Tuesday, December 31, 2013

First Footing


In Scottish and Northern English folklore, the first-foot, also known in Manx Gaelic as quaaltagh or qualtagh, is the first person to cross the threshold of a home on New Years Day and a bringer of good fortune for the coming year.

Although it is acceptable in many places for the first-footer to be a resident of the house, they must not be in the house at the stroke of midnight in order to first-foot (thus going out of the house after midnight and then coming back in to the same house is not considered to be first-footing). The first-foot is traditionally a tall, dark-haired male; a female or fair-haired male are in some places regarded as unlucky. In Worcjshire, luck is ensured by stopping the first carol singer who appears and leading him through the house. In Yorkshire it must always be a male who enters the house first, but his fairness is no objection.
The first-foot usually brings several gifts, including perhaps a coin, bread, salt, coal, or a drink (usually whiskey), which respectively represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, and good cheer. In Scotland, first-footing has traditionally been more elaborate than in England,[ and involving subsequent entertainment.

In a similar Greek tradition (pothariko), it is believed that the first person to enter the house on New Years Eve brings either good luck or bad luck. Many households to this day keep this tradition and specially select who enters first into the house. After the first-foot, also called "podariko" (from the root pod-, or foot), the lady of the house serves the guests with Christmas treats or gives them an amount of money to ensure that good luck will come in the New Year.

taken from wikepidia 

Friday, December 27, 2013

St John the Beloved





December 27 (Western Christianity)
September 26 & May 8 (Eastern Christianity)

Greaphic:St John the Divine in Silence
Nektary Kulyuksin
1679

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Deep Peace (2)

a Celtic blessing you can use as a meditation on the day after Christmas ( St Stephens Day )



Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet snow to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you,
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you!
Deep peace of the Yellow Shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the Wandering Shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you,
Deep peace of the heart of Mary to you,
And from Bridget of the Mantle,
Peace, Deep Peace!
And with kindness too of Dalua the Haughty Father
Peace, Deep Peace!
In the name of the Three who are One,
Peace, Deep Peace!
And by the will of the King of the elements,
Peace, Deep Peace!
And by Grace of the Queen of Heaven
Peace, Deep Peace

                                                  Fiona Macleod

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day (6)

Christ, Redeemer of All

Jesu, the Father's only Son,
whose death for all redemption won,
before the worlds, of God most high,
begotten all ineffably.
The Father's Light and Splendor Thou
their endless Hope to Thee that bow:
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world Thy servants pay.
Salvation's author, call to mind
how, taking the form of humankind,
born of a Virgin undefiled,
Thou in man's flesh becamest a Child.
Thus testifies the present day
Through every year in long array,
that Thou, salvation's source alone
proceedest from the Father's Throne.
Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
and earth, and all that therein is,
shall still, with laud and carol meet,
the Author of thine Advent greet.
And we who, by Thy precious Blood
from sin redeemed, are marked for God,
on this, the day that saw Thy Birth,
sing the new song of ransomed earth.
All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

6th Century Hymn; tr: John Mason Neale

Graphic:The Sancta Sanctorum Icon, Palestinian, 6th century

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve (6)















The Father's Light and Splendor Thou
their endless Hope to Thee that bow:
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world Thy servants pay.

Salvation's author, call to mind
how, taking the form of humankind,
born of a Virgin undefiled,
Thou in man's flesh becamest a Child.

Thus testifies the present day
Through every year in long array,
that Thou, salvation's source alone
proceedest from the Father's Throne.

Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
and earth, and all that therein is,
shall still, with laud and carol meet,
the Author of thine Advent greet.

And we who, by Thy precious Blood
from sin redeemed, are marked for God,
on this, the day that saw Thy Birth,
sing the new song of ransomed earth.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. 
                                              Amen.


6th Century Hymn; tr: John Mason Neale

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Prayer for Forgiveness and Mercy



Father,
We contemplate the birth of your Son.
He was born of the Virgin Mary
and came to live among us.
May we receive forgiveness and mercy
Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Liturgy of the Hours, Dec. 23rd
Advent Prayer to Follow God's Will

God of love and mercy,
help us to follow the example of Mary,
always ready to do your will.
At the message of an angel
she welcomed your eternal Son
and, filled with the light of your Spirit,
she became the temple of your Word,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Liturgy of the Hours, Dec. 22nd

graphic:  taize advent service

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Soltsice

Yule Blessing




The food is put away for the winter,
the crops are set aside to feed us,
the cattle are come down from their fields,
and the sheep are in from the pasture.
The land is cold, the sea is stormy, the sky is gray.
The nights are dark, but we have our family,
kin and clan around the hearth,
staying warm in the midst of darkness,
our spirit and love a flame
a beacon burning brightly
in the night. 


