Archive for the ‘Liturgical Year’ category

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.

 

 

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EPIPHANY: DO SOMETHING!

January 6, 2018

“Or else then it will be too LATE!”     I’m not sure how helpful a memory generated by fear can be,  but those are the words that my father often spoke to me.    “Look at the situation; and act;  do your duty while you can or else  then it will be too late!

Yeah ,  little girl being taught (and taught well) by her big giant Marine Corps daddy with Viking fury blazing out of his deep blue eyes.

Sounds too tough?   Well, I got through my father’s parenting, and the older I got the more I was really, really glad I learned  some of   his lessons.     Every word was spoken out of love.

Do something about it!” 

“While you still can.”

gulag campfire

I am reminded of  Solzhenitsyn of the newly formed Soviet Union and his two friends crouching around a small fire in the freezing cold of a Siberian gulag,  discussing with regret that they should have seen this coming.  But they had done nothing but speak and write and discuss  political hypotheses,  as though the danger were not  real.

So what do all these dire  thoughts have to do with Epiphany today?

WISE MEN Invis Blue 280

There are wonderful, important, life-and-death,  eternal lessons to learn from the actions of the “three” Wise Men from Persia: seeing a star,  knowing its meaning,  and traveling towards it.    The Spruce Tunnel has written about the religious significance on other Epiphanies.

This year there seems to be some urgency.

The Star heralded the birth of the Anointed One from God-Most-High  come to earth to save the people from their sin;     to bring blessing and aid to the humans who are so divinely loved.     For 2,500 years,  more or less,  scholars had been reading of this  promised  Christ — they didn’t know when,  but there would be signs that indicated His coming.   These Magi from Persia saw the Star –

–    and they  did something.

They studied their own times,   they studied the wisdom of the past,  they saw something new in the sky;  and they concluded that now was the time to act – to actually act, not to study it more,  to think about it more,  to be “happy” about it — but to act.    In so doing,  the eyes of these non-Jewish Magi beheld and accepted the Messiah that had come for Jews and Gentiles alike.

The Door has now opened to the whole world.

Wise men afar

Epiphany presents the Actions of God for us;   the actions of faith from us;   and a request for an act of commitment to the Christ-Child,  forever rejoicing in the Light of Life.

Has there ever been any century when the Forces of Darkness did not work through the hearts of men?    Our times, maybe?       Have we shown that we can save ourselves?  make the world a better place?   on our own, without the need for God in our everyday lives?

Of course there’s  a “fun ” side to Epiphany.  Wise Men with  gifts and “We Three Kings of Orient Are…”;   and it’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas;  and we get to put our Christmas decorations away . . . .   but let me show you what I just read today:

The Marquis de la Force in France,  late 18th century,   was a modern and successful man,  up-to-date with the latest in liberal thinking.  All the liberal philosophies that were forming made sense to him and to his society which was in the process of throwing off the old ways, and especially that superstitious enemy of the modern world, the Catholic Church.

And his lovely young daughter entered a Carmelite convent.

And his countrymen began a revolution that ended in regicide and the bloody overturning of his own society.

rev terror

The  philosophical wanderings and  political dallyings of de la Force and his trendy friends had led to bloodshed and chaos and changing alliances, so that soon no one was safe.

rev guill

This political party,  that political party,  in and out of favor,  no compass, no guide,  no restraint —  just “the politics of personal destruction  and rule by public opinion — and lives destroyed on the guillotine.

Including his own lovely young daughter,  who was one of the Carmelite nuns of Compeigne,  led one by one up the stairs to the block, under the blade.

com 2

The nuns sang sweetly as they waited,  the Veni Sancte Creator, I think,  and as it happened,   little Blanche de la Force’s voice was  the last one left singing before she was executed.

We know this from history:    the French blithely tossed away  the Catholic Church and  then lost their foundation of moral law and truth and justice.    What takes the place of the Church are the Forces of Darkness, ready to rip through the hearts of men.

Her father spoke these words:

“This outrage is intolerable!   Something ought to be done about it!   Religious people should see to  it.  I’m told that they still exist in sufficient numbers.   I hope they will increase.   These circles are indispensable for law and order.   Why don’t they do something!”   *

We don’t know much about what happened to the Marquis,  but, as the author of this little book says:  “Life took the initiative . . .  and as far as I can see,  the actual events were the logical consequences of his (political)  beliefs.”

So here at Epiphany  with the Wise Men,  and now,  and  there at the French Revolution with all its faith in a society without the Church,  and later at the Soviet Revolution,  with its determination to create a perfect society without God,   we can witness great ideas that influence mankind,  wise men who put the good ideas into action,  and others who just let the Forces of Darkness steer the events of this world.

There is a present meaning for us  in Epiphany.    With the Light it brings,   with the epiphany it creates in our minds,   I hope we can do something to head off the Darkness that is coming  —  or then it will be too late.

 

(I feel  like a little girl again.)

“This outrage is intolerable!   Something ought to be done about it!   Religious people should see to  it.”

 

.*  The Song of the Scaffold,  by Gertrud von la Port

2018 = 1,440 X 365

January 1, 2018

Just thinking here.

