Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love Thee very much, I beg Thee to spare the life of the unborn child that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.

Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen


Friday, February 25, 2011

National Clam Chowder Day

One of the foods I like best is Clam Chowder. I grew up with Snow's Concentrated out of the can. While I still have that once in a while, when there are a few shekels in the pocket, I make the pilgrimage to The Union Oyster House, for the best chowder in Boston.

Legal Seafoods is very good, too, but not as good as the Union Oyster House.

Of course, there is only one version of clam chowder that qualifies as such, New England style, without the tomatoes added by folks to the southward of God's Country.

It is a rainy, cold, raw day here in Boston. It is just perfect for a nice bowl of chowder. Add extra butter and pepper.


Friday At the Foot of the Cross

Prayer by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

Ah, my Jesus! make Thyself known, make Thyself loved. Thou art so amiable, Thou canst do nothing more to induce men to love Thee; how then does it happen that so few among them love Thee? Alas! I have been among these ungrateful wretches. I have been sufficiently grateful to creatures, who have bestowed no gift or favor upon me: to Thee only, who hast given me Thyself, have I been ungrateful, so as often to offend Thee grievously, and insult Thee by my sins. But I see that, instead of abandoning me, Thou continuest to seek after me, and to ask my love. I feel that Thou continuest to propose to me this loving precept – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.” Since, then, Thou didst wish to be loved even by me after my ingratitude, I desire to love Thee. Thou wishest for my love, and at present through Thy grace, I desire only to love Thee. I love Thee, my love, my all. Through that blood which Thou hast shed for me, help me to love Thee. My beloved Redeemer! I place all my hopes in this blood, and also in the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou wishest to assist me by her prayers in the work of my salvation. O Mary, my Mother! pray to Jesus for me. Thou inflamest all thy lovers with the divine love; I love thee tenderly; procure it also for me.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Personal Portable Crucifix

This is a standard Fontanini crucifix with a 5-inch Corpus (same scale as the most popular Fontanini Nativity figures). I customized it with some red paint applied with toothpicks. I had originally painted the nails black, and enhanced the brown of His beard and the green of the Crown of Thorns. I would like to (but have never gotten around to) make the visible surface of cross itself look more "natural," more like sawed wood, and make the sign reflect the known relic and the description of it.


Saint Matthias, Apostle and Martyr

Read about the Apostle who took Judas' place among the Twelve.

The Golden Legend has more.

Saint Matthias, please pray for us!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saint Peter Damian

The Catholic Encyclopedia on this Doctor of the Church.

Saint Peter Damian, please pray for us!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saint Peter's Chair At Antioch

After Saint Peter left Jerusalem when the Apostolic College dispersed, he was first Bishop of Antioch, the most important city of the Roman East, for seven years before he established his See at Rome. Read more about this feast here.

Saint Peter, please pray for us!
Saint Paul, please pray for us!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Revolutions In the Middle East

Hosni Mubarek has fallen from power in Egypt. The Tunisian government is no more. Right now, it appears that Colonel Qaddafi might have fled Tripoli, and that protesters are gradually taking control throughout Libya.

Americans are left pondering what this all means.

Are these revolutions of rising expectations, where the aim is more freedom and more prosperity for the peoples of these countries? Or are these Trojan Horses for the introduction of even more brutal and anti-American (anti-Western, and anti-Christian) regimes like Iran. Are we looking at a repeat on a regional scale of 1979 in Iran, or a Middle Eastern version of 1989 in Eastern Europe?

It seems as though both US-allied regimes, and long-standing US enemies are falling to a tide of discontent.

Right now, I see this as an opportunity to encourage an increase in liberty throughout the Middle East. I expect the US and its allies to try to appear as the friends of reform and encouragers of moderation. It is entirely within our historic mission to be the friend of liberty everywhere.

But what about those forces who want to turn all these countries, now free of dictators, into hard-core US enemies, Islamic states modelled on Iran and the Taliban's Afghanistan? I hope the US security apparatus is competent enough to bribe whoever can be bribed, propagandize the undecided, and, as our British cousins would say, nobble our inveterate enemies with a drone strike here, and a knife across the throat in a dark alley there, so that key anti-US leaders are removed and events can take place without their influence.

