Archive for the ‘Holy Days’ category

ABSENT BY TIMIDITY

April 29, 2019

This is an Afterthought to Easter Week.  Life goes on, people still exist after an event,  and the Apostles chosen by Jesus still existed after Easter.   What about them?

Eleven Apostles were absent at the Crucifixion.   Ten Apostles were absent at the empty tomb.    They were afraid and timid at the Crucifixion.  They were too disbelieving and timid to run to the empty tomb.

Absent because of their timidity, no matter what caused them to be timid.

Timid, but not rejected.

12

I chose this image of Tissot’s  famous painting of Jesus exhorting his disciples because it’s rather fuzzy and indistinct,  just like our memories of these men.   We don’t know them too well, even though their work established the Christian church throughout the Middle East, and Turkey, and Europe .

In those days,  a teacher  (a  rabbi)  was not “distant”  and outside of the family or group, appearing only when needed to  “teach.”       A teacher was part of the family  —  intimate,   caring,  loving;  watchful.     The Disciples  (the students)  followed their teacher, lived with their teacher,  followed and imitated their teacher, walked, slept, and ate with Him.

The Great Teacher did not reject the students He loved.

Let’s see those absent Disciples from the view point of Jesus while He was still on the Cross:

12 tissot

Looking down from the Cross

Bartholomew (Nathaniel)  was not there.   Jesus remembers that Bartholomew “had no guile” – an honest, faithful Israelite.  Nothing more.   But Bartholomew had recognized Jesus as the “King of Israel.”   Honest and clear thinking.

Philip, not there;   Philip had just the night before said “Rabbi,  show us the Father!”   And then as Jesus was answering him,  there was most likely Philip’s long gaze into the eyes of Jesus where he found infinite, patient Love,   flowing through the eyes of Jesus.

Matthew,  the tax collector, who left his lucrative occupation at the first call of Jesus – and then held a banquet in honor of the Rabbi who had shown such love to him.

Thaddeus — Jude Thaddeus  (Judas) —  whose name is so close to the traitor’s name;   John makes sure to notice  this was “not the Iscariot”  but rather a friend of Jesus with faith so strong that he would one day be  known as the patron saint of “things almost despaired of.”     He was timid on this day, but the love of Jesus continued to pour  into him and strengthen him, endowing him with the ability to bring about mighty miracles.   Confident in Jesus’ love right up until his (terrible) martyrdom.

Simon the Zealot.  Not much is said about him, but since he earned the title “the zealot,”  we can imagine he zealously and enthusiastically embraced  first a political movement which promised victory on earth and then after experiencing the Infinite Love of God, he devotes himself to the Gospel which offers Infinite Love to all, forever.

Love in.  Love out.

James, the relative of the Lord, perhaps also growing up with him in Nazareth.    What astonishment he must have felt as he came to realize that this friend and relative not only had something special about Him,  but was actually the long-promised Messiah.  What love he must have witnessed within his family.   What love he saw confirmed as he followed Jesus around.    And what love he lived within during his manhood, as he provided leadership to the church in Jerusalem — until the religious leaders threw him off  a high roof and then clubbed him to death.

James, one of the sons of Zebedee, abruptly left his father’s fishing nets when he heard the involving voice of Jesus calling him.   Returning that love, this James said he was willing to drink the cup that Jesus said He was going to drink.   “I’ll share it with you!”  And Jesus, lovingly, sorrowfully,  replied,  “Yes, you will.”

Peter was not there at the foot of the Cross.    Peter, the alert,  intelligent, strong fisherman,  whose love for Jesus led him to moments of  unrestrained, unthinking enthusiasm,  yet he was taught individually by Jesus and forgiven for all,  even for his confused night of fear when timidity kept him silent as Jesus was being threatened and mocked.  Patience and forgiveness from Jesus were apparent before, during, and after the Crucifixion.

Andrew, the brother of Peter, who wondered if “anything good could come out of Nazareth” and then followed Jesus to his home along the banks of the Jordan and discovered Eternal Love walked among them.  Later Andrew would bring the Greeks, Gentiles,  during that last Passover week.    And yet Andrew could not bring himself to the Calvary.

These flawed, weak, uncomprehending Disciples were deeply loved by Jesus,  never rejected.    “…He loved them to the end…”

In spite of their occasions of timidity,   Jesus Christ still used them.    And He still loved them.    He was still at “their right elbow” through the Spirit which was sent to them as they spread out all over to teach people about Jesus —  and eventually, down through the centuries, to teach us.     They were good examples of faithful Christians because they were like us.

Timid sometimes.   Timid, but not rejected.

If,  for a Christian,   “every Sunday is a little Easter, ”   we can look to the Disciples who were not there at the foot of the Cross.   We can  call down on us the love they discovered and live in this love, obey the Commandment to “love one another.”   It never stops.

We are never rejected.

 

 

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HOLY THURSDAY/GOOD FRIDAY

April 19, 2019

creation

“And the evening and the morning were the first day.”   The “calendar” given in the Bible marks the beginning of the new 24-hour day period at evening (or dusk) (or sundown) (or when the first three stars of the night are discernible). And the day ends after daylight  as the sun goes down again.

Easy to remember. Your Jewish friends go to Temple on “Friday night” for Sabbath services, which as we know, Sabbath is “Saturday.”

But all this is important because it underscores the fact that the ACT of the Last Supper and the ACT of the crucifixion were all performed in one 24-hour period; that is, they are the proceedings of one day.

That which was broken at the table at the beginning of the day is the Same Body which was broken as the day ended.

THE LAST SUPPER:

Jesus gathered with his disciples for his last meal. Was it a “seder” meal?    I don’t know. The Passover meal had changed over the centuries, and even of what we know of it that might have happened around Jesus’ time, the Bible does not record any of the Passover meal elements during that Last Supper.

But it was a solemn meal, just before the Passover, and it was given lasting importance because there Jesus blessed the bread and wine and made it – in essence – His body. He indicated that this is the way He would dine (or commune) intimately with us until He returns.

Bread and Wine

Some small details have changed since then, but not the meaning, the substance, the Essence.

That is why the brave French fireman Fr. Fournier was so keen to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the burning Notre Dame, at peril of his own life. “Rivers of fire cascading down the walls,” he said. “It was like a vision of Hell.”

One day.     Bread broken.  Body broken.    One significant Act of God.
GETHSEMANE

A word that means “winepress.” 

It’s where we take the grapes and crush them with heavy weights, so that their “blood,” their juice,  runs down – and can be used by mankind.

Gethsemane

That winepress was located in the Garden near the Mount of Olives. It’s where Jesus went to pray in  the night before His crucifixion.     Alone, ahead, apart from his disciples.

What else went into the Garden with Jesus?

Ever do anything wrong? Ever sin? Ever say an unkind, thoughtless word? Ever pass up a chance to help someone? Ever go a whole day without praying and praising your Creator? Ever say bad things about the Church? …. et cetera  … et cetera …

All those things are in there, with Jesus… crushing Him under the weight . . . .
VERDICT

“Every which way from Sunday,” as our American saying goes. Jesus was tried and scrutinized and accused and found guilty and condemned to death by religious people, by local government, and by the global empire.

Who killed Jesus?     Everyone.
GOLGOTHA
Calvary is Golgotha, when you use the local term: “place of the skull.” (Whose skull? According to local tradition of hundreds of generations, Adam’s skull.    Right there somewhere under the Cross of Christ —

golg crack

Under Mt. Calvary 

And that place kind of looked like a skull from a certain angle.)    “Adam” – the word for mankind, the word for humans, the word for our beginnings.

skull icon

 

And there on the Cross at Calvary, Jesus, cursed by all (by God’s command: “Cursed is anyone who hangs on a Tree.” ) Jesus was cursed for Sins and died.

He died — to the shock and sorrow and grief of all who knew Him.

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(Tomorrow/Holy Saturday:    the grieving aloneness, groping for answers . . .)

PARIS – IN CONTEXT, DURING HOLY WEEK

April 16, 2019

Such a loss!   The fire at Notre Dame brings forth many different thoughts from many different people. The destruction has affected a variety of human issues.   The historians, the architects, the art experts, the Christian worshipers are all commenting on the tragic aspects of the fire.

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Of all the things shown to us yesterday about the tragic fire at Notre Dame, I think I will most acutely remember all the people gathered on the sidewalks of Paris, singing songs of faith and praises, in French and in Latin.    Ave Marias to (notre) Dame.

People Singing 1

I’m also happy to hear that the French police have already started an investigation into who might be responsible for the fire.