I love “receiving” a whole new year.   Or at least receiving the possibility of a whole new year of life;  none of us can know that we will make it through the entire year.

Nevertheless,  each new year gives us the gift of 365 days divided into  1,440 segments.   That seems like a lot of opportunities.   So my New Year’s Resolutions – if I were to make any –  would be, first, to not waste any of those 1,440 “gifts,”  leaving them at the end of the day like so many unopened presents under an old Christmas tree.

The 1,440 gifts are tools to use in the furtherance of a purpose, the reason each of us were made.     The purpose may or may not be related to  the skills and talents and inclinations we have, but we do the best we can with what we seem to know.   1,440 minutes each new day, like 1,440 little tools – the time to do what we should.

So, for me,   New Year’s Resolution #2 has something to do with making the Counter-Revolution known – the rising up of people all over the world against their Revolutionary Rulers who themselves previously tore down Western Culture and trampled on our values – and then became the ruling Establishment,   silencing us with political correctness and rather oppressive laws.

(Do you have any idea how free people were back in the Middle Ages?  How much free time?  How much freedom from taxes?)

Just think “the old, aging Sixty-Eighters,”  who fought the Cultural Revolution, peaking in 1968, and then worming their way into every power structure in the Western world, and entrenching themselves into a new kind of self-perpetuating establishment.  It is those Revolutionaries we must Counter – or we all descend into some kind of  barbaric chaos where Might Makes Right  and we’re controlled by some contrived  consensus created by fictional opinion polls to keep us compliant.   We’ve got to fight back!

For what “purpose”?      To Restore Western Values —  the values that created a strong, stable, prosperous civilization which not only worked but was actually quite self-correcting.

“Politics determines how we’ll live in this world;  religion determines how we’ll live in the next.”    (Not a perfect motto,  but there is some truth to it.)

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      . . .  1,440  minutes in each of those days,   each minute with a reason and a purpose.

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Not to say that I’ll be blogging twice a day this year . . .  and probably not even once a day.

 

GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES

May 1, 2017

(Good Shepherd Sunday this week)

Every once in a while, when I get into a discussion of sheep,  someone in the group tells me the story of the farm boys who tease their father’s sheep by getting them to follow each other — around in  a circle!

(Here’s a sketch; sorry it’s so light. I used mainly a grey pencil.)

good sh in acircle

Around and around and around;  “because sheep are so dumb they’ll just keep following the one in front of him”   —  around and around  .  .  .   Great joke!     Then the farm boys would get into trouble because — well, it’s just plain mean to take advantage of dumb animals.

So is that story ever true?     Really?     That dumb?

But maybe.

I’ve read about sheep.  Here are two great classic books describing the behavior of actual sheep with the not-so-subtle suggestion of the many ways we are like the sheep too.

good shep books

The books are entertaining.   The author is a real shepherd and has intimate and detailed knowledge about the care of sheep.    What a job!  They can’t take care of themselves like, say, a herd of beef cattle.    Or trout in a trout pond.    Chickens in a coop . .  .

Sheep stray.   They have no idea how to find their way back.   They eat things they shouldn’t.   They get pretty sick and easily  die.  They get thirsty, but have to be led to the nearby watering hole.    They don’t wander home when it gets dark.

good shep on a hill

The shepherd pretty much has to do all the thinking for his sheep and lead them along, staying alert and attentive.

But he has to lead them gently.   They spook easily.   A harsh voice will spook them.   They get confused easily.    A stranger’s voice will spook them.

One spring day when I was a teacher,  a student’s mother brought in a baby lamb.   She warned me ahead of time that lambs are extremely sensitive to sudden noises, bangs or shouts.  Any sudden change in volume would be enough to shock the little lamb to death!

god little lamb

She said it sometimes happens in their barns.

Try keeping 32 seven-year-olds   still and quiet when a  tiny little lamb appears in the classroom!     That day is impressed deeply in my memory, I was so worried.   (Nobody died that day!)

We are taught that we are like sheep.  We people.   We who think we know so much.  We who think we know what we need.  We who think we know where our lives are taking us.   We who think we can find our way,  but, really, we’re merely following.

Here’s what the Good Shepherd would like us to know about ourselves:  “All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned  everyone to his own way.”    He told the great prophet Isaiah to teach us that.    We have a fatal flaw;  we’ve strayed away from the One who made us and  turned to our own ways.

In all my decades of life,  I’ve never found that not to be true.

The Good Shepherd knows everything.     We’d all be lost in the end,  if we didn’t have a Good Shepherd inviting us to follow Him.

good shep holding little one

The pathway is Narrow.   Cliffs and quicksand,  cunning wolves,  sheep rustlers   (thieves),   bad weather and misfortune,  hunger, thirst, and sickness, enticing shadows, fake shepherds  — all  distract us and lie in wait for us.

Think how dangerous it would be for these sheep to leave their Shepherd!!

“I am the Good Shepherd; my sheep know my voice and I know them.”    Nobody can get to Heaven without Him.