Can we do that? Is this Administration competent enough to see our interests realistically, and take highly politically incorrect, perhaps even technically illegal actions to make sure that the result is not a dozen new Irans. That would be the nightmare scenario for US security interests throughout the world.

I have severe misgivings about the Obama Administration's competence in national security matters (and economic and social policy as well). I hope they surprise me. The last thing we need is a dozen Irans all over the Middle East.


Presidents' Day


Carnival or Carne Vale!

We are in the season of Septuagesima, or the 70 or so day penitential countdown to Easter. Our altar cloths and vestments are purple now, and the Alleluia is not heard. However, the fullness of Lenten severity is not yet upon us.

Some of the very, very pious would make a 70-day Lent of this time. At the other extreme, in previous times, and now in places like Rio and New Orleans, people made of this time an orgy of meat, alcohol, and illicit sex.

I think a middle ground is a better approach. Consider the purple vestments as a two-week warning. It is time to plan out your Lenten prayer, sacrifice, and meditative reading. Get your hands on a good form for examination of conscience, so that you can be shriven late in Holy Week, and make a worthy Easter Communion.

Enjoy the pleasures you know you will be giving up. In moderation. Carnival derives from "Carne vale," or good-bye to meat (or more generically, "the flesh"). I know it is difficult to go 46 days on fish and vegetable matter. So fortify yourself with the meat dishes you like best from now through Shrove Tuesday (March 8th, this year).

Lent's 46 days is quite long enough, thank you very much. Our Lord fasted for 40 days in the desert. Let's not try to one-up Him, by going 70 days.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Septuagesima Sunday

The Mystery of Septuagesima
from Abbott Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year

The season upon which we are now entering is expressive of several profound mysteries. But these mysteries belong not only to the three weeks which are prearatory to Lent: they continue throughout the whole period of time which separates us from the great feast of Easter.

The number seven is the basis of all these mysteries. We have already seen how the holy Church came to introduce the season of Septuagesima into her calendar. Let us now meditate on the doctrine hidden under the symbols of her liturgy. And first, let us listen to St. Augustine, who thus gives is the clue to the whole of our season's mysteries. 'There are two times,' says the holy Doctor: 'one which is now, and is spent in the temptations and tribulations of this life; the other which shall by then, and shall be spent in eternal security and joy. In figure of these, we celebrate two periods: the time before Easter, and the time after Easter. That which is before Easter signifies the sorrow of this present life; that which is after Easter, the blessedness of our future state... Hence it is that we spend the first in fasting and prayer; and in the second we give up our fasting, and give ourselves to praise.'

The Church, the intepreter of the sacred Scriptures, often speaks to us of two places, which correspond with these two times of St. Augustine. These two places are Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is the image of this world of sin, in the midst whereof the Christian has to spend his years of probation; Jerusalem is the heavenly country, where he is to repose after all his trials. The people of Israel, whose whole history is but one great type of the human race, was banished from Jerusalem and kept in bondage in Babylon.

Now, this captivity, which kept the Israelites exiles from Sion, lasted seventy years; and it is to express this mystery, as Alcuin, Amalarius, Ivo of Chartres, and all the great liturgists tell us, that the Church fixed the number of seventy for the days of expiation. It is true, there are but sixty-three days between Septuagesima and Easter; but the Church, according to the style so continually used in the sacred Scriptures, uses the round number instead of the literal and precise one.

The duration of the world itself, according to the ancient Christian tradition, is divided into seven ages. The human race must pass through the seven ages before the dawning of the day of eternal life. The first age included the time from the creation of Adam to Noah; the second begins with Noah and the renovation of the earth by the deluge, and ends with this the vocation of Abraham; the third opens with this first formation of God's chosen people, and continues as far as Moses, through whom God gave the Law; the fourth consists of the period between Moses and David, in whom the house of Juda received the kingly power; the fifth is formed of the years which passed between David's reign and the captivity of Babylon, inclusively; the sixth dates from the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, and takes us on as far as the birth of our Saviour. Then, finally, comes the seventh age; it starts with the rising of this merciful Redeemer, the Sun of justice, and is to continue till the dread coming of the Judge of the livng and the dead. These are the seven great divisions of time; after which, eternity.

