Archive for the ‘Holy Days’ category

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.

.

_______________________________

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

 

 

 

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NEW . . .

December 4, 2017

 

thinka nd do llue

Some of you may remember the old Think and Do workbooks that we had in school to help us learn how to read.      It was an excellent way to learn reading skills such as phonics,  spelling, and composition.      It taught us to take time with the details.

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Well,  I think I’m having a “Write-and-Do”  problem –  I’ve been doing so much, I haven’t been able to slow down and write . . . .

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Clip Advent 1   However, I cannot let the start of this New Year go by!   St. Augustine has praised God with the phrase:  “Ever Ancient, Ever New.”      Exclamation point, I think,  because as a grown man,  he was deeply astonished!  to discover the reality of God and of all His attributes as taught to Him by the Church, when Augustine lived, 1,600 or so years ago.

Ever Ancient, Ever New!       God-Most-high, Ancient of Days,   is also Ever New to every part of His creation, at every place, at every moment.    And we poor humans,    living in time and space,  must take God in each new day, each new year, and hence –  the cycles of the Liturgical Year,  which emphasizes God’s closeness and the necessity of a response from us.

Advent begins the Liturgical Year,  and so today was the first day of this new year.

For what purpose?      Advent is ad + vent;   that is, ad ( to, a movement towards)  and vent/ venire (  He comes,  He comes to,  He arrives).      God, Ancient of Days,  yet Ever New,  comes (again)  (and again and again….)   to each person, as prophesied  by the ancients,   as foretold by the great prophets,  in a threefold advent:

Always moving towards  each  human born, as individuals:

One time, moving towards us by His incarnation, taken on our human nature to teach and to act for us;

And in the future, sooner or later,   very soon or a little bit later,    to enter this world once again as Great King and Judge,  ending this world system, putting all things to rights.

Advent,  but a Threefold Advent.    Moving towards us;  unstoppable.

We have more than three thousand years of witness to this movement-towards-us, and much written down for us to read.

The first day of Advent –   time to start.     Time to learn the details.   But there may not be much time left!

 

 

“CHRIST THE KING” DAY – FOR SURE

October 29, 2017

 

Today, all of  Christendom celebrated the Feast of Christ the King.

Christ the King

From the ancient times of  King David,   people understood that the Messiah would be King over all the kings on earth.    From all Eternity He was Sovereign King, and when he came to earth,  then Jesus the Christ was hailed as King of Kings  –  over everything and everyone.

Many didn’t understand.    Or they couldn’t.     Or they didn’t want to.

Today,  the world in general doesn’t understand either:

christ world doesn't understand

And so, rejecting the Supreme and Sovereign King,  the world gives Him a crown in the worst way it can:

christ diff crown

 

God is Love, and tends His Love towards us.   He radiates His Love towards us.

And we have a King to draw all men towards Himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW MOON, NEW LIFE, AND BIRTHDAYS

September 20, 2017

Been distracted lately.  Too many hurricanes;  too many earthquakes;  too much end-of-summer physical work on your property!  

Spent the day today outdoors,  digging,  hefting a shovel,  throwing dirt around,  moving a wheelbarrow around,  raking,  hoeing,   leveling new surface soil:

New Moon front

 

(And just how do you know when the surface is level?    Level enough to plant new grass?     Will have to try again  tomorrow.     Maybe then I’ll be satisfied.)

And planting:

New noon back

That’s an ugly picture!   But there’s nothing wrong with my grass.     Small areas of thin grass have been given a shovelful of new topsoil, grass seed laid down,  and straw laid on top of the seed.    Not a pretty sight,  but some day it will look nice!

While I was doing all this back-breaking work today   ( I know why they call it back-breaking!)  I was letting my mind go free.

Hey!    There’s a new moon today!     Good day for planting.    0 %  light from the moon, but as the moon grows a bit bigger each day,  new life from the seed is drawn out and grows larger and larger.    At least,  that is ancient wisdom.  Plant your crop during a new moon.

New moon

New moon – in September!     Today, then, is Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year!   And the first day of  Jewish High Holy Days, ending with the joy of penitence, the offer of reconciliation to one’s neighbor, acknowledgement of sins,  and the joy of God who has made a way for forgiveness   (Yom Kippur).

This also begins my  “new year”  too.   In one week I will have a whole new possible year laid out for me,  and, God willing, I will live it.    That is,  my birthday,  which often falls within the Jewish New Year festivities.

One more week to be this “age.”     I don’t really care what number anymore.  I’m already old enough to go to school,  to drive, to  drink, and to vote.   But I rather like ages that end with a zero,  and there are only seven more days for this one.    I might have only a couple more “zero years” in my lifetime,  so I tried to consciously enjoy this one from time to time.

Here’s something about birthdays I’ve noticed as the years pass:  When you’re young,  other people celebrate your birthday for you and then with you.   But the older you get,  the  more you celebrate your own birthday,   with an appreciation for all the good things that make up your life,  things that only you know.

birthday

Your parties may look the same throughout the years,  with cake, gifts, cards, friends and family,  candles, singing, decorations – more or less from year to year.

And it’s all fun.   

But inside,  internally where you “live,” where you think and observe and feel and plan and know . . .  inside yourself,     when a birthday comes,   it’s you yourself that makes good cheer for the day that is your day,  special to you alone.

THE UNKNOWN ASSUMPTION

August 15, 2017

What I wouldn’t give to  know for sure that I’d be reunited with my own son in Heaven some day!!!!!

Bar Cross in middle

 

To “assume”  may mean to make a mental leap,  an educated guess;  but it can also mean something in the physical world.   That is, the physical taking up of something.

This Assumption is largely unknown outside of Christendom,  and rapidly disappearing from even the vestiges of Christianity.    But there are those,  surprisingly many,  who still choose to recognize the Assumption on August 15th.

