Sunday, May 20, 2018

Novena: Pentecost

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.


Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Prayer

Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,

R: And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Oh God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which have appeared in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To view this entire series, click here.)
 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Novena Day 9: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.


On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.


Meditation

The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which have appeared in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Novena Day 8: The Gift of Wisdom

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.


Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.


Meditation

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Novena Day 7: The Gift of Counsel

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.


Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.


Meditation

The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Novena Day 6: The Gift of Understanding

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.


Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.


Meditation

Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Novena Day 5: The Gift of Knowledge

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.


O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!


Meditation

The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Novena Day 4: The Gift of Fortitude

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.


In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.


Meditation

By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Novena Day 3: The Gift of Piety

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.


Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.


Meditation

The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Novena Day 2: The Gift of Fear

Veni pater pauperum,
veni dator munerum,
veni lumen cordium.


Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!


Meditation

The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls.”

Prayer

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Novena Day 1: The Holy Ghost

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.


Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!


Meditation

Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for “The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us.”

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...

As a final note for today, we here at man with black hat just found this precious little gem. In this 1999 recording on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the late great Mother Angelica explains (among other things) these gifts for us, as only she can, before a live studio audience. Her cause for sainthood is in its very early stages, and she is missed by so many here on Earth below, including yours truly.

(Our thanks to Soulpacifica for the lovely images personifying the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are to appear in this series with her appreciation, for which this writer is grateful. To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)
 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Novena: Prelude

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who is to be taken up from you into heaven had to re-schedule his departure to the following Sunday in order to accomodate the busy schedules of the faithful. Now, get back to work.

(Acts 1:11, dynamic equivalent translation)


Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension. It is when Christ ascended into Heaven forty days after He rose from the dead.

Then again ...

In most provinces of the USA, and in entire countries throughout the world, the Feast has been moved to the following Sunday. We could just leave well enough alone, and transfer the obligation itself to the Sunday within the octave of the Feast, but the Western church got rid of many of its octaves in the mid-1950s, and a few more since then. You'd have to explain to people what an octave is, and that is such a pain. So unless you attend the Traditional Mass or an Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy today, in which case the aforementioned silliness does not apply, today will be remembered as just another Easter weekday.

If only they put the right spin on it, in which case it would go something like this:

“Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus ascended into Heaven forty-three days after He rose from the dead, not forty days as previously believed. The number of forty was arrived at by the end of the third century, to make it easier for the early Christians to count the days after Easter on their fingers and toes and double the total. But we’re so much more sophisticated now, and we can use calculators to count that high, or have our smartphones remind us.”

Whether or not we would fall for that, moving a Feast Day to a Sunday because we're all too damn lazy to go to Mass on a weekday (or a weeknight) makes about as much sense.

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But suppose that sacred time actually mattered, in which case it would go something like this:

The Church was born on the Jewish feast of the Pentecost. After the ascension of Christ into heaven, a group which, according to tradition, numbered about 120, remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)

Thus the birth of our Holy Mother the Church was preceded by a novena.

From the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is a prayer that is repeated for nine days, after which, according to pious belief, special graces are obtained. Fisheaters elaborates on the devotion, and gives a complete listing of popular novenas for any and all occasions.

The novena to Saint Jude may be the most popular, as he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Many a Catholic has found a holy card or slip of paper in the pew with the prayer written on it, left by a pious soul whose intention was granted. One of them was the late entertainer Danny Thomas, whose devotion to the saint moved him to establish the children's hospital that bears the saint's name.

We here at man with black hat will present our (well, almost) exclusive adaptation of the Mother Of All Novenas, that which is devoted to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, over the next nine days. Stay tuned...
 

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Where Have You Gone, Quasimodo?

Today is known on the Christian calendar by at least six names.

In the traditional Missale Romanum, it is referred to as “Dominica in albis octava Paschae” -- Sunday in White Within the Paschal Octave, when the robes of the neophytes were removed eight days after their initiation into the Sacraments during the Paschal Vigil. It is also known as “The Octave Day of Easter” or more colloquially as “Low Sunday.” It has also been popularly known as “Quasimodo Sunday” (my personal favorite, hence the title), after the first words of the Entrance Antiphon, or Introit: “Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia ...” (“Like newborn infants, alleluia ...”)

