Sunday, April 21, 2019

Christus resurrexit! Sicut dixit, Alleluia!

It was on an Easter Sunday,
    and all in the morning,
Our Savior arose,
    and our heavenly King.
The sun and the moon,
    they both did rise
        with him,
And sweet Jesus
    we’ll call him by name.

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An Easter Homily of Saint John Chrysostom

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaias foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Awake, O Sleeper!

Something strange is happening -- there is a silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and Hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the Son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory.

At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone, “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on My Face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in Paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly Paradise. I will not restore you to that Paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The Bridal Chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

From a homily of St Epiphanius of Cyprus

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

It was on a good Friday,
    and all in the morning,
They crucified our Savior,
    and our heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing
And sweet Jesus,
    we’ll call him by name.

From "the third hour" until "the sixth hour." From sext to none. From noon until three in the afternoon. Scripture tells us that our Lord was dying on the cross at this time, culminating in the words “Consummatum Est” (“It is finished”).

When we were kids, growing up in Ohio, we would either go to church for Stations of the Cross or some related devotion, or if we were at home, Mom would turn the radio off, and we were told to be quieter than usual. Thus did we mark the consummation of the ultimate act of sacrificial Love, that of the Bridegroom with His bride.

PHOTO: Gail Deibler Finke

Elsewhere in Cincinnati, a venerable custom of more than a century and a half still takes place on this day.

In December 1860, a Catholic church was completed on a bluff atop Mount Adams, overlooking the central city from the east, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Since the hill was too steep for a horse-and-buggy, there were a series of wooden steps built as well, leading from St Gregory Street near the river, all the way to the church entrance. The following spring saw the start of the War Between The States, and Immaculata Church became the site of devout Catholics praying the rosary for peace while climbing the steps to its entrance.

Even today, the tradition continues, as every year on Good Friday (a day when it invariably rains), an estimated ten thousand pilgrims climb the 85 steps -- the wooden ones having since been replaced by concrete -- leading to the entrance. The procession begins at midnight, with the parish priest's blessing of the steps, and continues for twenty-four hours.

The Passionist Historical Archives elaborates on the legacy of “St Mary’s of the Steps”, as does the parish website.

Finally, our meditation for Good Friday is an instrumental photo montage with the imagery of the cross by Terri Rogers.

And finally, for what it's worth, the New York Stock exchange closes on this day. Even in the heart of Mammon, some things are still sacred, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Maundy Thursday

It was on a
    maundy Thursday,
        and all in the morning,
They planted
    a crown of thorns
        on our heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing,
And sweet Jesus
    we'll call him by name.

Today begins the Sacred Triduum. For many years, I have taken this day and the next off from work. This year is no exception. Not sure what I'll do. Maybe go to church. Maybe go to confession. Or something.

The above notwithstanding, for a Catholic, as much as some try to deny it, the next three days are not business as usual. The whole of human history -- before, during, after -- turns on the events we remember this week.

Our meditation is from a poem by Jalaludin Rumi. It is translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne, with music by David Wilcox and Nance Pettit, and is produced by Bob Carlton.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Spy Wednesday

It was on a Holy Wednesday,
    and all in the morning
When Judas betrayed
    our dear heavenly King.
And was not this
    a woeful thing,
And sweet Jesus,
    we'll call him by name.

This day in Holy Week is known among Western Christians by the above title (or among Christians in the East, Μεγάλη Τετάρτη, in case you were wondering), as tradition commemorates this day for when Judas Iscariot conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Our Lord, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

Was that a lot of money in those days?

The term in the original language, "arguria," simply means "silver coins." Historians disagree as to what form of currency is described. They could have been either staters from Antioch, tetradrachms from Ptolemy, or shekels from Tyre. (Nothing about Greek drachmas, which were either bronze, copper, or iron. Just so we're clear on that.)

Closer to the present, it is also when we here at man with black hat (more or less) interrupt our usual blogcasting in order to focus on the Main Event for the several days that follow. Stay tuned ...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Hosanna Filio David!

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives.

Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens – the proof, surely, of his power and godhead – his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.