(“Conspiracy theories abound” says one news headline.    — So don’t start thinking any thoughts against the large M osl ^em population in France.   Nevertheless, M o sle ^ms [especially in France]    are reported to be celebrating.) 

As the flames were finally extinguished after eight hours, prosecutors in Paris began a criminal enquiry and focus also turned to restoring the historic medieval cathedral. The police probe is currently focused on Le Bras Freres (Le Bras Brothers), a company based in Jarny, in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department of north-eastern France. )
(About thirty people have been questioned Tuesday . . .)

But we should also pay attention to the poor French authorities who are frightened to the point of silence  that there will be bloody civil unrest if it turns out that this was an act of terror from those who hate Christianity — and vow to defeat “the Crusaders,” is what they still call Christians. While the fire was still raging, the French authorities felt compelled, therefore, to announce that , without any investigation, this was not an act of terror.

It probably did originate at the site of the renovation activities.

But . . . who was working up there?  More questions to be asked. . . .

Historic violence against the Catholic Faith:
The truth is there has been bloody civil unrest at times during France’s history. One of the worst occurred before and after the year 1789 – the year designated for the French Revolution,  whose initial targets were the ruling class and the Catholic Church.

Peace is always tenuous.   This might be a good time to remember that  the violence got so out of control that it swept like a fire, consuming the rebels, the monarchists, the innocent and uninvolved, and even the very revolutionary leaders themselves, who lost their heads in the very guillotine they had used for their political enemies.

Fanned the flames, spread the flames:

Political opposition became “criminalized,” much as we observe today.   Opposition to the changed accepted and new social norms becomes “hate speech.”   Revolutionary ideas are spread by an influential Media: newspapers and pamphlets, relentless rumor-mongering — oh, all the things we have today in electronic and social media.

cell

 

Christ’s Passion during Holy Week   (this week):

Who are the “targets” of today’s incipient Revolution?

In the year 2018 there were 1700 acts of violence in France that were motivated by religious “hate.”      (The vast majority against Christians and Jews.)    That’s in one year.. It averages out to two hate crimes per day. This past weekend and on Monday I read new articles of the astounding number of crimes against Christians in France in the past month, many of them attacks on churches and cathedrals. There have been several attacks per week in France!

And then there is the report of TEN Catholic churches in France vandalized in one week — that is, in seven days, 10 attacks on Catholic churches.

Here is one headline from Summit News: France: Attacks Against Jews & Christians Continue to Rise (with an accompanying photo of  Notre Dame burning):

Summit news

 

Whatever the cause of the Notre Dame fire this week, whatever the lessons that can be learned, we should at least be pointed to the growing number of hate crimes against Christians (and Jews) all over the world, but chiefly in the United States, Canada, and in Europe. They actually are occurring and increasing. These Christian-based countries gave the world the fundamental values of freedom and democracy: concepts such as freedom of speech, freedom for religious expression, equal treatment before the law, “democratic” values that allow citizens to “elect their own leaders . . .

The Global-Socialist Revolutionaries of today are using the values of freedom and democracy as tools against the very  source of these values!      Revolutionary, indeed.

Christianity discriminated against?     Christianity  marginalized and  shut down?    Christians and Jews in danger again?   Religious expression criminalized?

Cathedrals vandalized?*

The Passion of Christ during Holy Week repeated,  in our times.

 
“All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

 

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. *  Again,   I refer not to Notre Dame this week, but to the several per week all over Europe and America . . . .

ST. PATRICK’S DAY IMAGININGS

March 17, 2019

edu pat in glass

If you study a little philosophy (the real stuff, not the modern stuff) you will discover that Imagination is one of the faculties of our God-given Intellect.     Fun!

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So.      Imagine a four lane city street, divided in two lanes each way by a lovely boulevard down the middle,   with green grass, small trees, and statues;  and imagine that street going right next to  a Big Ten campus.    

edu people   Now imagine that street, that grass, and that campus, as far as the eyes can see,  thousands of students,*   decked out in green and orange and checkered pants and leprechaun hats with jaunty green feathers!   

Yep.    That was my challenge (and my delight)   driving home from church today. 

Not my own photos, sorry.  I left my cell phone at home.  I wasn’t planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in any special way.       My mistake.

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I’ve written about the “real” St. Patrick many times before in all the years of this blog’s existence, so I won’t do it again this year.  ( He’s there in the archives. )

Just keep in mind who and what we’re really celebrating today – or if you can’t celebrate,  then at least acknowledge, for this day has been on Western calendars for many, many centuries,  long before you or I came about.

So.     Imagine a young teenager living in   Scotland, kidnapped from his family’s estate and sold into slavery by Irish pirates.   Kept in slavery for many years. . .  more than half a lifetime to one so young.

Now, just as when a soldier is captured by the enemy,  his first duty to his country is to escape,  so  I can imagine that young Patrick’s daily thought was returning to his home.  Somehow.  But he didn’t know where he was, he had no money or means, and he would have to escape through lands owned and watched over by his master’s warriors and servants.

So Patrick’s years passed;  tender years, growing into manhood.     Although he slowly learned the language and the customs of his captors,  he also turned back to his Catholic prayers and met God daily through them;   all throughout the day,  growing in  patience and trust and firmness of faith.

Just imagine all that.   You know “The Rest of the Story.”

edu hill

A hill worth climbing;  a life worth knowing.

 

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So.     Now I imagine that my last-minute decision to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish meal will turn out all right!     I hadn’t bought any of the food until late last night  –   just on a whim.   (Good prices and all.)  

Instead of boiling everything together,  as is traditional,  I’m roasting everything.   I did have that packet of spices that comes with corned beef,  but I’ve amped it up a little with extra cardamom, dill, allspice, cracked pepper and garlic.  

Five hours from now,  I’ll find out if reality meets my imagination. 

corned beef

Kind of like this.

st patrick's day greetings

 

Banner St Patrick's Day

 

“Everyone’s Irish today!!!”

.*   Imagine!      Young adults,  trained by our socialist college professors that “nationalism is a bad thing,    especially   “white nationalism”   have come out in the thousands to celebrate a nation’s culture and to honor its (Christian) patron saint!!!

One would think St. Patrick would be on their Naughty List,    white, Catholic, male,  and loving the people of one country!

 

 

DON’T

March 6, 2019

Don’t.

Lent.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

It seems like everything about Lent is just what you’re not supposed to be doing.   And that’s supposed to be good for your soul.     The Church gives us Lent —  which is supposed to make us closer to God . . . .

DONT LENT

“Reverend Fun” isn’t a Catholic,  but I guess he knows about Jonah whose main claim to fame is that God told him to do something  –  and he promptly ran away.  Went in the other direction, as a matter of fact.      (God found a way to bring him back.)*

mg whale

 

So . . .  none of us really have to think about Lent:

MG beads

I’ve got a pile of those beads in my house, that I’ve saved from past years.  (But, no, I didn’t get them in the “usual” way.    I wouldn’t do that.)   

MG Beads down

Thanks to Son and to Grandson in various years,  I have some beads and I treasure my little collection.    They’re just fun to have.

It’s fun to watch the live webcams too.    Right now I can hear a siren, but the camera isn’t picking up whatever it is.  

The streets of New Orleans are just beginning to thin out now.   

MG sdtreets

At the stroke of midnight,  it gets pretty quiet, and empty down there.

Paczki Haven’t had my Paczki  yet this year.

I suppose I shouldn’t.    But I still want one.    Here are the rules of fasting during Lent:   One whole meal,   then two more  little meals but that don’t together add up to another whole meal.     Abstinence means you don’t eat meat that day.      (Says nothing about  Paczkis,  although one has enough calories to equal your one “whole meal” for that day.)

Don’t, don’t, don’t –  about eating.   Don’t indulge in your bad habits.   Don ‘t gossip.   Don’t watch  much TV.   Don’t be on the Internet, unless it’s something you need to do.   Don’t  swear.   Don’t take sugar in your coffee.    Don’t . . .   whatever else makes you comfortable . . . .

What’s the point?    

The Church gives us Lent;  why shouldn’t we “run”  from it?    Well, of course it prepares us for Easter —  the true meaning of Easter.     If you don’t have a good Lent, you won’t have much of an Easter.  

But as far as the Don’ts of Lent — “Lent is a time for us to learn to love our souls more than our bodies.”

Our bodies,  our physical world, our life on this planet,  all this is temporary:

ship

If we intend to end up in a good, holy place when we die, we need to start working on that now.     Death does not confer holiness  on anyone.    It is God who confers holiness, His holiness, that makes us fit for Heaven.