In the churches of the East, it is known as “Thomas Sunday” as the same gospel is read as in the West, that of our Lord showing himself to the doubting apostle Thomas.

Since 2000, by decree of the late Pope Saint John Paul II, it is also known in the universal Roman calendar as Divine Mercy Sunday, "the culmination of the novena to the Divine Mercy of Jesus, a devotion given to St Faustina (Mary Faustina Kowalska) and is based upon an entry in her diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins." (from Wikipedia)

(I thought Confession did that already. This is what I get for using Wikipedia for an explanation.)

This brings up an issue which has concerned traditional Catholics in recent years, one that is presented in a 2010 issue of New Oxford Review by Robert Allard: "Is Divine Mercy Sunday Liturgically Correct?"

It is interesting to note that in the Tridentine Latin Mass, the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the epistle reading, 1 John 5:4-10, includes the mention of the blood and water as portrayed in the Divine Mercy image, not just once but three times each. This is important to note because the Feast of Mercy was established for the entire Church universal, not just for the ordinary form of the Mass.

There's also that part about Our Lord breathing on the apostles, giving them the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. There's a bit of mercy for the rest of us right there. Not to mention that this devotion is mandated in its timing, on the basis of a private revelation, which in and of itself is not binding on the faithful.

Such remembrances need to be harmonized with the liturgical season if they are to serve the faithful. This requires sufficient deference to the history of salvation as played out during the year, beginning with the incarnation, and on into the life, passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, followed by his ascension into Glory, and the establishment of His Church on Earth through the work of the Holy Spirit. That said, there is an aspect of this devotion that may appear problematic, one that has less to do with the Feast itself, than with the novena which precedes it, one that begins on Holy Thursday, and extends throughout the Octave of Easter.

Q. My pastor will allow us to pray the Divine Mercy Novena, but not on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. He says it interferes with the Holy Triduum, which are the holiest days of the year.

A. The Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) ushers in Easter Sunday and constitutes the most holy period of the Church year. The Divine Mercy Novena does not supersede the Triduum, but extends the Solemn General Intercessions of the Good Friday observance of Our Lord's Passion and Death throughout the whole octave of Easter, building up to the day of thanksgiving for Our Lord's Divine Mercy.

This response contradicts itself. It claims that the timing of the Novena doesn't "supersede" the Triduum, and then goes on to ignore its culmination. That makes no sense. Superseding is exactly what it does.

For nearly two millennia, the Easter season, including the Octave, has been devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Under present canon law, the traditional requirement to abstain from meat does not apply on the Friday of this octave, such is the magnitude of the occasion. The Fathers of the Church have told us, we have commemorated the fast, therefore let us celebrate the feast. Yet the novena is devoted to chanting thus: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” Granted, at every Mass offered on any given day, we remember the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ -- the whole nine yards. But that comparison ends in the context of the liturgical seasons, the purpose of which is to shed a spotlight on a particular aspect of salvation history at the liturgical year progresses. There is sufficient reason to doubt that the emphasis made by this novena, given its timing, sheds that spotlight appropriately, even if we reduce it to a mere devotion (as opposed to the official prayer of the Church through her liturgical life).

If we read the history of the development of this Feast that is the Sunday within the Octave of Easter, if we understand what the readings and the orations are trying to tell us, we might consider the possibility that Our Lord was telling Sister Faustina something of Himself, which He has been trying to say to His Bride, our Mother the Church, all along. At the same time, She has long admonished us to be prudent with respect to the messages of private revelations. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65-67).

While accepting the judgment of the Apostolic See in this matter of the Sunday commemoration itself, we may long for a further study of this devotion in relation to the whole of the liturgical year. Even if the novena is not "liturgy" in the official sense, its use in parishes during the octave of the Resurrection misses the big picture.

“We have commemorated the fast, therefore let us celebrate the feast.”

... for eight days, if not forty, and if you don't mind.

