Posted tagged ‘Advent’

SKIDS AND STEERS . . . FOR ADVENT

December 4, 2018

(As Advent begins,  clear the clutter and open your mind.)

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I’m going to be a little goofy tonight,  but, well . . .  interpret this —

Blank Sign

Okay,  I see interesting things during the day, and sometimes those things lead to a whole long string of thoughts.   My mind is ever busy.  I have ADHD of the brain.  Well,  just the (H)yperactive part.     A day or two ago I was driving along in my car, when my eyes scanned a sign on a telephone pole.    “RENT EXCAVATOR SKID STEER.”     A second or two later my mind said,  “Huh?”

TOO MANY STEER

 

I know what a steer is.   But as busy as my mind was being, I couldn’t make sense of that sign and I couldn’t stop the cascade of thoughts that followed.  And that got me observing all the trivial things going on in my head and thinking about how easy it is to get so preoccupied with minor things that you scarcely have time to think – deeply – about serious things that are actually meaningful  to your whole life.  Deeply enough.

In this time of Advent,  we vaguely feel that we should be preparing for something important that we celebrate in a few weeks.  

But we’re  busy people and we spend our life distracted.

Too much to do!

Too many places to go!

Too many commitments!

Too many choices of entertainment!

Too much information!

too many words

Too much . . . too much . . .

Now, this posting was brought on by the fact that I’m going through old papers in my house — all those “great things” that I read and saved from, oh, so long ago.   It made sense to hold on to interesting articles many years ago when I was a teacher and needed handy material or needed to present some “evidence” of what I was saying;   but now, not so much.

These “great things” should all be in my head by now,  so much a part of me that when I teach, the information flows out seamlessly — as though I had thought about it, meditated on it, discarded the superfluous and only the best part became part of my thinking.

That means concentrating, paying attention, and thinking about what I read on all these saved articles, so the information has enlarged my thinking.

 

I don’t need the actual pieces of paper.     Right?

too many papers

One of the old articles I had saved was good advice for parents:     Do not give your children an abundance of toys.   Many of us can afford to do so, but don’t.   It will teach them to value things less and it will teach them to be wasteful.

too manytoys

It was a very convincing article.

And I am guilty, guilty, guilty.    Dear Cooper, my grandson, I will try to not to give you so much from now on…   (Starting after this Christmas.)

Now back to that cryptic sign I saw on a telephone pole in my town recently.    RENT EXCAVATOR SKID STEER (followed by a telephone number.)

I said I knew what a steer was (I thought)   but I looked it up and checked anyway.    From the Britannica  dictionary:

In the terminology used to describe the sex and age of cattle, the male is first a bull calf and if left intact becomes a bull; if castrated he becomes a steer and in about two or three years grows to an ox.

Did you know a male cow can become an ox?   As often as I have taught my classes about ox goads,  I never questioned what an ox was.     Or how it came about.

But the image of an ox – or a steer – skidding did not “compute” in my mind.

So I looked up “skid” and found some images of actual  “skid steers”  —

SKID STEER 1

Or else:

SKID STEER 2

Or else:

SKID STEER 3

Doesn’t look like they all do the same thing,  but I guess if you needed one, you’d know which one to get.

Especially if you wanted to “excavate” like the sign said.

I said this is a goofy posting — but that whole chain-of-thought process illustrates what I was  trying to say.     “In this time of Advent,  we vaguely feel that we should be preparing for something important that we celebrate in a few weeks. “

What if we spend that much time, not looking up “skid steers,”  but looking up, discovering,  thinking about  Advent, and just Who it is that we are preparing for,  and why do we have to prepare, and what does that  mean that He had a First Coming and He will come back in a Second Coming?

It would enlarge our thinking.     We would value our thoughts.   We wouldn’t spend so much time on an abundance of trivial things, like a kid with too many toys.

It would make us different (and better) people.   We would be properly prepared.     And thankful.

Deo gratias.

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“CLOTHING” FOR ADVENT

December 2, 2018

lavender splotch

(A necessary “pause”  from current events today.)

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A giant turn of the wheel on this day in the Christian calendar;   a big click!  into  the notch that brings the rotating gear back to its beginning point.

gear

As you guys know,  a gear is for turning.  This may be a cog wheel, but I don’t really know the difference.    Things act on it and then it turns, notch by notch, each notch slipping for a moment into its proper (and useful) place.

And as we all know,  today is the first day of Advent.   Christians follow a Liturgical Year not too far in concept from a gear:

Liturgical Calendar Worksheet Worksheets For All | Download And with Blank Liturgical Calendar Wheel

As the world revolves around the sun, so have we devised calendars to mark the passing of time – with religious significance.    God, through various instruments, acts upon the universe, and with each revolution of our calendar year, there are stops or pauses as these divisions rotate to the top, and they are useful to us.

I put a blurry black dot at the top of this circular calendar where that dark vertical line is.   Proceeding clockwise,  this upcoming season is called Advent, represented by the four candles.

On this first Sunday in the Advent season, we light one of the candles on an Advent wreath.

Clip Advent 1

Just one candle.   It’s just the first week and there are many things to experience, to think about, and to learn during this first week of Advent.  You’d miss out if you don’t keep Advent.   You’d miss out on all the new insights and  wisdom that you could receive . .  .     You’d miss out on the possibility of having having faith,  increasing your faith, enjoying your faith in God.

So don’t.     I care for all of you.

You’d also “miss out” if you lump the whole season together without pausing at each week to see what the Church presents to you.

