A prayer to Our Blessed Lady and to her adopted son, Saint John (translation by Michael W. Martin):
O UNSPOTTED and forever blessed, unique and incomparable virgin Mary, Mother of God, most graceful temple of God, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, gate of the kingdom of heaven, by whom next unto God the whole world liveth, incline O Mother of Mercy thy ears of piety unto my unworthy supplications, and be merciful to me a most wretched sinner, and be unto me a helper in all things.
O most blessed John, the beloved and friend of Christ, which by the same Lord Jesus Christ was chosen a virgin, and among the rest more beloved, above all instructed in the heavenly mysteries, for thou wast made a most worthy Apostle and Evangelist: thee also I call upon with Mary, the mother of the same Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, that thou wouldst vouchsafe to afford me thy aid with hers.
O ye two celestial jewels, Mary, and John. O ye two lights divinely shining before God. Chase away by your bright beams the clouds of my offenses.
For you are those two in whom God the Father through His own Son, specially built His own house, and in whom the only-begotten Son of God as the reward of your most sincere virginity confirmed the privilege of His love while hanging on the Cross, saying thus to one of you: "Woman, behold thy son," and then to the other, "Behold thy mother."
In the sweetness therefore of His most sacred love, through which by our Lord's own mouth, as mother and son you were joined to each other, I, a most wretched sinner, commend this day to you my body and soul, that at all hours and moments, inwardly and outwardly, you would vouchsafe to be unto me steadfast guardians and devout intercessors before God.
I indeed firmly believe and accept beyond any doubt that one who wants to be yours will belong to God and one who does not want to be yours will not belong to God, for you can obtain whatever you ask from God without delay. By virtue of your most powerful worthiness, beg, I beseech you, for the well being of my body and soul.
Plead, I beseech you, plead for me by your holy prayers that the loving Spirit, the best giver of graces, may vouchsafe to visit my heart and dwell therein, the self same Spirit who may thoroughly purge me from all filth of vice, lighten and adorn me with sacred virtues: who would cause me to stand perfectly and to persevere in the love of God and my neighbor, and, after the course of this life, may this most benign comforter bring me to the joys of His elect, He, who with God the Father and the Son is co-eternal and consubstantial with them and in them, liveth and reigneth as Almighty God, forever and ever. Amen.
For me, Christmas Eve is the holiest time of the year, saving only the Easter Triduum.
It is a time for beginning the Christmas feast, after the first Christmas Masses have been said. It is the occasion for opening a single Christmas Eve gift, for reading the Nativity Story, for putting the Chrisat Child in the crib, for lighted candles, enjoying the Christmas Tree, and the most treasured Christmas albums, lighting the single white candle in the center of the Advent wreath. It is a night of hanging stockings, leaving cookies and milk for old Saint Nick, for roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, for eggnog and mince pie. It is a time for family and homely entertainment amid holly and ivy, candles (even if electric) in the window, and for peace.
After the dinner on Christmas Eve, it is the time to sit back. The frantic pace of shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, sending greetings, and entertaining is over. The spiritual preparation is done as well. A good confession has been made, and God willing, you can be housled in something close to a state of grace, baring only the veial sins committed since the confession. Sometimes, I wish I could just pop into the confessional seconds before receiving the Blessed Sacrament, as that is the only way this sinner can be clean enough for Him.
Days of rest are ahead. Now is the time to be with those you love best. The anxiety and stress of modern Christmas is a thing of the past.
I wish all of my readers the most Joyous and Blessed Christmas, and the most Happy and Most Prosperous New Year!
You might have noticed that, unlike in some past years, I have been very good here, scarcely mentioning Christmas throughout Advent. No posts devoted to Christmas videos, or Christmas Cookie recipes, or Santa Claus retrospectives, or antique Christmas postcards, no serializations of Washington Irving, or Dickens, not even a mention of Colonial Williamsburg decorations.
So I've been wicked good to date, at least on the blog letting Advent be Advent.
But here we are past the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The Embertide is over. The liturgical preparation is complete. You should have your examination of conscience well in hand, and be ready for a good confession in the next few days so you can make a truly worthy Communion for Christmas. That is the hard work of Advent. Not rigging up the lights (though when you put 3,000 lights on a 7.5 foot tree, there is a lot of work to that), not baking the cookies, or wrapping the gifts, or sending the cards, but spiritual preparation for the birth of the Lord, made as if happening for the first time through the readings of the Mass.
I know everybody is going to be too distracted to be reading blogs for the next few days, with trying to finish up work projects for the end of the year, and with preparations for Christmas.
So I think it is time to kick back and start to enjoy Christmas.
An instrumental of The Sussex Carol
Frank Kelly, Christmas Countdown
Joe Dolce, The Twelve Days Of Christmas (Italian Style)
Blackmore's Night, I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In
Maedieval Baebes, The Holly And the Ivy
A British group called Blur singing The Gloucestershire Wassail
The Irish Rovers, Good King Wenceslaus:
Trillium singing Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake
Ending with a bang, Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Wizards In Winter
From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB:
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
(If this Sunday fall on December 24, it is omitted, and in its place is said the Office of Christmas Eve)
We have now entered into the week which immediately precedes the birth of the Messias. That long-desired coming might be even tomorrow; and at furthest, that is, when Advent is as long as it can be, the beautiful feast is only seven days from us. So that the Church now counts the hours; she watches day and night, and since December 17 her Offices have assumed an unusual solemnity. At Lauds, she varies the antiphons each day; and at Vespers, in order to express the impatience of her desires for her Jesus, she makes use of the most vehement exclamations to the Messias, in which she each day gives Him a magnificent title, borrowed from the language of the prophets.