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To learn more about the devotion to the Divine Mercy, visit the website of the Apostles of Divine Mercy at DivineMercySunday.com, or that of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at TheDivineMercy.org. For a guide to praying the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, go to the appropriate page at EWTN.com.
 

Sunday, April 01, 2018

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, March 31, 2018

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, March 30, 2018

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.
 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

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. I usually take the day off along with Friday, but there is much to be done at the office of late. I am off tomorrow for Good Friday. Working on that day is simply not an option for me.

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, March 28, 2018

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 ...
 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Random Thoughts from the Desert

“Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam cum: eripiam cum, et glorificabo cum: longitude die rum adimplebo cum.”

“He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days.”

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This past Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, we heard the Gospel account of Our Lord heading out into the desert for forty days. The traditional form of the Mass for that day begins with the Introit citing a verse from Psalm 90(91), and the Tract between the readings elaborates upon the same. In its verses, we are reminded to trust in God.

During the First World War, the American soldiers of the 91st Infantry Brigade were given the text of this Psalm by their commander to recite before going into battle. They fought at Chateau Thierry, at Belle Wood, at the Argonne. Other units suffered casualties of up to ninety percent, but they suffered not one!

There are other accounts of the power of this Psalm, and other conflicts where it was used; by the British at Dunkirk during the Second World War, and by the Allied forces in Korea. Peggy Joyce Ruth writes:

Note that this verse in Psalm 91:4 declares God's faithfulness to us as both a shield and a bulwark in a double-layered analogy. The passage uses two military symbols of fortification and protection. God is our bulwark, our tower -- our wall of protection in a collective sense -- and He is also our shield -- a very individualized defense. This verse indicates double protection.

Man, by his very nature, is not a solitary creature. He is nurtured by the presence, the company of others. Left alone in solitude for too long, he will either prepare himself to be tormented by his own personal demons, or he will give in to their exploiting his weaknesses.

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I remember the years after my divorce, a period of roughly a decade (from about 1993 to 2003) that I have always referred to, as would Dorothy Day in her biography, as "The Long Loneliness." My day job was a tense environment in those days, as the old status quo in a dysfunctional government agency resisted the challenge of a younger and racially diverse generation of middle managers. The one who led our staff was a decorated war veteran, with a penchant for alcohol as self-medication, and behavior towards employees that would be most aptly considered sadist and sociopathic. He could be very charming, especially toward women. Most alcoholics learn to pull that off. It's how they get by.

I'm afraid I got the worst of it. I would be ridiculed throughout the day, every day. The staff, moral weaklings that all of them were, would be cowed into joining him. I would be handed extra assignments a few days before a vacation. I was physically ill from a gastrointestinal condition for several years during that time. At its zenith, I was prescribed Seroquel, a potent antipsychotic medication. In small doses, it treats those with the hiccups; in larger ones, those who hear voices. I was somewhere in between.

On a good day, this psychopath never spoke to me at all. For that matter, neither did anyone else. Except for matters strictly professional, I would go for days, for weeks, maybe longer, without speaking to anyone. Then I would go home to an empty basement studio apartment, with no local friends to call (or at least none who returned calls). When I wasn't going home to Cincinnati six times a year, I would call my friends from there every night. I'd run up two hundred dollars in long distance calls, in the days before direct dialing with cell phones was anywhere near as common as today.

There was no recourse. The employees union could not accept a change to its narrative, that a white employee was subject to mistreatment by a black supervisor. They would often take his side in what was obviously against regulations in the federal workplace. Upper management was indifferent to the point of being clueless, such was the level of incompetence at the time.

Eventually, the nightmare ended. The man became enough of an embarrassment to other managers -- those poseurs were even more afraid of him than I was -- and I saw an opportunity to call them all on it. (The 25th of November, 1998. I have marked the day, and remember it to this day.) The man was removed from his position over our staff, and his fellows wasted no time pretending it never happened. Life became easier after that, both on the job and at home. I found a way off that island of isolation, and I was able to make a home, to bloom where I was planted, albeit five hundred miles from the place I once called home. It took that long and took that trial, the facing of demons, the wrestling with ghosts from the past.