 The Celtic people knew the importance of the solstice. Although the Yule season marks the middle of winter, colder times were still to come. It was important to put aside staple foods for the coming months, because it would be many months before anything fresh grew again.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Incarnation and theosis


Unique to  Christianity is its astounding concept that God has become man.

The incarnation or the enfleshment  is the concecpt that Christ  being  born of a virgin indicates his divinity, his being born of a woman shows his true humanity. According to the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), Christ is fully human and fully divine. This union is sometimes called the hypostatic union.

As the early Church Fathers like Irenaeus (2nd c.) and Athanasius (4th c.) frequently said, God became man so that man might become divine.

Incarnation and theosis The Divinization of Humanity

 Because of the fact that divinity and humanity are united in the person of Christ, our humanity can now be united with God's divinity. We can share in the nature of the triune God.

So there's a two-way movement. God humbles himself, stooping downward to us, taking on our
nature, so that we can then be elevated, taking on his nature. The incarnation is the basis of our
divinization, but it is also the basis of the atonement. By taking on human flesh, Christ was able to pay thepenalty for the sin of all humanity through his death on the cross. Before being able to share in God's lifeand nature, humanity needed to be cleansed of sin. This cleansing is accomplished through Christ offeringhimself for our sins.

this article is adapted from Ortho-Wiki

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Celtic Christmas: Celebrating the Sacred in All Creation Pt. 2

This is a wonderful article by Mary Earle   exploring the meaning of Christmas from a Celtic Christian perspective

Historically, at this time of the year, the peoples of the Celtic lands (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia) marked the natural rhythm as autumn turned to winter. This was a time for watching for the light’s return, even in the midst of darkness. This was a time for pondering endings and beginnings. As Christianity came to these lands, perhaps as early as the first century, there was a ready embracing of the proclamation that Jesus was the Son of God. As far as we can tell, the pre-Christian religious practices of the Celtic peoples were inclined to celebrate the natural world as shot through with divine presence. For them, a faith tradition that celebrated the divine becoming human was plausible, welcome and true. Incarnation was not a stumbling block as it was to the Greeks. This faith that had a central story of a man who came from God and returned to God, a man who was God’s Son, did not seem so far-fetched to the Celtic mind.

The first time I went to Wales in 1994, Patrick Thomas, Welsh author and Anglican priest, told us that in every Welsh nativity scene, a washerwoman accompanies Mary, Joseph and Jesus at the manger. For the Welsh tradition, if Jesus isn’t born daily into the common household, then there’s really no point of celebrating the birth at Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth, singular as it is, also shows us the sacredness of each child, knit together in the mother’s womb by God’s own Spirit. Jesus’ birth reminds us that each household is dear to God.

Hearkening back to a time when the church was one, and having resonance with Eastern Orthodox theology, the Celtic Christian tradition is at ease with proclamations from the early church, such as this from Maximus Confessor: : “The Word of God, who is God, wills always and in all things to work the mystery of his embodiment.” The Celtic Christian tradition would agree with C. S. Lewis when he writes, “God loves matter; he invented it.” George McLeod, who founded the modern Iona Community in Scotland, said “Matter matters.”

The Celtic tradition looks at the world and wonders at the fact that there
is anything at all. The natural world is perceived as pointing beyond itself, to the divine Source. God’s presence, as A. M. Allchin has observed, makes the world. God’s presence makes you, makes your family, makes each person. God’s presence invites loving, active response. God’s incarnate presence provokes us to action, to care, to justice.
At this season of the year, when we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus in the midst of the hubbub in Bethlehem, this tradition invites us to notice God being birthed in our midst, in one another, in our friend, in our foe. As the Welsh poet Donald Evans wrote of the baby born in the manger at Bethlehem,
He loved the earth, loved it as a lover
because it is God’s earth:
He loved it because it was created by his Father
From nothingness to be life’s temple.
Copyright ©2003 Mary Earle


  
For more information on Celtic Spirituality, read HOLY COMPANIONS: SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FROM THE CELTIC SAINTS by Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox.
Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the Dark Night of the Soul


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.


John of the Cross from Dark night of the Soul 

Loreena McKennitt The Dark Night of the Soul music video 



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Celtic Christmas: Celebrating the Sacred in All Creation Pt 1

This is a wonderful article by Mary Earle   exploring the meaning of Christmas from a Celtic Christian perspective

We are in a season of contradictions. Lights glitter from every structure; meanwhile, the days lengthen, and darkness begins to come earlier, stay later. A little shiver runs through our pre-electric-light, primordial selves. The ancient human family viewed this time of year with trepidation. They lit fires for warmth and light, and wondered what the winter would bring. No longer concerned with a lack of food and shelter during the freezing winter months, we turn on the central heat, put on a fleece-lined parka and wait for the weather report.