 

 

 

 

THE HUNCHBACK HAS HIS DAY

April 25, 2017

Yes.  Well.     Back to the real world.   But let’s go into the real real world, where sometimes bad things happen and bad people exist.    What then?

hunchback

Sometimes babies aren’t born perfect,  and in an imperfect (Fallen)  world,  the imperfect baby is not loved.   In fact, the birth of this hideously deformed baby boy horrified his parents.    Hunchbacked and mostly blind.

The hopeful young parents had waited so long for this baby to grow in the womb and be born — and then . . .  this –  this unspeakable thing was born!   Its presence would be a curse on the poor parents and on everyone around them.   What to do with it?

You can’t just kill it because it’s “human.”   And so, since it’s human,  just throw it on the Mercy of God –  throw it back where it came from, so to speak:

notre dame

And so on Low Sunday the ugly baby was found on the doorsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral.

We often name our Sundays after the first two or three words of that day’s Introit,  the opening prayer as the Mass begins.   Here is the Introit for Low Sunday,  the Sunday after Easter:

Quasi modo géniti infántes allelúia: rationábiles, sine dolo lac concupíscite, allelúia, allelúia, allelúia.

Or  (English):  As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

“Newborn babies” ?  What to call that abandoned newborn baby?   Call it by the name of the Sunday on which he appeared:  Quasimodo.

Little Quasimodo found mercy and love among the Christian hearts within Notre Dame’s walls.   He was fed and cared for and as he grew he  joyfully fulfilled the task of ringing the bells in those great towers.

Victor Hugo wrote the fictional story of Quasimodo and made it a deep study of love and hate,  of rejection, betrayal,  rescue,  hypocrisy,   innocent love and cold-hearted lust — and of the noblest act of self-sacrifice.   Even though we may know “what happens” in the story,  it’s well worth reading, especially as we grow older.

A few days ago it was Quasimodo Sunday.  We didn’t hear about The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the sermon,   but we  did learn  to become like the little children that Jesus held up before us as our models;  and we did learn to become eager for the new, nourishing milk of the whole story of the Gospel.  Every bit of it!

Yes,  we should want Him that much;   in the same way as (quasi modo) that a newborn baby wants his mother’s milk,   because it’s there that we find  mercy and peace and life that doesn’t end.

A fictional story that demonstrates the love of God?     How about a factual story of the same kind that also demonstrates the power of the love of God?

Once there was born an ugly little girl baby –  deformed,  hunch-backed,  and blind.    True story.

castello

Her parents were wealthy nobles and her birth would bring shame to them –  if anyone ever saw her.    The little baby was named Margaret and she was kept locked in a back room of her parents’ castle – out of sight! – with only a maidservant to care for her needs.      And because she was human and because this was a  Christian  country,   they sent a priest in to see her at times.

Like the good people in Notre Dame Cathedral,  this priest took care of her spiritual needs,  taught her the truths about God’s love and mercy –  and Margaret grew up to be kind and loving – and forgiving,   trusting in God.

margaret

Not so her parents.    When they thought she was old enough,  they took her to the nearby town  for a “shopping trip.”       And they abandoned her there.   Cold,  hungry,  weary of waiting for her parents all day,  she was taken in by various families, until months later finally she was brought to a convent –  which was a bad one!     Being blind and crippled,  she brought them no money so they soon  kicked her out,  back onto the streets.

But remember,  she had been taught right from wrong by that loving priest in her early life.  She knew how God wants us to live – with kindness and forgiveness given freely to all.     She chose the love and mercy of her Heavenly Father and never wavered.  Her life was an instruction to everyone,  to everyone who would see.    Good people loved her.

(You can read her story in the “Read the rest. . .”  part below.)

These are two examples for us who are “blind” in some areas;  who are unformed in good works and deformed in our actions;  crippled morally in some small way;  who secretly feel we could be rejected if people knew the truth about us . .  .  .

Blind and deformed and crippled.   Quasimodo knew and Margaret of Castello knew —  that it’s  for these kind of people that Jesus died  (Good Friday)  and rose again  (Easter) that they may become His followers, like dear children (quasi modo . . .)

The real world that we live in can be ugly and unfriendly and dangerous.     But the Real real world can also be a place to dwell in God’s unchanging love.

 

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(more…)

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.

____________________________________

 

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

 

 

AT LAST!

April 16, 2017

 

The other Easter joy:

 

peeps one gone

 

(once a year)

ALIVE! – WHAT TO SAY

April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER TO THE WORLD!!!!

akive

 

What can we say to the God of Love, Our Father,  who planned this all along so that it would be possible for us to enter into His Heaven?

It was so unexpected.  It is so above our means.

jesus risen

 

 

We say this prayer.   Repeated throughout this day.     Repeated throughout our lives.  This prayer of gratitude:

 

Adoramus Te, Christe, et benedicimus Tibi,

Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.   Amen.

 

English:

We adore Thee, O Christ,  and we bless Thee,

For by Thy Holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.   Amen.

________________________________________

 

And to each other:

“Christ is risen.”

“He is risen indeed.”

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

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

JUST . . . LOOK UP

April 13, 2017

The “beautiful thing” of this week:

3 Moon 1

Moon and moon-in-pond.

My camera could not capture its lovely golden color.  