I eventually got off Seroquel, but there are other medications I have to take, possibly for the rest of my life.

“Then the Devil left Him: and behold angels came, and ministered to Him.” (Matt:4:11)

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Christ Himself was surely so clad in armor, as he fled to the desert to be tempted by the Evil One. Even as He was the Son of God, He possessed a human nature, one that bore witness to us in its being tested.

I could write a book about that episode in my career. Someday it will be written, but not at present. The demons that all of us face, even as "no man is an island," we must face them alone, but not really alone. The One who faced them for us has shown us how. He trusted in the Father, and so must we. That bulwark, that tower, that shield, one that is there all along.
 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

“C’mon, take me to the Mardi Gras ...”

“... where the people sing and play / Where the dancing is elite / And there's music in the street / Both night and day.”

There goes "Rhymin' Simon," in a live recording of his 1973 hit on Columbia Records. Meanwhile, this being the last day of merriment before the Great Fast (aka Lent), I am reminded of another Mardi Gras from so many years ago ...

Babes in Boyland

... and so it goes.
 

Friday, February 02, 2018

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.

Some years ago, 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 19, 2018

2018 “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 provided a live feed of the proceedings. With its conclusion, 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: twitter.com/manwithblackhat.

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The list of speakers announced two days prior to the event (not necessarily in order of appearance) are as follows:

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
Ryan Bomberger, Founder, The Radiance Foundation
David Daleiden, Founder, Center for Medical Progress
Lyndsey Fifield, Social Media Manager, The Heritage Foundation
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Anna Hoduski, Campaign Speaker & Runner, Project If Life
Leah Jacobson, Founder, The Guiding Star Project
Abby Johnson, CEO and Founder, And Then There Were None
Brynne Krispin, Social Media Manager, Family Research Council
Andrew Moore, Digital and Creative Director, SBA List
Sarah Perry, Coalition Coordinator, FRC Action
Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Lila Rose, President, Live Action
David Scotton, Producer, I Lived on Parker Avenue
Missy Stone, Spokesperson, Students for Life of America

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Okay, boys and girls. The annual Twitcast for the 2018 #ProLifeCon will begin shortly, courtesy of @FRCdc, for the ninth year in a row. Stay tuned ...
8:19am

Our annual Twitcast is a proud participant in the #MarchForLife2018, but for the presence of mind to remain indoors and not freeze to death. #ProLifeCon
8:23am

"Thirty seconds, everyone." #ProLifeCon
8:29am

And so it begins. #ProLifeCon
8:30am

Sarah Perry introduces the event. #ProLifeCon
8:30am

Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) #ProLifeCon
8:32am

Talking about her kids. Who can blame her? #ProLifeCon
8:34am

"Kids beating the odds remind us that every life is a precious gift." #ProLifeCon
8:34am

The House is considering legislation to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion. #ProLifeCon
8:35am

"How do we get past us versus them?" #ProLifeCon
8:36am

"The shortest distance between two people is their stories.” #ProLifeCon
8:36am

Answering questions about impending legislation. #ProLifeCon
8:39am

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) #ProLifeCon
8:40am

Actions are being taken against abortion clinics and third-party sellers acting outside the law. #ProLifeCon
8:42am

The Department of Justice and the FBI have confirmed 15 criminal referrals. #ProLifeCon
8:44am

Planned Parenthood is now under federal investigation by the FBI and Attorneys General of a number of States. #ProLifeCon
8:45am

The Abortion Survivors Act is for both mothers and babies who survive a failed abortion and holds medical providers accountable, with criminal penalties for the latter who do not comply. #ProLifeCon
8:47am

NOTA BENE: This annual Twitcast is now available with 280 characters for each message. Twice the letters, twice the action! #ProLifeCon
8:48am

Ryan Bomberger, Founder, The Radiance Foundation (a "man with black hat" favorite). #ProLifeCon
8:50am

"Factophobia" is the fear of facts. #ProLifeCon
8:52am

"Truth ain't hate. Let love illuminate." #ProLifeCon
8:52am

"Factivist." #ProLifeCon
8:53am

There are forces in the United Nations attempting to make abortion a "human right." #ProLifeCon
8:55am