But we need to dispose ourselves to the holy work of God in us.    We’ve been taught some ways to make us open to God:

  1.   Voluntary amendment of our life.
  2.   Do acts of Penance  (better now than after we die!)
  3.   Do works of charity.

We  have the period of Lent to work on all this.    I can write more about them in the days ahead.   By doing these three things,  you would be showing God that you truly do “love your soul more than your body.”    

It’s a lot of work.  It’s an interruption into everyday life.     It’s easy to forget about it,  to “run away”  from Lent.

“Don’t.”  

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  •   (It wasn’t  a whale.)

 

 

 

 

A DRUMMER BOY PREPARES

January 8, 2019

Had no “dog in that fight,”  Clemson vs. Alabama,  so I’m okay with the outcome.   I’ll listen to the Truckers debate it all night on the radio.  I did have more free time (away from football ) this weekend, a big weekend in Christendom, but I’m behind in my reporting on that. . . .  Next post.

Meanwhile . . .   I have been busy.    And not unmindful of this weekend of Epiphany, which apparently brought  out in me an urge to “clean.”

silhouette three wisemen at manger

I cleaned everything I could.     Took care of mailing mail, packing up packages;    getting rid of old holiday food, bringing in new food;  doing the guest laundry and making up the beds;    organizing library books, bringing books back, bringing new reading projects home . . .   Even  doing special, long-put-off projects —

f floor

Yes,  scrubbing the grout.   I have a big kitchen floor, new tile with lots of grout.  Light colored grout.    And a whole big foyer of ceramic tile.  Light colored tile – with  lots of grout.

Which is light-colored once again.   Ugh.

And as I cleaned and scrubbed and made the grout look new again,  I had lots of time to think.   Philosophically,  as my habit is.    As “muddied up” as my grout looked,  so did my mind feel “muddied up” and a bit muddled.   Things were no longer “light.”  Things in my mind were rather tangled and . . .  some things were wrong.

As I worked on the floors, I understood it was time to work on my inner self too  — time, that is, to go to Confession.

Because Epiphany was approaching.    We all know that’s when we “think about” the Three Wise Men.   “Three,”  by tradition, from somewhere in “the east.”    They had studied for a long time their own histories and prophecies, and then understood, these particular students of prophecy,  that the time was Right.   The  King had been born, and they had to travel to a town in Palestine to pay homage to Him.

They’re called three “kings.”     Three kings of the Orient.    They certainly worked in royal circumstances,  in the royal households,  the royal libraries;  they’re pictured wearing “crowns”  and carrying royal gifts:

f king gifts

Gold,appropriate to give to a King;

Frankincense,  appropriate for a priest, as this Infant King would stand as priest between God and Mankind;

Myrrh . . .  a costly, bitter “perfume” – appropriate for burying a royal body.

 

I continued to clean the whole darn house that had gotten so dirty during the holidays!

fire and clean

Scrubbed the fireplace next.  As Son says,  the fire seems to burn better when you start with a clean fireplace.   Sometimes we can skip that step, a time or two,  but you get the best fire if you start out clean, and his comment gave me no excuse to skip this step of preparation.

The three Wise Men Kings certainly prepared for their journey to Bethlehem.

f wise men finery

Their minds were prepared by devoted study;  their hearts were ready to meet this One and Only, Long-Promised King;  and their bodies were clothed with their finest raiment, showing both self-respect and respect for the Holy Infant whom they will visit.

I’m not sure all my cleaning was done consciously to prepare for Epiphany,  but it all worked together.   I’m glad my house was clean for Sunday.    And a  good Confessor  can help out with some really needed insights and “clean up” some of the mud(dle)  that has been collecting on your soul for a while.   “Inside,” too, I was ready.

And then I had time to think in front of the fireplace  . . .

fire and foot

Being “clean”  doesn’t change the whole world,  doesn’t make things that much easier.   I had to continue to work hard to get that fire going.    I’m beginning to believe that all those  boxes used to start a fire are made from inflammable cardboard.  And the kindling –  it must have been wet from all our rain . . .

But as I was working hard trying to keep the fireplace lit,  I was thinking about those Wise Men who worked hard all their lives, studying,   preparing, traveling,  desiring that one necessary thing,  that glorious meeting with  Christ Jesus, the Infant King born in their Day.      It  would be worth it all.

 

fire going 380

Finally got a nice big fire going.

I had time to sit back and remember, now,  what I had heard in our sermon on the day of Epiphany.       It was remarked that the Wise Men  visited the Holy Infant with hearts prepared;  minds prepared;  best clothing prepared.        And we?  When we think about Jesus . . .  what have we prepared for meeting Him?      How do we come to Him?    I have no royal clothes.  I have no crown to wear.  I have no “wisdom.”   I’m not even very well studied.

I’m never going to be more than just “me.”

f drummer

If all I have is a drum to play,  then that’s all I can do, is visit Him and  play for Him.   And show Him I want to be there with Him.

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It’s just not “January 6th” on the calendar and “let it go by.”     There’s an opportunity here.

JANUARY 1st, THE EIGHTH DAY

January 1, 2019

 

“For as a man thinketh in his heart,  so is he.”    (Proverbs 23:7)

(You can’t hide what you really are . . .)

8 for as a man thinketh

Today’s the day we think about “who we really are”  and how small acts of our will, small decisions,  small actions indicate who we are and what we will become.

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It happens  to be New Year’s Day,  but it’s  also always the Eighth Day after the birth of the Infant King.    By Law,  Jesus was to be circumcised and named on His eighth day of life.     On this day, throughout the ages, throughout the whole world,  Christians  honor, celebrate, and think about this Day.

8 circumcision

So important is this day and so fruitful (for our benefit) are the meditations from this day’s actions,  that it is called a Holy Day of Obligation.   One that would surely nick our souls if we miss it.  We hear today these words from Luke:

“At that time, after the eight days should be accomplished that the child should be circumcised,  his name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel before he was conceived in the womb. “

See?    All planned out from before His birth.

 

X carpenter shop boy

As we saw before, this Holy Infant will live and grow in the shadow of His own Death;  He came to die.   He will take on  Death not for His own sins, because He has none, but for each of us,  each of our own sins, each one.   Blood will be shed.

 

His sacrificial death begins with the spilling of a few drops of blood on this day of His circumcision.    Wouldn’t make sense, except that His name was given to us:  Jesus.  In older English language:  “Jehovah saves.”    “Salvation (of the human race)  is from God.”   That’s what His name means.     It was appointed to Him long before He was ever conceived and born, and it was given to Him on this Eighth Day of His life; our “Savior.”

 

 A LITTLE HISTORY:

Long ago, God called out one man to be separate from his familiar World so that he could become the father of a great nation,  great in number and great in purpose.

8 abraham's journey

(Abraham’s journey south to the Promised Land)

Through this man, Abraham, and all his descendants would one day come the world’s Savior.    The descendants are appointed for this purpose,  separated out from the rest of the World,  to become “different”  and worthy.

Circumcision is the symbolic act that demonstrates this separateness, although it was supposed to go beyond the mere physical.

Abraham’s descendants  by birth and Abraham’s descendants by faith are supposed to be separate most importantly by what’s in their hearts.

8 blue circ

Even in the Old Testament, the Hebrews (the Jews)  were supposed to live with the true meaning of circumcision.   It’s more than just a symbol of the child’s entry into a certain society,  it’s an outward symbol of a whole different,  separate way of life.   It’s the man’s testimony to God. . . .

And that difference,  that separateness,   carries into New Testament understanding:

8 circ of the heart

Circumcision now is the separating yourself from sin, from anything that is not God’s way for you.

God cares very much what you do in your body:  your  gestures, postures,  your “body language,”  your words spoken;  but He also cares very much for the invisible things you do:   your attitudes and intentions,  your meanings, your choices,  and He looks for  love and kindness in your hearts . . .  because  “as a man thinketh in his heart,  so is he.”

A LITTLE “BIOLOGICAL” . . .   :

Without getting too clinical here,  the little piece separated from the infant boy’s body during circumcision indicates “separation,” from the World  and also a removal of that which causes the man  to be  “covered over” and restricted from responding to God.    God looks down and sees a people who have “stiffened” their resistance to Him,  “stiffened”  their necks by hardening their heartfelt response to Him.

