Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve

The Following "opening of the door prayer" was apparently once used by first footers in Scotland. This is the welcoming of Christ into the home and asking His blessing for the coming year.

This day is a new day
that has never been before
This year is a new year
open the main door of the house
Enter Lord Christ
we rejoice in your coming
You have given life
and we welcome you
We turn know to face you
we lift up our eyes
Be blessings our faces
Be blessing our eyes
May all our eyes look upon be blessed
Our nieghbours and loved ones
be blessed in your sight
This is a New year
the door has been opened
Be with us now Lord
We welcome your coming

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

First Footing

In Scottland and the Northern parts of England New Years ( known as Hogmanay) is an important celibration steeped in tradition. Shortly after 'the bells' - the stroke of midnight when public clocks would chime to signal the start of the new year neighbours go from house to house, wishing each other well for the coming year ahead. Good wishes are celibrated with food and plenty of drink. This visiting was known as first footing. Great importance was placed on who would be the first to eneter the home and " bring in the new year" once midnight passed.

Tradition has it a tall, dark and handsome man was the prefered first footer, red heads were always considered bad luck. (that leaves me out, or would have.. lol)

First-foots brought symbolic gifts to the house: coal for the fire, to ensure that the house would be warm and safe, and shortbread or black bun (a type of fruit cake) to symbolise that the household would never go hungry that year.

First-footing has faded in recent years, particularly with the growth of the major street celebrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow

graphic /an old etching of first footing in edinburgh

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Innocents


Matthew 2:16-18:
Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Marks Harods act of infacide carried out in a jealous rage on the male children of Bethleham under 2 years old, because he was threatened by the coming of the Christ Child, the new King foretold by the prophets.

This cruel deed of Herod's is not mentioned by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, although he relates quite a number of atrocities committed by the king during the last years of his reign. Macrobius relates that when Augustus heard that amongst the boys of two years and under Herod's own son also had been massacred, he said: "It is better to be Herod's hog , than his son ," alluding to the Jewish law of not eating, and consequently not killing, swine.

for more info go to

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Commonly called CHRISTMAS

(a short liturgy)
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 14:7

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: Isaiah 9:6

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the begining, is now and evermore shall be world without end. Amen

The Collect
Almighty God who has given us the only begotten Son to take our nature upon him to be born of a Virin pure. Grant that we being regenerated and made thy children by adoption and grace may daily be renewed by the Holy Spirit: through our Lord Jesus Christ who liveth and riegneth with thee and the same Spirit evermore world without end. Amen

The Epistle
Hebrews 1:1-12
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
7And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
10And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
11They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
12And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The Gospel
John 1:1-14
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

O God who makest us glad with the yearly rememberance of the birth of thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ: grant that as we may with sure confidence behold Him whom shall come again to be our judge: He who reineth and livith with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and forver... Amen

The Epistle
Titus 2:11-15
11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

The Gospel
Luke 2:1-14
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

taken from the Book of Common Prayer (the Anglican Church of Canada) circa 1962 adapted from the 1918 addition.

the Nativity by Giotto di Bondoni... for more info about Giotto go to

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve


We do our Christmas eve vigil in the late evening, though traditionally it is generally done after midnight. At this point we gather to place the babe who's coming we have been awaiting into our nativity scene and light our final advent candle. As we do this we sing the whole of O Come O Come Emmanuel


Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He, the King of whom we sing,
All hail! let there be joy!
This night is the eve of the great Nativity,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,
The Son of glory down from on high,
Heaven and earth glowed to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!
The peace of earth to Him, the joy of heaven to Him,
Behold His feet have reached the world;
The homage of a King be His, the welcome of a Lamb be His,
King all victorious, Lamb all glorious,
Earth and ocean illumed to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!

Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He, the King of whom we sing,
All hail! let there be joy!
The mountains glowed to Him, the plains glowed to Him,
The voice of the waves with the song of the strand,
Announcing to us that Christ is born,
Son of the King of kings from the land of salvation;
Shone the sun on the mountains high to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!
Shone to Him the earth and sphere together,
God the Lord has opened a Door;
Son of Mary Virgin, hasten Thou to help me,
Thou Christ of hope, Thou Door of joy,
Golden Sun of hill and mountain,
All hail! let there be joy!

from the Carmina Gadelica complied byAlexander Carmicheal

the painting is Celtic Madonna by Jeanne Whitney

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Week Antiphons Day 7

Last Week Antiphons
7th Day Dec. 23

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isa. 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
O God With Us transform us as we behold you
that we might live incarnational lives, as your hands your feet, your love...