The Assumption of Mary:

assumption

There are so many beautiful works of art about the Assumption of Mary –  Centuries and centuries of trying to get it just right!    I like this one because it shows movement.   The Virgin’s hair seems to be moving, or flowing,   because of the upward motion,   and people seem to be reaching.

The Church doesn’t teach one way or the other whether Mary, the Mother of Jesus actually died or if she  “fell asleep”  and was taken up in to Heaven,  but it doesn’t matter.   The teaching,  based on contemporary writings, is that her body totally disappeared from the place where she lay in a deep trance?  coma?  sleep?

Everything about her physical presence is just gone.  No relics.    No pieces of cloth or hair.  No “bones.”  No vials of blood.   Nothing.  Most unusual, for even the least of the martyrs had some relics saved.    It’s what they did in those days.

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven is clear.

assumption crown

Just as we will go “some” place when we die,   so did she.

The Love of God in each lover of God unites,  and separation is only temporary.

So  just as Death will not end our love and will not separate us from our Loved Ones,  in and among this wonderful Community  of Saints,  dead and alive,  we will still love and care for each other,  and so does she . . . .

mary nearby

Heaven is not a matter of time and distance.  It’s Eternity,  an eternal now that permeates the physical world.

When Jesus (on the Cross)  gave His mother to be ours,  He means now.

 

 

ASCENSION CONSIDERATIONS

May 26, 2017

Ascension Thursday this week.  40 days after the Resurrection.   (40,  not 43.)  It’s a Feast Day of Hope.

The older I get,  the more I realize “I’m not getting out of here alive.”   I’m leaving this planet via my death.   Here’s that picture again:

“Will this be me?”    —

SAMSUNG

I’ve already been the one sitting at the bedside of a dying man,  worrying and praying.   Soon, possibly,   it will  be my turn to be the one in bed.      And yours too.

(Sometimes some of my friends hear me say  “Pray for my healing; pray for my health.”   I say it offhandedly,  but few realize how serious I am.)

But though I am a Christian,  and my health matters aside,   I live a somewhat safe life in this country.    My Christian brothers and sisters around the world are not so “lucky.”

A little while ago in the Philippines,  where lovely, peaceful,  beautiful,  friendly Christians live in a sort of tropical  Paradise,  nine Christian  men driving in  cars  were stopped by the   Muslim-“extremists   who are gaining power-by-force on their  beautiful islands.   They were stopped,  dragged out of their cars,   their hands were all tied together,  and the nine men were shot to death.

Youd better believe

See their hands all tied to one another?

They were executed because they were Christians who happened to be on the road at the same time as these Muslims  (who were carrying ISIS flags).

The government is trying to  stop the violence and to stop the drug money that finances these Muslim terrorists.

what war looks like

Sometimes strong and forceful  (violent)  measures have to be taken to eradicate the murderous Threat that has taken hold in a country.  This is what such a “war”  would look like in such a country.  The civilian cars must give way so the military can do its duty to protect.

It’s what a government is supposed to be doing:  protecting its citizens with resources that only it,  the government,  can assemble.

Today,  the head of our DHS  (Dep’t of Homeland Security)  stated publicly:  “If you knew what  I know,  you would be afraid to leave your homes.”   If we had his information about the actual  threats we were under . . . .

Again,  so far  I  live in such seemingly safe circumstances that I can afford to stay ignorant of the severity of the danger.   I can ignore it,  if I want to,  even as more and more people are saying things seem to be spinning out of control,  and  it feels like “something”  big is going to happen.

So,  I’ll just repeat:   I’m not going to get out of here alive!

Jesus did not.     Jesus did not “get out of here alive.”     He laid down His life for us;  He took up His life again at His Resurrection.   And He took His Resurrected body  “up” into  the “heavenly  places.”

He who was seen by many is now unseeable.

But Eternity is all around us.  It penetrates this world.   Or, as I kept saying this morning to my class:  Eternity interpenetrates our world.    The spirit in us is able perceive this presence of Eternity.    That is,  Jesus,  Eternal, can now be perceived by everyone, not just those who stood next to Him so long ago in one small part of this globe.   All  of us can,  “whosoever”  wants to.

Ascension

As  He ascended,  He took with Him something very important:  His human nature.   The same as our human nature.    He made it possible for all  those creatures with a human nature can also enter into Heaven.

It’s possible.

I dearly hope those Christian children and mothers on the school bus today and  those  young Filipinos with their hands tied together took comfort in the meaning of the Ascension as they lay dying.

Christians are those who have chosen to follow Jesus,   through whatever and wherever  He leads us.    It’s our cross,  the way that leads us to Heaven.   Executed.   Blown up.   Needless accidents.   Sickness.    Ascension Day tells us that we can follow Him into glory.   It’s possible.

Follow crosses to Heaven

“It’s needful for you that I go.”     Behold,  I go to prepare a place for you.”     “In my Father’s house are many mansions.  If it were not so,  I would have told you.”

We can pray for the souls of our Christian brothers and sisters who’ve left this world so violently.    And perhaps  “before their time.”  And for their loved ones,  left behind to mourn.

 

 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LIGHT – 100 YEARS AGO

May 14, 2017

 

“Like crystal,  when the sun shines brilliantly through it.”

It was hard for the little children to describe the brightness and purity of the whiteness,  the white light that the Lady was made of,  like she was made of the sun, but it didn’t hurt their eyes.

OL Fatima

As you’ve probably heard,  this is the 100th Anniversary of the First Apparition that occurred in Fatima, Portugal.    I’ll write much about it in the days to come;  six months we  have.   The Apparitions came once a month for six months,  with one big Fireworks of an ending!

fatima people

That it happened there could be no doubt.  In fact,  among the many in the photograph above who were there on that last day were many, many doubters, skeptics, mockers, and downright nay-sayers.    They were there to ridicule the so-called pious believers who believed the children’s tales.

