized Ivan's policies and mass executions.

December 23, 1648: Robert Barclay, the most prominent theologian in the early Quaker church, is born in Gordonstoun, Scotland. His Apology for the True Christian Religion (1676) is considered the classic exposition of Quaker principles.

December 23, 1652: John Cotton, the most eminent minister in colonial Massachusetts and considered "the father of New England Congregationalism," dies. When he fell ill earlier that year, his followers observed a comet (or "attendant to the stars"), which "continued all that while and until his buryal … then disappeared".


Sunday, December 22, 2002
 
Archives Back but Dorothy Day gone!

I decided to upgrade to Blogger Pro in hopes of getting archives linked again. It worked.

But somehow I lost the long post on Dorothy Day and Searching for Christ (and in my program it just says large body).

Thanks for your patience.


 
The First Crib

Chapter XXX

Of the manger Francis made on the day of the Lord's birth.

Francis´ highest intention, his chief desire, his uppermost purpose was to observe the holy Gospel in all things and through all things and, with perfect vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and all the fervor of his heart, "to follow the teaching and the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ." He would recall Christ´s word through persistent meditation and bring to mind his deeds through the most penetrating consideration. The humility of the incarnation and the charity of the passion occupied his memory particularly, to the extent that he wanted to think of hardly anything else.

What he did on the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should especially be noted and recalled with reverent memory. In that place there was a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a special love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he had trampled upon the nobility of his birth and pursued nobility of soul.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: "If you want us to celebrate the present fast of our Lord at Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of his infant needs, how he lay in a manager, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he lay upon the hay where he had been placed. "When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared in that place att the things the saint had told him.

But the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing came. The brothers were called from their various places. Men and women of that neighborhood prepared with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that has lighted up all the days and years with its gleaming star. At length the saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he saw it and was glad.

The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, the ox and ass were led in. There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem.The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts. The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing. The saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness. The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.

The saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy Gospel in a sonorous voice. And his voice was a strong voice, a sweet voice, a clear voice, a sonorous voice, inviting all to the highest rewards. Then he preached to the people standing about, and he spoke charming words concerning the nativity of the poor king and the little town of Bethlehem.

Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for him; and speaking the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep, His mouth was filled more with sweet affection than with words. Besides, when he spoke the name Child of Bethlehem or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips, as it were, relishing and savoring with pleased palate the sweetness of the word.

The gifts of the Almighty were multipled there, and a wonderful vision was seen by a certain virtuous man. For he saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep. This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but, by the working of his grace, he was brought to life again through his servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory. At length the solemn night celebration was brought to a close, and each one returned to his home with holy joy.

The hay that had been placed in the manger was kept, so that the Lord might save the beasts of burden and other animals through it as he multiplied his holy mercy. And in truth it so happened that many animals throughout the surrounding region that had various illnesses were freed from their illnesses after eating of this hay. Indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth, were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought.

Later, the place on which the manger had stood was made sacred by a temple of the Lord, and an altar was built in honor of the most blessed father Francis over the manger and a church was built, so that where once the animals had eaten the hay, there in the future men would eat unto health of soul and body the flesh of the lamb without blemish and without spot, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave himself to us, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, eternally glorious, forever and ever. Amen. Alleluja, Alleluja.

Here ends the first book about the life and acts of Blessed FRANCIS."

-Thomas of Celano, Vita prima


 
I love my parish!

Not only beautiful music, beautiful appointments, beautiful liturgy - but today, in the front of the church, piles and piles of wrapped Christmas gifts, overflowing into the first pews - gifts for the poor. Our city parish is reaching out, with food and gifts, to 187 families.

I love St Benedict Parish, Baltimore MD!



 
Advent Reflection

THE SEASON OF GIVING

by Hugo Rahner, SJ

One of the happiest experiences in the world is when we look forward with the eager expectation of a child to a Christmas present or the surprise that we feel - or pretend, with a rather painful smile, to feel - when the packages lying under the Christmas tree are unwrapped. What is revealed in all this is a deep human longing.

In every one of us, there is hidden, somewhere in the depths of our being, a poet or an artist who is prevented from expressing himself or herself by the everyday tasks. As Baudelaire said, our heart is like a captive albatross on the deck of the ship of life - an awkward, incongruous, ridiculous creature when not in the sky, because it is made for flight and its huge wings prevent it from walking.

Every gift is... a symbol of our love. Every present is like a sacramental, a making visible of an invisible good that goes further than our calculations, has no boundaries and recognizes no frontiers.

And however poor we may be, so poor that we have, in the weeks before Christmas, to go past the shop windows and their glorious displays of gifts perhaps with a troubled, hurt, and even envious heart, we can still say on Christmas day to those we love: I give you my heart. My heart, my loving heart, is like a carefully locked Christmas present. It contains treasures that have still not been discovered. My love is new and full of surprises. It looks forward to receiving a gift in return. And it is renewed and made young again when it hears the only possible answer: I love you too.

from Magnificat -- Dec. 2000




 
"O" Antiphon for December 22

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 and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: comd, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen.



 
Today in Church history

December 22, 1216: Pope Honorius III officially approves the Dominican Order, which is dedicated "to preaching and the good of souls." Founded earlier that year by Dominic, the order has since been associated with study and scholarship, and with such luminaries as Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus.

December 22, 1899: Evangelist Dwight L. Moody, the chief spokesman for the revivalist wing of American evangelicalism, dies.

December 22, 1917: Francesca Xavier Cabrini, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, dies in Chicago's Columbus Hospital. In 1946 she was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, becoming the first American citizen declared a saint.



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