It can be  “clothing” I think, this week.   Advent (meaning the Coming)  is a purple (penitential) time to prepare ourselves properly for the First Coming of Christ.  According to the Readings from the Bible, we are to “clothe ourselves”  with Jesus Christ Himself:   “Wake up!  Pay attention!  The End is sooner than we thought!   So cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light.  .  .  Walk honestly,  not in immorality and sinfulness but put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

put on Christ

That’s what we heard in church today.   “Put on”  refers to an act like that of “putting on”  clothing.

What are we to wear now?

 

put on christ 2

Both the word “Light” and the words “Lord Jesus Christ” refer to the same Being,  the Second Person of the Trinity —  “I am the Light of the World.”

 

learn christ

Learn who He truly is.

If any of us are going to call ourselves a Christian and claim  safety and salvation at the end of our life,  then now is the time to learn of Christ,  learn what He is truly like, get to know Him,  form a relationship with Him so closely  that it is like we are “wearing” Him every day.

Because,  even though this is the “beginning” of a year and it seems like we have a whole year ahead of us,  we don’t.   In the full words of the beginning of our Reading today:

“Brethren, knowing that is is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand…” 

 

apoc

We’re really kind of just about out of time.   The Gospel Reading for today makes that very very clear.

That apocalyptic picture means that the Second Coming of Christ is approaching:

seeing his coming

It could be good — if you have a good Advent!

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ADVENT’S STATE OF THE WORLD – CHURCH DISSOLUTION

December 7, 2017

Another data dump posting –  I must clean up all the waiting stories on my PC!

December 6th:

3 gold balls

Most in Christendom used to know what these three gold balls have to do with the date Dec. 6.        (So much information has been [deliberately]  withheld from modern people!)

Many centuries ago, a good Christian man was persecuted, pursued, beaten, and threatened,  but courageously held fast to his Christian faith.    He  eventually became  a bishop in the Church, wise and good and full of compassion.   Contemporary accounts tell of his saving of three unmarried girls of a very poor family who faced a future of being sold into slavery or prostitution, as was the custom of that pagan day when a family did not have enough money for their dowries.

st nick beloved bishop

As each came to marriageable age,  Bishop Nicholas of Myra in Lycia secretly tossed a bag of gold into the house of the three young women,  thereby making it possible for them to marry with a decent dowry.

The three gold balls which we find on the signs of pawn shops, then, remind us of the generosity and kindness of St. Nicholas,  whose Feast Day is December 6th.    And of caring and giving that arises naturally from the heart of true Christians.

True Christians.  True Christianity.

A slap in the face

There is another thing St. Nicholas is remembered for:  As always,  the Church has had to fight enemies without and enemies within.    Heresies and heretics have always risen up to dilute the teaching of the Church.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”   (written by St. Paul,  II Thessalonians 2:15)   “Whether by word of mouth”  (that would be oral traditions, not written down in the Bible);   “or by letter” (that would be words of the New Testament and other early letters and sermons).

What happens when an official of the Church does not “hold fast” to the teachings that are supposed to be handed down?

Well, when St. Nicholas confronted the stubborn heretic Bishop Arius who continued to teach heresy, even at the great Council of Nicaea,  he slapped Bishop Arius in the face –  in a public affirmation of the heretical teaching!

“Is the pope Catholic?”

Ha ha ha  ha not.     Used to be a joke because the answer was so obvious.   Today, not so much.    Everyone, Catholics,  Catholic   bishops,  leaders of other religions,   and some heads of states are asking publicly what’s wrong with the present pope?

This has happened before, with a pope or a group of bishops turning away from the teachings of the Church,  but it always produces confusion and dismay, turmoil, uncertainty;  more seriously, a loss of souls.

HImmerod Abbey

Himmerod Abbey, West Germany.   Scarcely can we create a huge building like this today.    We do not have the will – and perhaps no longer the knowledge.   After existing for 900 years,  it is now abandoned and most likely will be torn down.   Demolished.   Unused. Unneeded.      Loss of souls.

A symbol of the slow dissolution the Catholic Faith.

“When (I)  the Son of Man returns,  do you think He will find faith (left)   on Earth?”  asked by Jesus, recorded in Luke 18:8.

Maybe.

But we don’t get to define our own version of faith.

Everywhere in the Western World,  there are savage attacks against the symbols of Christian faith.     In Belgium,  the Red Cross can no longer use the symbol of the cross of Jesus.     Belgium’s  Red . . . , I guess.

in France, the statue of a modernist pope who helped deconstruct the traditional Catholic Faith may stand in its public place – but the cross now  has to be taken down.

Here’s a “before”  photo.

Cross No Pope Yes

But what’s happening internally among Catholics –  the Catholics-in Name-Only?    This is a most important question because sometimes in history it was only the lay people, ordinary Christians, who “held fast” to the traditional teachings handed down from the Apostles II Thessalonians 2:15 again.

Sometimes it is lay people who must wake up!,  stand up,  slap some faces (so to speak), and promote and demand  the spiritual and moral teachings that made the Western World great and strong:

decent m ovies

Ordinary people, demanding decent movies.   

Ordinary people,  We the People,  we the lay people,  people of faith –  people who know our culture was safe and stable when Christian principles aided government policies.    (Not merely a “movie”  issue.)

Church dissolution is very real and quite advanced today,  crime is rising;  greed, bribery, and deception run the economy;   crime, greed, bribery, deception, and lust seem to motivate our political leaders;   fear and distrust grow among people in general.  Cultural Marxism has demolished all the good points of our history, leaving us disoriented and weakened, without heroes and role models.

Church dissolution has consequences.

It also has a remedy –  us –  but as Jesus asked:    “When I come back,  will I find faith anymore?” 

Bar Cross in middle

Such is the uncertain State of the World without Christian faith.