But for  even those who were convinced nothing would happen – something happened to them!      Why were they so convinced nothing was going on?      Because the ones who were able to see or hear “something”  were the innocent,  the pure in heart,  the honest,  the open,  the pious, and the humble before God.

There were a few, even in this atheistic country!

According to the heart of each person,   some heard only a soft buzzing when the Apparitions occurred.  A few heard the booms.  A few saw the bright flashes.   Some saw a small, soft white cloud.    Two of the three children heard the words of “the Beautiful Lady,”  but all three saw her.

And that was exactly how they described her.    This Beautiful Lady, who was really appearing,   was a Lady with a face and with hair and eyes and clothing, but nevertheless “all made of Light.

In fact, later,  when Lucia, the eldest, was pressed to describe her,  she said even her gown was made of Light.  It was not “folds of white cloth,”  but where there would be folds, it was like the Light was thicker there,  the Light was draped in folds, and at the edges of the  Lady’s gown,  the brilliant white Light became golden,  like an outline of golden Light.

a white

The Beautiful Lady would not identify herself until October,  her sixth visit.

But remember –  she was made of Light.  Clothed in Light.  A Light that made everything beautiful and brought with it the presence of God,   Who is the Source of Majestic Light –

I Timothy 6:16 –  (God) . . . who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

 

DOWN FROM MY EYRIE

April 24, 2017

 

It’s been an intense and  “difficult blessing”  lately, here in my eyrie:

Here:

Panagia_Sumela_monastery_in_province_of_Trabzon,_Turkey_

I’ve been “up there”  for a couple of weeks and I’m so reluctant to leave.

eagle nest

The eagles build their eyries high up in tall trees or on the side of a mountain so they can be still and safe and alone while they participate in the (pro)creative work of their Creator.   They are isolated and productive.

 

eagle soarer

The  eagle descends so swiftly and smoothly, down from his hidden home– but for me, these last weeks have been a slow and reluctant climb downward,  with frequent looks backwards . . . .

 

All this,  a metaphor, of course.    I had an intense and deeply personal  Holy Week and Triduum,  followed by a surprisingly glorious Easter and following days.   (It’s still the Easter season,  I suppose just for experiences like this . . .  we need a couple of weeks to take it all in.)

I tell my classes   “The better Lent that you have,  the better your Easter will be.”    Well, that backfired on me this year.    I mean,   the words just turned around and fired right back into me.  But  this is not unique to me.

We are all so much more than our everyday lives!

We are all capable of experiencing, knowing,  being so much more than we’re used to!

eagle soar

Two births:

We who are born alive can know and interact with many things,   (We can read, for instance.)     And we know that from the moment of  birth we do, in effect,  begin to die.  Might take six or seven or eight decades,  but we’re on the pathway to our deaths.

One day, an intelligent, well-educated man on the leadership council in his society learned that there is another birth – an actual, real, second  birth into full and abundant life.   His name was Nicodemus,  and being a private person and maybe a little embarrassed,  he came to Jesus one night, in the cover of darkness,  to ask some questions about this true life.

He was surprised to learn that to enter Life one must be born again and from above,  it is God’s work in a man –  and without it,  the man simply proceeds with a dead spirit on to his own death — living  his everyday life, enjoying the ups and suffering the  downs, but proceeding on to his death.  Into deep darkness.   A just and deadly separation between God and sinner.

But Jesus went  on to explain  that a man receives this new birth by the work of the Holy Spirit,  through the means of water,    hereby indicating baptism –  which soon the young Church will understand to be a  re-birth of the already naturally born person into new and actual,  abundant life –  truly and everlastingly alive.    The “dead” spirit of the person is vivified!

The person is no longer on his pathway to  death and everlasting separation from God.  A person, then, is capable of so much more — more Life! —  than before.

And it all doesn’t work unless there is  a Good Friday and a day of Resurrection.

That is why these recent holidays are called the defining event of Christianity.

 

green

I needed to go up into that truth,  way up,  into a personal eyrie to experience more of that truth,  because  it’s necessary for us  humans to remove ourselves from this world and its turmoils and noise and complex confusions; to  find a  place of solitude where you can hear the voice of God.

You might not choose that  beautiful monastery in Turkey in the first photo above,  high up in the mountains,  but your imagination is capable of creating another place of quiet beauty where it’s safe for you to . . .  think . . .  to grab onto that second birth.

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Down from my eyrie,  observing, once again, things going on around me.

 

 

BY MEANS OF MEN

April 14, 2017

(At the 9th hour):        “It is consummated.”           It was.

CROSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

“By means of men and their actions,  God governs the world.”*

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.*  “What Jesus Saw From the Foot of the Cross”

by  A.G. Sertillanges

RADIATION AND PERTURBATIONS – I

April 9, 2017

 

Sorry I couldn’t get back here right away after the storm.  I’ve been “perturbed.”

But we’re still here:

2nd Tree and moon

That tall tree that twisted and turned so menacingly in our big storm is still standing.  The sky the next day was gloriously blue.  Innocently blue:  “What?  What storm?”   The pond level remains high but the raging torrent has returned to a normally high spring-level creek no longer uprooting trees and gouging out the creek bank.

Nature is calmer,  but this week becomes one of “perturbations”  and turmoil in the spiritual world,  during which Christians try to enter into the experience of Holy Week,  Jesus’ last week of life on this earth.   Try to enter into;  try to figure it out;  spend time  uniting in the experience, the story, the details.

The time approaches.

2nd Tree and Fist

 

Next to the photo of the top of the tree is a moon becoming full.  Not just any full moon;  the Paschal Moon,  for it is always full on Passover, and therefore on the Thursday of this particular week.    I put up my fist to measure the height of the moon.   One fist = 10 degrees.  The moon was about 50 degrees high in the sky.   As Thursday evening comes, it will be about that high,   but it will be just about at its highest point later in Gethsemane,  where Jesus had his  unspeakable agony,   sorrow beyond our understanding.

