Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve (3)

'Long ere the lingering dawn of that blithe morn
Which ushers in the year, the roosting cock,
Flapping his wings, repeats his larnun shrill;
But on that morn no busy flail obeys
His rousing call; no sounds but sounds of joy
Salute the year—the first-foot's entering step,
That sudden on the floor is welcome heard,
Ere blushing maids have braided up their hair;
The laugh, the hearty kiss, the good new year
Pronounced with honest warmth. In village, grange,
And borough town, the steaming flagon, borne
From house to house, elates the poor man's heart,
And makes him feel that life has still its joys.
The aged and the young, man, woman, child,
Unite in social glee; even stranger dogs,
Meeting with bristling back, soon lay aside
Their snarling aspect, and in sportive chase,
Excursive scour, or wallow in the snow.
With sober cheerfulness, the grandam eyes
Her offspring round her, all in health and peace;
And, thankful that she's spared to see this day
Return once more, breathes low a secret prayer,
That God would shed a blessing on their heads.'

Rev. JAMES GRAHAME (1765 1611)
excerpt from  "British georgics"  
graphic: the firstfooter

Sunday, December 27, 2009

John the Beloved

The Apostle, John, was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James the Greater. The brothers were fishermen on the Lake of Genesareth. They were called by Christ to become His disciples. John was called the "beloved disciple". He founded many churches in Asia Minor and is the Patron Saint of Asia Minor. St. John The Evangelist wrote three Epistles, the fourth Gospel, and the Book of Revelation.

   Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, 18th century

St Stephens Day

The book of acts tells the story of how Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin  for blasphemy  and speaking against the temple and the Law (see also Antinomianism). He was stoned to death (c. A.D. 34–35) by an infuriated mob encouraged by Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul "And Saul entirely approved of putting him to death". Stephen's final speech was presented as accusing the Jews of persecuting prophets who spoke out against their sins:
'"Which one of the Prophets did your fathers not persecute, and they killed the ones who prophesied the coming of the Just One, of whom now, too, you have become betrayers and murderers." 
Saint Stephen's name is simply derived from the Greek Stephanos, meaning "crown", which translated into aramaic as Kelil. Traditionally, Saint Stephen is invested with a crown of martyrdom for Christianity; he is often depicted in art with three stones and the martyrs' palm. In Eastern Christian iconography, he is shown as a young beardless man with a tonsure, wearing a deacon's vestments, and often holding a miniature church building or a censer.

Graphic: Byzantine icon

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day (2)


Almighty God,
who has poured upon us the new light of your Incarnate Word;
grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts
may shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

graphic: PIERO Della FRANCESCA's Nativity

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve (2)

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Robert Louis Stevenson

painting: Sandro Botticelli's mystical Nativity (ca. 1500)

Awaiting the Morning: an Advent Reflection

Below is an Advent Reflection i was invited to included on  Christine Sine's God Space Blog. Thanx  Christine. I tweeked the article a bit for posting here.

I am very fond of Christmas.  Particularly Christmas morning. I always have been.  Even as the festivities are winding down I’m already longing for  next year’s celebrations.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I’m not a morbid death wish kind of guy.  I love life. Every day is a gift. Each breath is a miracle. It astounds me to know the Creator of everything seen and unseen thought to make food taste good and sex feel great. “L’Chaim, To Life”.

Still, part of me groans waiting to be delivered. Early on in the human story a Leviathan of darkness entered Gods world of wonder, pillaged the human heart and left in its wake, a trail of selfishness, despair, brokenness and oppression.  As C S Lewis put it, “we are bent”, desperately bent, crooked little folk in our crooked little world.

Theologian George Eldon Ladd, spoke of the tension of the already not yet. The Kingdom is proclaimed. Redemption is here. The Incarnation has arrived, yet we a wait the fullness. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”, I get it. I watch. I wait. We watch. We ache.

Death, we don’t much like to talk about it, let alone think about it. The moment we are born we are moving toward our physical death. We can’t escape the fact that death is a constant companion. Early celtic culture understood life and death as two parts of the same journey. Death is not the end.  Unless a seed fall in the ground and die…This is the rhythm until Christ returns.

Peter Marshall the Scottish Presbyterian Minister who in later life was theChaplin of the US Senate used to share a story about a wee lad who dying andafraid of the unknown fearfully asks his mother ‘What is it like to die”. Shecomforts him by explaining that death is like turning out the lights, going to sleep and awakening to a brand new day. On his death bed Peter Marshall turned to his wife Catherine and said “see you in the morning.”

Like a child anticipating the splendor of Christmas morn, I a wait, to a wake in His likeness.  I a wait the dawning of a new day when the sting of death has disappeared, tears have ceased, sickness vanished, injustice, exploitation and oppression abolished, and we practice war no more. When finally, Empire gives way and “the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ and He will reign for ever and ever”…and we will wait no more.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Antiphons 7

December 23: O Emmanuel (God with us)

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of nations and theirSaviour; come and save us, O Lord our God! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Antiphon 6:

December 22: O Rex Gentium (King of the Gentiles)

OKing of Nations and Desired of All, You are the cornerstone that binds two into
one. Come, and save poor man  whom You fashioned out of clay!

Graphic: cry of the Masses, Josef VĂ¡chal,  was a phenomenal Czech printmaker, painter, poet and prose writer

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Antiphon 5

December 21: O Oriens (Orient)

O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice; come and
enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphon 4:

December 20: O Clavis David (Key of David)

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, You open and no man closes;
You close and no man opens. Come and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death!

see Living water O Antiphon Day 4 2008

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphon 3:

December 19: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)

O  Root of Jesse, You stand for an ensign of mankind; before You kings shall keep
silence,and to You all nations
shall have recourse. Come, save us and do not delay!