Circumcision for the Jews was meant to create a people with “softened hearts” towards the will of God.    Not stiff-necked hearts:

8 harden not your hearts

Remember,  according to St Paul,  Jesus has removed the divisions between God and all humans:  no more “rich and poor,”  “slave or free,”  male or female,”  “Jew or Gentile,” and any other division that might be important to our eyes.

We all have a Heart that could benefit from meditating on circumcision.

This Feast Day is so important . . . .

 

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2019

Have a Good and Fruitful New Year, everyone!!

 

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A MERRY, SOMEWHAT DISORIENTING CHRISTMAS!

December 26, 2018

X carpenter shop boy

The Holy Infant casts His shadow . . . .

 

 

 

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CHRISTMAS AT A HUMAN PACE!

merry christmas

Merry Christmas to all here in The Spruce Tunnel!      I did not forget,   and I am not late – technically:      Because,  see,  there are all the preparations and kind wishes for a Merry Christmas throughout Advent;  there is the Wonder of Christmas Eve;  there is the solid joy of Christmas Day;  there is the Octave of Christmas in which we take the needed time to absorb  the Enormity of the Christmas Event;   there are the Twelve (Happy) Days of Christmas, ending in Epiphany, in which the whole Gentile world is presented with the Incarnation of the Son of God through the visit of the Wise Men;  and there is the   Purification of the Mother which concludes the season of Christmas.

X star

So I’m not late!   But I just wanted you to know all the reasons why!     Throughout the many centuries,  the Church knows we cannot take it all in in just one festive day.  I hope we can all proceed through Christmas at a Human Pace,  not at the speed of a commercial, socially demanding holiday.

Xmas thru the ages

And a very heartfelt thank you for all of you who have wished me well, have wished me a Merry Christmas this year, one way or another.   I have chosen to take time with all the greetings and to take your good wishes to heart.    Thank you.   I’ve also chosen to re-visit in my mind all those whom I’ve greeted;  and to say a prayer for each of you.  I hope the “reality” of Christmas is real for all of us.

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All my little family is here.   We are glad to be together, we love, we try to make each other happy . . . .   I hope my son-in-law doesn’t mind my posting this photo,  but his face seems symbolic of carefree happiness . . .

X Ho ho ho in red

Trying on his new red jacket . . .  it fits and feels so warm!    Ho ho ho!

Grandson got the Moon!

X Cooper the Moon 200

Grandson Cooper contemplates the Moon, which is  a night light that can glow a soft gold or a “full-moon” white in his room at night.  It is a 3-D  print-out of the actual moon,  which appeals to his scientific inclinations.   Very cool.  And a Big Thanks (again!) to my Recorder partner who told me about the book To The Moon and Back — a big hit with Cooper.  He got it – he understands that Grandma loves him “to the moon and back” !

Every boy needs a good uncle to explain things and help him make sense of the world.  Here they are,  uncle and nephew,  in a serious moment.

X Cooper and Uncle

 

I hope you all paid homage to the Infant King by attending church.   Better,  adored the Holy Infant who came to be  our Sacrifice for us.   Christmas is not all about you or me;  it’s not even all about   family love . . .  It’s all about the Son of God who came to us to seek us out and to save . . .  and to wait for our response.

X carpenter shop

ANTICIPATING ADORATION:

Many thanks to Son who reminded my weary body that it is still important to go to Midnight Mass . . .  or attempt.   Our regular Mass was not held this year at Midnight,  but in the early, early morning.   Way too tired at night,  but even more tired in the morning – Midnight Mass was the best decision.   We attended not the “regular”  Mass,  but the new modern version of it.

There was beautiful choral Christmas music, complete with brass and drums,  entertaining and inspiring;    there were accolades, thanks, and applause given to apparently worthy people;  there were traditional carols sung;  there was a “script” to go through, a liturgy said alternately between priest-leaders and the people to the sound of newly-composed pseudo-chanting –   – –

– – –  as you can tell, I’m not exactly describing a Catholic Mass,  but it does describe what is called a Catholic Mass today.

There was lots of glitz and glamor in the cathedral building –

X Glitz and brightness 370

Bright, pretty lights.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: 

But as you can see,  no altar *   . . .

X No Altar 370

No altar,  just a table.  In some places they call this an altar,  but  neither the people nor the priests acted as though it were an actual altar.     People did not genuflect before the Real Presence   (way off to the side anyway);  some wore t-shirts and other common clothing.

As the priests were doing their thing at the table pictured above,  the people conversed with each other,   some combed their hair (during the words of consecration!);  they played with and chased their adorable little brothers and sisters and children;  they got up and down many times and went who knows where . . .   And when the Consecration was accomplished,  instead of adoring Christ,  they turned away and faced each other and “made merry” . . .  greeted each other and shook hands . . .  and after a while quieted down,  and the . . .  “service” . . .   went on.   People “communed”  with each other,  giving each other the . . .  items.

Altogether appropriate for non-Catholics . . . .

A little disorienting to those who anticipated a solemn and joyous Mass.

But we honored God in our hearts and adored the Infant King and tried to comprehend what we kneel before on Christmas Eve.  

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Banner Christmas Red and stars

. *   For my Protestant friends,  yes,  of course there is only One Holy Sacrifice accomplished for us by Jesus.  It is the One Same Sacrifice which all the Jewish sacrifices in the Old Testament looked  to.  And it is the One Same Sacrifice that all the (actual)  Catholic Masses look to;  only One, and we re-present it in a personal way at each Mass.

It is supernatural, holy, solemn, awe-some, deeply spiritual, a little overwhelming at times, and vital for us to connect to throughout our lives . . .  because we will one day, when our lives are over, meet the Sacrificed One . . .

And that’s why all the fun and Joy.

Christmas Reindeer

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A “41” IN THE 4TH CENTURY

December 7, 2018

It’s just a couple days after eyewitnesses gave testimony to the (hitherto) hidden virtues of George Herbert Walker Bush, a Christian (of the American style).    Whether intrigued or astonished,  the many anecdotes from this man’s life inspires Americans with an open mind, and an open heart.

You’d remember the adjectives:  kind, gentle, generous,  giving,  good,  decent,  true friend, loyal,  self-effacing,  and also competent, smart, ambitious, competitive,  constant,  courageous, and unchanging in his beliefs.   .   .  all this with a firm faith in Christ.

He is known as “Bush 41,”  the 41st president of our country.   We of his contemporaries know him well;  his enemies know him far less well,  (but that’s all right.   Negative people have closed minds and will not accept any new thing outside of their safe enclosure).

I’ve almost missed December 6th.  I knew what it was, but I got too busy to visit up here in The Spruce Tunnel.  Sorry about that.    There is an important  Feast Day on December 6th,  an important and noteworthy man to celebrate, to be intrigued by, to be astonished by, and to learn about with an open heart:

 

St Nicholas

It is St. Nicholas of Myra.    He lived mostly in the 4th century, and as the title of this posting hints at,   he has much in common with Bush 41 —  although I don’t mean to imply that they are of the same kind,   simply  that there are similarities.    Bush 41 will never become a saint;  St. Nicholas became a saint for many, many reasons.

The most commonly known deeds of St. Nicholas  is his generous giving  of dowries to three young sisters, whose lives would be ruined without his largess.

 

Here is an image of him, in his bishop’s robes,  shown with three bags of gold:

gold image

Each of those three “bags” of gold, given anonymously to each of the three young sisters, when each had achieved the age to be married, saved the sisters, one by one,  from a life of wretched poverty or immorality.

This ancient act of generosity gives rise, through the twists and turns of historical customs,   to the use of three golden balls as the universal sign of a Pawn Shop!

gold pawn

But I’ve written about that many times before in Decembers’ postings.

There is so much more to his life than this act of anonymous generosity!!   He had been giving away his money to needy people all his life.   His way of life was generosity!  He did not hold back money, nor time, attention, prayers,  counsel, admonition, nor his love.

And he was beloved, in his times, in return.

He appeared to emperors and governors, to set them on a more correct course,   to soften their hand, and to release prisoners unjustly imprisoned.    He appeared to many others, to heal them, and once, excitedly reported by eyewitnesses,  raised a man who had died —   I wish we knew more of this story:

Once,  a prosperous and devout Jewish man had much of his fortune stolen from him.    The thief, as luck would have it, died soon after.     St. Nicholas, as bishop, was made aware of the theft, and came to that city.   The outcome of St. Nicholas’ attention is that the thief was raised from the dead,  confessed,  received forgiveness, and  gave back the money.  the Jewish man . . .  converted to the Catholic faith,  a miracle also.

