31 December 2012

Saint Louis Catholic Year in Review

It certainly has been a strange year, both in the Church at large and with your local blogger. The following items may or may not be in any order, chronological or otherwise:

1. The rule of law in this country has been dying from a thousand cuts for quite a while now, and I don't wish to analyze just which cut was first. But I can certainly tell you which one was last: the decision of the Supreme Court, authored by Catholic Chief Justice John Roberts, to pretend that Obamacare was permitted under the Constitution. Excrement on paper would have been more defensible. There is no longer a Constitution, if there was one. There is no more rule of law. There is only one political party-- the government party. Its judicial appointees serve to provide a veneer of legality to government whim. There is only tyranny, enforced by ever more intrusive technology.

2.  It has been a strange year on the blog front, too.  The gains of traditional Catholicism within the universal Church go on, but on a very definitely less spectacular scale than from 2005-2008.  Though the news of the universal Church is covered on many Catholic blogs, some of them quite good, the news of the Church in Saint Louis is covered by few.  Frankly, there hasn't been much, and what news there has been has typically been bad.  Thus my own writing has been streaky-- sometimes I feel the old creativity, and sometimes I can barely look at it (yes, dear reader, I know, you feel the same way).  One of the things I have liked about this site is that it is a mix of original writing, devotional material, humor, news and expanded Church bulletin stuff.  Plus the writer has impeccable taste in music and movies.  That being said, I am tired of the cut and paste news stuff, and in the New Year I hope to write more original posts, even if it means posting somewhat less.  If I can't, here is the first warning shot that the blog may go away.

3.  I have been ruminating quite a bit over the arbitrariness of life, and the many natural attachments that Our Lord strips from us in order to find that our true happiness lies only in Him.  It seems like I am entering the proverbial desert.

In more conventional detachment news, many friends my wife and I have come to know through the Church have left town in the past year, or will in the new year.  Some are particularly hard to take.  It is unusual to find a friend with whom one has so much in common, and yet whose differences are such that make the common experiences of friendship so enjoyable.  The desert beckons.  Spiritual directors, friends, priests, prelates, and family all can lead us to Him, but they are not Him.  May God's will always be done, and may I be given the grace not only to endure it, but to lovingly accept it and will it myself.

4. Finally, the Christmas season has again led me to reflect with gratitude to God that the Church really is the Body of Christ, and the Church visible on earth is where we encounter our foretaste of heaven.  Comparing gatherings with our friends and family in the Church with our more secular gatherings this season drives the point home clearly, at which the rest of the year only hints.  

May God bless you abundantly in the coming year.

Christus nobis natus est!  Venite adoremus!

TE DEUM laudamus: te Dominum confitemur. O GOD, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur. Everlasting Father, all the earth doth worship Thee.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi Caeli et universae Potestates; To Thee all the Angels, the Heavens and all the Powers,
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant: all the Cherubim and Seraphim, unceasingly proclaim:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae. Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus, The glorious choir of the Apostles,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus, the wonderful company of Prophets,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. the white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia, Holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge Thee:
Patrem immensae maiestatis: the Father of infinite Majesty;
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium; Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum. and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe. O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum. Thou, having taken it upon Thyself to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum. Thou overcame the sting of death and hast opened to believers the Kingdom of Heaven.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris. Thou sitest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Iudex crederis esse venturus. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti. We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari. Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae. V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thine inheritance!
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum. R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te. V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi. R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yea, forever and ever.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire. V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri. R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te. V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum. R. O Lord, in Thee I have hoped; let me never be put to shame.

28 December 2012

The Future of a Contraception Society? No Future at All

Think Children of Men, by P.D. James, as you read this story. Japan is the first country to face this, but won't be the last. The meek shall inherit the earth...

No heir to run the company? Why adult ‘adoption’ is big business in Japan

...Finding suitable heirs, however, is not as simple as it once was. Japan's sliding birthrate has created many one-child families, and while daughters can manage the company back office, the face out front in this still chauvinistic country must be male, says Chieko Date. She is one of dozens of marriage consultants who bring together ambitious young men and the marriageable daughters of business families. Ms Date is proud of her record. "We bring happiness to both sides," she says.

If the meetings go well, the men agree to drop their own surname and be adopted by their new bride's family, becoming both the head of the family and its business. Ms Date's consultancy claims to have brokered 600 of these marriages – known as "mukoyoshi" – over the past decade. "We believe that this cannot be just a business transaction," she says. If the couples don't like each other, the marriage and the business will fail.

Ms Date screens the men carefully, going only for "top-class" candidates. "I've talked to 20,000 men over the past decade and successfully brokered hundreds of marriages, and I haven't heard of a single divorce," she adds. Just in case, the families of prospective wives will often do a deep background check on their future adoptees, to make sure they don't come loaded with debt, and they're not gay.

Remarkably, some families will bypass a biological son for an adoptee if they feel that nature has shortchanged them – a practice that occurs with "some regularity" says Dr Mehrotra....

26 December 2012

Notes from the Bowl, Christmas Edition: Yes, It's Come to This

To those who may have pointed out in answer to the puddle-thin logic of the gun controllers that a kitchen knife or baseball bat could be considered an assault weapon, here ya go, from Merry Olde England (And, no, this isn't an Onion story):

Doctors' kitchen knives ban call 
Doctors say knives are too pointed
A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.
A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings. 

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon. 

The research is published in the British Medical Journal. 

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.
They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen. 

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed. 

The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault - but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs. 

Knife wound
Kitchen knives can inflict appalling wounds
In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon". 

The use of knives is particularly worrying amongst adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of 16-year-olds have been shown to carry weapons, primarily knives. 

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime. 

"The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime. 

"We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect." 


St. Stephen's Day

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope your St. Stephen's Day goes better than ol' Elvis':

24 December 2012

Two Christmas Eves

There would be tea brewing on the stove in the kitchen. The coals would show red with thin blue flames where one of the stove covers had been tilted. Then, there would be a candle, perhaps two, for there could only be candles on Christmas Eve. They would be burned down pretty low now, it being after eleven o'clock when he would reach home. About ten minutes past eleven, he always reached home. His stamping the snow off his shoes on the steps outside would be the signal for the handful of tea to be dropped into the pot. There would be candles in the next room, too, the dining room they called it. And then beyond that, another candle or two. Always candles on Christmas Eve. Not many candles. A few candles, but good candles special for the vigil. They would spear the dark with steady yellow flames, and make long, rich shadows on the walls and on the pictures on the walls. The ceiling would be lighted without shadows.