3 Moon 3 with effects

 The Paschal Moon shines down through my back yard trees.

The first full moon after the first new moon of the first month of the year, Nisan.

The Paschal Moon shines down on all of us this week, because once, 2,000 years ago,  it rose over Jerusalem:

3 moon above.

And Jesus died.

 

 

 

 

TWO REALMS OF LIFE

April 13, 2017

I wrote yesterday that some   “happy, beautiful”  things happened to me.  Well,  here is the “happy” thing and what it showed me:

4 recorder j

As humans,  there are two realms put before us at each present moment:      One of great beauty and life;  one of ugliness and death.   And so on Wednesday of this week and Thursday we are reminded that these two realms are set before us.

Adherence to Rituals and Rules

I came to my friend’s house  yesterday,  and this is what greeted me —

 4 table set

It was time for our somewhat regular recorder practice on Wednesday.  The “ritual” is that we  seat ourselves in front of our music stands, allow a little  light conversation while we play our first pieces, and then we get down to some serious musicianship.   Then we begin to feel that our session is over, and we proceed to tea.

Always an absolute delight at my friend’s house; beautiful, seasonal, whimsical.   A thoughtful table for tea.

4 Napkin

My friend served mille-feuilles in honor of a book we’ve both enjoyed.

4 mille

(Also known as napoleons.)   There was a Reality at work here in our friendship and in our music,  a beautiful  Reality that flows out of one realm and into the other.

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We did not mention that yesterday was Spy Wednesday  –  but it was:

4 thirty pieces

This Wednesday is called “Spy Wednesday”  because on this day the Jewish leaders met with  riff-raff.    They who were  the righteous arbiters of Ritual and the Law, had to deal with this common man, Judas Iscariot, who was willing to betray his own Friend with secret reports of His whereabouts.       With great distaste,  these religious rulers finalized their plans and sealed the deal with  the 30 pieces of silver that was foretold so many centuries ago.   But one does what one must to achieve a higher goal.

The religious rulers as well as the Romans lived in the one, material realm.

Statues,  unquestioned authority,  riches,  gold and silver, impressive robes and long fringes;  in this  material realm the use of  power of this material world could establish a kind of peace, ruling over all the rest.   This is a kingdom not founded in love and friendship, faith and true  piety,  but on Rules and Rituals to keep people in their proper places.

It is a kingdom, a realm,  that is ugly and leads to death.

So the culmination of all this spying and plotting came on a Wednesday,  but it is for Thursday to carry it out

Material Reality and Spiritual Reality

Material Reality alone fails.    There is a Spiritual Reality which gives beauty and life to our  Material Reality,  but we can’t”measure the spirit  by  material means.

 Can we measure the material worth of Friendship?   of  Honor?   of Courage?  of Love?  What is the price, in material goods,  of your love for  each of family members?     4 ruler

How many miles long is your Truth?    What color is the Respect that people have for you?   4 scales How many pounds does your Faith in God weigh?

 But these things exist.

And yet, some things can be seen and weighed and measured and physically compared. We can’t lose sight of the material world that we live in, nor of the spiritual world which give Life to it.

 _____________________________________

Just as our tea table yesterday contained a tea pot, cups, saucers,  hot cross buns and milles-feuilles,  and you could have recorded the sound of a lovely music CD, our voices,  the telephone ringing,  chairs squeaking, footsteps . . .   you could not have measured the intangible things of the actual Spiritual Realm (mutual love, friendship, respect,  faith)  which accompanied us and penetrated all our material  “noises.”

Both existed.   The material realm and the spiritual realm met and  co-existed.

This is not “above” human beings to  understand.

4 last supper reclining

Jesus met with His friends  at His Last Supper with them,   It was a supper determined by Rituals with  prophetic meaning.   It was a time for the last bit of teaching,  last time to show the means of Loving which is self-sacrifice and servitude,  last bit of instructive and loving prayers, and one thing more:

4 l;ast supper jess

With God’s creative and sovereign will,  here was the first Transformation of the material aspects of that Supper into an eternal, spiritual union with the Creator –  present from now on,  any time,  any place that this “ritual supper” is recreated.

From the earliest beginnings of Christianity,  this Last Supper was not meant to be merely copied by our actions, nor imitated.   The Last Supper,  within these last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on Earth,  was meant to be entered into  spiritually,  really,  actually — and perpetually,  until He comes.   Matter and Spirit.

These last 24 hours are completed at Calvary.

The Last Supper which then  becomes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

PRESENT!

April 11, 2017

palms

“Live deliberately, ”  I tell my classes.  “Make deliberate,  conscious choices.”    (So during this Holy Week,  I choose to direct my attention more often to the cosmic, eternal events which makes this week so full of opportunity for us.)

 “Be present.”

This week begins with the familiar story of Palm Sunday.  

 

road to jerusalem

It had been a pilgrim’s journey to Jerusalem, where observant Jews can be  present for Passover.   Jesus had been making the  journey to this Passover in Jerusalem for a few days, and He made a few stops along the way.

Did you know that once Jesus was scolded for not being “present”?