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Antiphon 2

O Adonai (Lord)

OLord and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in the burning bush
and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law. Come and with outstretched arm redeem us!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Antiphon 1

O Sapientia (Wisdom)
Wisdom. You came forth from the mouth of the Most High and reaching from beginning to end, You ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come and teach us the way of prudence!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM's Nativity Sermon

I behold a new and wondrous mystery!
My ears resound to the shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!
The angels sing! The archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The cherubim resound their joyful praise! The seraphim exult His glory!
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy.
Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in the place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!
Ask now how this was accomplished, for where God wills the order of nature is overturned. For He willed He has the power. He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.
Today, He Who is born. And He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man - while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His.
And so the kings have come and they have seen the heavenly King that is come upon the earth, not bring with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominations, nor powers, nor principalities, but treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God.
And behold the kings have come that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, so that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child birth to joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin . . .
Infants that they might adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men to Him Who became man hat He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisidech;
Servants to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen to the Fisher of humanity;
Publicans, to Him Who from among them named a chosen evangelist;
Sinful women to Him Who exposed His feel to the tears of the repentant woman;
And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they might look upon the lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!
Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp, nor with music of the pipes nor holding the torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!
For this is all my hope! This is my life! This is my salvation! This is my pipe, my harp!
And bearing it I come, having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels sing: "Glory to God in the Highest," and with the shepherds: "and on earth peace to men of good will."

Monday, December 14, 2009

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

John of the Cross Speaks

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”

 “He who interrupts the course of his spiritual exercises and prayer is like a man who allows a bird to escape from his hand; he can hardly catch it again.”

“Abide in peace, banish cares, take no account of all that happens, and you will serve God according to his good pleasure and rest in him.”

“Desolation is a file, and the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.”

“In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.”

“Beloved, all that is harsh and difficult I want for myself, and all that is gentle and sweet for thee”

read the John of the Cross thumnail bio

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Thomas Merton in his Own Words

Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience. Thomas Merton

Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.

Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ.

Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.

The very contradictions in my life are in some ways signs of God's mercy to me.

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Old Sarum Rite

Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salsbury  in England. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country. It sits on a hill about two miles north of modern Salisbury.

Various parts of Britain and Ireland developed local variants of the Western Liturgy: The Sarum Rite was originally the local form used in the Cathedral and Diocese of  Salsbury.  It later became prevalent throughout much of the British Isles, particularly in southern England.

Although abandoned after the 16th century, the Sarum rite was the original basis of the liturgy in the Anglican Book of common Prayer. This is most evident in its sequence of  Sundays in Advent, which vary considerably from those used in the Roman Tridentine Rite. It also inspired the counting of Sundays after Trinity rather than Pentecost. One may also take note of the marriage rite and the Sarum custom of "plighting troths".

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The O Antiphons (2)

In some liturgical traditions the O Antiphons are used in the evening office (the hours, the daily office) during the last week leading up to Christmas Eve.

Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture.

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Adonai)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Morning Star)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)

The exact origin of the "O Antiphons" is not known. Boethius (480–524/5) made a slight reference to them, by suggesting their use. At the Benidictine abbey in  Fleury (now St Benoit-sur-Lorie), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they were in use in the Advent liturgy. The usage of the "O Antiphons" was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases "Keep your O" and "The Great O Antiphons" were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the "O Antiphons" have been part of Western liturgical tradition since the very early Church ( Father Willam Saunders, "What are the O Antiphons?")

 These antiphons were arranged with a definite  purpose in mind. If  you start with the last title and take the first letter of each one—Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—the Latin words ero cras are formed.They mean, "Tomorrow, I will come". Jesus, whose coming is at the  heart of Advent and who has been  addressed in these seven Messianic titles,speaks to the celibrant: "Tomorrow, I will come."  The " O Antiphons" not only engage the heart in Advent preparation, but bring a joyful conclusion as well.

complied from serveral sources 

the last week O antiphons (1) article

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Advent Wreath

During the cold December darkness of  eastern Europe, pre-Christian Germanic peoples gathered boughs of evergreen and lit fires as a sign of hope in a coming spring and the renewing of light.

By the middle ages German Christians adapted the tradition of  forming an evergreen wreath  and lighting candles as part of their spiritual preparation for Advent. The lighting of the Candles symbolized. Christ as the "light that came into the world" to dispel the darkness of sin bring Gods truth, light and love into the world (Jn. 3:19-21).

By the 16th century Lutheran's throughout Germany had  these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From  Germany the tradition spread to Scadinavia and then on the rest of Protestant Europe. In time Catholic Europe adapted the Advent wreath a well. 

The four candles represented the four weeks of Advent. Three candles were purple and one candle was rose.This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King.  The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week.  This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent. In the four weeks of Advent the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice"). The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candle reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season.

Each day at home, the candles are lite, perhaps before the evening meal or before bed-- one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding  Christ first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming

A short prayer may accompany the lighting of the candles. Mary and i recite the short Celtic Advent Liturgy as we light the candle each evening.

Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.

the grapics is of a  modern celtic advent wreath  a fresh evergreen advent wreath

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prayer for the Day

                                                                O God

Thanks to Thee, O God, that I have risen today, 
    To the rising of this life itself; 
May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift, 
     And to the glory of my soul likewise. 
O great God, aid Thou my soul 
     With the aiding of Thine own mercy; 
Even as I clothe my body with wool, 
    Cover Thou my soul with the shadow of Thy wing. 
Help me to avoid every sin, 
    And the source of every sin to forsake;
And as the mist scatters on the crest of the hills, 
    May each ill haze clear from my soul, O God. 

Old Celtic Prayer from the Gaelic