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ADVENT’S STATE OF THE WORLD – MUSIC

December 6, 2017

notes

Part of preparation for Advent is, of course,  cleaning up!  Getting rid of the old trash –   physical, spiritual, or digital.

I’ve got to get rid of all these half-written posts with their attendant numerous open Browsers and Tabs.     My computer is a mess!

So.    Music first.   Music and Unmusic.   

  Here are the Vienna Choirboys:

vienna on stage

A couple dozen of the most pure and sweet and musically accurate voices you will ever hear.      Yes:   “angelic.”

This was Son’s birthday present to me –  tickets to see the Vienna choirboys when they came to our area –  and he came with me!   Here’s what we saw:

vienna front stage

The boys are approximately age 8 to 12 years old.    They were talented and well-trained, and their  choirmaster was at the piano leading them in a variety of music, from classical to Christmas.

The “sound”  was melodious, harmonic,  pleasant,  engaging, and –  real.    Somewhere in all my files I have kept a scientific article describing the effect that live music has on a person, as opposed to recorded-and-replayed music, whether it be on  vinyl, on cassette,  or digital, some kind of MP3.

There are specific and beneficial changes to a person’s physiology that occur with live music that does not happen with recorded music, although there is enough benefit in good music to make it worth hearing, when you cannot hear or produce live music by yourself.

So-called “modern” music does not count.   The anti-rhythmic, inharmonious,  discordant, constant off-keyed, repetitious  cacophony that passes as  modern “music”  does not have the same beneficial physiological effect.  Indeed,  in the long run  it does harm to one’s spirit.

In pursuit of more good music,  I turned to YouTube and was delighted to discover two young pianists  – boys, really –  who were new to me.      First:

PIANO Michael Andreas Haringer

His hands!      His hands go blurry in the camera;  they are that fast!    Note his name:  Michael Andreas Häringer, shown here when he was 10 years old.   I watched him play Beethoven’s  Appassionata (Piano Concerto # 23)   when he was 8 years old.     He had a teddy bear set on the lower keys as he played.

All I could say is “Now I believe that there was a real Mozart, boy composer.   It can happen.”

Then I discovered Lucas Jussen, concert pianist.  he has a different technique, using the style of holding his fingers high off the keys, yet they are just as fast and brilliant.

lucas jussen

15 years old.   Piano prodigy.     He has a brother:

lucas and arthur

Lucas and Arthur.

Now my Preparation for Advent includes music,   practicing Christmas songs on recorder and piano and guitar.   Learning new classical pieces.       Taking out my Beethoven and feeling so . . .  inadequate!

But as GK Chesterton said:  “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”     Too late for me to ever be a prodigy in anything,  but I can do it, pretty badly sometimes!      I love real music,   and music stirs up the very soul.

Alive!  Awake!   Ready to receive!

Of course, real music is part of Advent preparation!

Thanks to Son for starting it all!

 

ADVENT-TIME AT OUR HOUSE

December 6, 2017

We all experience it –  at least up here in the Far North –  that transition from Fall to Winter.  From morning to night – So beautiful!

I woke up one morning . . .  opened my eyes . . . and this is what I saw out of my window:

Morning Leaves

I wanted to close my eyes again  (as usual)  but the trees were so pretty, I had to get up to get my camera  just to hold on to what I was seeing.

Well, it was nice,  but “nice” comes with a price.  As always.

When I finally did get up, I confronted my front window and  realized there were more leaves.   I must unconsciously like leaves.

Leaves on curtains

Later in the day,  outside:

Daytime leaves

More leaves.  It’s  a problem this year.    We’re all trying to keep our lawns raked, but the leaves are stubbornly staying up on the trees this December, coming down a few at a time, enough to keep our lawns . . .  unraked.

Lawn and Leaves

It looked nice like that for one day.   Then it looked like under the rake, as though no one even owned a rake.

A lot of time spent on hard work,  only to have your work “disappear.”     You have to keep doing it!

Clip Advent 1     Advent:   Christ is coming – Winter is coming.    Work and preparation  for both.    Spiritual and physical preparation.

Son has helped to get me ready for the coming of winter,  here –

Woodpile 1

Handy right outside my front door;  and plenty of back-up –

Woodpile 2

Looks neat and ready,  right?    But it got that way with hard, physical work:  chainsaw; wedge and sledge hammer;  splitter thing; saw, maybe;  lots of lifting, dragging, carrying, hauling, and stacking.

(Gee –  do you think “feeding him”  was thanks enough?)

I want to make this about having an Advent Attitude,  but all I can show you is that preparation is worth it:

Woodpile burning

Chilly nights;  cozy fire.

One more set  of preparations.   Here’s that front window again.

Front window leaves

Advent becomes Christmas.     We’re slowly getting ready.     The manger scene is mostly empty,  but the blue-green light shows the way.

It’s there, a light in all of us,  waiting.

He comes.

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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!

 

 

WE DON’T LIKE BEING MOCKED

December 11, 2015

At least I don’t,  and the people I know don’t like being made fun of,  being mocked.   But mockery can be a powerful tool, so this is a photo-rant against such mockery:

The ongoing programmed invasion of the Third World, non-Christian cultures into the First World, Christian-influenced cultures – with the intention of breaking down the First World Christian-influenced cultures –  will continue on in the near future.

I don’t know what the outcome will be.  I’m a historian.  I’ve seen civilizations come and go.   I’ve seen what happens when good people “do nothing.”   I don’t know if there will be enough people today to rise up and defend their own cultures.

But I do know that good people who are defending their lives have been mocked.    We have been told by an  anti-American leader  that we, the American citizens,  are “afraid of women and three-year-old children.”  Remember that?