There is a city along the way to Jerusalem called Bethany.    A man named Lazarus lived there with his two sisters.    He became very sick and was dying.  The sisters sent word to Jesus to come quickly and heal him.  

(Here is an aerial view of Bethany’s location, down in the corner):

aerial view

But Jesus did not arrive quickly;   Lazarus was dead by the time He got there.

The sisters  scolded and said,    “If you had been here sooner,  you could have done something for him!”     ( If you had been  present here,  our brother would not have died.)        But Jesus had not been present when needed,  or so they thought.  We know what Jesus did for Lazarus.    The sisters are united with their brother.

marthaThen it was time to take care of their Guest, a Guest who is now present.   But Martha scurried away to get the food and drink ready.   Only her sister Mary remained  present at the side of Jesus to hear every word He had to say.

One present at His side,  one not;  and Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “better part.”   I don’t need to point out that being present for Jesus at every moment is indeed the better part.     How much you can miss when you’re scurrying about with other duties and other thoughts!!

Then,  on the first day of the week,  Jesus walked all the way into Jerusalem– and was met by many people who had anticipated that He would be present in the city!

Palm branches

Yes,  it’s ironic that the same population who was heralding Him as their  Blessed King “who comes in the name of the LORD”  is the same population that cried out that they have no king but Herod — so crucify this Man!

But for now,  on this Palm Sunday,  they rejoiced that He was present in their midst and that they  themselves were present to sing highest praises of hosannas in His presence.

And after this day of palms?    The next day He made Himself present to the people of the city He loved.         He was present and exposed to anyone who wanted to make a case against Him.

He walked around,  He talked,  He healed,   He answered questions,   He was out in the open,  totally present to anyone who wanted to find out about Him.

Again,  present, as He is for us today,  without us  having to buy a ticket to fly to Jerusalem.

___________________________________

So being present is a two-way phenomenon.   Someone is present for you;  and you make yourself present to Someone.

Same way it always was.

 

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.”

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

April 2, 2017

(Jesus,  confrontational and blunt,  bearer of bad news. )

“Red sky in morning,  sailors take warning”  —

Sunrise 380

There aren’t too many sunrises in my “circadian rhythm” –   but I caught one recently!    And sure enough, we had about three days of rain following this beautiful sky.

It was Passion Sunday today,  a name for this particular Sunday that’s been recognized for centuries as the one in which we begin the steep,  inevitable slide downward into the days of the Crucifixion.      We carefully reread and then meditate on the events in those last couple of weeks before the death of Christ.   There’s lots there for our minds to confront.

None of His friends knew that some very bad times were coming, though.    In fact,  Jesus thought it weird that mankind can read the signs in the sky,  like red skies in mornings,  but we can’t read the Signs of the Times.  So  His last conversations were particularly blunt and to-the-point.

No time left for a kinder, gentler religion of luv and mercy for everyone, everywhere,  no matter what they’re doing and no matter what they believe in.

The Reading Appointed for Passion  Sunday:

phar n rulers

Speaking to the local rulers and religious leaders of His day,  Jesus told them right out that if they were of God –  if, as they thought they were —  then they would understand His words and believe Him,  but since they reject Him,  they are not of God but of God’s enemy,  the Devil.

You’re, a liar,  they said.      No, you are the liars,  He said.

No backing down from the truth.

We’re sons of Abraham, they said.

pharisee angry

But,  He said,   Abraham  saw My day,  he saw Me come to earth, and he rejoiced to see Me. 

You can’t claim   that Abraham ever saw You!    You’re just nothing but a young, inexperienced nobody.

But —  before Abraham ever was  —     I AM. 

That was the statement that did it.    Jesus is right-out, plainly, clearly, bluntly stating that  He and God,  (who had revealed Himself with the name I AM)   are one and the same.

Take it or leave it.

Believe it or don’t. 

pharisees

They didn’t believe it –  and they didn’t get Him that time.   Yet.   (“They took up stones, therefore, to cast at Him;  but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”)

But some of them  and their children lived to see the destruction of that beautiful, sturdy temple they were in.   It took them unawares.

The Signs of the Times:  Judgment comes  upon all unbelievers.

Pretty blunt.

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.

____________________________

 

 

 

SOUR BERRIES, GOLD STRIPS, AND TOILET PAPER ROLLS

January 13, 2017

The “lesson” today began with a curmudgeonly encounter with sour berries,   two gold strips, and a toilet paper roll.

Lesson # 1 –  “New”  doesn’t always mean better.

new-tricks
In fact,  in this benighted century,  “new” almost always means worse.   Or greatly diminished.

“New” ways of doing things,  “new tricks,”   almost always means cutting corners, cutting quality  — and caring more for the Bottom Line than for people.

 

My first encounter with the “new” came in the form of many, many pints of berries,  raspberries and strawberries.   Good price.  Good for juicing and freezing in little cups.

1-juice

I did it.  I did all the work.     Then I  tasted the juice.    Ick!     Sour, tasteless berry juice.  I know berries grow in the summer . . .   but if they sell them now in the winter, doesn’t that mean they’ve come from warmer climates?  Southern places?   Greenhouses?   Aren’t they still berries?