So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

-- From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop. Images from Palm Sunday in 2009, at St John the Beloved Church, McLean, Virginia, courtesy of Miss Sarah Campbell.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Candlemas Day (or, why Punxatawney Phil is a Catholic)

“When the days
were completed
for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus
up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written
in the law of the Lord,
Every male that
opens the womb
shall be consecrated
to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice
of a pair of turtledoves
or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”

(Luke 2:22-24)

Today, both the Eastern and Western churches observe the Feast of the Purification of Mary (known as "Candlemas" in the West), exactly forty days after Christmas. In the Catholic tradition, the Christmas Cycle officially ends with this day, and preparation for Lent can begin, which includes the "Carnival" season in much of South America. But today, and throughout the world, the faithful will process in and around their churches bearing lighted candles, which are blessed for the coming year.

The origin of this feast is described in detail, in this excerpt from the classic work of Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, entitled The Liturgical Year.

The mystery of today's ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.

This year's announcement is here, provided by CBS News. This is the short version. The entire thirty-minute pre-recorded livestream (and if you are ready for a less conventional approach, at least in part), is to be found here.

Many years ago, when the world of "Saint Blog's Parish" was young, Duncan Maxwell Anderson of HMS Blog described certain customs of the season, as well as suggestions for family celebrations. Included are some fun facts about the real origins of Groundhog Day:

In Catholic Europe, they say that if Candlemas is clear and bright, there will be six more weeks of winter. In Germany, this idea became, "If the bear comes out and sees his shadow, he will grumpily go back into his cave, and winter will last another six weeks."

Then this feat of prediction was ascribed to German badgers.

And since badgers are not found in the eastern U.S., German immigrants to this country were obliged to depend for meteorological guidance on a species of marmot called by the Indians 'weejak' or woodchuck, also called ... the groundhog.

Today, if Punxatawney Phil sticks his nose out, you tell me if he isn't carrying a candle-holder. He's Catholic, you know.

You just can't argue with reasoning like that, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Friday, January 18, 2019

2019 “ProLifeCon” Twitcast and Transcript

Today it begins, our ninth annual “Twitcast” joining pro-life bloggers from near and far, who all had the good sense once again, to come in out of the cold during the annual March For Life, for this year's ProLifeCon, the “premiere conference for the online prolife community” hosted once again by the Family Research Council in Washington DC.

During the event, this video clip provides a live feed of the proceedings. With its conclusion, and before the end of the day, you are invited to view the full pre-recording (which is not accessible on all browsers; no to Safari, yes to Chrome). You can learn more at the FRC website, follow the magic hashtag on Twitter: #prolifecon, or follow yours truly at:

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And ... it's on! Sarah Perry, Director of Partnerships, FRC, kicks off the annual event. #prolifecon

Patrina Mosely, Director, Life, Culture & Women's Advocacy, FRC. #prolifecon

"This will be forty-five years of marching for life." #prolifecon

A new publication, "Planned Parenthood Is Not Pro-Woman." #prolifecon

Christopher Baggett, National Director of Communications, Human Coalition #prolifecon

"An innovative idea has the power to change lives." Like the smartphone. #prolifecon

What if the internet could help people search for information more easily? "Backrub" was invented in 1996. Later renamed "Google." #prolifecon

2004-07, the most commonly researched topics and queries related to abortion (especially abortion clinics). #prolifecon

2007, an idea is conceived, what if we could reach women online ...? #prolifecon

2009-10, Human Coalition launched a test for reaching women online to offer alternatives to abortion. #prolifecon

2012, The Contact Center: "What if we answered the calls ...?" #prolifecon

"If we could answer the calls with professional call center staff who had the benefit of testing to refine their approach and scripting ..." #prolifecon

2014, Centralized national care system of owned and operated clinics in abortion-dense cities. #prolifecon

2018, What about telemedicine? Top search on Google about abortion, the "abortion pill." Women were looking for an immediate solution. #prolifecon

2018, Virtual Telemedicine Clinic. What if we could expand our reach and increase speed to service? #prolifecon

"We can, we will, and we must." #prolifecon

Obianuju Ekeocha, Founder, Culture of Life Africa #prolifecon
8:52am #prolifecon

Researching proliferation of illegal abortion services in Africa. In preparing a documentary, many women came forward with their stories. #prolifecon

A clip from the documentary "Strings Attached" is shown. #prolifecon

Women in Africa are being "ideologically colonized" with abortion. #prolifecon

"No one tells African women about the side effects of contraception." #prolifecon
8:58am #prolifecon

"So, today, we get to go to Hollywood." #prolifecon

Panel Discussion: Cary Solomon, Writer, Director & Producer, "Unplanned." Ashley Bratcher, Lead Actress, "Unplanned." #prolifecon

