quod pro nobis traditum est

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

in principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum . . . et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam eius gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre plenum gratiae et veritatis

May God's only-begotten Son in the flesh be for you this day the gift of life, now in the blessed Eucharist and then at the glorious banquet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

St. Eusebius Bishop and Martyr

St. Eusebius' feast on the traditional Catholic calendar is today. He was Bishop of Vercelli, Italy, and lived from about A. D. 283 - 371. He is considered a martyr for the persecutions he experienced by the Arians while in exile. Thus he defended the divinity of Jesus.

One noticeable aspect in following the church calendar is how many martyrs there are. Interestingly, the number of martyrs at the time of the early church does not compare with the number of martyrs during the 20th c. We hear also how Christianity is the most persecuted religion world-wide today.

From the Mass Sacerdotes Dei: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation . . ." (Epistle)

(picture: Wikipedia)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where did Advent go?

Thanksgiving Day begins a rapid race toward Christmas, although signs of Christmas are also now found before Thanksgiving. It is a busy time, probably the busiest stretch of the year. Good prices mean shopping and more shopping. There is the Christmas tree, decorations, cookies, Christmas letters, cards, concerts, parties and more.Last year went so fast we did not even get the annual Christmas letter written. Add time spent on snow removal with the advance of winter. Time is a precious commodity and it seems to go fastest around this time of year. With today's arrival of Gaudete Advent seems to have come and gone. Gaudete is about rejoicing and rejoicing is another reminder of Christmas.

There is no question that Advent just does not come and go. Rather it too gets lost in the shuffle of Christmas. As the church year goes Advent is a preparation for Christmas. Yet it has largely disappeared under the more visible sights and audible sounds of the Christmas which has built up a life of its own.

Most of this time is one great commercial. I used to bemoan the disappearance of Advent in the Christmas rush, an impressive and over-reaching distraction. Advent is distinct, not in a commercial way, but in the preparation of the way for the Lord. John the Baptist is a key figure in this drama, making the connection between the Scriptures of old with their fulfillment in the One Who is to come. Lift up your heads, O Sion. He comes for you.

I used to bemoan early house decorations until I realized that people were trying to get them on their houses before the cold weather came. I notice the radio stations changing to an all-Christmas music format at Thanksgiving or before. Certainly the question arises, "Can we get too much of a good thing?" Apart from the commercialization of Christmas, which no longer seems to bother me as it did in the past (I'm too busy), is the question, "Where did Advent go?" This is not a question of how fast Advent went but where it went. A related question may be, "Is there something about Advent that leads some Christians into hiding?"

Beyond the demands of this time of year something must point to the importance of Advent for Christians. It is indeed a matter of time. Advent begins another year, assuming a continuity in the church that is not undermined by whatever distractions there are. Sunday flows into the week and back to Sunday. Weekday services highlight scriptural themes that point us to the Coming One. The Last Day is all about time, for it comes when we least expect it.

Each year it is the same story. Advent disappears in the rush toward Christmas. Advent has a richness of its own and this is lost to the hearer. Certainly, the season has little commercial appeal. Repentance is an emphasis and Ember Days hearken to self-denial at a time when such seems especially out of step. Yet Advent also highlights the double pardon from the Lord. From the Blessing of the Advent Wreath to Rorate Coeli we hear that the Lord is near and this silences the thunder of the outside rush. We pray for the Lord to return.

There is little doubt that the mystery and significance of the Incarnation is beyond what we look for in Advent. Beyond the miracle, without the Incarnation there is no Redemption. Without Redemption Jesus does not come again. Advent can easily get lost in the rush. On the other hand, Advent teaches us patience, a silence outside of the rush, a looking for and waiting for that which we may easily forget or lose when Christmas so quickly arrives.

Where did Advent go? This year Advent is almost over. Time is flying. Advent goes nowhere without coming from somewhere else. We will not be prepared, nor notice without waiting patiently, receiving the comfort of the Holy Scriptures. The day is nearer than when we first believed.

Drop down dew, ye heavens,from above,
and let the clouds rain the Just:
let the earth be opened
and bud forth a Saviour.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

miracles of body and soul

The Feast of St. Ambrose was on the 7th. Below is an excerpt from his "Exposition of the Christian Faith" (De fide ad Gratianum Augustum, Bk. 1, Ch. 20):

"Moreover, there is a Cup, which You use to purify the hidden chambers of the soul, a Cup not of the old order, nor filled from a common Vine,— a new Cup, brought down from heaven to earth, filled with wine pressed from the wondrous cluster, which hung in fleshly form upon the tree of the Cross, even as the grape hangs upon the Vine. From this Cluster, then, is the Wine that makes glad the heart of man, Judges 9:13 uplifts the sorrowful, is fragrant with, pours into us, the ecstasy of faith, true devotion, and purity." (New Advent)

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ambrose stressed the virginity of Mary and her role as the Mother of God. His emphasis on Mary influenced Popes Damasus [commemorated Dec. 11], Siricius and Leo the Great. Ambrose writes, "The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human?" (see n. 14)

Luther wrote, "It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

on preaching

St. Peter Chrysologus (c. 380 - 450), Bishop, Confessor, Doctor, was Bishop of Ravenna from about AD 433 until his death. He was known as the "The Doctor of Homilies" for his eloquence and speaking ability. Peter was involved in the christological controversies of the day, speaking against Arianism and Monophysitism. He also wrote to Eutyches to accept the ruling of the Council of Chalcedon and obey the Bishop of Rome. Peter advocated daily reception of Holy Communion. Today is his feast on the traditional calendar in the west.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Prayer for the Unborn

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children.

Console the married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Charity,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

(Prayer written by Pope Benedict XVI; Source of this text: CNA)