Today, she makes a last effort to stir up the devotion of her children. She leads them to the desert; she shows them John the Baptist, upon whose mission she instructed them on the third Sunday. The voice of the austere Precursor resounds through the wilderness, and penetrates even into the cities. It preaches penance, and the obligation men are under of preparing by self- purification for the coming of Christ. Let us retire from the world during these next few days; or if that may not be by reason of our external duties, let us retire into the quiet of our own hearts and confess our iniquities, as did those true Israelites, who came, full of compunction and of faith in the Messias, to the Baptist, there to make perfect their preparation for worthily receiving the Redeemer on the day of His appearing to the world.
See, then, with what redoubled earnestness the Church, before opening the book of her great prophet, repeats her invitatory:
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.
From the Prophet Isaias.
The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise; the glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel and Saron. They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not. Behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwelt before shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the 1melean shall not pass over it and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there, that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Oh, the joy of Thy coming, dear Jesus! How great it must needs be, when the prophecy says it shall be like an everlasting crown upon our heads. And could it be otherwise? The very desert is to flourish as a lily, and living waters are to gush forth out of the parched land, because their God is coming. Come, O Jesus, come quickly, and give us of that water, which flows from Thy sacred Heart, and which the Samaritan woman, the type of us sinners, asked of Thee with such earnest entreaty. This water is Thy grace; let it rain upon our parched souls, and they too will flourish; let it quench our thirst, and we will run in the way of Thy precepts and examples. Thou, O Jesus, art our way, our path, to God; and Thou art Thyself God; Thou art, therefore, both our way and the term to which our way leads us. We had lost our way; we had gone astray as lost sheep: how great Thy love to come thus in search of us! To teach us the way to heaven, Thou hast deigned to come down from heaven, and then tread with us the road which leads to it. No! there shall be no more weak hands, nor feeble knees, nor faint hearts; for we know that it is in love that Thou art coming to us. There is but one thing which makes us sad: our preparation is not complete. We have some ties still to break; help us to do it, O Saviour of mankind! We desire to obey the voice of Thy Precursor, and make plain those rugged paths, which would prevent Thy coming into our hearts, O divine Infant! Give us to be baptized in the Baptism of the waters of penance; Thou wilt soon follow, baptizing us in the Holy Ghost and love.
Current Reading "So many books:
so little time! *Sermons For Lent
by Saint Francis de Sales
*The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ
by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
*The School Of Jesus Crucified
by Father Ignatius Of the Side of Jesus
*The Seven Last Words
by Father Christopher Rengers OFM Cap.
*The Agony Of Jesus
by Saint Padre Pio
"Indeed, the true friends
of the people are neither
revolutionaries, nor innovators:
they are traditionalists."
St. Pius X
Prayer Requests "If Mary is so good to all,
even to the ungrateful and negligent,
who love her but little,
and seldom have recourse to her,
how much more loving will she be
to those who love her
and often call upon her!
St. Alphonsus Liguori American Catholic Prayer Requests
Catholic Publishers "Well, toward morning
the conversation turned
on the Eucharist, which I,
being the Catholic,
was obviously supposed to defend.
Mrs. Broadwater said
when she was a child
and received the host,
she thought of it
as the Holy Ghost,
He being the most
portable person of the Trinity;
now she thought of it
as a symbol
and implied that
it was a pretty good one.
I then said, in a very shaky voice,
'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.'"
Flannery O'Connor Baronius Press Ignatius Press Liguori Publications Neumann Press Sophia Institute Zaccheus Press TAN
Gone, But Not
Forgotten "Quomodo sedet sola civitas
plena populo facta est
quasi vidua domina gentium
facta est sub tributo.
Lamentations 1:1 *The Old Man of the Mountain
*Purity Supreme Supermarkets
*Ann & Hope
*Romie's Oyster House
*King's Grant Inn
*The Scotch and Sirloin
*York Steak House
*Gem Department Stores "Every right is
married to a duty,
every freedom owns
a corresponding responsibility.
There cannot be
unless there exists also
genuine order in the moral realm
and in the social realm."
You are the Celtic Cross: This cross was first made out of stone and is often found atop hills, in front of castles and in graveyards throughout Ireland and Scotland. The stone was carved with various symbols including a circle or halo (representing eternal life) and variations of the celtic knot.
"The Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh,
that superbly gifted but curmudgeonly
and occasionally malevolent writer,
had a wickedly sharp tongue,
and sometimes behaved as though
he loved to inflict pain by his words.
One day, a brave woman dared to ask him:
'Mr. Waugh, you say such horrible things to people,
I cannot believe you are really religious.
How can you behave as you do,
and still remain a Christian?'
He replied with grim sincerity:
'Madam, I may be all the things you say.
But believe me, were it not for my religion,
I would scarcely be a human being.'"