“Perturbations” 

2nd Waves

So, the storm that Mother Nature gave our area is past, but the wind still blows little waves and ripples across the pond to accompany our unsettled feelings during our Holy Week meditations.

And now there is the storm our politicians are giving us in international affairs.    “Russia threatens war,”  the new headlines say.     Well,  yes.   We attacked a sovereign nation.   One which Russia was working with to defeat ISIS.   They would be “perturbed.”

And   “Perturbations in Egypt.”     Palm Sunday today, and 43 Christians were killed in their churches by Islamic bombs.    “Innocent children and women  should not be killed in that manner”   . .  .  to use the words of the American president commenting on events in Syria.    I hope he is not so perturbed that he takes advice to retaliate against Egypt.   And if not,  why not?

(Maybe an unnamed “chemical gas”  is supposed to perturb us more than a more familiar bomb-attack.)

“Perturbations” as Islam advances apace in the Western world.

This week, after a few months of listening to a lecturer from Yale present Late Ancient and Medieval history,   he suddenly began giving lectures falsifying  (and sanitizing)  the history of Islam —  I could have thrown fifty books at him that tell a very different  history,   and consistently different throughout the centuries of experience with Islam,  some of these books written long before this man was born.   I suppose he has to agree to say these things or else lose his tenure.

But, gee — if you can’t trust a history professor from Yale,  who can you trust?   (That’s a joke, my friends.)

But again, “Islam advances apace.”     Look up that word “apace.”

ASHES TO ASHES

March 1, 2017

An almost two thousand year-old practice . . .

ashes-lent

. . . in an almost two thousand year old time-tested, time-proven  Church.

Why ashes?   Because we’re all toast!     We’re all already toast anyway.    As in burnt toast,  burnt-to-ashes toast.

That was our choice, as a human race.

earth-circle-destroyed

That choice resulted in a cosmic breach between the Creator and all of Creation.

Doesn’t matter if it happened last week or if it happened aeons ago.    Each son or daughter  is born into an already condemned human race onto a cursed planet.

Ashes.    In the wisdom, might, and just judgment of a holy God,  we have separated ourselves from Him and He;s given us our wishes, sadly and reluctantly.    The resulting “separation”  is described in human terms as an agonizing sense of never-ending fire . . .  burning . . .  ashes.   The intense pain of a soul separated from God.     Forever.

The Church carries the Means of Healing this separation for me.

ashes-man

But first I must acknowledge that God is right,  and I am wrong.

Sure, I’m part of that today, with ashes on my forehead.

____________________________

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 2ND – A VERY FULL DAY

February 2, 2017

February the Second.    I actually had no idea, when I woke up this morning,  how many lovely and supernatural Mysteries are remembered on this day!

Of course,  first,   I woke up to the radio announcing  “the ground hog has seen its shadow.”   An extended winter –   yay!     Trivial, silly,  traditional,   fun —   but . . .  trivial.

ground-hog-in-sun

But there are deep and important Mysteries for us to attend to on this date, coming to us from Western Civilization, and the wisdom and knowledge of those who lived before us.

One is the three-fold remembrance of   (1)   the Purification of Mary,   (2)  the  Presentation of Christ in the Temple,  and (3)   Candlemas.       This is a part of Western Civilization;  it’s a part of our history, celebrated continuously from the time of the earliest Christians.    It was old when the first written account of this celebration was made just after 300 AD.

(1)   The Purification of Mary

purification

The Holy Family lived under the precepts of the Old Testament.    One of the precepts refers back to the Creation of mankind,  the Fall of mankind (and Original Sin falling upon everyone thereafter), the provision of sacrifice to “satisfy”  the infinite offense against the Creator – and His act of Creation that accompanies every “marital act.”

So, according to Mosaic Law,   Mary presents herself to the priest in the Temple  (there was only one Temple for the Jews) and provides two turtledoves for the sacrifices:  a sin offering and a ritual,  liturgical “cleansing,”  called “purification.”   (This does not refer to the worth of a woman.)

Mary needed neither.   If she had needed either,  she could not have contained the Holy Child,   the Son of God,  in her womb.   She had been prepared in such a  way so as not to actually have needed “purification,”  but   she humbled herself to the obedience of Old testament precepts.  Her holiness is all from her Holy Son.  Her salvation is all from her Holy Son – and His Cross.

(2)    2nd on this day,   the Holy Child is presented to the priest in the Temple. 

presnetation

Every human child  is from God.       He made it;   the child is His.   But in a charming and loving ceremony,  (written down in Leviticus),  the parents are allowed to “redeem”  the child,  to buy it back, so to speak, for a price, (today it’s usually 5 gold coins – or gold-type coins)   and they are then allowed to take the child back to their home and to love the child and raise the child in the knowledge of God.gold-coins

Two people present at the Presentation of Christ were Anna and Simeon,   both of whom waited in the Temple most of their long  lives for the coming of the Promised Child.   They were rewarded for their faithfulness by being allowed to see – and to know –  that this was indeed the long-promised Messiah.

Today, this “Presentation”   ceremony is  not necessary because Christ has redeemed all mankind on His Cross.  However . . .

pidyon-haben

. . . .  today’s Jews sometimes continue the practice in a ceremony called Pidyon Haben – you can look it up on any Search Engine. The intention is the same.  God created this child, the child is God’s,   we offer to redeem it back and raise the child in the knowledge of You, his Creator.

(3)      So,  we have on Feb. 2nd,  the Purification of Mary,  the Presentation of Christ in the Temple,  and now:  Candlemas.