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Week Antiphons Day 6

Last Week Antiphons
6th day Dec.22nd

Isaiah. 60:1-3
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people:
but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

O Desire of the Nations enlighten our darkness that we might go forth
As your light in a weary world, freeing the oppressed, comforting the mourning,
clothing the naked, loving the other, and spreading your Gospel of Peace.

O come, Desire of nations,
bind In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Last Week Antiphons Day 5

5th Day Dec. 21th

Isaiah. 9:2
The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

O Thou Day Spring come lead the captives from prison Come free those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Last Week O Antiphons Day 4

4th Day Dec. 20th

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

O Thou key of David you come forth from the Most High
You fill the universe and hold all things together

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Week O Antiphons Day 3

3rd Day Dec. 19th

 Isaiah 11:1
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,

and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

O come thou stem of Jesse's rod uphold us in our weakness comfort us in our distress
Put your redemtion song on our lips and in our hearts

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last week O Antiphons Day 2

2nd Day Dec. 18th

Isaiah 11:4-5

4But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth:with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

O Come Sacred Lord of might bring justice for the poor
Write your law of love on the tablets of our hearts.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height

In ancient times once gave the law

In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Week O Antiphons Day 1

1st Day. Dec. 17th

Isaiah 11: 2-3
2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:

and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes,
neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

O Wisdom from on high whom the people await
Come shed your light in our hearts that we might see

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Dark Night of theSoul

Stanzas Of The Soul

1. One dark night,fired with love's urgent longings- ah, the sheer grace! - I went out unseen,my house being now all stilled.
2. In darkness, and secure,by the secret ladder, disguised,- ah, the sheer grace! - in darkness and concealment,my house being now all stilled.
3. On that glad night,in secret, for no one saw me,nor did I look at anything,with no other light or guide than the one that burned in my heart.
4. This guided me more surely than the light of noon to where he was awaiting me- him I knew so well - there in a place where no one appeared.
5. O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united the Lover with his beloved, transforming the beloved in her Lover.
6. Upon my flowering breast which I kept wholly for him alone, there he lay sleeping,and I caressing him there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
7. When the breeze blew from the turret,as I parted his hair,it wounded my neck with its gentle hand, suspending all my senses.
8. I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
painting by Robert Joeseph Daughtery

Sunday, December 14, 2008

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Born into poverty at Toledo Spain in 1542, his father was disinherited from a wealthy family for marrying below his station. He died in his prime and his mother was barley able to keep the family together.

John was sent to the poor school at Medina del Campo, he proved tobe be a bright and attentive student, but when apprnticed to an artisian, seemed incapable of retaining anything. At which point the head of the hospital in Madina took him under wing. For seven years he divided his time to tending to the poorest of the poor and frequenting a school established by the Jesuits. He entered the Carmilite order and became a friar.

He was persuaded by Teresa of Avilia to join a reformed movment within the Carmilites known as the Discalceds. He was siezed and thrown into prison by a repressive wing of the Carmilites and finally escaped.

The Discalceds won their independence, yet toward the end of his life he suffered severe persecutions at the hands of his own order. He was stripped of rank and bannished to a remote part of Spain where he died.

John was a mystic and an advocate for the poor. He penned a number books now considered classics of Christian mysticisim. The most famous being The Dark Night of the Soul - a poem with a commentary in prose.

The night which seems unwelcome becomes sweeter than the dawn and unites the Divine lover and the Beloved until each is transformed into the other.

On that glad night,

in secret, for no one saw me,

nor did I look at anything,

with no other light or guide

than the one that burned in my heart.

for further reading

short bio, bibiliography, quotes

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Late Advent Week Days or the Antiphons (1)

or the O Antiphones of the last week

Dec. 17th- the 24th

The "Late Advent Weekdays" or December 17-24, mark the singing of the Great Advent O Antiphons. These are the antiphons for the Magnificat at Vespers, or Evening Prayer (in the Roman Catholic Church) and Evensong (in the Anglican Church) each day, and mark coming birth of the Messiah. They cover the Advent period known as Octave.
No one is absolutley sure of the exact orgin of the "O Antiphons". There is a reference to them in the early 500's by Boethius a Christian Philosopher, suggesting there presence at that time.