There were never shadows like these Christmas Eve candle shadows. They gave mystery to the house, and a soft strangeness that you never found on any other night.

The Boy would throw his hat and coat on the chair by the kitchen stove. Then, he would go on through the dining room, as they called it, into the other room. She would meet him, as she got up from the floor where she would be setting out the presents before the tiny crib. Her knees would be stiff, he knew, and her poor body tired, but she would get up with her white face happy in spite of its whiteness, and her always bright eyes brighter, and she would turn to him for a glance of appreciative pleasure. He knew she would look for that, though she had made the house clean, had washed and mended the old lace curtains, had scrubbed the floors--hadn't he noticed the kitchen floor, white with the grain showing?-- had swept and dusted not so much for his pleasure this night, but because God was coming. But she would look to see if he were happy. He would scowl. It was defensive, or perverse. But he would scowl, and while he scowled he would notice how white her hair showed on the side that caught the light of the candles.

"My poor boy is tired," she would say.

Then he could hold the scowl no longer. He would say:

"Ma, the crib is beautiful."

Then he would get down on his knees beside it. There would be a little red sanctuary lamp on the floor before it, with the white wick floating in oil. At twelve o'clock the lamp would be lighted. If you should happen into the room--the parlor they called it-- in the early hours when the candles would be out, you would see only this, the red lamp with its tiny light flickering. It would cast a spell over you, this unsteady small light showing red on the floor beneath you. You would stand there and look at it, unstirring, unthinking, for minutes.

So, the Boy would get down on his knees beside the crib. It would be the same little crib they had last Christmas, and the Christmas before that. There would be the little imitation thatch shed, open in front. Outside, would be three shepherds with two sheep, kneeling. Inside, would be St. Joseph with his brown cloak and white beard and our Mother with her blue dress. In back would be the ox and the ass, the ox with his head low. And in the center, on a few wisps of hay-- real hay that the peddler fed his horse--would be the tiny figure of Him who was all the world.

He would kneel there, before the shed that was not a foot high, and move the figures about a bit. He always liked to have the ox and ass close to the crib. Then, he would study the presents, laid out before the crib as tenderly as the Wise Men must have laid out their gifts. They would still be in their boxes. He would not touch them, not until daybreak. Then, they would all stop for a swift minute on their way out to Mass.

Afterward, after Mass and Communion, they, with their glass of water drunk but not yet with breakfast, would strew the floor with red strings and wrapping paper and boxes. How much colorful rubbish a few little things could make! For there were but a few things before the crib: a fountain pen, a tie, two books, a box of handkerchiefs... He could recognize everything from their boxes, thin square boxes for handkerchiefs, long boxes for gloves and ties. . . . But he knew, anyway. He and his mother had conspired together for the family. He had his gifts, too. But they would not be put out until he was safely in bed....

Then, she would call from the kitchen. He had better hurry. It was getting close on midnight. So he would have his cup of tea, and a slice of brown-crusted white bread that had come from the oven that afternoon. And maybe a piece of the fruit cake, the rich, dark fruit cake heavy with spice and raisins that was always in the house on Christmas Eve. She would have her cup of tea with the cream-- for they would use the cream tonight-- showing brown gold on top. But she would have only tea for it was the vigil of Christmas.

That would be beautiful. He would tell her all that had happened at work. How old Nelson was worried because his little girl was ill, and it was Christmas Eve. How the yardmaster who cursed constantly was quiet today, and swore only when he was mad. How Big Mike had gone down to St. Mary's to confession with him, and how the church was crowded. Everything, everything. . . .

And then he would empty his pockets of all his money, including the gold piece the firm had given him for Christmas. That would be his supreme moment-- to give over every dollar, every cent. He had been doing that so long now but it never, for some strange reason, failed to make him gulp with happiness. Hadn't they bought the piano together, his mother and he, the upright piano with the green covering that came with it? Hadn't thy bought the new heavy rug for the parlor, the two of them, conspiring this way? Weren't they saving now to buy the house?-- the house out of town a little distance, the house with a garden, quiet, but near the church.

How happily she would look at him. How proudly. And he would drain his teacup so that he could hold the cup high and hide his eyes, his moist eyes. . . .

That would be beautiful, beautiful.

"Pray for those poor souls who have no home on Christmas Eve," she would say, as always she had said.

And the Boy would pray.

The Pullman porter gave a quick turn to the Young Man's chair. The Young Man who had been dozing sat up abruptly.

"Grand Central, suh."

The porter was holding his overcoat.

The Young Man was dazed.

Wasn't there tea brewing, and a red fire showing where the stove corner had been tilted? And across from him. . . .

Across from him was a row of Pullman chairs. Empty, of course. Who else but a harried reporter would be traveling thus into New York at eleven o'clock on Christmas Eve?

The porter took his tip and was gone. The Young Man made his way hazily out into the station.

And there were candles, one or two that spotted the room with yellow flames and threw long shadows. . . .

"Reservation?" asked the room clerk in the hotel.

The Young Man nodded and wrote his name. A tall bald-headed man in a dinner jacket staggered across the heavily ornate hotel lobby. Two gaudy young women tittered.

Candles, a few candles. . . .


A thin, small, ageless bellboy, in blue uniform and silver braid, appeared mechanically. He took his bags and led the way to the elevator.

And she was there, rising from the crib on the floor. How white her hair showed where it caught the light of the candles. . . .

"The heat on, sir?" The bellboy was turning the valve on the radiator. The steam began to pound through the pipes.

The Young Man moved to the window. Twenty stories below him the city was stirring out of its newly laid cover of snow. Even in the dark, the roofs were white, the cornices and window ledges were white. Far, far down, the streets were white, white spotted with black, streaked with black.

"Looks like a white Christmas."

The bellboy spoke impatiently. The Young Man gave him his tip. He banged the door as he left.

The Young Man turned back to the window.

It was the same little crib with its imitation thatch, and the few wisps of hay-- real hay the peddler fed his horse. . . .

The Young Man looked down. Everywhere there were lights, ragged lights, pointed lights, clustered lights, solitary lights, white, red, yellow lights. But the Young Man did not see. He drew the shade and turned from the window.