It’s “new” to be able to buy berries out of season . .  .  but what are these?     Maybe the “new” way of growing doesn’t give the berries the ability to include their natural sugar.

The second encounter  was with the gold strips.

2-gold-strips

I was putting away Christmas cards – and envelopes – and was delighted to see a couple envelopes made with a heavy gold lining,  like the “good” cards we used to send to special people.

Only the gold lining didn’t go all the way through.

1-5-pretty-envelope

Just two little strips on the back and front, inside the envelope,  to make it look like the envelope was just as elegant as they always used to be.

Not a really big deal, I guess,  but the “little girl” in me felt tricked by this “new” way of saving money.   I felt a little sadness at this diminution of quality.

Third encounter?

3-toilet-paper-rolls

Yeah . . .  the “new”  toilet paper rolls.    The cardboard roll at the right is a sad reminder that the size and thickness of these rolls has also decreased — to the point that my old patterns for using toilet paper rolls in crafts:  Brownies, Girl Scouts,  first-grade classroom art projects,  and those silly little crocheted dress forms that you make to put on a little girl’s bedspread . . .    You can’t use these smaller, flimsier  imitation rolls in those patterns  . . .

And how about having NO rolls at all  (like the white thing on the left)?     Doesn’t work quite as well as they’d like us to believe.

To those people who thought up these “new” ideas:   TREES ARE A RENEWABLE RESOURCE!!!!     Making paper products employs American workers of many skills!!   Paper companies produce something of worth and add value to our economy.    Don’t be afraid to use paper — it adds;   it doesn’t waste anything!     (Of course, I’m not speaking about thoughtless “wastefulness.”)

Am I being a curmudgeon?   Maybe.    But sometimes I wonder, how much lower do we have to let the quality of everyday things get?     Paying a little bit more for smaller quantities.     Buttons and seams that come unthreaded . . . .    “Newspapers that have one-tenth of the words newspapers are expected to have.    We’ve all had these “encounters.”  What will we see ten years down the road?

Lesson # 2 –

Yes,  this is about Epiphany – the entire season of Epiphany,  the one that has been diminished by the modern  “new-improved”  version of the Church.

epiphany

Wherever you find Christendom today, you’ll observe that today is an important day on the Liturgical Calendar.   It is the Octave of Epiphany.    That is,  the Church (the real, actual Church), has given us eight days to learn, relearn, and more deeply learn the lessons of Epiphany.

After all,  only a child would want to look at the Three Wise Men and then quickly move on to “something else.”   There is much more to Epiphany to the adult mind — and we need at least an octave of days to consider it all.

I didn’t write about the three main points of epiphany this year.   Many others have done so, and I wasn’t physically able to do so.    But just to point out, though,  the three events  that Epiphany offers us are

  1.    The visitation of the Wise Men
  2.     The changing of water into wine at Cana
  3.     The baptism of Jesus

All three events demonstrate to us some aspect of the divinity of  Jesus,  who was presented to us at the very beginning of the Gospels.     All three events have significant meaning for our  eternal life, in the next world.

I’m not writing about those events, however;    I’m just calling attention to a diminished and weakened presentation of the Gospel story which obscures the splendor and majesty of Jesus,  the Son of God.     You can’t squish a whole octave into one Sunday morning sermon on the day of Epiphany.

The “new” way of having just one day of Epiphany is not a better way!    So much we no longer know!!!     So much quality slipping through our hands.

Christendom diminished.

The burden of the effort is on us to recover . . .  quality.

AN ‘EPIPHANY’ ABOUT FAKE NEWS

January 6, 2017

(Sorry about that title.)

Yes, it is Epiphany today.  I’ve just read a document from about 600 years ago reporting that such-and-such a thing occurred on “Epiphany.”

I know that date!     We know that date!     From the first third of the first century,   the event of the Epiphany and The Wise Men  has been known!   And loved and celebrated down through the centuries!

silhouette-wisemen-and-swirly-sky

We don’t know what they saw in the sky,  (probably an actual “star”-looking thing),  and we don’t know when they visited the Newborn King,   and we don’t know exactly where they came from nor how long it took them to get there nor when exactly they arrived . . .   but we do  know that some Wise Men visited the Christ Child, shortly after he was born.

3-kings

We can know for sure that they  presented Him with at least three gifts that they chose to represent His three distinct qualities:  Royalty,  Divinity,  and  His  Unique  Death that would be the Blessing promised to the Ancient Patriarch Abraham.

3-gifts

And yet —   there were no tape recorders,  microphones,  cell phones,  video-recording devices,  no GPS,   no existing itinerary that the visitors from “the East”  had used.    No stenography, human or electronic,  to record the visit of the Wise Men.

The sure thing is the eyewitness accounts,  the importance and care which the early followers of Jesus placed on this event,  the  dawning realization that the event occurred not just out of the goodness of the hearts of these three travelers,   but it occurred in order to prove the prophecies of the Scriptures that say “even the Gentiles” shall come to Him.   And “This Child shall be a Light to enlighten the Gentiles.”

Gentiles!      Living in Darkness for so long.    Pagans, like my ancestors, worshiping and appeasing Thor and Odin.

odin

And now,  I can come to the Manger too –  and the Wise Men are a manifestation of this Truth.