And once, Mariners who were caught in  a terrible  life-threatening storm appealed to St. Nicholas for help, knowing his virtues and his close life with God .    They attributed   the sudden calming of the sea to their appeal and to his intercession.

 

oil

One more thing to mention here:   After St. Nicholas was buried in the city which loved him as their bishop,  there came from his tomb a kind of oil, or clear liquid,  which had a lovely smell and which applied to people who were very ill, cured the diseases.

And this went on for many, many centuries.   His bones have been moved,  dug up and moved and re-packaged (or whatever they do)  and yet the bones themselves after almost 17 centuries still give off some kind of clear liquid,  not a lot  (about 50 ml. per year).    A clear liquid with healing properties.   “Clearly”  a holy liquid.

 

The life of St. Nicholas is not, however, centered on physical health,  but on spiritual health.   The revelation by God to us of His existence as a Trinity,  implied in the Old Testament,  more explicit in the New,   made necessary a striving after understanding of what Trinity means.

Bishop Nicholas of Myra was one of the 318 bishops who gathered at Nicaea to affirm the Triune nature of God, and more importantly the dual natures of the Son of God the Second Person of the Trinity,  one in Substance,  but two in Natures:  human and divine.

Thus was affirmed   the  teaching that the Virgin Mary is Mother of Jesus,  Mother of the Christ,  Mother of God,  who is both Man and God.

The salvation of souls was St.Nicholas’s primary concern.    But he worked through his own kinder, gentler, attentive,  generous,  loving actions to give us an example to follow.

What a wonderful way to begin our Christmas thoughts — 

gifts

“For God so loved the world that he  gave . . . .”\.

A LITTLE GIRL AND AN OLD MAN

April 21, 2018

Ark in Heaven

(Revelation 11:19 – 12:1)   

I’ve observed that the new, modern version of the Church doesn’t seem to present the saints very well,  nor to teach us the important things they  have for us.    We shouldn’t lose knowledge of them,  because then we really will be “orphans of history.” 

They are there.

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bernadette youngLast Monday we remembered a young, ordinary, unimportant, not well-educated,  poor and unhealthy French girl named Bernadette.   Bernadette Soubirous.*         And today  we remember a very well-educated and venerable old man who defied kings and wrote books  which we still read and marvel at today.    He is St. Anselm  (Anselm du Bec). anselm

As I read  (re-read)   some of his writings today I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten what it was that he taught.     I knew this stuff but I forgot that I knew it – and it’s important “stuff.”  ( Pardon my vernacular.)     It’s not old age.   It’s just . . .  well, one thing is I’ve put so much other “stuff”  into my brain, so much unworthy stuff  that  there was nothing to build upon from St. Anselm’s writings.   (mea culpa)

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Besides being canonized saints, what do these two –  separated by 800 years! –  have in common?

St. Anselm,  amidst all his sanctity, his learning and writing and teaching,  his exemplary life and holding firm against  two kings of England  who tried to exert their legal control over religion  —    amidst all that he received insight and firm knowledge about the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of God, and he advocated for a feast day of celebration for that attribute of Mary.

St. Bernadette,  in 1858,  amidst all her poverty and ill-health, and ignorance received knowledge of the Immaculate Conception in a series of visions, or visitations.    I do not say she received “insight,”  because she had no idea what those words even meant,  but her own Church authorities were amazed that she spoke of something which the Church had just recently defined  into safe and secure, understandable dogma,  something she could not have known or understood.       The vision she received confirmed the Truth of this teaching.

Ark with HS present

The Church has always believed that Mary,  conceiving the Son of God in her womb by the action of  the Holy Spirit of God,  was herself created, made, constructed, conceived in such a way  so as to be the only human able  to hold the Body of Christ from His own conception to birth.

Constructed of fine, beautiful acacia wood and covered with pure gold,   untouchable from then on by human hands  (upon pain of death;  see Uzzah’s experience)   and containing those foreshadowings of God:  the Word,  the Bread,  and the Staff budding with Life —     again,  never to be touched by man,  Ever-Virgin   —  **

This is the Immaculate Conception that we remember, a couple thousand years later,  because the full meaning is still impacting us today,  and whether we are wise and learned  or   uneducated and rather ordinary,    we belong to those succeeding generations of  “two thousand years later, ”  of which Mary spoke:

“Behold, all generations shall call me Blessed.”

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. *    This is the same Bernadette Soubirous who had her vision at Lourdes, the source, now, of a fountain of physical and spiritual healing:

lourdes

 

.  **   The Ark of the Covenant was a foreshadowing,  a Type, of the Virgin Mary.

holy of holies

The Jewish people of the Old Testament  venerated the Ark with fear and awe at its power and the glory that came from it (at times) and treated it with utmost respect,  respectfully concealing it  from the eyes of worshipers behind the veil of the Holy of Holies,  because of what was inside the Ark..

 

 

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A short excerpt from a sermon by St. Anselm  (Oratio #52)   as an example of his writing, for you:

 

To Mary God gave his only-begotten Son, whom he loved as himself. Through Mary God made himself a Son, not different but the same, by nature Son of God and Son of Mary. The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.
God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Savior of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.
Truly the Lord is with you, to whom the Lord granted that all nature should owe as much to you as to himself.

(“Hail,  Full-of-Grace,  the LORD is with you . . .” )   (spoken by the Angel Gabriel as recorded in the Bible by St. Luke)

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QUASIMODO SUNDAY – BEGINNINGS

April 9, 2018

Actual Christians are Quasimodo today:

So many times in the Spruce Tunnel I’ve written about the meaning of this Sunday,  this Octave Day of Easter. *    It’s not named for the happy singing hunchback of Hollywood musical fame:

quasim

That cartoon character doesn’t even faithfully portray the hunchback in the classic Victor Hugo  novel,   which is, by the way, worth reading for the insights into human behavior and motivations that a reader gets.

The true origin of that ugly abandoned baby’s name is the fact that he was dropped off at the door of Notre Dame cathedral  on  Quasimodo Sunday.     Might as well name him for the holy day upon which he was found.

But there is something in common with that day and that baby:   Certain qualities of newborn babies are also experienced by those who come into the Church, throwing in their lot, their safety, their future with Christ.   Both the baby and the Christian receive a new beginning in life,  and both have a hunger and a thirst to find out more about this new life.

Jesus,  the Crucified and Risen One,  has the power to give  new, clean, “innocent,” wonderful full Life that lasts for ever.  Everything  is changed in a person’s life;  everything has meaning and importance; the person understands his actually worth and dignity;  the person knows beyond a doubt that he is loved, forever.

teacher

The Church opens every Mass with a prayer called the Introit.   From ancient times, today’s Introit  begins with the words   ” Quasi modo géniti infántes allelúia . . . “      (Or:  ** Just as newborn babies,  desire sincere  (rational,  health-giving)  milk . . .  ( teaching from God which  is the Word of God).

Okay,  lots in there,  but it’s in this prayer we’re reminded that once we believe in God, we need to act like it;  we need to nurture our faith,  hungrily taking in everything we can possibly learn about God, “just as a newborn babies” greedily suck down that life-giving milk.

The Word, the milk,  give strength as well as growth.

It’s not something you can safely  disregard.    Things are going to get bad,  really bad, in the world according to some.    We’re going to need all the strength we can get —  because our Faith has to endure until the end of our lives.    At each moment,  if you’re not on your way to Heaven,  chances are  you’re not going to be “on the way”  at the last moment of your life either.   

 

 

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.*     You can use the Search engine here and type in Quasimodo for fuller explanations.  Here are a couple Spruce Tunnels on this day:

https://thesprucetunnel.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/the-hunchback-has-his-day/

https://thesprucetunnel.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/quasimodo-sunday/

 

.**     The Introit is from I Peter 2:2 in the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

THE DRESS CODE FOR HEAVEN

March 30, 2018

 

“Nothing impure will ever enter (Heaven).”

She was there, at His birth:

Mary and child

She was there, all the way until His death:

Mary at the cross

And in between,  she made Him a robe, without seams:

Mary sewing

She was present throughout his life, at Nazareth, during His teaching ministry,     then during his sacrificial work at the end.    Jesus wore that robe, that seamless garment,  so rich in symbols and meaning.

He wore it all the way to the Cross, where He didn’t need material garments anymore.

lots

But the soldiers who kept watch around the crucifieds that day thought it was a shame to tear up the seamless garment so each could  take their share of it;     so they  “cast lots,”  with dead men’s knuckle bones,  pierced with holes.

 “Dice,” today.     A gamble with fate.     A foreshadowing of  Pascal’s wager. 