Yet underneath our civilized response to the season, we may sense our human roots. We may look at the dark velvet dome of the night sky laced with stars, and wonder. It is a season that mysteriously brings together death and birth—death of the old season, the old year, the growth from last summer’s garden; birth of the new light after December 21, the Winter Solstice, and birth of the community that is formed as we turn inward with the season. It is the season when Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus, also called Immanuel or God-with-us.


 This is the season when we remember that darkness may be fruitful—the darkness of the soil where the hidden seed sleeps, or the darkness of the womb where new life is created. This is the darkness of gestation, the darkness in which creative spirit begins to make the first silent stirrings, taking form and flesh. We celebrate the deep compatibility of the divine and the human as we rejoice in the Incarnation—in God’s life being revealed to us in the baby boy born at Bethlehem, God being birthed into human life, taking on human nature from the inside out.
As an old Welsh poem states,
Mary nurtures a Son in her womb:
His birth a blessing to those who discover him.
He goes forth like the sun,
great is the number of his company.
 The wonder of the Incarnation is that in Jesus we are told that God and humanity are meant for each other. We discover that God loves bodies, God plays with matter, God speaks to us through quarks and atoms and molecules, through blood and lymph and bone. Through every human race and culture. The Christian story tells us that God chooses to be human, chooses to know human life from the moment of conception to the suffering of death. In Jesus, God knows intimately what it is to be a toddler, to have a stomachache, to feel the rain and wind, to be betrayed and forsaken, to die. Incarnation is about God choosing to be one of us, so that we might become communities of compassion, mercy, courage, justice, care, God’s embodied presence here and now.


Copyright ©2003 Mary Earle

 Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints
For more information on Celtic Spirituality, read HOLY COMPANIONS: SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FROM THE CELTIC SAINTS by Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox.

Monday, December 16, 2013

the O Antiphons


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. However, by the 8th and 9th centuries, the church in Rome and monastic communities throughout western Europe were using them at evening worship services during the season of Advent.


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. The precise origin of these texts is unknown.

  THE seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights." The week leading up to Christmas EVE.

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." 


 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... Living Water links to the O Antiphons

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


a remix of classic living water from an ancient well posts.. enjoy!!!!



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent Collect

Anglican Collect for the4th Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God,
by your daily visitation, that Thy Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Scottish Christmas Chant 3

HHAIL King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
      Ho, hail! blessed the King!
      Ho, hi! let there be joy!


Prosperity be upon this dwelling,
On all that ye have heard and seen,
On the bare bright floor flags,
      On the shapely standing stone staves,
      Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!


Bless this house and all that it contains,
From rafter and stone and beam;
Deliver it to God from pall to cover,
      Be the healing of men therein,
      Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!


Be ye in lasting possession of the house,
Be ye healthy about the hearth,
Many be the ties and stakes in the homestead,
      People dwelling on this foundation,
      Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!



Offer to the Being from found to cover,
Include stave and stone and beam;
Offer again both rods and cloth,
Be health to the people therein,
      Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
      Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
           Ho, hail! blessed the King!
               Let there be joy!

        
 Blessed the King,
         Without beginning, without ending,
         To everlasting, to eternity,
               Every generation for aye,
               Ho! hi! let there be joy!


from the Carmina Gadelica

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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 artisan, 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 movement within the Carmilites known as the Discalceds. He was seized 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 banished 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 mysticism. 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, bibliography, quotes
http://doctorsofthecatholicchurch.com/JC.html


living water reprint from 2009

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scottish Christmas Chant 2


HHAIL 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!


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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)




Prayer for Peace
 
Almighty and merciful God, Father of all men, Creator and ruler of the universe,
Lord of all history, whose designs are without blemish, whose compassion for
the errors of men is inexhaustible, in your will is our peace.

Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to you from the tumult and desperation
of a world in which you are forgotten, in which your name is not invoked,
your laws are derided and your presence is ignored. Because we do not
know you, we have no peace.

From the heart of an eternal silence, you have watched the rise of empires
and have seen the smoke of their downfall. You have witnessed the impious
fury of ten thousand fratricidal wars, in which great powers have torn whole
continents to shreds in the name of peace and justice.

A day of ominous decision has now dawned on this free nation. Save us then
from our obsessions! Open our eyes, dissipate our confusions, teach us
to understand ourselves and our adversary. Let us never forget that sins
against the law of love are punishable by loss of faith, and those
without faith stop at no crime to achieve their ends!

Help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us.
Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and
destruction. Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries
in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and
suspicion of us. Resolve our inner contradictions, which now
grow beyond belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment
and a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience,
we would not have to endure them. Teach us to wait and trust.

Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace.
But grant us above all to see that our ways are not necessarily
your ways, that we cannot fully penetrate the mystery of your
designs and that the very storm of power now raging on this earth
reveals your hidden will and your inscrutable decision.