And there was St. Joseph in his brown cloak and our Lady in her blue dress and the tiny figure of Him who was all the world. . . .

The Young Man still had on his overcoat. Under the mirror of the dresser was a collar button of a former guest which the maid, in her cleaning, had missed. He fixed his eyes on it but did not see. He was without heart and his mind whirred. Where, he was asking himself dazedly, where in this world's maze of people and places, where in this wilderness of stars and philosophies, where is Home?

Hadn't they bought the piano together, and the rug....

The Young Man threw himself on the bed.

"Dear Jesus! Dear Mother of God!"

His sobbing filled his cell in the mountain of earth and steel, glass and stone.

"Dear Mother of God!"

And she would say, "Pray for those poor souls who have no home on Christmas Eve..."

"Dear Jesus!" He sobbed.

The while midnight came, and with it Christmas.

--From Dan England and the Noonday Devil, Myles Connolly, 1951

23 December 2012

Christmas Schedule at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

For your convenience, below is the Christmas schedule at the Oratory. BTW, if you have not experienced Midnight Solemn High Mass there, you are missing a thing of incomparable beauty.

Monday, December 24th – Vigil of Christmas
Confessions: 11:00pm-11:45pm
Christmas Carols: 11:30pm
Solemn Midnight Mass: 12:00am w/orchestra, and veneration of the holy relic of the Crib of Christ after Mass.
Mass Setting: Missa Solemnis of Our Lady by Max Filke
Motets: Lux Arumque *Offertory - Pueri Concinite Herbeck *Comunion

Tuesday, December 25th – Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Holy Day of Obligation
Confessions: 7:30 & 9:30am-11:30am
8:00am Mass at Dawn
10:00am High Mass with Gregorian propers

Wednesday, December 26th – St. Stephen, Deacon & Protomartyr
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 11:45am
12:15pm Low Mass

Thursday, December 27th – St. John, Apostle & Evangelist
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00 Low Mass
Confessions: 6:00pm
6:30pm Adoration

Friday, December 28th – Holy Innocents
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass

Saturday, December 29th – Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass

Sunday, December 30th – Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
Confessions: 7:30am-11:00am
8:00am Low Mass
10:00am High Mass

Monday, December 31th – Christmas Octave
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 4:30pm
Solemn Te Deum 5:00pm
All the faithful who assist at the signing of the Te Deum on this day in thanksgiving for the past year may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditons.

Tuesday, January 1st – Octave Day of Christmas & Circumcision of Our Lord
Holy Day of Obligation
Confessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 9:30am
10:00 "Veni Creator" followed by High Mass
All the faithful who assist at the singing of the Veni Creator on this day may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual condtions.
Confessions: 6:00pm
6:30pm Low Mass

December 23: O Emmanuel

From The Liturgical Year:

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God!

O Emmanuel! King of Peace! thou enterest to-day the city of thy predilection, the city in which thou hast placed thy Temple, - Jerusalem. A few years hence, and the same city will give thee thy Cross and thy Sepulchre: nay, the day will come, on which thou wilt set up thy Judgment-seat within sight of her walls. But, to-day, thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on thy road to Bethlehem. Thy Blessed Mother and Joseph, her Spouse, would not lose the opportunity of visiting the Temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last House more than of the first [Agg. ii. 10.] ; for this second Temple has now standing within it an Ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this Ark, which is Mary, there is contained the God, whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver himself is in this blessed Ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living Ark descends the steps of the Temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore thee, O Emmanuel! in this thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of thee, for thou wouldst give to thy people the certainty of thy being the Messias, by showing them, that all the marks, whereby he was to be known, are to be found in thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for thy Birth; come, then, and save us; come, that thou mayest not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us.

December 22: O Rex Gentium

From The Liturgical Year:

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

O King of nations, and their desired One, and the corner-stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime.

O King of Nations! thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where thou art to be born. The journey is almost over, and thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with thee on the way. She adores thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render thee those services which are due to thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures? How will she dare to raise thee up in her arms, and press thee to her heart, and feed thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections, - the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a Creature for her God? But thou supportest her, O thou the Desired of Nations! for thou, too, longest for that happy Birth, which is to give the earth its Saviour, and to men that Corner-Stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be thou blessed for all these wonders of thy power and goodness! Come speedily, we beseech thee, come and save us, for we are dear to thee, as creatures that have been formed by thy divine hands. Yea, come, for thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take it thou again into thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love thine own work.

21 December 2012

It Needs to Be Said, and Repeated

Pray for the Holy Father. Saying the obvious these days makes you an enemy of secular society. From The Telegraph:

Pope says future of mankind at stake over gay marriage

"In the fight for the family, the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question," the Pope said in Italian during an end-of-year speech.

"The question of the family ... is the question of what it means to be a man, and what it is necessary to do to be true men," he said.

The Pope spoke of the "falseness" of gender theories and cited at length France's chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against gay marriage.

"Bernheim has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper," he said.

He cited feminist gender theorist Simone de Beauvoir's view to the effect that one is not born a woman, but one becomes so – that sex was no longer an element of nature but a social role people chose for themselves.

"The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious," he said.

The defence of the family, the Pope said, "is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears."

On Monday, the Vatican's newspaper described laws on gay marriage as an attempt at a communist-like "utopia", a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out in France to support legalising both marriages and adoption for gay couples.

France's parliament is to debate the government-backed "marriage for all" bill early next year.

With President Francois Hollande's Socialists enjoying a strong majority, the bill is expected to pass despite vehement opposition from the right and religious groups.

December 21: O

From The Liturgical Year:

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

O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of Justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, divine Sun! thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be thy infinite goodness! But thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing thyself in all thy brightness. Thou hidest thy rays, until the time decreed by thy heavenly Father comes, in which all thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the Edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase, too, our Love. If these men loved thee, O Redeemer of mankind, thou wouldst give them the grace to feel thy presence; their eyes, indeed, would not yet see thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

20 December 2012

Q: Where Are the Men in Church? A: Look for the Church That Makes Demands and Requires Sacrifice

Rod Dreher, the former Catholic turned schismatic known sometimes as the "Crunchy Con", posts on his blog about the dearth of men in many denominations, including in the Catholic Church (of which I would assume he refers to the novus ordo parishes he may have formerly frequented).