And one of the soldiers won possession of that seamless garment.   He represents us,  all human beings; using our money for a soldier’s entertainment:  drinking,  gambling,   buying women  . . .

Well, maybe this list:    eating and drinking for pleasure,    going from one entertainment to another,   annoyed when something doesn’t please us;   finding friends that make us feel good about ourselves;    finding ways to distract ourselves from the serious issues of Life.

And all of us deep in familiar, enjoyable sinning.

The Robe

This is the kind of  a man who placed that Seamless Garment upon himself.

The famous movie called The Robe may be only a sentimental romantic notion,  but beyond that,  we see the undeniable supernatural qualities that so affected the Centurion.

The Seamless Garment  represents the holy covering of Christ,  just as an artist would represent His holiness by drawing a halo around His head.      The Divine qualities of God,  His Holiness, Goodness, Peace,  Sacrificial Love,  Everlasting Life . . . ,   represented in that Seamless Garment,  is meant to cover us with  Christ’s righteousness and justice and penetrate our Selves, without separation or seam, so that we can be made worthy candidates for heaven.

The soldier who won the garment is us.     The Holy Love of God which it brings is meant for us.

So, yes, there is a kind of Dress Code for entering heaven.   You are admitted   (to that everlasting Banquet)  if you wear the correct clothing,  which is that  Seamless Garment,  put on by that sinful soldier representing us and our possibilities,  and which makes us a completely new person,  fit for Heaven:

The book of the Apocalypse,  Revelation,    21:27     tells us about Heaven:  “Nothing impure (or unclean)  will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

We can be sure that is possible;  Jesus’ last words on His Cross were:

“It is consummated.” 

THE NIGHT OF THE 39 CROWNS

March 10, 2018

(Story time):

I’ll try to do this story with a lot of pictures, but this happened before cameras . . .  and it’s only a side story to the main one,a story about one witness.

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“It was a dark and stormy night…”   Actually it was an eerie cold winter night, when the darkness is deep.   Like this:

NIGHT Pond 370

I woke up one night,  restless, and looked out my window at the snow and ice.  The night felt strange, and the “strange”  dark spots on my pond fed my imagination  that something was not “the same.”    Things can feel different in the middle of the night!

(They say, if only the Veil could be removed from our “eyes,”  we would be able to see the spiritual activity around us, the energy,  the forces,  the beings  and what they are doing, right now, to affect us.  When we partially perceive this spiritual world, it feels  eerie like something weird and other-worldly is nearby.)

40 spirits

On this night,  March 10,  “a little while ago,”  40 soldiers of the Roman army stood naked on the ice in the middle of a small lake.   Only a few torches lit the scene around a frosty little lake.   Strange enough!

What were those 40 men doing there?   After all,  they had been loyal soldiers of the Roman army.

40 const

(A necessary bit of history, especially for those of you who have been taught that the  Constantine,a pagan,  made Christianity the official religion of the Empire — which he didn’t;  and to make Christianity more acceptable,  he mingled pagan practices with what was left of the Christian  teachings,   thereby corrupting Christianity and causing  “The Great Apostasy”  (that actually never was).

 It didn’t happen.   (Constantine pretty much remained a pagan all his life,  being baptized as a heretic, not a  Christian,   just before he died.)   In fact,  shortly after that Edict of Constantine – which did happen – the other Ruler of the Empire more forcefully imposed his version of pagan religion onto vast areas under his rule.  

One needed to have a lot of courage to be a Christian (then —  and now, I  think too).

40 chr sold

These 40 soldiers in one of his armies in Asia Minor happened to be Christian, and after they had refused to honor the gods with a little pinch of incense on a little statue, they were arrested,  they were stripped naked in the cold winter air,  some accounts say flogged   —

40 for the whip

— and then forced to stand on the ice in the middle of the little lake until they froze to death.

At the edge of the lake was a steaming bathhouse,  promising warmth and safety to any of the soldiers who changed their mind and would renounce their faith in Christ.  If they were willing to publicly reject Christ  Jesus,  they could be comfortably warm and live on.

Many hundreds stood around to watch the execution:  fellow soldiers, families, and local village people.    It was a public execution, meant to instill fear of the government into  the people.

40 naked frieze

But in the darkness of night things got “eerie,”  as I said.    One man,  Aglaius,  was awake,  keeping guard over the prisoners, naked and bleeding,  huddled together on the ice in the middle of the lake.

As Aglaius watched.  he saw the first man falter, and break,  and run to the bathhouse.   Just as that man reached the doorway of then bathhouse, with its promise of relief,  he died.

40 naked

It was something to make you think.

And that’s when the night sky above Aglaius changed.  It revealed spiritual beings  holding 39 crowns, one for each of the soon-to-be martyrs.
And Aglaius was thinking.

40 crown and crown

What do these crowns mean?     The crown of the Christ these soldiers worship was made of thorns,  but the crowns the angels held were looked like shining golden crowns –  full of light and glory,  suitable for Heaven.

And why start out with 40 soldiers?     In the ancient world as well as in the biblical world, “40”  signifies  “Enough!”   Time enough or deeds enough  or  people enough to accomplish the intentions of God for that purpose.     It is completeness, a full testimony.

But now the angels brought only 39 crowns.

Aglaius  was deeply moved by the absence of one crown.    Whatever he had heard about Christ before,  whatever he had seen in Christian behavior and honor and love,  whatever he had learned about Christianity,  now worked inside of him touching his spirit, and he responded  to the spiritual aid that always comes down to us —
In a sudden, firm act of his will,   Aglaius bolted!    He ran toward the lake,.    Tearing off his clothes he proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ and joined the martyrs.

Now Forty martyrs are crowned this day.

40 heaven giving crown

 

Not 39.  Not almost a strong testimony to Jesus Christ.     But the faith of these soldiers stand as a full, complete witness to the absolute Faith in Christ –  which saves.

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St John in his Revelation saw martyrs arrayed  in a privileged position around the Throne of God.     They were doing two things:

They were “casting down”  their golden crowns before the feet of Jesus Who alone had made their home in Heaven possible.

40 casting

Martyrdom is not the only way to gain a Golden Crown,  but the way in this world is difficult and sometimes dangerous.     Today, all over the world,  it is often dangerous.

The second thing the martyrs around the Throne of God were doing was praying, begging, interceding:  How long, O Lord,  how long —   “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  (in the Apocalypse, chapter 6, verse 10)

There are things you can do to bring honor to Christ.        There are things you can do, however, to diminish the honor of Christ.    Join the Christian soldiers on the icy lake – and pray for the gift of Final Preservation!

March 10th.   An important day of instruction and remembrance.

 

Many around the world still remember in churches and monasteries.

40 bulgaria

  Church of the 40  Holy Martyrs,  Bulgaria.

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LENT BEGINS WITH A SWORD

February 5, 2018

(The season of Lent begins with the contemplation of a Sword):

I didn’t write about this right away, and then I left another related issue unfinished – so I’ll have to tie up some loose ends today;  rather important loose ends.

It’s starts with a Prediction and a Sword.

roman sword

This is a Roman gladiator’s sword,  used around the time of the Prediction.    It’s meant to kill by piercing . . . .

A few days ago,  February 2nd, we remembered the events when the Child Jesus (Infant)  was brought into the great Temple at Jerusalem and certain sacrifices and  rites were performed according to the Law.

old prophet  Living in Jerusalem at the time was a man named Simeon,  an old man who visited the Temple every day with a special desire – to see the long-promised Messiah.   He had a long, long wait,  a lifetime of waiting expectantly.     When he saw the Holy Infant Jesus,  he knew immediately  – internally –  that this was the Messiah.

He adored.  He thanked God.  And he had a revelation that shook him with the power of its inspiration.    He saw here before him  a  contradiction of Israel’s expectations.   “This child is marked out to produce the Fall and the Rising of many in Israel.”

That’s one way to put it.  “He came unto His own and His own received Him not – but as many as received Him,  He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name.”   

But then the sword came into play.   Old Simeon looked at the Mother and said –  And thy own soul,  a sword shall pierce,  so that out of many hearts, thoughts shall be revealed.”   (Luke 2:35)

And this Mary pondered:

sword pierced with asword

Truly, a mother feels her son’s every pain.  Every disappointment, every slight,  every indignity, every unfairness,   every time he is misunderstood, rejected, and hurt . . .  even unto death.

Mary had a few more years to “ponder,” the birth of her Son, her Savior,   but soon, three decades later,  she would start in motion the events that would  lead to the Passion of this Christ, her Son.