We are afraid to let these little guys “immigrate” into our country:

I  5 yr old

Okay,  he might be a little older than “three years old.”

 

 

Palestinian-girl-stab

Well, okay, that’s a pretty big knife.   She might be older than “three years old ”  too.

 

But how about another children’s class with  teddy bears and cute stuffed animals?

muslim-kids-animals

The video had been “removed” —  i.e. censored — off the media,  but the accompanying article described a class in which very small children were being taught how to hack off the heads of all kinds of “cute little stuffed animals.” And some  were “three years old.”

How about the “moms”?

Mom

 

Nothing to fear there?      There are moms;  such moms.

Ask the ladies:

Islam ask the ladies

The “ladies”  come with papers.  That proves they’re friendly, right?.

(Headlines today:  “ISIS found with passport-printing machines.)  Or as the media said, “may have.”    They  don’t want to scare us too much.

Or you can ask the Muslim-friendly leaders if we have anything to fear:

The three islamists

And you’d better know who the Muslim lady in purple is.  She rules the one who was placed in the office of the American presidency!

Do we have anything to fear?  You can ask the guy in the middle who is bowing really low —  oh, never mind.

O bowing to many

Can’t ask him.  He’s the one who mocked us in the first place.

This is the season of Advent.   We look to the coming of this planet’s Messiah,  the first phase of it and the second, final,  phase.  We hope to understand more during each annual remembrance.

The Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament  indicate that the Babe in the Manger had come down from Heaven as a conquering Warrior, into this Land of Doom,  this Land of Destruction,  and He will defeat all that has given us reproach and ruined us. *

And the Word of His mouth is like a two-edged sword.

I asked my class this morning to design a new kind of Christmas card . . .

We had a good laugh.

But we were not mocking.

{Advent}

 

  *     (see Zephaniah 3:14-18  and Wisdom 18:10-15 and Hebrews 4:12)        “Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory.

 

 

 

 

 

“Into the Land of Destruction”

December 2, 2015

In the midst of our Christmas preparations,  that phrase,  “into the land of destruction”  that I quoted in yesterday’s posting,  got further clarification today,  regrettably.

SAMSUNG

We are preparing for a worthy remembrance of the coming of the Messiah as the Babe in Bethlehem,  who, as it turns out,  is this planet’s only Messiah who is able to effectively (and eventually)  destroy evil, wickedness, sin, and death that is rampant in our world — also known as “the land of destruction.”   

This “land” destroys our souls –  or it can.     The Messiah comes to destroy the Destroyer.

An act of terrorism is an evil act of destruction, straight from the heart of mankind’s enemy.    Already this afternoon,  there were tweets identifying today’s Destroyers in San Bernardino.

SAMSUNG

Not too far in time from this tweet came  a name:

SAMSUNG

As news spread,  fellow “Destroyers” — those who want to invoke in us pain and fear —  were celebrating the news:

SAMSUNG

Celebrating, that is,  and giving praise to their ancient desert warrior crescent-moon-god.

Invoking this crescent-moon-god to spread fear into the homes of the Crusaders.   Uh . . .  that would be us.

That would be Christendom, and all of us who though we may or may not be Catholic or even religiously christian,  still enjoy, by force of historic momentum,  all  the benefits  of once-Christan Europe.   Europe,  the New World,  and all the places where Catholic Christianity spread.

As much as anti-Catholic forces in the modern world wish to smear the reputation of the Church by inventing evidence for such things as “Hitler’s Pope,”    it would be much better to explore the close links between National Socialism and the anti-semitic Muslim world.  Closer to fact,  there is a “Hitler’s Mufti.”

hitler lus amin

Close ties.  Close cooperation.  Close planning.  Strategic operations linked.   Mutual material aid.    That photo would be Hitler and Amin Al-Husseini.

The Barack-Hussein person in our country,  his closely-held liberal media,  and anti-Catholics everywhere seem hard-pressed to find evidence of white, male, Christian perpetrators in today’s horrendous crime.    The Barack-Hussein person would like to blame Crusaders who are on “their high horse.”

The language is the same.  The sentiment is the same.

That’s all I ever want to write about this terrible event of Destruction today.

If I may,  I’d just suggest that we all begin to seriously heed the warning of Hilaire Belloc,  who saw all this coming in the early part of the 20th century.   Although he lived in a time of the rise of National Socialism,  he saw that the biggest threat to the West was the rise of militant Islam.  Once  again.   As in centuries past.

If we don’t take him seriously,  if we allow the Destroyers to sneak in with all the Syrian invaders –  as they boast that they are already doing! –   then we might as well join the Hashtag Crowd:

( h a s h t a g a m e r i c a _ b u r n i n g)

Get it?   Because they do.   And Ignorance is not going to lead to “bliss.”

It’s Advent.   Let’s prepare for the first phase of the coming of the Messiah, do Him honor,  and know He will come again to this “Land of Destruction”  and put an end to all that Destroys.

Christmas is serious business.

{Advent}

 

 

 

 

ADVENT PREPARATION — FOR WHAT?

December 1, 2015

So, it’s Advent,  and we put away the funky dark blue skies, as the photos in my last posting,  and look ahead to the birth of the Christmas child. . .

silhouette wisemen and swirly sky

 

I ended the last post with a reminder from St. Bernard of Clairvaux to carefully consider what we’re expecting at  Christmastime.    Or just exactly Who.  “Consider who he is that comes. . . ,”  St. Bernard said.

There is only one Messiah for planet Earth.  It’s a one-time event, and even though it was prophesied and  studied and anticipated for many centuries,  it crept up on us one still, dark night in Israel, and the Impact is still unfolding inside people, because it wasn’t just a Baby.