In order to console us in the midst of the combats, which so thickly beset our path, the Church, like a beacon shining amidst the darkness of this our earthly abode, shows us another seven, which is to succeed the one we are now preparing to pass through. After the Septuagesima of mourning, we shall have the bright Easter with its seven weeks of gladness, foreshadowing the happiness and bliss of heaven. After having fasted with our Jesus, and suffered with Him, the day will come when we shall rise together with Him, and our hearts shall follow Him to the hightest heavesn; and then after a brief interval, we shall feel the Holy Ghost descending upon us, with His seven Gifts. The celebration of all these wondrous joys will take us seven weeks, as the great liturgists observe in their interpretation of the rites of the Church. The seven joyous weeks from Easter to Pentecost will not be too long for the future glad mysteries, which, after all, will be but figures of a still gladder future, the future of eternity.

Having heard these sweet whisperings of hope, let us now bravely face the realities brought before us by our dear mother the Church. We are sojourners upon this earth; we are exiles and captives in Babylon, that city which plots our ruin. If we love our country, if we long to return to it, we must be proof against the lying allurements of this strange land, and refuse the cup she proffers us, and with which she maddens so many of our fellow captives. She invites us to join in her feasts and her songs; but we must unstring our harps, and hang them on the willows that grow on her river's bank, till the signal be given for our return to Jerusalem. She will ask us to sing to her the melodies of our dear Sion: but how shall we, who are so far from home, have heart to 'sing the song of the Lord in a strange land'? No, there must be no sign that we are content to be in bondage, or we shall deserve to be slaves forever.

These are the sentiments wherewith the Church would inspire us during the penitential season which we are now beginning. She wishes us to reflect on the dangers that beset us; dangers which arise from ourselves and from creatures. During the rest of the year she loves to hear us chant the song of heavne, the sweet Alleluia; but now, she bids us close our lips to this word of joy, because we are in Babylon. We are pilgrims absent from our Lord, let us keep our glad hymn for the day of His return. We are sinners, and have but too often held fellowship with the world of God's enemies; let us become purified by repentance, for it is written that 'praise is unseemly in the mouth of a sinner.'

The leading feature, then, of Septuagesima, is the total suspension of the Alleluia, which is not to again be heard upon the earth until the arrival of that happy day, when having suffered death with our Jesus, and having been buried together with Him, we shall rise again with Him to a new life.

The sweet hymn of the angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo, which we have sung every Sunday since the birth of our Saviour in Bethlehem, is also taken from us; it is only on the feasts of the saints which may by kept during the week that we shall be allowed to repeat it. The night Office of the Sunday is to lose also, from now till Easter, its magnificent Ambrosian hymn, the Te Deum; and at the end of the holy Sacrifice, the deacon will no longer dismiss the faithful with his solemn Ite, Missa est, but will simply invite them to continue their prayers in silence, and bless the Lord, the God of mercy, who bears with us, notwithstanding all our sins.

After the Gradual of the Mass, instead of the thrice repeated Alleluia, which prepared our hearts to listen to the voice of God in the holy Gospel, we hsall hear but a mournful and protracted chant, called, on that account, the Tract.

That the eye, too, may teach us that the season we are entering on is one of mourning, the Church will vest her ministers (both on Sundays and on the days during the week which are not feasts of Saints) in the sombre purple. Until Ash Wednesday, however, she permits the deacon to wear his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; but from that day forward, they must lay aside these vestments of joy, for Lent will then have begun and our holy mother will inspire us with the deep spirit of penance, but suppressing everything of that glad pomp, which she loves at other seasons, to bring into the sanctuary of her God.

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