His general observations about the type of liturgy and dogma that attract men are spot on-- in short, a demanding and vertically-oriented liturgy and demanding and orthodox (meaning correct) dogma.  Find these, and find churches where fathers and husbands and sons-- and their families-- worship.  Both statistically and anecdotally, this is true in the Catholic parishes that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

Dreher cites the example of the Orthodox churches.  Of course, the Orthodox churches do not obey the authority of the Successor of Peter, and are thus decidedly heterodox on a very important matter.  But when it comes to the relative stability of their teachings and liturgies, they mirror the draw of the Latin Church's Ancient Mass.

Doubt me?  Pick the name of one random parish in the Archdiocese and take a headcount at its principal Sunday Mass.  Then pick the name of one Latin Mass community out of a thimble and do the same.

H/T to Proud SLPS Parent for the link

A-Ha! I Knew It!

What might have been considered eccentric behavior or even--gasp!-- laziness by some readers has actually been proven to be a genius-level plan to avoid burglary. In this story at KMOX, the St. Louis Police Department warns residents that decorating one's house for Christmas can attract thieves:

Police Warn Homeowners to Avoid Christmas Crime

Kevin Killeen

ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–If your holiday light display shines like the Griswalds, are you inviting burglars to see what’s inside your home?

“Sometimes criminals look for targets, even houses that may be decorated,” said police Sgt. Catherine Dennis, “I’m not saying not to decorate, but sometimes they may look for that.”

Dennis outlined the dos-and-don’ts of Christmas crime prevention, reminding homeowners that it’s that time of year when Santa Claus isn’t the only one breaking into homes.

Among the recommendations :

**It’s OK to display your lighted tree in the window with the drapes open, but don’t let people driving by see presents in the window .

**If you’re not home, don’t have packages delivered there, sitting on the front porch to tempt passersby.

**Always keep your garage door closed, and if your garage attaches to the house, always lock the inside door.

**When shopping, there is safety in numbers. Watch your back, don’t count cash in public, and don’t carry chin-high arm loads of packages to your car.

**Always hide valuables out of site in the trunk.

If you’re looking for more home security to help you sleep at night, you may do what Sgt. Dennis did — get a dog. Dennis says twice burglars have tried to get into her home, but she has an Akita with sensitive hearing who has awakened and barked “like a wolf” to scare them away.

Yesterday, as a matter of fact, our festooned, tidy neighborhood was the unwilling host to a couple of losers who drove through the area and swiped delivery packages from several front porches. Luckily for us, no one gives us presents.

Though of course the police mean well here, this story makes me give a rueful chuckle. Yes, like a woman attacked by creeps, it's the house's fault for dressing like that!

And of course the one thing not mentioned, that seems pretty obvious to many, to make your home more secure from burglars would be to have adequate means of home defense. But no, that can't be right! If you own a gun to defend your family you are 99% likely to go crazy with it. Better to let the government defend you. The police won't stop any burglary, but at least they will help the survivors to make a list of stolen items.

We live in a world where the evidence of Original Sin is all around us, yet the answer of society is to legislate us into utopia instead of turning, as this season so urgently calls us, to the one Hope for fallen man and fallen societies-- Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas from America.

December 20: O Clavis David!

From The Liturgical Year:

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! who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and no man openeth; come and lead the captive from prison, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! thou art now passing over, in thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and the mercy of Jehovah, thy Father, to the people of that old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides thee, thou wilt pass along this same road doing good [Acts, x. 36.], healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity [St Matth. iv. 23.], and yet having not where to lay thy head? [St. Luke, ix. 58.] Now, at least, thy Mother's womb affords thee the sweetest rest, and thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is thine own blessed will that thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O Eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world's darkness, this prison where the captive, whom thou art come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this Captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world thou hast enriched by thy grace, and the creatures whom thou hast made to be thine own Brethren.

19 December 2012

7 Day Forecast: Change Ahead?


No, I don't place stock in Mayan Calendars...
h/t LewRockwell.com

Advent Ember Days

Today is one. And here is a link to a great post on them at New Liturgical Movement.

December 19: O Radix Jesse

O radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super est quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.  O Root of Jesse, who standest as the standard of the people ; before whom Kings shall not open their lips; to whom the nations shall pray: come and deliver us; tarry now no more.

At length, O Son of Jesse! thou art approaching the city of thy ancestors. The Ark of the Lord has risen, and journeys, with the God that is in her, to the place of her rest. "How beautiful are thy steps, O thou daughter of the Prince," [Cant. vii. 1.] now that thou art bringing to the cities of Juda their salvation! The Angels escort thee, thy faithful Joseph lavishes his love upon thee, heaven delights in thee, and our earth thrills with joy to bear thus upon itself its Creator and its Queen. Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of Men! Speed thee, thou propitiatory that holdest within thee the divine Manna which gives us life! Our hearts are with thee, and count thy steps. Like thy royal ancestor David, "we will enter not into the dwelling of our house, nor go up into the bed whereon we lie, nor give sleep to our eyes, nor rest to our temples, until we have found a place in our hearts for the Lord whom thou bearest, a tabernacle for this God of Jacob." [Ps. cxxxi. 3-5.] Come, then, O Root of Jesse! thus hid in this Ark of purity; thou wilt soon appear before thy people as the standard round which all that would conquer must rally. Then, their enemies, the Kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer thee their prayers. Hasten thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies, and deliver us. 

 -- from The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger

18 December 2012

Two Catholic Parishes Violently Vandalized by Man with Sledgehammer

One of these two parishes, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, has for its pastor Father Edward Richard, the well-known moral theologian formerly on the faculty of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary of St. Louis.

The news story reports that this man had a history of violence and police think he was under the influence of drugs.  I wonder.  Certainly he was under the influence of something.  The report claims he said God wanted him to destroy statues.  

He started at Fr. Richard's parish and was caught in the act of destroying statues at another Catholic parish.  Many of these statues were quite old, and irreplaceable.  In between, he apparently broke the glass doors of two places belonging to the Baptist and Methodist sects, but did not damage anything inside.  No statues there, is my guess.

Stories here and here.  Video at the second link. Photos above of some of the damage, and of the alleged perpetrator.