The Bible says it was the Word of God Himself, leaving His “throne” in one giant cosmic tearing into the physical universe –

  For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course,  Thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction. *

That’s how the Bible describes that first Christmas night.

leaping down from heaven

What came down to Earth and into the manger was a Fierce Conqueror!  A Mighty Conqueror!  Almighty God!    King of  Kings!      Judge of All Men.

And He came down into this Land of Destruction, with a sharp, two-edged sword, to defeat sin, wickedness, and death itself.

It was in the middle of a dark night,   just as He did long before on the Night of Passover, destroying  a world empire system that He would not allow to continue on, hence the death of all the firstborns.  It was midnight then.   It was midnight in the manger.

It is midnight, now,  once again, in this world benighted  and blinded.

So during Advent we prepare ourselves to properly remember the birth of Christ the Messiah, but keeping in mind, as St Bernard had said,  “… for what end He comes …,”  preparing also for the second phase of His coming to Earth.

Advent has become a time of buying gifts, buying wrapping paper,  buying Christmas cards, buying decorations,  buying holiday food,  buying holiday plane tickets,   and, oh, yes – remember to buy some purple . . .  candles.

purpple xmas

That will prepare you for the obligations of one year’s holiday.

bar dissolve er

The prophets of Israel had a larger, much more serious view of the coming of the Messiah.    Our Advent should match the knowledge they gave us.   The Church gives us four weeks;  but God gives us our lifetime, however long or short,  to come to terms with what Christmas means.

{Advent}

  •  Wisdom 18:14, 15

 

 

 

 

 

LEAVING NOVEMBER

December 1, 2015

Yes, good.    We’re leaving some dark thoughts:

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I must have been in a Deep Blue Funk in November,  more affected by the memory of Hubbie’s death than I realized.  I wanted to write about our last weeks together, I really did,  for they are not only sad, they are sweet — and, well,  very precious.

I wanted to write about the surprise miraculous premature birth of Hubbie’s first grandson —  whom we all acknowledge came early so he could meet his grandfather . . .  and so his grandfather could pass on to this tiny baby all the things that a man passes on to his sons and grandsons, just by being near, living and  breathing in the same air, holding on to each other, which most surely happened during Cooper’s time of nearness with his grandfather, in his grandfather’s hospital bed.

You can read about these remarkable times in the archives, over on the side.  You can even see them “holding on to each other.”  Just go to November, 2010.

I didn’t review all this though in this blog.   Not this year.  Son and I are still going through “adjustments” that I know are perfectly normal, but it just turns out they are darkly internal and personal.

Hence,  the Deep Blue Funk.   I can funk really well.  I can be good at funking.

And then it becomes . . .  over.   It lifts.    I took that deep blue photo from my front yard yesterday, as November was ending.   Son and I were outside in the dark,  doing “yard”  things.    Darkness comes early up here in the Far North in November,  and sometimes there’s still outdoor work to do.

I was doing this:

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Putting up our Christmas lights.  A little less elaborate than in years past,  but they’re pretty.  (Especially when seen in focus.)   I was surprised how the camera brought out the beautiful blue left in the very late twilight.

My eyes saw only a dark, black sky.   The camera pointed out the beautiful dark blue.

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So what do I “learn” from this dark November night?   That there is beauty from darkness.   Beauty out of darkness.  Beauty after darkness.

Beauty waiting for us, after this life.    Because Beauty is eternal and good and holy.   God the Creator is not “beautiful,’  He is Beauty itself.   As St. Augustine cried out, “O Beauty, so ancient and so new!!  Late have I (come to) love thee!!”

What else comes out of these dark November nights?    Advent!   This year as November passes,  Advent begins.

The first candle, of course.

advent one urple

Hear the admonition of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, of a few centuries ago when men’s minds were strong and vigorous.  He tells us to think about what we’re doing during this season of Advent:

 “Consider who He is that comes,  whence He comes, to whom He comes,  for what end He comes,  when He comes, and in what manner He comes.   This is undoubtedly a most useful and praiseworthy curiosity, for the Church  would not so devoutly celebrate the season of Advent if there were not some great mystery hidden therein.”

 

(Taken from “Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas.” Easily accessible on the Internet.)

{Advent}

LIGHT IN THE GLOOM

June 17, 2015

The evening deepens.  My back yard grows dark.  A last beam of sunlight lights up the trees.

 Sorry to be away so long.   I’m not normally withdrawn.  I’ve been “dammed up” for a while.  Oh, I met my social and “business” obligations and seemed normal  (I think)  but in between I couldn’t reach out on my own initiative.   Maybe health issues.    My health went from bad to not-worse. . . getting better, probably.    That takes a little adjustment.

Everyone needs a little inwardness once in a while.

Each time I felt “communicative” again,  I never got further than sitting down at the keyboard.    And then I walked away.   I’d sit at the piano, and then walk away with touching a key.     Who knows why?

But like my back yard in the evening —

        —     this time of the year the sun  finds a space between the houses to shine its sunbeam before all goes dark.

And each time this ever-darkening Scandinavian psyche of mine withdrew into comfortable gloom,  some bright sunshine nudged me awake.

Here’s where you all come in.     What were these little nudging sunbeams of mine?

. . . .an awfully nice friend who met with me for “coffee” and some good meandering conversation.