Candles that are going to be used in the coming days are blessed on this day.   Were blessed on this day.    The twentieth century is a century of shortcuts,  drop-offs, and the evaporation of meaning.    But Candlemas is still practiced . . .  somewhere.

candles

 

Little Nellie of Holy God:

There is a second  “event”  that we can remember on this day,  and this event is the  death of a very young child whose whole life had supernaturally pointed to the Mystery of Christ’s Cross – and His coming to us in each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

This death brings us into modern times:   Feb. 2,  1908,  the day  “Ellen Organ”  died at age four years old.    Her life is one of hardship, poverty,  and pain,  not so uncommon among the Irish poor,   but also a life of extraordinary and unexplainable knowledge of the presence of  “Holy God.”     Her knowledge far exceeded whatever the nuns had ever taught her,  what they knew and what they could have perceived.

Little “Nellie” recognized a consecrated Host from an unconsecrated host.   She could tell whether or not someone had taken part in Holy Communion that day.     She spontaneously called her chapel the House of Holy God.      She knew, vaguely, in a childlike way    about putting men in prison lock-ups, and so when she saw the Tabernacle in her church which contained the consecrated Hosts,    she  thought that Jesus had been  “locked up in prison.”

Here is a commonly distributed photo of her, not long before tuberculosis of the bone painfully took her life away.

litle-nellie-of-holy-god

To the nuns in the convent-hospital where she lived out her last months,   she became known as “Little Nellie of Holy God.”      You can look her up – you can even go to Wikipedia,   where although they tell  her life story at arm’s length away from anything supernatural,  they do a fairly good job of summarizing her life.

The Spruce Tunnel would like to keep all this in memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. LUCIAN & THE ROSE BOWL PARADE

January 7, 2017

It’s still the season of Epiphany:  The Light of Heaven made accessible to the Gentiles.     The Light that   “dawns” on us.    Now salvation is for “whosoever”  comes.

wise-men-big-light

One of the Wise Men’s  sources of information about the birth of Christ is the Jewish Scriptures,  written in Hebrew, and then later in the Greek language that the Hebrews generally used in the culture they lived in.

scroll

These Greek scrolls which made up the “Old Testament”   Scriptures   were used by people in  Palestine at the time of Jesus and afterwards.    But, over time, they were subject to variations and errors which became apparent and troublesome.   Among those scholars who were educated enough to compare manuscript to manuscript and eliminate the errors was a man named Lucian,  the saint we honor on this day.  (His biography is muddled and obscure,  but at least we know about  this one work that he did.)

So,  note:    Historically speaking,  the Church has always   put the Scriptures in the hands of “the people.”     When fewer people used the Greek language and more knew Latin,   then the Church sponsored the translation of the Septuagint, that early Greek Bible,  into Latin.          (And so on down through history as languages developed.)

And here’s where this year’s Rose Bowl parade intersects with the historical record.

parade

So this year on January 1st,  not feeling too healthy,  I laid down in front of the Rose Bowl parade, something I don’t usually do,  but the parade turned out to be surprisingly very interesting this year.      Such skill and precision and effort and beauty!!!

And then, towards the end,  I saw one lovely float created by —  I won’t name the religious group who made it —  but it was proudly stating “Scripture Alone”  “Faith Alone”  and  “Grace Alone.”

s-s-sign

Well.     Well . . .   I’m a historian  (by university study)    and this is not a  historically accurate statement of belief — unless your church has a short history and fairly recently created this new doctrine.     Scripture Alone is not really  found within Scripture, anywhere,  (there’s a challenge for you!)  but  if Scripture Alone is so crucial,  then that eliminates the possibility for salvation for all those early Christians who lived in previous centuries who had no Bible and who had no need to read!

In the last posting I referenced the Apostles Creed and a smattering of writings by the Apostles in those first decades after Christ left this earth.      The process of gathering these writings and deciding which were valid and which were part of the canon took  a couple centuries.

Did Christianity spread during that time?  Of course.    ( By proclaiming,  by preaching,  and by careful  instruction, person to person.)    Did Christians learn the teachings of Christ during that time?   Of course.   Did Christians grow in personal holiness during that time,  drawing closer to God?   Of course.    Did Christians read the writings of the Apostles, the epistles and the Gospels during these first three centuries?   A few did,   some could,   and more and more did as these early  centuries passed on.

That’s why the church was concerned that the translations be accurate.

St. Lucian lived in the early Fourth Century.  His work was used by St. Jerome who translated the entire Bible into the language of the people (Latin),  both the Scriptures and the writings of the New Testament.     That was a monumental human endeavor,  but it was so well done,  so accurately done,  that the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome is still the official Bible of the Church today!

During Epiphany we contemplate the Light that came into our world, and which finds Its way into our lives in so many ways, by the grace of God.    It comes to us by  hearing about it,   by example,  by specific instruction,  sometimes by supernatural infusion  . .  .  and also by reading Scripture.

Quicumque.    Whosoever.     Whoever wants the Light of God.

DEC. 8th – OF WOMBS AND WITNESSES

December 8, 2016

The movie  Indiana Jones . . .   had it    a   l  m   o   s   t     right.

ark-indy

The real Ark of the Covenant contained the enormous supernatural power of the Holy Almighty One.      And no human dare mess with it or take it lightly.

The real ark was made of hard and finely grained precious acacia wood,     and then completely covered inside and out and all around with gold.

Of course there were prequels to the Ark,    inklings in the pagan world that a real ark would be built some day to hold a divine something.    You can find archeological examples all over the Middle East.  But one day the real Ark was indeed built, along with gold rings at the corners and two long gold-covered acacia poles to put into the rings so that the Ark could be moved and carried without the touch of human hands.

After the Ark was filled . . .  the top was shut . . .  and no man – ever –   could ever open it again,  ever.    Nor could the Ark be touched,  not only not by profane (common) hands,  but neither by ordained, consecrated priestly hands.

ark

The Ark of the Covenant contained a “trinity”  of objects*,  each representing the holy presence of God-Most-High.     Centuries later,  when a young virgin was addressed as “blessed,”    she then “contained” in her womb the Divine Presence;   Mary is like the Ark of the Covenant and her womb “contained”   God.