December 18: O Adonai

From The Liturgical Year:

O Adonaï, et dux domus Israël, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extenso. O Adonaï, and leader of the house of Israel! who appearedst to Moses in the fire  of the flaming bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai;  come and redeem us by thy  outstretched arm. 
O Sovereign Lord! O Adonaï! come and redeem us, not by thy power, but by thy humility. Heretofore, thou didst show thyself to Moses thy servant in the midst of a mysterious flame; thou didst give thy law to thy people amidst thunder and lightning; now, on the contrary, thou comest not to terrify, but to save us. Thy chaste Mother having heard the Emperor's edict, which obliges her and Joseph her Spouse to repair to Bethlehem, she prepares everything needed for thy divine Birth. She prepares for thee, O Sun of Justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover thy nakedness, and protect thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold of that mid-night hour of thy Nativity! Thus it is that thou willest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that thy divine arm is never stronger than when he thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! thy swathing-bands are ready for thy infant limbs! Come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands of our enemies.

17 December 2012

December 22: Advent Retreat at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

If you are getting a little harried by Christmas preparations, or are otherwise looking to more seriously prepare for the upcoming feast under the direction of great priests, here is a great opportunity.  St. Francis de Sales Oratory will host an Advent retreat this Saturday, December 22, 2012.  Map and directions here.

Schedule of Events:

8 am:  Low Mass
8:45 am: Breakfast in the Church hall
9:20 am: Spiritual Conference-- Our King is Coming, Prophets Preparing His Path
10:05 am: Break
10:15 am: Spiritual Conference-- Preparing for Our Lord's Coming: Past, Present and Future
11:10 am: Benediction and Rosary

Confession will be available during the retreat

May everyone have a blessed and fruitful remainder of Advent.

A Very Interesting Thought

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.

~ Arthur Miller

December 17: O Sapientia!; the Commencement of the Great Antiphons

From The Liturgical Year:

The Church enters to-day on the seven days, which precede the Vigil of Christmas, and which are known in the Liturgy under the name of the Greater Ferias. The ordinary of the Advent Office becomes more solemn; the Antiphons of the Psalms, both for Lauds and the Hours of the day, are proper, and allude expressly to the great Coming. Every day, at Vespers, is sung a solemn Antiphon, which consists of a fervent prayer to the Messias, whom it addresses by one of the titles given him by the sacred Scriptures.

In the Roman Church, there are seven of these Antiphons, one for each of the Greater Ferias, They are commonly called the O's of Advent, because they all begin with that interjection. In other Churches, during the Middle Ages, two more were added to these seven; one to our Blessed Lady, O Virgo Virginum; and the other to the Angel Gabriel, O Gabriel; or to St. Thomas the Apostle, whose feast comes during the Greater Ferias; it began O Thoma Didyme [It is more modern than the O Gabriel; but dating from the 13th century, it was almost universally used in its stead.] There were even Churches, where twelve Great Antiphons were sung; that is, besides the nine we have just mentioned, there was Rex Pacifice to our Lord, O mundi Domina to our Lady, and O Hierusalem to the city of the people of God.

The canonical Hour of Vespers has been selected as the most appropriate time for this solemn supplication to our Saviour, because, as the Church sings in one of her hymns, it was in the Evening of the world (vergente mundi vespere) that the Messias came amongst us. These Antiphons are sung at the Magnificat, to show us that the Saviour, whom we expect, is to come to us by Mary. They are sung twice; once before and once after the Canticle, as on Double Feasts, and this to show their great solemnity. In some Churches it was formerly the practice to sing them thrice; that is, before the Canticle, before the Gloria Patri, and after the Sicut erat. Lastly, these admirable Antiphons, which contain the whole pith of the Advent Liturgy, are accompanied by a chant replete with melodious gravity, and by ceremonies of great expressiveness, though, in these latter, there is no uniform practice followed. Let us enter into the spirit of the Church; let us reflect on the great Day which is coming; that thus we may take oar share in these the last and most earnest solicitations of the Church imploring her Spouse to come, and to which He at length yields.


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 proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things with strength and sweetness! come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Uncreated Wisdom! that art so soon to make thyself visible to thy creatures, truly thou disposest all things. It is by thy permission, that the Emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrolment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast Empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem, for the Prophet has said of him: "His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, O Bethlehem I art not the least among the thousand cities of Juda, for out of thee He shall come." [Mich. v. 2; St Matth. ii. 6.]. O divine Wisdom! how strong art thou, in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden! and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man's free-will! and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the House of Bread. In this, thou teachest us that thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, Living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to thee and be enlightened [Ps. xxxiii. 6.] by thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.

13 December 2012

Home for the Holidays


It Spoke to Me

Somehow, I wound up on your bad side
til now, I guess I had a free ride
but now I join the queue
of people dead to you
the one-time chosen few

That’s all, that’s it,
you got yourself disappeared
the atom split, and you got back-engineered
you’re a forgotten face behind a beard—that’s it
that’s all
you’re gone

Though I’ve been master of the thankless task
nearby are questions you just have to ask
was every enemy
bad as you made him be?
or were they just
some gullible stooge like me?

That’s all, that’s it,
you got yourself disappeared
the atom split, and you got back-engineered
you’re a forgotten face behind a beard—that’s it
that’s all
you’re gone

And everyone who knew you, said they’d been there too
and soon enough I’d see the mill you put them through
that “Irish Goodbye” you do

That's it, that's all
you got yourself disappeared
a curtain call
at which your absence was cheered
you're a forgotten face behind a beard
that's it, that's all
you're gone

Disappeared, by Aimee Mann

12 December 2012

Twelve on Twelve-Twelve-Twelve

Twelve whimsical observations on this 12th of December 2012, that is to say.  So, just for you, the reader, and without further ado:

1.  Over the years at various traditional Mass locations, I have witnessed talks, homilies, and other spiritual presentations by visiting priests and prelates who normally operate in the novus ordo world.  With rare exceptions, there is always a citation to the Second Vatican Council and/or Pope John Paul II.  Something along the lines of this:  "Remember that Vatican II is a valid and/or misunderstood and/or great ecumenical council of the Church," or maybe this: "Vatican II really didn't say anything new and/or if it did say something new it was really very neat," or maybe, "Pope John Paul the Great taught this or that great insight on the human condition."  

This is all well and good, but I wonder why I never heard in my novus ordo days any visiting priest or prelate say something like this: "Remember there were many ecumenical councils before Vatican II and their teachings still hold true," or maybe, "John Paul II wasn't the first successor to Peter and other Popes had some pretty cool things to say, too, and their writings could be understood quite easily without a doctorate in phenomenology."