. . . .some awfully nice companionship and conversation with Son, one evening out on our deck

. . . .an awfully nice friend who shares her music skills with me with music we both love, followed by a beautiful tea in her English garden

. . . .an awfully nice friend who called just to ask something, to discuss a problem, and to have a conversation

. . . .an awfully nice Cousin in the Far Far North, that keeps our remaining family together with oh, so interesting information

. . . .awfully nice classes who, though they may look at me askance sometimes they keep their questions to themselves, while carrying on normal conversation

. . . .an awfully nice friend who will be visiting soon after his cross-country driving trip to visit family and friends here;  looking forward to his (our) high-speed conversation

. . . .an awfully nice sister who also carries on rapid-fire conversations with me,  informative and interesting and lots of laughter

You get the idea.  You could be any one of those people to someone else who is on some sort of unexpected, unexplainable retreat.   Just be your normal good self.

I don’t know what was happening or when it would stop.  Perhaps I was on some sort of Healthy Retreat,  but I came out of it “with a little help from my friends.”   Literally.

Now it’s my turn.  My turn to be a friend.   To carry on a steady and normal friendship with the people I know.    Because being a friend is good medicine too.

Now that the dam has broken open and my need for solitude seems to be at an end,   I have a lot of pent-up observations to make here in The Spruce Tunnel.    Look out!

 I think I can find some sunlight on a few branches.

PUSH BACK WITH ADAM, BERNADETTE, AND CHRISTINE

April 30, 2015

I want to continue on with my last remark:  “Language is a participation in the truth.”  Language, here, informally includes vocabulary and the rules of grammar of your spoken and written language.

Starting, then, with vocabulary and the meaning of words.   For those of you who understand the   uses  of Newspeak,  the following story is a double-plus ungood.   Okay?

So this would be   ++ungood —
A  Push-Back  Love Story:

The Push-Back part:

WORDS MEAN THINGS.    When societies change, sometimes the meanings of some words change.   But when there is an agenda to change the society from without,  then words are given new meanings.

That process can actually, effectively change a society — in some instances, especially when the society is (1)  unaware of the agenda,  and (2) is relatively uncaring about the implications of those changes.

That’s not hard to understand  and  it’s not hard to illustrate.

 Let me present you with some vocabulary words, in bold letters,  here in the Love Story part:

mr mrs

Once there was a male human and a female human.

Then a Courtship developed.  They met,  they got to know each other,  they fell in Love.

They Married.

A short time later,  they were expecting a Baby.

Then it was found out that the Mother was Carrying three Babies. 

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On the ultrasound it was discovered that there will be one Son and two Daughters.  They were so Happy.

They named them Adam,  Bernadette, and Christine, and they could hardly wait to meet  them.   Young new parents,  young new human beings.
Then, even though it was too early  — 22 weeks after the pregnancy started — some pains started;  the pains became regular; then they went to their hospital. 

And Christine

The Babies lived —
    I mean they were loved and known and cherished and baptized ….

              —  The Babies lived for four short hours.
    And the parents say they were so glad to have met their Children, and they look forward to the day when they will be together again.

You can see the very short video they made of their experience here:

(I hope that still works.   Or you could try to YouTube Search the names of the children.)

The story speaks for itself; and  I’ve tried to keep my own editorializing out of it.   It’s a sweet story,  but let’s go back to some seriousness —

 “When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress, and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”            (Frederic Bastiat,  French economist)

—  and I’ll let you make the connections.

Words have meanings.   All those words in the story above that are in bold have meanings that are now under attack.   Certain special interest groups want to change the meaning of man, woman,   marriage,  baby,  family . . . for their advantage.  Language is a participation in truth (truth: the correlation of the mind with external reality) — but if words have no objective meaning,  then all discourse ceases.    Only the politically powerful prevails.      If we don’t push back,  we lose.
(Prayers lifted up for Mr. and Mrs.  T.    May God comfort you.    Pray for us, Little Ones.)

COMING . . . COMING . . . COMING

December 1, 2014

And the second holiday in my foggy brain over this last week:  Thanksgiving . . .  and now Advent.    The Season of Advent began this Sunday; it is the First Sunday of Advent.   One candle lit.

Clip Advent 1

 

Advent means coming.   Coming of what?  to whom?   to where?    Coming of whom?  to what?

The answer is threefold.   

The coming of God into the world,   His birth at Bethlehem.   It is impossible for a man to be God;  but would you limit the power of God and say He could not take on our human nature and become a man . .  .  if He wanted to?     So during Advent, we in this part of the world, scurry around cleaning our homes, decorating,  writing out Christmas cards,  making lists,  shopping, baking.    Advent is preparation for our Christmas Day.

God is not satisfied with merely coming into this world, this dimension,  leaving Heaven to come to our world.    He comes to be able to dwell within us.    He comes to do the work He has to do, as a human,  to die as a human, in order to come in actuality and in reality into our hearts.   Deep inside us is where He wants to come to, as our Savior.      Deep inside us,  if we make room for Him.  And so there is inner preparation to do too.  That is private, individual, quiet, and profound.      It is like an inner housecleaning, making ourselves fit for our Creator’s notice.

And there will be one more coming of God to our world:  Advent tells us to remember that God will someday, probably soon,  come to us as our Judge, because He won’t have patience with us forever and ever.   As long as we’re alive,  the clock ticks.   The time that is ticking is very precious because it gives us the opportunity to prepare for our own judgment.     But the clock will be out of ticks someday.    Just as we all have so many heartbeats allotted to us,  so this world has so many “tick-tocks”  allotted to it.

 

Advent is a Coming.  

The Coming of Whom . . . to what?       Of the Son of God to His world.

The Coming of Whom . . . to whom?      Of the Savior to us humans.

The Coming of What . . . to what?      The Coming of Judgment to this World.

 

 

 

COMING OR GOING

December 18, 2013

Like many of you, I’m sure,  I’m putting in some long, happy days, preparing for Christmas.

  • Candles 3rd week

As a matter of fact,  days here in The Spruce Tunnel have been about 18 hours long — which puts us just about at Sunday morning.    Even if the calendar says Tuesday.