She had brought to Him the needs of the people at the wedding in Cana –  and for a moment He asked her “what does this mean to you and to me?”   And she went ahead anyway   —   Every love and joy would be accompanied by a sword in her heart.

So much to ponder each February 2nd.     Around that time we enter into the three Sundays that anticipate Easter:  Septuagesiman,  Sexagesima,  and Quinquagesima.    That is,  Seventy and Sixty and Fifty days before, and then starts the Forty Days before – the Forty Days we call Lent.

The three Sundays are like taking a deep breath before the serious  ponderments of Lent.

No Christian would not consider the seriousness of these next few weeks.

 

 

FRIDAY’S “SCHEDULE”

February 2, 2018

 

In ascending order of importance to us as individual souls:

February 2nd –      Ground Hog Day, of course.

Groundhog

Restless last night, so I got to hear the report from  Gobbler’s Nob right as it was first announced.   (Guess they call that “morning.”   It’s going to be a long day without sleep.)  And so, according to the Prognosticator from Pennsylvania,    (one of his official titles) our winter will be –  six weeks longer.

“Thanks”  from the Far North where it is current  9  degrees, with snow predicted all weekend.    At least we were also told that the Ground Hog is right 39% of the time.

football happy

February 2nd –  Time to be thinking about what to have for your Super Bowl experience, whether it’s a party or simply private enjoyment before a fireplace and a big screen.      corn Looking at email newsletters from Kraft,  all grocery store flyers,  and I suppose television ads,  you’d  think there was only one meal, ahead of us!

I have my favorite team.   Predicted to win by four points, and it’s not the underdog.  I hope those prognosticators have a better than 39% record.

statue

February 2nd –    The day of the publication of the Summary of wrongdoings and questionable practices in the collusion between the Justice Dept. and the political appointees at the FBI,  erroneously called The Memo.

Who is it that famously said  governments fall from within?     Well known to historians is the fact that  republics last an average of 200 years.

I hope we Americans can prove both “prognostications”  wrong.

dec

Are we serious about this?   Are we happy that we Americans are (supposed to be)  self-governing?  That means self-correcting too.   Read what it says:  we have the DUTY  to overturn our government if it becomes a tyranny.    It’s our responsibility to be on the watch for signs that it is becoming a tyranny.    (Lois Lerner anyone?  Weaponizing the IRS against the political enemies of the radical Left?)

We have plenty of catching up to do.

February 2nd –  A busy day in Christendom!   It’s Candlemas today.   Candles are blessed in church today, a token of our acknowledgement that something Supernatural and Sacred is possible and existent in our world.

presentationThe Presentation at the Temple,  Jesus and Mary.     

Yes,  it’s an actual, historical event.

Mary has given birth 40 days ago, and this is the day she presents herself at the temple for the formal end of her  ritual seclusion from public and religious activities.

(Can you imagine how kind and gentle it is to allow  (to require) a woman who has just given birth to stay at home,  rest,  recover,  and have time to bond with her new child?!

When my Filipina friends told me how kindly the Christian culture there treated their new mothers,  I nearly cried for joy.   How they honor the one who labored to bring new life into this world!

Do not let the God-haters tell you that women who give birth are shamed and isolated and are looked down upon as “unclean” (as American s understand that word)  until some “white male priest declares her all right again.   Rather,  this whole ritual is an affirmation of the sacredness of the whole, process of the co-creaion of  a new human being.

The second thing that happened back then   – that we remember, for our instruction –  is that Jesus was presented to the Temple –  with a sacrifice of a lamb and a little bird.  Id you were too poor, the family could substitute a second little bird    (usually a dove)  in place of the lamb.

You have a baby,  you make sacrifice to God to  acknowledge all life is in His hands.  Sacrifice the dove, not the baby.    You GIVE the baby back to God –  but you can Redeem him for a small price and raise him as your own.     Jewish people will recognize this as the ceremony of Pidyon Haben,  which is returning to modern practice in many places.

pid

Ceremonial coins for Pidyon Haben

Two very old people who were living at the Temple at the time of the Presentation saw and recognized the Messiah they had been waiting for all their lives.

Their  words  deserve a post of their own.

 

Meanwhile —  it’s a busy Friday!

“DOING” SOMETHING – LIKE THIS

January 7, 2018

 

Well, yesterday’s post was a little complex – and serious.    I still mean every word – even all the words I didn’t write  so it wouldn’t become extraordinarily long.

holy family the

Feast of the Holy Family

I meant just to say,  “Look around you, look at the world around you – and although there is much to learn and study and analyze,  yet still in a small way,  each of us is called  to actually act upon what we know.

Today’s remembrance within  Christendom centers on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, put before us as our model of family life.   Our sermon was about what makes up a family in general;  I would have wished to hear more about the qualities of the Holy Family, but that’s okay,  that was his choice,  and nothing stops me from finding out more writings about these qualities on my own.

 

st theres familyThe family of St. Therese of Lesieux –

 

But that’s my point from yesterday, I guess.   Find out something in society that is good, that makes life strong and stable, and since we can all acknowledge that we don’t have that commonly anymore,  find out what went wrong, and what  can be done about it.  That’s a doable task for each individual person.

Take “family,”  for instance,  the theme for this day.

 

her whole family

The entire family of St. Therese, mother on left, father on right.

 

I’ve had lots of decades of TV viewing under my belt.   (Lots!)    I can truly say with sorrow that I’ve witnessed the disintegration and degradation of TV families,  so until now we hardly know — or rather we hardly dare define what a family really is.  We must be “politically correct” and “inclusive”  — so “they” tell us.   *

But “they” are wrong.   I’ve witnessed the sorrow and regretful longing implicit in so many movies and television series of the past two decades . . .  almost as though the writers know they are missing something precious, and this society can never have it  back.

HOLY FAMILY and st therese

(I have this painting at home,  but this photo  is apparently from “Restored Tradition.”   It shows St. Therese visiting the Holy Family – to learn as well as to pay homage.   Of course, she is separated by many centuries from the Holy Family,  but there is truth here:  we can all “visit”  this model of family love,  and also learn.  But as she,  the visit must be on bended knee.)

It’s not just sadness among  young adults because their family was messed up.      There are serious and dangerous society implications too,  all reflected in our entertainment that seems rudderless, pointless,  and rather despairing.

How do we turn around the loss of Family?    Can we repair this mess we’ve made of family life?       We need a model.    What is the “real dollar bill”  and what is the counterfeit?   We need to know the difference, and we need to know what difference it makes.

Then in our small way, one person at a time,  make our family a good one, perhaps modeled after the Holy Family.

 

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.*   This presentation of devolving family life is also seen in children’s books, especially their school “readers.”      My Grandson Cooper loves reading the Dick and Jane books of the 1950’s;  he finds them interesting and logical,  fun and safe.     By the time I was teaching school, “they” had taken away wholesome family life and substituted all the politically correct wrong ideas about what the word family could mean.

That generation of children grew up imitating the broken families that they had read about their schoolbooks.

Their children know “something” is wrong with the way their parents lived, lived apart,  broke up their families,  blended new groups together . . .

And their children’s children wish to do something about it.

2018 – FIRST DAY

January 1, 2018

No one wants to put the first mistake onto a brand-new  sheet of blank paper.   No one wants to let the first drip of spaghetti fall onto a clean white shirt .    And no one wants to goof up the first day of a New Year.

But I did NOT want to get up this morning in the middle of a deep sleep,  super physically tired, feeling  like I might be coming down with something, and  feeling slightly depressed after saying good-bye to Cooper at the airport, and then facing a long drive to church in 3 degree morning temperatures    . . .

But I also didn’t want to  miss the first Mass of the year.

According to my last post:

New Year’s Resolution #3 is  foundationally related,  simply to put forth God,   God’s Christ, and God’s Church . . . . throughout this Liturgical year –  365 days, each with a reason  — 

So.    It’s January 1st.    Christendom unites in celebrating the Feast of the Circumcision,  which falls eight days after the birth of Jesus – of course.

circumcision

On its surface,  the rite of circumcision welcomes the child into the nation of Israel.   The child is an Israelite.  The child is a Jew.

A little deeper –  the separating away of  the flesh is an outward sign that  the child (the man)  is separated  away  from the world,  separated unto God.

A little deeper still,  circumcision on the eighth day is a physical symbol of the separation of a man’s heart from sin,   prefiguring  that complete cleansing from sin that will occur after his Resurrection, and thus circumcision is connected to our Judgment.