It’s not a false story!

How ironic is it that in this day of electronic recording of EVERYTHING ,  we are deluged with news stories which very often turn out to be false,  told only to affect our  “attitudes”;  and entertainment programs which turn out to be based upon false and harmful human actions,   propagated only to break down our moral barriers.

(And both, of course,  presented to us in order to make money for the Corporate Rulers.)

So eyewitness testimony of the pre-technological age can be more certainly True than the plethora of electronically-recorded information that we have to pick our way through every day.

It’s mentally exhausting!

But we can Rest – in the Truth of Epiphany.

bar-thorns

For my foreign Readers:  

Some recent examples of false news stories you may have heard about:   

The “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot”   slogan — based on something that never happened.  It just sounded like a good way to target white people, especially policemen.      The petty shoplifter never did put his hands up,   several minutes later he was spotted by a policeman,    he had a fight with the policeman sitting in his car and tried to wrestle the gun away from the policeman;    (the gun went off, the bullet was found inside the car);    then he charged the policeman again with intent to harm the officer,  upon which he was shot.   This young man was NOT shot with his hands up.

That New Year’s Eve in Europe was a  “peaceful”  one, without incident from your  migrant invaders.

That Trump supporters are “violent”  and cause violence at political rallies.  Easily proven false when you look at every instance and see who is doing what to whom.

That Moslems in America are hated and sometimes attacked.   (“Tearing off my hijab,”  anyone?  –  Now she is being prosecuted for having told a false tale.)

That America is racist.  (Only on the news stories and in movies and TV programs!)    Come to  everyday  American cities –  you’ll see Blacks and Whites living side by side or working together, side by side, or walking down the street together, discussing their work or the weather or whatever.    This is the “normal” America.   Not often recorded by electronic devices.

That the “Russians”  hacked the recent election and somehow affected the outcome.  (Absolutely no evidence has been presented,  although many times they have restated their claim and called that “evidence.”   And then they get really mad and insulting if you don’t accept their statements as “evidence.”)  The Russians did not.  yet every day,  even up to today,  the news readers start their stories with   “Russian hacking of the election”   – and isn’t it terrible that Donald Trump wants evidence!

That Trump didn’t get the popular vote in the last election.   The falseness of this statement comes from looking at only ONE state.  There are 50 states in our nation;  if you look at 49 of them,  Trump received the larger share of the popular vote, by millions.    Add back in that one state,   and Mrs.   Clinton received more millions of votes.  That one state?     It’s the home of millions of illicit, unidentified  voters . . . .

And just one more, because I’m getting tired again:     There was a shooting today at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport.      Terrible.   Five dead, so far.    Somehow, within minutes, the entertainment-news media in this country were told to give out a name for the shooter:   (a Spanish name).     They were told to make discussion about “a lone wolf” shooter.    “Gun control.”  

And then, the Canadian airlines who was supposed to have carried this man to Florida said that  No one with that name was a passenger on their flight.    In addition,  the way the story was told about getting his gun out of his checked-in luggage at the baggage claim area  was refuted by several passengers who do carry guns on flights – in checked-in luggage.   

And the photo that was released –   many think he doesn’t look like a Mexican.   

So the entertainment-news media is now allowed to add a terrorist element to their story.

So what is true?     Who is this shooter?  Who set him up?  Who put him up to it?   Why?   And how will our Rulers use this incident – against us?

Cui bono?

WINDING DOWN BEFORE CHRISTMAS

December 12, 2016

(A snapshot of Dec. 10;  just keeping a record.)

Yup, we had that snowstorm.     I was buried today.    Not too bad,  I’ve seen worse –

d-second-shoveling

This area had about 9 inches of snow today.  That photo is my second  round of shoveling the driveway.  Still hadn’t made it out as far as the mailbox.     I knew I’d have to drive out in the late afternoon, so instead of shoveling all at once,  I did it in   “shifts.”     12:40 . . .  2:30 . . .   4:15.

You might recognize that as pre-game,   half-time,  and  post-game  (or rather between the first and second games.

Now I’m home,  I don’t care how much more snow has fallen,  and I’m enjoying the effect of the “frosting”  on my blue deck lights:

deck-blue-lts-400-dkn

I can NOT get a good picture that shows how soft and beautiful the lights are.   I think I’ll  go to sleep by that window tonight.

Another view with dramatic lights and shadows, but even less of the blue lights.

deck-snow-400

I’ll make good use of my insomnia tonight and just enjoy the winter beauty as I “wind down”  from all the things that have stirred me up during the past week or so.     The usual, of course:  holiday cleaning,  decorating,  gift-buying;   good preparation for the last-classes-of-the -year.   I can “wind down” on that too because we’re just going to take up where we left off after we begin  to meet again.   What I didn’t say or didn’t say well I can try again in January.

There was a flurry of party preparations for a while,  our Annual  Christmas-Movie-Pizza party,   but we had a less elaborate party this year.    We voted to have actual pizza this year,  so all we had to do was eat and enjoy.   I was very, very, very nervous about whether or not my guests would like the movie.    I wanted them to very much.