So I’m  just not late in my little remark about the 3rd Sunday of Advent.

In this happy world of Christendom (which is open to all) we light three  candles all this week, the third one being pink in color; pink for rejoicing,.    Gaudete all!

In this midst of all my physical activity, my mind is busy too – and one sudden thought caught me up short.   I’m preparing my house . . . as though I’m marching on towards Bethlehem, a journey which reminds me of the Magi, their long years of study, watching, preparation, and then their journey.

Camel Magi Silhouette

I remembered John the Baptist’s words (in Readings recently) telling us to “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight his paths. . . .”   So I’m preparing inwardly too, spiritually, as best I can . . . as though I’m getting ready to come to the manger to meet my King, lying for a time as a small baby.

Manger blue silhouette

And that’s when I stopped in my tracks.     It’s not me who is “coming.”   It is He who is coming.  Coming down to us.   The plans laid from eternity, the Plan incarnated nine months previously;  it is He our King that’s coming to his first home on the earth He made.

He’s doing all the coming!   It was His initiative.   We dimly perceive what this means, so we prepare, and we eagerly await all the Joy that results from his coming . . . and we make plans to Go!   To go to his manger, to go to Him.   He’s coming;  we’re going.

We’ll meet at Bethlehem:     O “come”all ye faithful.     Gather together, then we’ll go together to worship and adore.

star falling

He is the great Light come down to mankind, to be our Light and Life.   It’s His great first Coming that we prepare for, foretold for centuries by the great prophets.

All our preparations are just fine , as long as we . . .  go, then, to Him.

“THORNS AND ROSES” FOR ADVENT

December 10, 2013

Thorns and Roses

I’ve seen a lot of pictures of football players with long stem roses in their mouths lately –   (see my last posting – Go Team!)      Part of me remembers that I never cut a rose from my garden without getting picked by a thorn, so I wonder:   How do our football players do it?   Do they have specially trimmed rose stems?

Roses have thorns.   Why?   Why that particular biological defense?   We are attracted to their beauty and then reminded of pain.

aug cont with We who are alive today are not the first to contemplate this frustrating mystery.     A long time ago St. Augustine said:   “God mingles bitterness with earthly pleasures that we may seek another felicity whose sweetness does not deceive.”

Felicity.   We all want a life of roses.   And so there is purpose in those thorns.

Candles 2nd week

In this second week of Advent we consider the very best that is waiting for us and the very worst that can happen.

On a very first and elementary level,  the Church tells us to prepare for the coming of the Christ Child … in the manger … innocent baby … Redeemer and Judge.

“Prepare ye the way for the Lord…”  we hear.   And “take that very personally,”  I teach my classes,  “because that Way leads right into your own heart.”

Yes, there are good and necessary things to do during Advent.   There are colorful and festive outward signs of Christmas coming, but we are reminded to be careful that our inward preparation leads us to the real Christmas, the real Christ,  who wants to give us His Joy.

This is everlasting pleasure, pleasure without bitterness,   roses without thorns.

I don’t want thorns for my family and friends.

REJECT MOUSE BRAINS FOR ADVENT

December 3, 2013

mouseIntellect is a wonderful gift to humans.

We humans get bored with superficial information;  we are made for deep intellectual thoughts that excite our imagination and nourish our souls.  Intelligence and education has nothing to do with it.    What we have in common is the ability to delight in ideas that help us confront truth and reality and lead us to greater understanding.   That is soul-satisfying!

wreath 1st sunday 70 During this Advent season I’d like to go beyond the superficial information about Advent  –  “what is Advent all about?”  —   and learn the deeper, vital, and more exciting reasons for this season.   I’ll share my sources with you later, but right now I just want to illustrate my point about “superficial”  and “deep.”

Superficial:    In some spare time recently I read a short to-the-point article about the “three comings of God.”  The author listed the three comings:

The coming of God in Creation;   the coming of God to Bethlehem;  the Coming of God at the Second Coming of Christ

He listed these and added a sentence or two about each one, and I thought,  Hmmm, that’s interesting.  Three times…  Check that off…   Okay, now I know.  A mouse brain could handle that.   And off I went to other things.

(I don’t fault the author.  He probably knows his audience; we do not habitually take time to think things through, so he offered no ideas to engage our minds.)

More deeply: 

man reading

(From a little book of advice to seminarians):

“We will distinguish (during Advent)  three comings of God into the world” –

1.  The coming of God the creator.  From eternity empty void had been awaiting the all-powerful Word that would create the world.   But we have continual need of God’s creative power to preserve and renew his creative act.  Hence we should recall our absolute dependence on  God.

Oh.

2.  The coming of God the Redeemer.  For thousands of years he was expected.  He came and the Church wishes us to draw him to our hearts.   But all have not received him.

Oh.     So much meaning in each of those phrases.

3.  The coming of God the Rewarder and Punisher.  At the end of time our Lord will come in the glory of his majesty to reward the good and punish the wicked.  In view of this coming we ought to rejoice, accept the trials of this life, and arouse our watchfulness.

Yikes!  I’ve not…quite…come up to this level of being.

It would take me ALL of Advent to understand these three comings.

I’d need the intellect of a human being to achieve this higher level of awareness.

Am I man or mouse?!!  

I can’t wait to learn more!

studying

I hope you will enjoy and appreciate those words in blue, too.

ADVENT – NO TRICK

December 1, 2013

None of us want to be tricked, right?   To find out that we’d been wrong?    To find out that what we had waited for turns out to be not quite what we’d expected?