How can this happen to a human girl?    How can this be?        “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God, ”   Gabriel told her.

The  “Son”   was the Son of God-Most-High, and as such,  as “son,”  He too was of the same eternal substance as the Father.      It didn’t take long before the example of the Ark of the Covenant was understood to have been a foreshadowing of Mary,  “Blessed,”  called by God for a special purpose,   and  Ever-Virgin,  untouched,   never opened by man,  never to be opened.

On December 8th we acknowledge and celebrate Mary,  created without blemish,   just like the Ark of the Covenant,  perfectly made,  perfectly created by an act of God so that as soon as she was created,   she was conceived,   and she was conceived without the blemish, the macula,  the stain of sin because she was,  so to speak,  “saved”   by her Savior,  her Son,  from the first moment of her existence.

Yes, she is human, she needs a Savior **,   she has a Savior,   but in this special, one-time unique act of creation,    she was made to be the perfect Ark,  the perfect container,  the perfect womb to hold  the Son of God.

Her human body could “touch” the Holy  Son of God without annihilation.

Christians have written about this for many,  many centuries,    nearly 1,800 years;  and then, during a certain crisis in history,   the church decided it was time to formally define this doctrine so that people would know what Mary’s  “Immaculate conception”  meant and also what it didn’t mean.

No new doctrine, just a clear definition –   but not many knew what had just been written in Rome.   No cell phones in those days.   No tweets.

But an affirmation was sent, in the form of a visitation from the Immaculate Conception herself.   And to make sure it was a heaven-sent apparition,  Mary appeared to an unlikely witness:   an illiterate,  unschooled, rather ignorant peasant girl who could not have imagined nor understood the new definition, even if she had heard about it.

bourn grotto.jpg

It’s an interesting story,  a lovely story, really,  and told very well in the movie  “Song of Bernadette.”       Though her family, her town, the authorities,  her priest and her bishop resisted her testimony,    when she reported that the “beautiful lady” in the apparition had called herself “The Immaculate Conception,”    they began to listen.    Was this an inadvertent confirmation of the Church’s definition of an age-old doctrine?

How could Bernadette have known?

But what is also interesting is what happened to this ignorant,  uneducated peasant girl after the visitations.

This is a photo of her, a few years later:

bourn-alive

She became a very private person;  a nun;   holy;   humble;   serene.

And this is what happened to her after her death-

bourn-casket

 

Oh – how about a close-up —

bern-in-death-30-yrs

30 years after her death  they wanted to move her body, and, as was the practice,  they opened her casket.    Beautiful.    Her body untouched.   She had beheld a holy and heavenly visitor,  conversed with her,  and it changed her spirit,   her personality,  and even her physical habitation.

We do not celebrate Bournadette on this day, nor her apparition at Lourdes,  but we celebrate the reality of the Immaculate Conception,  a young virgin,  created to be the perfect, holy vessel for the Incarnated Son of God;     the real  Ark of the Covenant.   (See Revelation 11:19  and 12:1)

bar-gold-with-cross

 

.*      The three objects are:    A sample of the Manna which fell onto the people, from Above,   to be their food and sustenance for forty years of wilderness travel.

The second “object”  was the stone tablets which contained words given to Moses,  which represent the will of God,  the Word of God,   and since He is God,  His word is Himself.    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . ”

The third object was the rod, or staff, of Aaron,  the brother of Moses,  which, though a dead stick,  budded to manifest the   Affirmation of God’s presence and approval during a crisis among the Israelites.

Three objects, all containing and representing the Presence of the Living God,  and more specifically,  His Presence among us in the Person of His Son, threefold for emphasis:  Life,  Word of Life,   and Bread of Life.

 

 

.**     Mary is human,  like us,  and as such,  she is never to be worshiped as God is worshiped.     Any goodness in her comes from God, her Savior,  just as any goodness in us is the work of God.    Mary is receptive to God’s working,  just as we must be.

Any honor given to Mary is because of her Son and is due her Son.   “Behold, all generations shall call me Blessed . .  .”      because —  not because of her,  but because of her Son.   (There are some who don’t want to call her Blessed,  but this is not biblical.)

MAY – DAYS OF SAD AUF WIEDERSEHENs

May 5, 2016

From the last posting . . . a fond  Auf wiedersehen to my aunt.

May is not only a month of interesting celebrations but also of sad partings.   There will be others dying in this month   too.     Do you say a hopeless good-bye to them?   A doubt-filled good-bye?      A frightening good-bye, knowing it might be you,  next,  this month?

Will someone be saying a sad auf Wiedersehen to you?   Will you be saying  auf Wiedersehen    from a hospital bed?  from the middle of a car wreck?     . . .

Realistic;    realistic and sad,   but not necessarily gloomy;  not if you can say it and mean it:  “auf Wiedersehen:  good-bye until we meet again.”       For a follower of Christ,  auf Wiedersehen is only good-bye for a while.

This year,  today,  May 5th,  we remember the Ascension of Jesus;  ascending away from this planet,   and “up” into Heaven.   For a while.    Until He sees us again. . . .

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Second Person of the Trinity-One God.   The  Son.

He came to teach and He came to die for us,  creating the only possible Peace between us and our Creator.     Our only hope.      The only Name given by Heaven . . . .

He had the power to give up His life and to take it up again.   And after  that resurrection,  He had the power to return to Heaven,  which He did:

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Jesus is teaching,  teaching,  teaching, last minute instructions, and then He began to go Home . . .    This would be from His point of view as He rose, still looking  at his people down there.

Way down there . . .

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He is moving upwards, into the clouds, where a cloud obscured . . .  Him.

I don’t know how this can be,  but I know some Beings nearby said He’d come back in this same manner.    I don’t know what that means either,   but His friends are sad to see Him go:

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“Sad though you are,  I won’t leave you orphans.  I won’t leave you comfortless.   Go back to Jerusalem and wait.  Pray and wait.”