Just why would that be?  Do you think it is more likely that the traditional Catholic has never heard of Vatican II or Pope John Paul the Second, or that the novus ordo Catholic has never heard of the Council of Florence?  With only one exception, I have never heard a visitor to the Oratory say something like, "Hey, this is a pretty cool gig you have going here."

2. One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.  Two can be as bad as one.  It's the loneliest number since the number one.

3.  Am I the only Catholic parent who suffers from the apprehension that every measure I take to protect my children from the cultural zeitgeist will ruin their lives?

4.  To me, the coolest thing about Advent and Lent are folded chasubles.  I am a liturgical geek for sure.  However, I haven't heard a Solemn High Mass in one of these seasons for quite a while, due to staffing issues.  For a discussion folded chasubles click here.

5.  Since today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I would be remiss if I did not praise Our Lady, and thank her for her role in leading me to whatever portion of the faith to which I have managed to cling.  

I urge you to spend two minutes thinking about the enormity of the miracle Mary worked under this title of hers.  Even the number of immediate conversions she wrought must be in the millions.  The long range effect of the apparition on Tepeyac is incalculable.  She brought the new world and countless souls to her SonWe need another miracle soon, it seems.

And recall that without her aid, we would fail to reach heaven.  She is the Mediatrix of All Graces--meaning  there is no grace we receive that does not pass through her handsGod could have done it some other way, but this is the way He chose.

Pray for us, Our Lady of Guadalupe!

6.  No one knows when the end will come, and as you know, Our Lord disclaimed knowledge of the exact time, saying it was reserved to the Father.  So, in a Divine irony, it may very well be on the 21st of December.  To which I say, the Spirit and the Bride say come!  The point on which I wish to dwell is this:  why will no one in the press and few in the larger society place any stock in the Scriptures which are of ancient date and Divine origin, yet they will buy the Mayan prophecy without investigation, or believe that some guy in a clay hut who forged the so-called Gospel of Judas was dead-on, or that the Da Vinci Code must be right, or that we just need to follow Oprah?!

7.  I always disbelieved the Protestant canard that the Pope instituted abstinence on Fridays to support the Italian fishing industry.  However, I am undecided on the theory that new priestly vestments arise from the Pope's lesser known support of the Italian polyester industry.  Things that make you go hmmmm....

8.  You got RickRoll'd.

9.  Anybody else remember UltramanJohnny Sokko and his Flying Robot?  Which one did you prefer?

10.  Jane Austen:  brilliant miniaturist with keen insight into the human condition, or frivolous pseudo-mind candy?  Reader X not allowed to answer.

11.  I've said it before and it remains true to this day:  It is nearly impossible to say goodbye to Hello Kitty.

12.  Finally, if you have tickets to Saturday night's Gaudete Benefit Gala at the Oratory, congratulations.  I heard some of the rehearsals last night and the music is really good.  If you aren't going, take solace-- Midnight Mass at the Oratory is always incredibly beautiful.  

Have a blessed remainder of Advent.  Thanks for reading.

Maybe Those Mayan Apocalypse Predictions Are Right

Rush, the greatest band in history (redundancy alert) will finally be inducted into the long-discredited-and-now-trying-to-make-up-for-it-way-too-late Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Adding to the surrealness, Donna Summer joins them.

Please don't litter the combox about the evil of rock music.  This is about Rush, people.

11 December 2012

Constitution Shows a Slight Pulse; Illinois Ban on Concealed Carry Struck down by 7th Circuit

The great judge Richard Posner writes for the majority. With any 'luck', the Supreme Court will strike down its own precedent of a year ago. I can just imagine traitor Roberts' opinion for the new majority-- "We didn't expect anyone to take us seriously!"

In the meantime, expect pandemonium from leftists who worry about "the children!" The ones they don't kill in the womb, obviously.

09 December 2012

No More Mr. Nicaea Guy

A kind reader sent this along, from Traditium. I post it here because I was born on St. Nicholas feast day. This kindly saint, you may or may not know, was one of the hero bishops at the great Council of Nicea, which refuted the Arian heresy. There is a pious legend that during the proceedings St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, tired of listening to Arius drone on about stuff he didn't know nothin about, decked him.

Go Church Militant!

Twas the Night Of Nicea, and all through the land,
The bishops were gathering, with hopes for a plan.
Three cent’ries before, Jesus had been,
But many still differed on just what that means.

Go and decide, the Emperor had said,
And so they all went, pressing firmly ahead.
Easter’s date to consider, a creed to declare,
Much to decide, with faith and with prayer.

But storm clouds were brewing. A heresy had spread:
Jesus was prophet–a branch, not the head.
Arius led them. And for this he had fought,
But it was not the good news that the apostles had taught.

Some bishops were restless, can’t we all get along?
As it is ever with meetings, disputing was wrong.
Let’s work it all out, let’s find a fair way,
Let’s come to consensus, whatever we say.

Speeches were given, but nothing was clear,
Then Arius rose, for all to hear,
Jesus was prophet, not God, not divine,
A great man to know, admiration was fine.

But God was one thing, not two and not three,
And that was the way it always should be.
So Arius continued defending his view,
In a room full of people not sure what to do.

Then in the back there arose such a clatter,
Everyone turned to see what was the matter.
A skinny old Turk almost flew ‘cross the room,
His strides, they were certain. His face, did it fume.

He reached Arius quick, and reached him fist-first,
And Arius went down as one of the worst.
Above him stood Nicholas, from whom many had fled,
And Arius knew then he had something to dread.

For truth conquerors all, and while consensus is fine,
Some things, they will never change with the times.
Yes Christ was a good man, yes he was nice,
But He was and is God, for He is the Christ.

So as you lay down, all snug in your bed,
Know that Jesus is God, above all else said.
And if you say less, and you change with the new,
Know that St. Nicholas may come for you too.

Copyright 2012, John D. Pierce

07 December 2012

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Deus, qui per Immaculatam Virginis conceptionem dignum Filio tuo habitaculum praeparasti: quaesumus; ut qui ex morte eiusdem Filii tui praevisa, eam ab omni labe praeservasti, nos quoque mundos eius intercessione ad te pervenire concedas.
Per eúmdem Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.

R. Amen.

Patroness of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Faithful who assist at Mass at an Institute apostolate may obtain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions.

Low Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory at 8 am, High Mass at 12:15 pm.