Grant us to see your face in the lightning of this cosmic storm,

O God of holiness, merciful to men. Grant us to seek peace where
it is truly found. In your will, O God, is our peace.

Amen. 


a living water reprint from 2010

Monday, December 9, 2013

Scottish Christmas Chant 1

H       HAIL to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He who has come betimes,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed be the house and all therein,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
'Twixt stock and stone and stave,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Consign it to God from corslet to cover,



Be the health of men therein,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Lasting round the house be ye,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Healthy round the hearth be ye,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Many be the stakes in the house,
And men dwelling on the foundation,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He.

    
    Hail to the King, hail to the King,
This night is the eve of the great Nativity,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Illumined the sun the mountains high,
        Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He.










Shone the earth, shone the land,
       Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
       Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Heard was the wave upon the strand,
       Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
       Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed the King,
Without beginning, without end,
To everlasting, to eternity,
To all ages, to all time.



















Sunday, December 8, 2013

Third Sunday in Advent Collect

Anglican Collect for the 3rd Sunday in Advent

Stir up thy power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honor and glory, world without end.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Scottish Christmas Chants or Hails



CHRISTMAS chants also known as Hails were numerous and their recital common throughout Scotland. They are now disappearing with the customs they accompanied. Where they still linger their recital is relegated to boys. Formerly on Christmas Eve bands of young men went about from house to house and from townland to townland chanting Christmas songs. The band was called 'goisearan,' guisers, 'firduan,' song men, 'gillean Nollaig,' Christmas lads, 'nuallairean,' rejoicers, and other names. 

The 'rejoicers' wore long white shirts for surplices, and very tall white hats for mitres, in which they made a picturesque appearance as they moved along singing their loudest. Sometimes they went about as one band, sometimes in sections of twos and threes. When they entered a dwelling they took possession of a child, if there was one in the house. In the absence of a child, a lay figure was improvised. The child was called 'Crist, Cristean'--Christ, Little Christ. The assumed Christ was placed on a skin, and carried three times round the fire, sunwise, by the 'ceannsnaodh'--head of the band, the song men singing the Christmas Hail. The skin on which the symbolic Christ was carried was that of a white male lamb without spot or blemish and consecrated to this service. The skin was called 'uilim.' Homage and offerings and much rejoicing were made to the symbolic Christ. The people of the house gave the guisers bread, butter, crowdie, and other eatables, on which they afterwards feasted.

from the Carmina Gadelica

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Christmas Carol" a Scottish Christmas poem

Here is a poem in Scots by Alexander Gray telling the familiar tale of "No room at the inn".
 
Christmas Carol 

 'Twas a cauld, cauld nicht i' the back o' the year;
The snaw lay deep, and the starns shone clear;
And Mary kent that her time was near,
As she cam to Bethlehem.
When Joseph saw the toon sae thrang,
Quo' he: 'I houp I be na wrang,
But I'm thinkin' we'll find a place ere lang;'
But there wasna nae room for them.

She quo', quo' she: 'O Joseph loon,
Rale tired am I, and wad fain lie doon.
Is there no a bed in the hail o' the toon?
For farrer I canna gae.'
At the ale-hoose door she keekit ben,
But there was sic a steer o' fremmyt men,
She thocht till hirsel': 'I dinna ken
What me and my man can dae.'

And syne she spak: 'We'll hae to lie
I' the byre this nicht amang the kye
And the cattle beas', for a body maun try
To thole what needs maun be,'
And there amang the strae and the corn,
While the owsen mooed, her bairnie was born.
O, wasna that a maist joyous morn
For sinners like you and me?

For the bairn that was born that nicht i' the sta'
Cam doon frae Heaven to tak awa'
Oor fecklessness, and bring us a'
Safe hame in the hender-en'.
Lord, at this Yule-tide send us licht,
Hae mercy on us and herd us richt.
For the sake o' the bairnie born that nicht,
O, mak us better men! 


A Wee lexicon of words used in the poem.
starns=stars
thrang=crowded
quo'=said
loon=lad
fain=want
farrer=further
keekit ben=peeked through
sic a steer o' fremmyt men=such a crowd of strange men
ken=know
syne=since
kye=cow
thole=endure
strae=straw
owsen=oxen
bairnie=child
fecklessness=weakness, incomptence
hender-en'=latter days of life 


graphic:  15th century Italian artist Antonio Vivarini

Monday, December 2, 2013

Teaching of the Early church: Free will (13 )

Irenaeus (AD120-202)

"This expression [of our Lord], “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, “But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” “But glory and honor,” he says, “to every one that doeth good.” God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honor, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do.

"But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it, — some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets. ... No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. ... But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God.

"And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, “According to thy faith be it unto thee; “ thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, “All things are possible to him that believeth;” and, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, “he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.” In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, “How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.”"

 (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. IV, 37)