They did.    In fact,  they seemed to enjoy talking about it,  mulling over it,  letting it sink in,  beyond what I had hoped.       I can relax now.

I must have begun minimizing things,  simplifying,  winding down during the party.     I worked hard on creating an album of our past parties – that was fun –  I’d very much recommend keeping a small album of your own special group of friends…  just gather up photos from the past.

n-1-album

Here’s a Rule of Life I discovered:  The older you get, the more your past experiences mean to you, so be sure to  record good moments for your future reference!!    But even so,   for some odd reason  I didn’t take one picture during this year’s party.      Not one.

d-party-leftovers

That’s about all I have left….  some sorry-looking punch.     Good friends cleaned up most of the rest.     The leftover glögg  is outside on the deck,  staying cool.      It won’t freeze with all that . . .  you know,  alcohol doesn’t freeze!

So,  this is  “Random Thoughts in the Spruce Tunnel.”     I’m minimizing my Advent activities too.   Most of it is internal, for me, anyway.    And now I have this to think about:     It is Gaudete Sunday.    Letting up from fasting and penance a little, we focus for a  moment on the  Joyful Event that we’re preparing for.

So it’s  Pink,  not Purple:

pink

Except I had some discordant thoughts today.    My first quick peek at the news this morning revealed several groups of killings:      Kenya,   a chemical gas truck accident killing a couple dozen;  in Turkey,  an explosion killing about three dozen;   in Egypt, an explosion in a church killing a couple dozen or so;   and back to Africa, Nigeria, where a church roof collapsed, killing  160 people.    Several  stabbings,  shootings, and rapes were reported this weekend in Europe,  courtesy of their  “refugee”  guests.

Not a good way to begin Gaudete Sunday.

And not a good way to end it either,  in the late afternoon,   in one of those modernist-awful new-version of the Church churches….    where the new young priest or deacon or whatever  continually mispronounced   the word “gaudete”   (that’s okay, lots of lay people do),  gave the wrong meaning to the word “gaudet”    and where, after making brief reference to  the purple colors used in Advent and Lent, asked us  what the color purple means.

“Preparation,”   he says.    Purple indicates preparation.

Nope.

I don’t mind mistakes,   but what this young man said in the rest of his sermon displayed a shocking lack of education,   understanding, and knowledge of Church doctrine.    One more generation of this . . .  and it won’t even really matter.

I’ll do “purple” in another post soon.   Did you know there was a Purple Revolution going on?    And I’ll do better on Advent things.

bio

 

Right now my biorhythms chart shows my Emotional line  (the red one) scraping bottom.

It’s a good time to slow down,   wind down for a while,  without coming to any specific conclusions.     After all, snowstorms are for warm quilts, hot cocoa,  and a good book in front of the fireplace.

Things can only go up from here!

 

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.)

DEATH AT ADVENT

November 28, 2016

I should entitle this posting “Not-So Fun With Insomnia.”    Sometimes,  even though you do finally get enough sleep,  it takes a physical toll on your hoped-for activities.   Consequently,  I missed posting about the beginning of Advent.

But now I have another consideration to add to my Advent thoughts.

funeral-w-coffin

A dear friend,  a member of one of my classes who had become “elderly”  during all these years she had been a part of us,  has died,  on this first day of Advent.   I just found out a few hours ago.

Advent is a time of   anticipating the  long-promised coming of the Messiah, the Christ and the great promises that are given to us.

funeral

And so Advent is  a celebration of the actual  Incarnation of  the Second Person of the Trinity, True God,  mankind’s only Savior.      We “anticipate”  by making sure we are the kind of people, individually the kind of person,  we ought to be in order to worthily welcome His coming.

Advent is because all Promises from God finally do come to an end in their fulfillment.    Both the First Coming of the Messiah and  (soon?)  the Second Coming of the Messiah, our Savior.   And because our individual lives will also come to an end.

This could be very bad news.  Who wants to think about the reality of his own death?   Life is over.   Finis.    No more second chances;  no more do-overs;  no more  . . .  anything.    As with our friend today.

This could be very bad news –   but for the efficacious saving work of the Messiah on His Cross, pouring out Love and Compassion for us,  and offering the possibility of Life Everlasting.

Isn’t  Death  just a part of Life?     Well, not like that.     Life comes from the Living Creator of Life.      He gives us existence.  He gives us Life.

Wisdom   1: 13-15   
 God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
[14] For he created all things that they might exist,
and the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them;
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
[15] For righteousness is immortal.

God did not make Death, according to the Bible,  and He’s not happy about it,   but He did conquer Death and defeat its power and “sting.”

Our friend knew this.    From our point of view, she is dead.    But she has Life now:   Life from Life.   Her Life from His.

My goodness!!      On this Advent,  this beginning of a whole new Liturgical Year,  our friend passed from this life into a whole new LIfe!!

Let’s go back to the Bible, to the book of Wisdom again:

Wisdom 3: 1-3

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
2 They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
3 and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.

THAT’S  what we’re doing during Advent.      Preparing for our End.     Preparing for Everlasting Peace from the Prince of Peace.

Only One,  for us men,   the Messiah,  Christ.

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