I Am Filled with Confidence

Yes. We are now to await the decision of our fearless chief lawyers, who will tell us at some point next year that the U.S. Constitution enshrines sodomy--if repeated often enough-- as marriage.

I'm sure the Republican appointees will do everything possible stop those evil Democrat appointees. Just ask Justice Roberts.

Very timely announcement, as we remember Pearl Harbor, and the great fight to defend our way of life against tyranny. That worked out pretty well, yes?

"Every time I've told an authority figure that I was going to continue to dance as I wanted to, I've made this exact face."

Rembert Explains the '80s

05 December 2012

"And the Effeminate Will Rule over Them": First Wednesday in Advent

From The Liturgical Year,
Isaias 3: 1-11:

For behold the sovereign Lord of hosts shall take away from Jerusalem, and from Juda the valiant and the strong, the whole strength of bread, and the whole strength of water. The strong man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet and the cunning man, and the ancient. The captain over fifty, and the honourable in countenance, and the counsellor, and the architect, and the skilful in eloquent speech.  And I will give children to be their princes, and the effeminate shall rule over them.  And the people shall rush one upon another, and every man against his neighbour: the child shall make a tumult against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.  For a man shall take hold of his brother, one of the house of his father, saying: Thou hast a garment, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand.  In that day he shall answer, saying: I am no healer, and in my house there is no bread, nor clothing: make me not ruler of the people.  For Jerusalem is ruined, and Juda is fallen: because their tongue, and their devices are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his majesty.  The shew of their countenance hath answered them: and they have proclaimed abroad their sin as Sodom, and they have not hid it: woe to their souls, for evils are rendered to them.  Say to the just man that it is well, for he shall eat the fruit of his doings.  Woe to the wicked unto evil: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

Jerusalem is tending to her destruction; therefore she is losing all power, and, with the rest, the power of understanding.  She no longer knows whither she is going, and she sees not the abyss into which she is plunging.  Such are all those men, who never give a thought to the coming of the sovereign Judge; they are men of whom Moses said in his canticle: 'They are a nation without counsel and without wisdom. O that they would be wise and would understand, and would provide for their last end!'  

The Son of God comes now in the swaddling-clothes of a weak Babe, in the humility of a servant, and, to speak with the prophets, as the dew which falls softly drop by drop; but it will not always be so.  This earth also, which now is the scene of our sins and our hardheartedness, will perish before the face of the angry Judge; and if we have made it the one object of our love, to what shall we then cling? 'A sudden death which has happened in your presence,' says St. John Chrysostom, 'or an earthquake, or the bare threat of some dire calamity, terrifies and prostrates you: what then shall it be when the whole earth shall sink beneath your feet; when you shall see all nature in disorder; when you shall hear the sound of the last trumpet; when the sovereign Master of the universe shall appear before you in the fulness of His majesty?  Perchance you have seen criminals dragged to punishment: did they not seem to die twenty times before they reached the place of execution, and before the executioner could lay his hands on them, fear had crushed out life?'  

Oh! the terror of that last day!  How is it that men can expose themselves to such misery, when, to avoid it, they have but to open their hearts to Him, who is now coming to them in gentlest love, asking them to give Him a place in their souls, and promising to shelter them from the wrath to come, if they will but receive Him!  O Jesus, who can withstand Thy anger at the last day?  Now Thou art our Brother, our Friend, a little Child who is to be born for us: we will therefore make covenant with Thee; so that, loving Thee now in Thy first coming, we may not fear Thee in the second.  When Thou comest in that second one, bid Thy angels approach us, and say to us those thrilling words: 'It is well!'

04 December 2012

Tuesday in the First Week of Advent

From The Liturgical Year:

From the Prophet Isaias.
Ch. ii.

The word that Isaias the son of Amos saw concerning Juda and Jerusalem. And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills: and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go, and say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob : and he will teach us his ways: and we will walk in his paths, for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

How the Church loves to hear and say these grand words of the prophet: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord! She repeats them in the Lauds of every feria in Advent; and her children bless the Lord, who, that we might have no difficulty in finding Him, has made Himself like to a high mountain; high, indeed, yet can we all ascend it. It is true that, at first, this mountain is, as we learn from another prophet, a small stone which is scarcely perceptible, and this to show the humility of the Messias at His birth ; but it soon becomes great, and ail people see it, and are invited to dwell on its fertile slopes, yea, to go up to its very summit, bright with the rays of the Sun of justice. It is thus, O Jesus, that Thou callest us all, and that Thou approachest towards all, and the greatness and sublimity of Thy mysteries are put within the reach of our littleness. We desire to join, without delay, that happy multitude of people which is journeying on towards Thee ; we are already with them; we are resolved to fix our tent under Thy shadow, 0 Mountain ever blessed ! There shelter us, and let us be out of reach of the noise of the world beneath us. Suffer us to go so far up, that we may lose all sight of that same world's vanities. May we never forget those paths which lead even to the blissful summit, where the mountain, the figure, disappears, and the soul finds herself face to face with Him, whose vision eternally keeps the angels in rapture, and whose delight is to be with the children of men ! [Prov. viii. 31.]

03 December 2012

Monday of the First Week of Advent, Feast of St. Francis Xavier

Again, from The Liturgical Year:

From the Prophet Isaias.
Ch. i.

Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely, learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord. If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow; and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.

Today is the Feast of the great Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier.  Gueranger's entry is fascinating, focusing on the great miracles wrought by this Saint as he preached the Gospel to nations in darkness, and the flowering of sanctity within the Church in the wake of the Protestant revolution.  His words also bring solace, as the era in which he lived, and indeed, as he goes on to state, the time of Our Savior's birth, bear a marked resemblance to our own:

The life and apostolate of this wonderful man were a great triumph for our mother the holy Catholic Church; for St. Francis came just at a period when heresy, encouraged by false learning, by political intrigue, by covetousness, and by all the wicked passions of the human heart, seemed on the eve of victory.  Emboldened by all these, this enemy of God spoke, with the deepest contempt, of that ancient Church which rested on the promises of Jesus Christ; it declared that she was unworthy of the confidence of men, an dared even to call her the harlot of Babylon, as though the vices of her children could taint the purity of the mother.  God's time came at last, and He showed Himself in His power: the garden of the Church suddenly appeared rich in the most admirable fruits of sanctity.  Heroes and heroines issued from that apparent barrenness; and whilst the pretended reformers showed themselves to be the most wicked of men, two countries, Italy and Spain, gave to the world the most magnificent saints.