"Birth control is ... the weeding out of the unfit ..." - Margaret Sanger #ProLifeCon
8:58am

Mainstream media misleads the public on the extent of Planned Parenthood's percentage of abortion services when compared to other services they claim to provide (but are doing less with every year). #ProLifeCon
9:02am

"Half a billion dollars to an unaccountable organization." #ProLifeCon
9:03am

Margaret Sanger was a pioneer in the field of eugenics, and she is still praised today. Crickets from the media. #ProLifeCon
9:04am

Abortion has a huge and disproportionate impact on the Black community. #ProLifeCon
9:04am

"As "factivists," we can circumvent mainstream media." #ProLifeCon
9:06am

Billboard: "Abortion is systemic racism." #ProLifeCon
9:07am

Patrina Mosley of FRC is out on the Mall. No one else is ... yet. #ProLifeCon
9:09am

Abby Johnson, CEO and Founder, And Then There Were None #ProLifeCon
9:10am

"Some bios say I have five children, I actually have seven." #ProLifeCon
9:11am

"We have helped 419 people leave the abortion industry." #ProLifeCon
9:11am

"Choose life, so that you and your children may live." - Book of Proverbs #ProLifeCon
9:12am

"The pro-choice movement doesn't have to masquerade as pro-lifers to sabotage the movement, we have enough of our own to do that." #ProLifeCon
9:14am

"People (and the pro-choice movement) are watching you." #ProLifeCon
9:15am

Blaming the mother for poor choices and lack of self-restraint (or calling them "baby killers") is counter-productive. #ProLifeCon
9:16am

"I prayed every day that I might be able to speak to some of these women, that there were some of us who genuinely cared about them." #ProLifeCon
9:18am

After three years of writing letters to these women, finally got a response. #ProLifeCon
9:19am

"She was seeing what you were writing, and was looking for a sign of hope." #ProLifeCon
9:21am

"We are pro-life, but we must also be pro-love. People are watching. Choose well." #ProLifeCon
9:22am

David Daleiden, Founder, Center for Medical Progress #ProLifeCon
9:23am

(Dude, is this thing on?) #ProLifeCon
9:24am

Planned Parenthood has violated federal law with the documented harvesting of vital organs of the unborn for sale and profit. #ProLifeCon
9:26am

Two partnering companies with PP in Orange County, CA, have pleaded guilty. #ProLifeCon
9:28am

Half the undercover video footage have yet to come to light due to a court-imposed gag order. The truth will come out. #ProLifeCon
9:30am

centerformedicalprogress.org #ProLifeCon
9:33am

cmp.org #ProLifeCon
9:35am

Anna Hoduski, Campaign Speaker & Runner, Project If Life #ProLifeCon
9:36am

projectif.life #ProLifeCon
9:40am

Shares experience of running across America, including the deserts of southern California. #ProLifeCon
9:41am

"Don't be discouraged about the times of the deserts in your life." #ProLifeCon
9:43am

Back to our correspondent Patrina Mosley at the Mall. There is now a crowd, at least around her, from Arizona and Tennessee. #ProLifeCon
9:46am

INTERMISSION #ProLifeCon
9:47am

And ... we're back! #ProLifeCon
9:59am

“Using Social Media to Advance a Culture of Life” Panel with three guests. #ProLifeCon
10:00am

1. Brynne Krispin, Social Media Manager, Family Research Council (Moderator)
2. Andrew Moore, Digital and Creative Director, SBA List
3. Lyndsey Fifield, Social Media Manager, The Heritage Foundation #ProLifeCon
10:01am

Use of social media platforms such as Twitter. #ProLifeCon
10:04am

With the use of Facebook, the power is back to the individual (at the @Heritage Foundation). #ProLifeCon
10:05am

Putting out an advertisement on Twitter, the conversation remains on Twitter. #ProLifeCon
10:08am

Still having problems with blocked content (because it's "sensitive"). Screenshots of the suppression are encouraged. #ProLifeCon
10:09am

"Our facts about Planned Parenthood are coming from their own annual reports." #ProLifeCon
10:11am