Wait for something.    Pray, as you experience this puzzling loss.   Nine days.   A novena.   and you will see. . .

Meanwhile,  “Auf Wiedersehen!”

 

Bar Cross in middle

 

Oh,  P.S.  –    If you’d like to see the whole story or the credits for these photos,  you can go to YouTube and Search for  “The Gospel of Luke  (rare movie)   —   It is a good, faithful telling of the story of Jesus, for the beginner and also for one who loves Him.

THE 8TH DAY – JOY TO YOU ALL!

March 27, 2016

Just a short greeting today –  to bring you the JOY of the Empty Tomb!

Tomb empty

I hope you have all seen the movie “Risen”  and witnessed some of the irrepressible joy of the disciples of Jesus, after they saw Him — after the Crucifixion!    Irrepressible joy; grown men trying to be dignified, but almost giddy with joy.

Perhaps I’ve had a “good”  Lent,  because I know this Joy today, a little bit,  from early this morning while it was still dark,  and later in the morning,  and I think all day today.  Now our interior meditations can be focused on Our Savior,  Alive.

In good fun,  just to tweak some of my more somber, self-restricted  fundamentalist friends,  I wish them joy and fun and happiness on this day too:

Happy Easater

 

I keep forgetting what Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have to do with the Resurrection of our Lord — and yet I know and I understand that it has a rather mild and harmless connection;   which, by the way,  teaches little children about the Newness of life.   “Behold,  I make all things New!!!!”   Jesus says.

How exciting to wait for the confirmation of Good Things on Easter morning,  when you your Easter basket!!

The Old Week is past;  the old Seven Days are gone;   behold!  it is the Eighth Day!!  A New Time.

It is a Great Lesson on the way to learning this more mature lesson,  from the prayers of Father Amorth,  an effective and holy exorcist,  who teaches us Newness of Life,  Newness of Spiritual and Corporal health,  and release from that which drags us down:

“Heal, my Lord Jesus,  those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness . . . Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones.  . . Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life.   Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection,  and to Your victory over sin and death,  and to Your Living Presence among us.”

You may look up (on a Search Engine)  the Five Prayers from Father Amorth to Combat Evil,  but be assured,  his prayers teach far more than this one quote,  far deeper thoughts   that penetrate right down to where the Resurrection of Jesus actually touches our life.

If you choose to follow Jesus,  you can’t help but to be a witness to His actual Resurrection; as it says in the prayer:  “an authentic witness.”    You can’t help but to be filled with an inner peace and Joy. . . far greater than  Easter bunnies and the fun they bring to little ones who are just beginning to learn.

The Joy of Truth outweighs our earthly happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY: THE NOISE IS GONE

March 26, 2016

From Friday to Saturday,  evening to morning,  another 24-hour period. 

See the contrast:

All that intolerable Noise –

Violence and malice,  bloodshed,   noise,  noise of mockery,   noise, noise everywhere,  noise of accusations, noise from mocking insults,  noise from derision,  noise of violence,  noise from the whip,  noise from blows onto a human body,  noise of tumult and blame,  noise from   a crowd that acts like a mob, noise of heavy wood falling to the ground wounding more the Man carrying it, noise of weeping,  noise of hammer blows,   noise from nature . . . . noise of a heavy stone being rolled into place,  noise of Roman guards with short swords of steel taking their place.

And now the silence – 

Today,  Saturday.  The Jewish Sabbath.    Rest from the noise.   Hiding from the noise.

Silence of the tomb.   Silence of aloneness.    Silence of sorrow.   Silence of fear.    Silence of tongues that have no words.     Silence of a heart that knows not what to pray.    Silence of waiting,  waiting, stuck in the moment.     Silence of remembering.   Silence of a miniature thought of hope, a nano-hope, which exists only in deadly silence.

What was it He had said?

The sun has gone down…  Saturday is departing in unresolved silence.

DISROBED, DEAD, AND GONE ‘AWAY’

March 25, 2016

Well . . .  “yes”  and “no” to the title.

The Son of God came for a purpose.  He had a mission.   “He came unto His own. . .”  (and “His own”  received Him not);  and he came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (He did His part, but not all little lambs   want to be found)   “He laid down His life for the sheep”   (and that part worked – it was efficacious —  the Father accepted His life as propitiatory sacrifice.)

DISROBED:

But the Final Act of sacrifice occurs here,  on Good Friday,  this last 24-hour period of His life on earth,  beginning with a meal in preparation for the Passover.

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Uncovering the Bread

At the Passover table,  the unleavened bread is presented on a plate, and the bread is covered with a white linen cloth.   Here is some bread (some Finnish bread), and the cloth is not white linen —   but this is the act of “uncovering”  the bread, because soon it will be eaten – literally,  physically.

When Jesus and His disciples did this at His Last Supper,  the uncovering of the bread foreshadowed the very soon upcoming  Disrobing of the Body of Jesus in preparation for the crucifixion..

Disrobing Jesus

The Disrobing of Jesus

“I am the Bread of Life,”  Jesus taught.

And soon the bread will soon be “broken” just as the bond between body and soul will be broken within Jesus,  the appointed Christ of God.

DEAD:

Then came insults, mockery, and rejection.    “He was despised and rejected.”     “He became a worm, and no man.”     “He who knew no sin  became sin for us.”

And He became dead.

Jesus on cross

The Bread of Life is uncovered,  exposed, and vulnerable —  and “broken.”

GONE:

We can dispense with two heresies,  two erroneous opinions which keep coming up in the incredulous minds of men:

Human nature alone:  He was a man —  specially appointed, maybe;  specially empowered by God, maybe —   but just a man like any other man.     (And if that were so,   He would have his own sins and existential separation from God to die for.    He could do nothing for us.   He would be the savior of nothing and of no one,  and God would have been making false promises.)