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,      circumcise your hearts,
    you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire     because of the evil you have done—
    burn with no one to quench it.     Jeremiah 4:4

The act of circumcision is used this way in both the New and the Old Testaments.

In the Church’s Feast of the Circumcision, we remember that Christ Himself was subjected to circumcision, not to separate himself from any  actual sin,  but to demonstrate that He has come to fulfill every part of the Law of Moses.

And furthermore, more deeply:    A small amount of blood is shed during a circumcision.     This is the first time Jesus, the Son of God, shed His blood – a foreshadowing of  pouring out His lifeblood on the Cross for all  human souls.   

One more thing happens at a Jewish circumcision:  you are given a name.

“Jesus.”    (The meaning is “Savior.)     Or:   J’shua   (  God saves.)

motherhood

Closely related to remembering the Circumcision on this day is remembering the Mother of the Child who was circumcised –   Mary,  the Mother of Jesus,  the Mother of the Son of God,  the Mother, therefore, of God.

Her   Yes   to God  (“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.“);   her faith and love;  her role;  her total giving of herself;  her motherhood;  her universal motherhood, as her Son would have it from his Cross.

Yes, I’m glad I didn’t put the first stain on this bright and blank New Year.    I’m  glad – pretty joyful –  that I had gotten out of bed and driven through the deep freeze, and that I had united myself to all this in the Mass of this day.

In fact,  there’s a lot more here that can be contained in just one Mass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOLY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

December 27, 2017

Wise Shepherds watch and Wise men seek . . . .

WISE MEN Invis Blue

 

There are Twelve Days in the Christmas Season for us to experience  . . . .

“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?”

December 12, 2017

Nah, I just wrote the title that way because it’s the name of a song . . .   Really:  Do you believe in the supernatural?    That would be the name of this little story,  for you.

a rose

Is there really a supernatural, a God, a Heaven,  saints, a spiritual dimension alongside ours?

Think  about a “painting”  of a beautiful young pregnant Lady which was so well done and detailed that scientists who use a microscope can see the reflection of three or four men in the room looking at her — in the pupils of her eyes!!!

pupils

 

How about the beautiful blue robe that Lady is wearing had been “painted” with stars on it, showing the accurate position of stars and constellations right above the location of that painting — almost five hundred years ago.

stars

 

How about that “painting”  showing up in a place in Central America that just happened to contain all the icons and symbols and colors and elements of the pagan religion of the area – being trodden under foot by that Lady.

How about that “painting”  was done on some cactus plant fibers that crumble and disintegrate after ten or so years, at the most,  but somehow still fresh and new-looking after almost five centuries.

How about a bomb that  detonated in the building where this “painting”  is kept out in the open, no protection –  and the bomb blast broke windows and benches and walls around it,  but there was no damage at all to this portrait of the young pregnant Lady,  nor was there sign of scorching or smoke on it.

And how about a “painting”  that shows no sign of paint or vegetable dye or any other known way of putting color on fibers that today’s forensic scientists can discover, and yet the color looks fresh and new and seems to float somehow just above the cactus fibers.

That is supernatural.

Today is December 12th, the day the Church reminds us to think about this cactus fiber tilma  (like a poncho)  that belonged to Juan Diego in the 1530s who spoke with the young Lady in the portrait, and who told him to go to his bishop and tell him to build a chapel there where the young Lady appeared.

Of course this peasant man was not believed by the bishop!

But that winter day he went back to the place where he saw her a couple times, and was amazed to see roses growing on the hillside.   He took it as a sign . . .  he picked the abundant fresh and beautiful roses,  made a sort of pouch or apron out of the tilma he was wearing . . .  and carried the roses to the bishop.

“See?”   he was going to say.  “See –  these are roses blooming in the winter, out of season, so something special did really happen  –“

OLG and crescent

But the bishop and his assistants weren’t listening.  They were staring in awe at the tilma that Juan Diego had opened up for them, and what they saw was this beautiful picture of the young pregnant Lady, whom the church officials recognize as Our Lady,  the Virgin Mary, so beautiful, so well-portrayed,  so full of information about Church teaching and about the local Mexican culture.

And the amazed Church officials dropped to their knees, knowing who it was they were looking at.

True story?

Of course.

No doubts,  because you can travel down to Mexico City,  and you can view the actual tilma owned by Juan Diego with the wondrous image of Our Lady,  and displayed for almost five  hundred years.     It’s there.  It really exists.

church

If you’re a scientist of some sort, you can get permission to perform yet more tests  on it;  but you will not find any explanation for the portrait.

Or you can read books about some of the scientific findings on this miraculous tilma.

December 12th,  Our Lady of Guadalupe, a word that sounds almost identical to the early Mexican-Aztec language for “slayer of the  serpent god.”   The pagan winged serpent.  the one that will be once and for all finally crushed by the heel of Our Lady through her Son,  Jesus Christ, along with that crescent moon god symbol under her feet.    Hmmmm.

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HOLY DAY DEMO, HIDING IN JERUSALEM

December 8, 2017

Not  24 hours ago I wrote about   Jerusalem,  King David’s capital city of Israel,  3,000 years ago, and the U.N.  vote to create Israel in the 20th century, with Jerusalem as its capital;   and then Bill Clinton’s Act to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem:  “over there.”

I never thought it would have anything to do with me,  over here!

IC words

Today we must go to Mass to recognize (and to honor)  the Immaculate Conception of Mary –  because if we don’t, we will surely diminish its importance and eventually forget.  We humans are like that.

So, on my way,  leaving my house just in the nick of time, as usual,  and driving through our local Big Ten campus,  I saw a “disturbance up ahead.

Demo up ahead

Stop and go traffic.   (Just so you know, I took that photo when I was stopped.  Don’t scold me when you see me next.)   We crept up ahead ten feet at a time.

Demonstrations are fairly common among the college kids, though not like it was during the Sixties.  I wondered what this one was all about.  It was pretty cold out there, just over 30 degrees.

Demo flag

Well, so, it’s an arab-type flag up there.   Hamas?  Palestine?   Something like that,  because the signs said something about “occupation.”     One sign must have said  “Honk if you like —- “  (fill in the blank)  because there was one honk, and the crowd broke out in applause and cheers.

Only one honk, kids, among many hundreds of cars.     Car stuck   in your traffic jam.

I got to church just in time,  breathing loudly after my run from the car, knelt down in the quiet church, and whooosh!   Mass began right then.   But it was a good Mass.

in case you don’t know what we are really celebrating today,  just think of the beautiful, powerful,  holy,  golden Ark of the Covenant.

ark

Moses was told to have it built just so, with the fine-grained, precious acacia wood, totally covered in pure gold, and then holding the three signs of God-Most-High:  the mysterious “food from Heaven” called Manna which sustained the Israelites in their wilderness trek;    The stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments, which is the Mind of God;  and then that staff of Aaron’s which came alive and budded, proving that God works through priests and Aaron was God’s chosen first priest.

Though the Presence of God inside was a powerful and mysterious  miracle,  the Ark  was also holy  and precious,  made just so, so as to be a worthy container, and  able to hold those three mighty signs of God’s Presence.

No   human on earth will ever be holy enough to stand in God’s presence – not until Heaven.   “See God and die,” as the Bible implies.   Instant annihilation.     But the Virgin Mary had to be able to hold within her the Son of God;  so she was created at the instant of her conception in such a state so as to be able to hold within her God in His Incarnation, taking on human nature to be able to reprise all the stages of our development . . . .

IC

Mary was “saved,”  so to speak,  at the instant of her own conception.   Saved and made  holy, without original sin, well-prepared to give birth to her own Divine Savior.

Needs more than a few paragraphs in a blog to contemplate that.  More than a blog, more than one day,  more than a book or many books,  more than . . .  a lifetime, I guess.

So.    Good thing I “had to” go to Mass today.   I would have missed a lot, left to my own decisions.

CAPITOL PARKED UNDER

Afterwards, I found my car, parked under a lovely late Fall capitol dome.

The whole little city is getting ready for Christmas and looks “lovely” too.  I drove around the front of the capitol building.

CAPITOL FRONT

Pretty ride home.  Pleasant thoughts of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, to accompany me.

The demonstrators were no longer in front of campus,  but the grassy median area where they had been was covered in litter,   paper cups,  papers,  parts of posters . . . .    Not very “immaculate,”  but I suppose they went home happy,  thinking they could change 3,000 years of history.

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That’s all for a couple days;  big Christmas party at my house tomorrow.