"The younger generation can see the details in the sonograms, and that is very powerful." #ProLifeCon
10:17am

Beyonce showed her unborn child as a sonogram on Instagram. "How cool is that?" #ProLifeCon
10:19am

Leah Jacobson, Founder, The Guiding Star Project #ProLifeCon
10:22am

theguidingstarproject.com #ProLifeCon
10:23am

"I didn't set out to do pro-life work. Young women who found themselves pregnant would approach me on campus, with questions about what they didn't know?" #ProLifeCon
10:24am

"We believe in a model of holistic women's health care." #ProLifeCon
10:25am

"Wholistic Women's Healthcare" provides complete women's health care from the time just prior to the first onset of menses. #ProLifeCon
10:27am

"We do not reduce women to their reproductive body parts. That is a narrow and self-destructive outlook." #ProLifeCon
10:29am

Available on Facebook and Twitter. #ProLifeCon
10:30am

Missy Stone, Spokesperson, Students for Life of America #ProLifeCon
10:31am

"I worked with a lot of students around the country on a personal level." #ProLifeCon
10:31am

A young lady who was pregnant asked a student leader: "Aren't pro-life people supposed to help?" #ProLifeCon
10:32am

It used to be "click and send and I'm done," but social media has become more engaging. #ProLifeCon
10:34am

"Being where they are, showing them what is happening, and getting them involved." #ProLifeCon
10:35am

More activists are using Snapchat. #ProLifeCon
10:37am

"One of our messages with young audiences is, for example, 'Planned Parenthood, go fund yourself.'" #ProLifeCon
10:38am

"We can't be afraid of the comments section. We're going to be honest about pro-life issues." #ProLifeCon
10:42am

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) #ProLifeCon
10:43am

"If you want to know a lawmaker's true pro-life views, ask their wife what theirs is. That's very wise advice." #ProLifeCon
10:44am

"You're only as happy as your unhappiest child. You feel the pain with the child." #ProLifeCon
10:47am

"At twenty weeks, a baby feels pain." #ProLifeCon
10:47am

As a chemical engineer with Procter and Gamble, a personal donation of a box of shampoo saved a baby's life. #ProLifeCon
10:51am

From the Gospel of Luke: "When Elizabeth greeted Mary, the baby lept in her womb, and Elizabeth cried out with joy." #ProLifeCon
10:53am

He told his colleagues to just Google "20 weeks" on the floor of the US Senate. #20Weeks #ProLifeCon
10:55am

Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) #ProLifeCon
10:57am

Author of the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" on the floor of the Senate. #ProLifeCon
10:58am


"I don't think we're gonna get sixty [votes], but we're gonna get over fifty." #ProLifeCon
10:58am

Seven countries allow abortion on demand at 20 weeks. #ProLifeCon
10:59am

"Remember the partial-birth abortion debate?" #ProLifeCon
11:01am

"Laws against partial-birth abortion because of people like you." #ProLifeCon
11:02am

"This [bill] is the centerpiece of the pro-life movement. Our time is now." #ProLifeCon
11:04am

David Scotton, Producer, I Lived on Parker Avenue #ProLifeCon
11:04am

ILivedOnParkerAvenue.com #ProLifeCon
11:06am

The mother was told by a sidewalk protester that "your baby has ten fingers and ten toes." Scotton was that baby 24 years ago, and is now sharing the truth about "the adoption option." #ProLifeCon
11:09am

Lila Rose, President, Live Action @LilaGraceRose #ProLifeCon
11:12am

"Abortion advocates paint this as a positive thing. But women don't walk into an abortion clinic because they feel powerful, but because they feel powerless. This is what actually happens in an abortion clinic." #ProLifeCon
11:18am

Pro-choicers encountered on the street in Berkeley(!!!) were shown a video of an abortion procedure. They were interviewed both before and after. #ProLifeCon
11:24am

AbortionProcedures.com #ProLifeCon
11:24am

Tony Perkins of FRC: "We are closer than ever to defunding Planned Parenthood." #ProLifeCon
11:28am

@LilaGraceRose receives this year's Digital Pro-Life Pioneer Award. #ProLifeCon
11:28am