One of these is brought before us today, claiming our love and our praise.  The calendar of the liturgical year will present to us, from time to time, his contemporaries and his companions in divine grace and heroic sanctity.  The sixteenth century is, therefore, worthy of comparison which any other age of the Church.  The so-called reformers of those times gave little proof of their desire to convert infidel countries, when their only zeal was to bury Christianity beneath the ruin of her churches.  But at that very time, a society of apostles was offering itself to the Roman Pontiff, that he might send them to plant the true faith among people who were sitting in the thickest shades of death.  But, we repeat, not one of these holy men so closely imitated the first apostles as did Francis, the disciple of Ignatius.  He had all the marks and labours of an apostle: an immense world of people evangelized by his zeal, hundreds of thousands of infidels baptized by his indefatigable ministration, and miracles of every kind, which proved him, to the infidel, to be marked with the sign which they received who, living in the flesh, planted the Church, as the Church speaks in her liturgy.  So that, in the sixteenth century, the east received from the ever holy city of Rome an apostle, who, by his character and his works, resembled those earlier ones sent her by Jesus Himself.  May our Lord Jesus be for ever praised for having vindicated the honour of the Church, His bride, by raising up Francis Xavier, and giving to men, in this His servant, a representation of what the first apostles were, whom He sent to preach the Gospel when the whole world was pagan.

Gueranger later, in his prayer for the day, includes this reflection on the state of the world at the coming of the Messias:

Let us consider the wretched condition of the human race, at the time of Christ's coming into the world.  The diminution of truths is emphatically expressed by the little light which the earth enjoys at this season of the year.  The ancient traditions are gradually becoming extinct; the Creator is not acknowledged, even in the very work of His hands; everything has been made God, except the God who made all things.  This frightful pantheism produces the vilest immorality, both in society at large, and in individuals.  There are no rights acknowledged, save that of might.  Lust, avarice, and theft, are honoured by men in the gods of their altars.  There is no such thing as family, for divorce and infanticide are legalized; mankind is degraded by a general system of slavery; nations are being exterminated by endless wars.  The human race is in the last extreme of misery; and unless the hand that created it reform it, it must needs sink a prey to crime and bloodshed.  There are indeed some few just men still left upon the earth, and they struggle against the torrent of universal degradation; but they cannot save the world; the world despises them, and God will not accept their merits as a palliation of the hideous leprosy which covers the earth.  All flesh has corrupted its way, and is more guilty than even in the days of the deluge: and yet, a second destruction of the universe would but manifest anew the justice of God; it is time that a deluge of His divine mercy should flood the universe, and that He who made man, should come down and heal him.  Come then, O eternal Son of God! give life again to this dead body; heal all its wounds; purify it; let grace superabound where sin before abounded; and having converted the world to Thy holy law, Thou wilt have proved to all ages that Thou, who camest, wast in very truth the Word of the Father; for as none but a God could create the world, so none but the same omnipotent God could save it from satan and sin, and restore it to justice and holiness.

Sounds familiar, and we desperately need Christ's mercy.  Recall that he came first in humility, secondly in the secret of our hearts, but soon enough in power and justice.  Let that day not be a day of wrath to those who love Him.

Come, Lord Jesus!
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!

02 December 2012

First Sunday of Advent

From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger, the entry for the First Sunday of Advent:

Beginning of the Book of the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. i.
The vision of Isaias, the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Juda and Jerusalem, in the days of Ozias, Joathan, Achaz, and Ezechias, kings of Juda. Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have brought up children, and exalted them: but they have despised me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood. Woe to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a wicked seed, ungracious children. They have forsaken the Lord, they have blasphemed the holy One of Israel, they are gone away backwards. For what shall I strike you any more, you that increase transgression? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad. From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head, there is no soundness therein; wounds, and bruises, and swelling sores; they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.

These words of the holy prophet, or rather of God who speaks to us by the prophet, should make a deep impression on the children of the Church, at this opening of the holy period of Advent. Who could hear without trembling this voice of our Lord, who is despised and unknown even at the very time when He is coming to visit His people? Lest men should be terrified at the splendour of His majesty, He divested Himself of it; and far from acknowledging the divine power of Him who thus humbled Himself out of love to them, these men have refused even to know Him; and the crib where He lay after His birth, had, at first, but two dumb animals to honour or notice it. Do you feel, Christians, how just are the complaints which your God here makes? And how your indifference for all His love is an insult? He calls heaven and earth to witness; He utters anathema against the sinful nation, His ungrateful children. Let us honestly confess that we, too, have not known the value of our Jesus’ visit to us, and that we have but too faithfully imitated the obduracy of the Jews, who heeded not the bright light when it burst upon their darkness. In vain did the angels sing on that December night; in vain did shepherds receive and welcome the invitation to adore the Babe and know Him; in vain did the Magi come from the east, asking where they were to find the crib of the King that was born. At this last example, the city of Jerusalem was somewhat moved; but the astonishment was only for a moment, and the old indifference soon stifled the good tidings.

Thus it is, O Jesus, that Thou comest unto darkness, and darkness does not comprehend Thee. We beseech Thee, let our darkness comprehend the light, and desire it. The day will come when Thou wilt disperse the spiritual and voluntary darkness of men by the awful light of Thy justice. Thy glory, O sovereign Judge, will be magnificent on that day, and we love to think upon Thy having it: but during these days of our life on earth, deliver us from Thy wrath. We are one great wound from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head; Thou knowest not where to strike: be, then, a Saviour, O Jesus, in this coming, for which we are now preparing. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad: come, and raise up this head which shame and vile passions bow down to the earth. Come, and comfort this heart oppressed with sin and fear. We confess it, our wounds are deep and sore; come, thou good Samaritan, pour in Thy soothing oil and heal them.

The whole world is in expectation of its Redeemer; come, dear Jesus, show Thyself to it by granting it salvation. The Church, Thy bride, is now commencing another year, and her first word is to Thee, a word which she speaks in the anxious solicitude of a mother for the safety of her children; she cries out to Thee, saying: ‘Come!’ No, we will go no farther in our journey through the desert of this life without Thee, O Jesus! Time is passing quickly away from us; our day is perhaps far spent, and the shades of our life’s night are fast coming on; arise, O divine Sun of justice. Come! guide our steps and save us from eternal death.