The O Antiphons were originally chanted. They form the basis for the verses of the popular Advent hymn, "O come, O come, Emmanuel" which was translated into English in 1851 by John Mason Neale. It is believed that the present melody is of French origin and was added to the text somewhere in the 12th century.
I have added a scripture from Isiaiah as was the original tradition and a small prayer to each day, followed by the O Antiphon and the refrain. Enjoy...

for a very cool and in-depth explanation of the Atiphons please check out
Antiphons chanted in latin
for more information on Anicius Boethius go to

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Thomas Merton was born in Prades France on January 31, 1915. Both his parents, Owen Merton a member of the Churh of England and his mother Ruth Jenkins, an American Quaker were artist. At his his fathers request Merton was baptized in the Church of England.

As a young man he struggled with a deep numbing void. An number of mystical experinces lead him to convert to Catholicism. He eventualy took orders as a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.

Merton engaed in open spiritual dialogue with other faiths. He developed deep freindships with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D. T. Suzuki. He was passionately involved in social justice issues, including the civil rights movement and the anti-proliferation of nuclear arms. Merton was also intensley committed to a position of non-violence during the race riots and Vietnam War of the 1960s.

He penned more than 60 books and authored dozens of articles and reviews, many touching on the subjects of contemplation and interior spirituality. He is the focus of several biographies.

Merton died in Bangkok on December 10, 1968 after touching a poorly grounded electric fan while stepping out of his bath. His body was flown back to Gethsemani where he is buried.

the Thomas Merton society of Canada
Merton Biography, bibliography and resource page

Sunday, December 7, 2008

God Puts on a Frame of Flesh

The Incarnation: God Puts on a Frame of Flesh
He became what we are that he might make us what he is.

God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.
C.S. Lewis

The mystery of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.
Martin Luther

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.
C.S. Lewis

As far as the Incarnation is concerned, I believe firmly in it. I believe that God did lean down to become Man in order that we could reach up to Him, and that the drama which embodies that Incarnation, the drama described in the Creed, took place.
Malcolm Muggeridge

Nowhere is salvation conceived of as a flight from history as in Greek thought; it is always the coming of God to man in history. Man does not ascend to God; God descends to man.
George Eldon Ladd

The Incarnation was the necessary means to bring about salvation that we human beings would never have attained by our own power. The Word of God became human in order that we might become God through God’s graceful, divine life. He comes to restore the likeness of God in us.

graphic: the birth of christ by william blake

Friday, December 5, 2008

Francis and the Nativity Scene

By the time Francis of Assisi came along there were many painting of the birth of Christ, but Francis is credited with the inovention of the first "nativity scene".

In 1220 after his return to Italy from a voyage to Egypt Francis introduced the three-dimensional nativity scene. Some accounts state he used statues or costumed people. Thomas of Celano one of his biographers, tells us however that he placed a straw-filled manger between an ox and donkey. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.

Another biographer, Brother Tommaso da Celano, tells us that in 1223 three years before his death, that Francis was concerned there would not be enough room in the local monestary for Christmas mass. He approached his friend Giovanni Velita, a nobleman from the nearby town of Greccio, to construct a nativity scene. This nativity with a straw-filled manger, ox and donkey, was built in a grotto near the town of Greccio. Francis preached from the midst of the nativity.

Bonaventure in his Life of St. Francis of Assisi discribes this event.

"He prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem."

In 1562 the Jesuits erected a crib in Prague which is considered the first crib of the modern kind.

image: Giotto di Bondone’s depiction of the Nativity in the Arena Chapel, Padua

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Magnificat


The Song of Mary

Luke 1:39-45 recalls a vist that Mary takes to see her relative Elizabeth. Mary and Elizebeth both are pregnant. Elizabeth and her husband are old and have been unable to concieve. She is carrying Jesus cousin John, who will become the " Baptist".

When Mary arrives Elizabeth child leaps in her womb and in aloud voice she proclaims Mary blessed among woman and proclaims the fruit of her woman blessed as well.

Mary responds with a beautiful song of praise, often refered to as the Magnificat.

Luke 1:47-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,my spirit rejoices in God my Saviorfor he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.From this day all generations will call me blessed:the Almighty has done great things for me,and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear himin every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israelfor he remembered his promise of mercy,the promise he made to our fathers,to Abraham and his children for ever.

The Magnificat is often used at Advent in the Daily Office during Vespers or the evening office. Particularly in conjuntion with the O Antiphons from the 17th to the 23rd of Dec. The Antiphon is read than the Magnificat than the antipon repeated.

the painting / Mary's visit to Elizabeth by Giotto di Bardoni 1276-1336