"Most divisive issue in history." No middle ground. #prolifecon

"We have had atheists praying. I don't know how that works." #prolifecon

Ms Bratcher shares her story of telling her mother about the movie she would be in, about the transformation of former abortion clinic operator Abby Johnson. #prolifecon

The movie "Unplanned" releases in March. #prolifecon
9:11am #prolifecon

Congressman Ralph Norman (R-SC) #prolifecon

"I got into politics because I thought it was a way to give back ... in a good way." #prolifecon

"The United States is only one of seven nations worldwide that offers abortion on demand, along with China and North Korea." #prolifecon

"96 percent of women who come to Planned Parenthood are told that abortion is the only solution." #prolifecon

General summary of legislative action in Congress, and how "your activism makes so much difference." #prolifecon

Patrina Mosley of FRC is at the steps of the Supreme Court, reporting live. #prolifecon

Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) #prolifecon

"Everyone realizes now, the power of digital media." #prolifecon

"DNA tells us that every human being is unique. When a human sperm unites with a human egg, it becomes a human person, with human DNA. We didn't have the technology to know that 30 years ago, we do now." #prolifecon

"Science tells us of the reality of a human life from one cell to natural death." #prolifecon

"Life is not a political construct, but a scientific reality." #prolifecon

Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life of America #prolifecon

Ms Hawkins' presentation begins with the fable of the tortoise and the hare. #prolifecon

Public support among millennials for life-affirming clinics significantly outweighs sending taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood. #prolifecon

"A conscience regulation" for employers and health care plans who and which object to abortions as a matter of principle. #prolifecon

Dr Ingrid Skop, MD #prolifecon

Opens with video appearance about the myths surrounding abortion. #prolifecon
10:25am #prolifecon

"We have more legislation to protect lab rats from feeling pain, than we do for children we are terminating." #prolifecon

"We offer free counseling for women who are considering abortions, also their partners." #prolifecon

For more information: #prolifecon

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) #prolifecon

(Two hours with no break.) #prolifecon #WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

"Planned Parenthood published my phone number, and I got the most vile calls, and I had to disconnect the phone for two weeks." #prolifecon

Proposing the "Save Our Children Act" to prohibit abortions by dismemberment. #prolifecon

Joining us from Skype, Ann McElhinney, Writer & Producer, "Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer." #prolifecon

A jury interviewed was shocked by what was actually legal in a "good" abortion. #prolifecon

The movie is not as graphic as the book, in describing the details of the procedures in the documentary. #prolifecon

"We have been the number one DVD being sold on Amazon." #prolifecon

DVD and VOD available on Amazon this coming Tuesday the 22nd. #prolifecon

"It's a horrible thing that has happened in Ireland [voting to legalize abortion], but people didn't understand what they were voting for." #prolifecon
10:49am #prolifecon

The two most successful and largest viewings, in Berkeley and Manhattan, were booked for every viewing, but these large theaters cancelled the showings anyway. #prolifecon

"Send a message to Hollywood, that people want to see [this movie]." #prolifecon
10:55am #prolifecon

Claire Chretien, Journalist, Life Site News #prolifecon
10:56am #prolifecon

"We've been covering the abortion issue for over twenty years." #prolifecon

LSN's website was threatened with being taken down by its provider, the origin of which was Adam Flanders, a gay activist and known registered sex offender. #prolifecon

"We must not be afraid to call things by their proper name." #prolifecon

For more information: #prolifecon

"Using Social Media to Advance a Culture of Life" Panel: John Reid, Digital Media Director, FRC; Lyndsey Fifield, Social Media Manager, The Heritage Foundation; Andrew Moore, Digital and Creative Director, SBA List. #prolifecon

"The majority of Americans are pro-life. Why are we only yelling at the most rabid pro-choice people?" #prolifecon

"If you've got a phone, you can share this." #prolifecon

"Share not only one's own content, but each other's." #prolifecon

It was here that this writer had just about enough of "the usual suspects" and staged an intervention during the Q&A, including an alternative to "stupid pet tricks." See and hear it for yourself on the video playback of the event, starting at 2:50:14.

Patrina Mosley makes another screen appearance from the National Mall. #prolifecon

"This has been a full morning. Speak out for people who cannot speak for themselves." #prolifecon

And ... we're out! #prolifecon

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Stay tuned for the post-mortem commentary, "ProLifeCon Reconsidered" coming soon.