Divine nature alone:   He did come down from the heavenly realm,  but He only appeared to be a man so that He could perform an act for us.   He only appeared to die,  because a god can’t die.   (And if that were so,  there would be no real contact with real humans.     He would not be one of us men who need salvation.)

Only with both true natures could Christ offer Himself to die on behalf of and in place of human beings,  and then have the power to visit the poor souls who have already died and to raise Himself up back to life   . . . .

GONE AWAY:

. . . .and to return to Heaven, giving the human race enough time to hear and to respond,  “whosoever”  will.

Gives us himself now

The Bread of Life Gives To Us Himself

 

There is time now for “whosoever”   to go to Him,  to commune with Him,  to unite with Him:  Jesus,   the Bread of Life;  because there is Peace now between God and “sheep.”

Because He is eternal God,  living by nature in eternity,   He is ever-present in every place in Time —  “from the rising of the sun to its going down.”   (Malachi 1:11)   Truly present for us.

He’s been broken dead.   Gone.   But  not “away” —   That’s the “no” answer to the title of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUZZLING IT OUT

March 24, 2016

(sorry for this unusual extended absence;  funk;  Scandinavian Funk)

So,  this is a most important week,  a most Holy Week, full of detail and meaning and mystery:

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      Jesus Overlooking Jerusalem

The “mystery” is not that I have done yet another jigsaw puzzle;   the mystery is God, the Creator of all things and of all people,   prepared a special nation,  all descendants of the man named Abraham through which He, God Himself,  could take on human flesh and join True Human Nature to His Divinity.

One Person,  two natures.  That’s a mystery.

And He did it for a reason.   To come unto His own people, this special nation,  to be one among them,  and to do for them what they couldn’t do for themselves — save them from their sins and sanctify them, to make them holy for the next world.

So there is Jesus in that puzzle picture,  overlooking His city Jerusalem which He loved.

“He came unto His own,  and His own received Him not,”  we are told.

Just as His last week of life began,  He looks over the city, and with a Heart of love, weeps for the city,  knowing what will soon happen to it.    “O Jerusalem,  Jerusalem;  how often would I have gathered thee up to myself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings….and you would not.”

I think about this scene every year that Holy Week begins.   Such love.  Such longing.  Such sorrow.

The people of Jerusalem,  in their houses down there,   the people of Judea,  and  the people of all lands “even to the ends of the earth”  belong to another.    They belong to what Jesus described as The Strong Man.

Jesus had taught that you can’t steal from a Strong Man’s house unless you first bind up the Strong Man, make him powerless,  and only then you can take away from him his possessions.

We are those possessions.   The “Strong Man”  is the enemy of God,  Satan, if you will; and the “house”  is this planet.    We can’t get up and walk away by our own power.   We can’t break out of the house.   We are  helpless, weak,  and pretty much clueless and  unwilling.

So Jesus came to “bind” that Strong Man,  and to make him powerless over us.  That’s what He’ll  be doing for the rest of this 24-hour period:   a good day,  a very good day for us.

Good Friday.

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Soon, now.

Saint Valentine’s Day of Contradictions

February 14, 2016

Technically,  it’s not a Lenten fast day today. The purple banner countdown will resume tomorrow.    It’s still Sunday,  just not . . .  a day for fasting or abstinence.

So I had a day of contrasts and contradictions.    A day in Lent that is not “lenten.”

A beautiful Mass in which the True Presence was truly present.    We Christians are followers of Jesus, the long-promised Christ.   He is “gone” for a while,  but He comes in the Mass, in the manner in which  He promised, each time.   Gone,  but here.  How great a contradiction is that!

In the midst of this 40-day fast,  then, today,  I took  a young friend out for lunch.   She is going on a long trip and I really wanted to hear all about it.   Besides,  I like her company —  and we had a delicious  “feast,”   complete with dessert, which I rarely order.   Menu?  roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings,  and a Chocolate Silk pie!

But after all that activity,  and when I got home,   I noticed I was quite warm.  Hot, even.   Burning up with fever, actually.       So on this day that my outdoor thermometer registered  0  degrees,   as in ZERO!,   my body chooses to contradict our cold spell with a fever.

I am prepared for  class tomorrow,  but the teacher  (me)  will not be there.

But some “little things” did arrive:       Robins!    Robins are Spring birds around here.  That’s how we know Spring has arrived,  the robins come back.   But today, out back by the frozen pond,  in single-digit winter weather,   one of my bushes was filled with fat, puffy,   red-breasted robins, playing and keeping warm, I guess.  (No picture…. I don’t feel well enough to get their photos out of my camera.)    So warm-weather birds contradicting their migration orders!

One more contradiction…   We have the Saint Valentine’s Day remembrance — in the midst of a most contradictory culture which seems to have forgotten what marriage actually is –  at least in its public statements and practices.

The man,  Saint Valentine,  didn’t die for Hallmark cards, candy, flowers, and chocolates.   He died in the late Roman Empire* because he was helping the soldiers who were Christian and who wanted to be married.   The Emperor had issued a decree forbidding soldiers to get married, although they were, of course, encouraged and expected to  act “married” with a series of willing and equally immoral young women, whenever they felt the “urge.”

Christian men in the army rejected this and St. Valentine, priest, secretly married them –  and was imprisoned,  cruelly tortured, and died for it  (as did many young soldiers).

So St. Valentine’s Day is all about marriage,  real marriage,  a sacramental marriage that is aided and made more beautiful by the grace of God.

This is not, it seems,  what today’s public culture celebrates today.      May God preserve us from facing further martyrdom to uphold the real meaning of marriage.

heart

.*.      “St. Valentine died in 269 AD, which you may or may not call the “late” Roman Empire …. depends on where you are in Rome’s timeline ….   my thinking is really fuzzy right now . . . . .