November 30 – December 1

wreath 1st sundayThe season of Advent begins today, but I’m still making the transition from the end of the last Liturgical year  to the beginning of this new one.    Just as Christendom in Advent ponders the meaning of  Great Darkness longing for the Coming Light, so I am moving from a time of darkness and difficulty to, now,  this time of looking for the Coming of our Savior.

I’m quite aware that the Advent Wreath is a rather new custom,  brought to this country by the German (Lutheran) immigrants, and then adopted by others in this, their new country.  But even though this wreath does not have a long tradition in our Church,  I think it’s an appropriate symbol.   As one more candle is lit on each Sunday of Advent,  the light increases, just as the Light of Christmas draws nearer.   It’s beautiful.   It’s meaningful.   It’s a visual aide to our reflection and increasing insight.

Everyone’s experience with Darkness is a personal experience.  Everyone’s longing for the Light That Is Surely To Come  is a reflection of his own unique needs.

Here was my Darkness  —  in November.

SAMSUNGIt’s the pond in my backyard.     You don’t get an icy hard surface like that unless there are freezing cold temperatures,  a steady bone-chilling breeze,  and a light snow to find its way into the crevices of the ice. . .and your neck and wrists and ankles. . ..

That was the weather we had for a week after the big Midwestern storms of two weekends ago.  That was the weather we had when we lost our power due to those storms.     No electricity for five days.  No lights.   No heat.   No water.

“Tricked out of my Adventure”

A dark, dangerously cold house.   It could have been an adventure under normal circumstances,  but even my “circumstances”  were dark:    I had a mild bronchitis.   I had developed painful shingles in and around my right ear…(feeling somewhat like an ice pick jammed into the ear drum).   And I had a slightly broken right hand.

There was no “adventure”   in my feverish sensitivity to the cold.    No “adventure” in running in and out of the house to get more firewood for the fireplace or more heavy buckets of water from the creek for household use.   And my hand began to ache with the weight of those buckets and bundles of firewood and my ear ached more from the cold wind.

By the fourth day, I looked upwards and cried “Uncle!!”  – figuratively speaking,   but He didn’t hear me instantly.   Even another day had to pass.

And I began to really understand my weakness and vulnerability, my alone-ness, my Hope for rescue.     My need to get out of this Darkness gave me an acute longing for relief.

But how tiny were my troubles!   How small I am, compared to the Great Darkness that the world lives in.    How much greater is the need for Light  to bring rescue and relief to all precious, vulnerable human souls,  really and actually unable to help themselves.

With what great faith and hope we can enjoy these Advent candles as, one by one,  during these next few weeks,  we experience the Advent of the Great Light of God approaching!

When He comes we will not be “tricked.”

To be tricked is to have your hopes and dreams – and needs – confounded.

As the priest begins the actions of the Holy Sacrifice on the First Sunday of Advent,  listen to his Offertory prayer:     “To Thee have I lifted up my soul;  in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. . .for none of them that wait for Thee shall be confounded.”

I will hope and wait and prepare for His coming, and no power outage, no sickness, no broken hand,   no tricks or subsititutions will trick  or confound you or me.    The future is indeed bright!

Light those candles!

Adveniat, Domine Jesu!

ADVENT – THE COMING OF A WHOLE NEW WORLD

November 27, 2011

An interesting Advent experience. . .

We all recognized Advent today.   We heard sermons and Readings that tell us what it’s all about.  Advent calendars are on our minds.  Advent wreaths, candles, daily surprise boxes.  Maybe a Jesse Tree.   Maybe a cradle in which to add little straws, preparing a soft bed for the Baby, each straw representing an act of kindness or of self-denial….

We begin the year now so that we can prepare for the advent of the Son of God, the first coming of the Christ to this Earth.  This Holy Child, this Son of God, comes to make possible the creation of a whole new world, made of redeemed human beings. All are invited, all are brothers and sisters, equally loved by God and loved by each other.   All citizens of Heaven, some day, by the mercy of God.

I had an additional experience today.  It was a living example of what it means to be all brothers and sisters of Christ.    I saw someone whom I haven’t seen for several years, and all the interesting things about her (and her ancestry)  rushed back into my memory and mingled with the meaning of Advent.

Her ancestry is of one of the great northern woodland tribes who lived in America.  Four hundred years ago these people met the Jesuits and, however much Hollywood likes us to dwell on the drama and the martyrdom of many of these missionaries, the actual lasting result is that many of these tribes were converted and entered the Church.

European politics intervened.    A more warlike European people confronted the Native people,  and they enlisted this tribe to fight against that tribe,  this tribe to ally with this European group against that European group.

Finally one “European group”  prevailed, and eventually a new country was born.   But one’s religion is an eternal matter.   The religion that some of these tribes had first adopted was also known as Universal.   One Lord, one Faith, one baptism.   All are invited,  all are to be respected,  all humans are equal children of God.

A whole new way of relating to each other had arrived in the northern woodlands.  Advent was brought to this continent, and my friend and I are one, together, and equal.

Here is a reminder painting of Kateri Tekawitha: 

And my friend?  Her own forefathers ignored the later developments of politics and competing religious denominations.  They remained in the Faith and continued to consider themselves American citizens.   They refused the offers of “free money”  and “special” privileges and exemptions from American law, but instead went to schools and universities, became doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers.  They intermarried and made friends with everyone as any American would.

My friend and her large extended family attributes this to the Church which has taught them and has taught us all that we are all of equal worth and dignity before God, no rich nor poor, no male nor female, no free nor slave….etc.    This is a sign of our love for God that we freely love each other.

The coming of the Jesuit missionaries was the advent of a whole new world for any of the Native Americans who chose the new Faith offered to them.

By the grace of God Advent still occurs.