"Thank you for being a part of this." - Tony Perkins, FRC #ProLifeCon
11:29am

Sarah Perry: "Let's go March. See you soon." #ProLifeCon
11:30am

And ... we're out! #ProLifeCon
11:30am

Thanks to all who followed our annual “Twitcast,” and a special welcome to 7 new followers. Catch the complete summation at manwithblackhat.blogspot.com. #ProLifeCon
11:31am

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Festum Asinorum

The fourteenth of January was remembered since the Middle Ages as “The Feast of the Ass.” Best known by its Latin name (as seen above), and mostly celebrated in France as “Fête de L'âne,” it commemorates the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. It was celebrated in a manner similar to other "Feast of Fools" celebrations elsewhere in Christendom.

Wikipedia reports, albeit without citation, of how ...

A girl and a child on a donkey would be led through town to the church, where the donkey would stand beside the altar during the sermon, and the congregation would "hee-haw" their responses to the priest.

... which may explain why it failed to endure so much as other folk celebrations.

Closer to the present, The Watersons, best known as folklorist and singers in the UK, recorded a ballad combining two accounts from various apocryphal gospels, that of "Herod and the Cock," and one other of the flight into Egypt. It was later recorded by New England folk artists John Roberts and Tony Barrand, fronting a quartet known as “Nowell Sing We Clear.”

King Pharim sat a-musing
And a-musing all alone.
There came a blessed Saviour
And all to him unknown.

Saying "Where did you come from good man,
And where did you then pass?"
It was out of the land of Egypt,
Between an ox and ass.

Well if you come out of Egypt, man,
One thing I fain would know.
Whether a blessed Saviour
Sprang from an Holy Ghost.

For if it is true, is true good man,
What you've been telling me,
This roasted cock, that's in the dish,
Shall crow full fences three.

Well the cock soon feathered and he grew soon well,
By the work of God's own hand.
Three times that roasted cock did crow
In the dish where he did stand.

Joseph, Jesus, and Mary
Were a-travelling further West
When Mary grew a-tired,
She might sit down and rest.

They travelled further and further,
The weather being so warm,
Until they came upon a husbandman
A-sowing of his corn.

"Come husbandman," cried Jesus,
"Throw all your seed away
And carry home your ripened corn,
That you've been a-sowing this day."

By there came King Herod,
With his train so furiously,
Enquiring of the husbandman
Whether Jesus had passed by.

Well the truth it must be spoken,
And the truth it must be known.
For Jesus he passed by this way
Just as me seed was sown.

But now I have it rippen
And some laid in my wain
Ready to fetch and carry
Into my barn again.

"Turn back then," said the captain.
Our labour's all in vain.
Tis full three quarters of the year
Since he his seed has sown.

So Herod was deceived
By the work of God's own hand.
No further he proceeded
Into the Holy Land.

This writer has also performed “The Ballad of King Herod” accompanied with guitar, to the tune of "The Wife of Usher's Well."

And so it goes.
 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Plowing Through Monday

Today was the traditional start of the agricultural year in England, and so was known as “Plough Monday” or the day after “Plough Sunday” which was the Sunday following the traditional observance of Epiphany on the sixth of January. This was the Monday when everyone would end the Christmas revelry and get back to work.

John Brand, in his 1777 book Observations on Popular Antiquities, gives an account of the formalities:

The FOOL PLOUGH goes about: a pageant consisting of a number of sword dancers dragging a plough, with music; one, sometimes two, in very strange attire; the Bessy, in the grotesque habit of an old woman, and the Fool, almost covered with skins, a hairy cap on, and the tail of some animal hanging from his back. The office of one of these characters, in which he is very assiduous, is to go about rattling a box amongst the spectators of the dance, in which he receives their little donations.

Well, maybe not directly back to work. Personally, I'd rather be molly dancing. What is that, you ask?

“Molly dancing” traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter and is regarded by many people as the East Anglian form of Morris dancing. It is characterized by blackened faces, heavy boots (usually hobnailed) and the presence of a "Lord" and a "Lady", two of the men specially attired respectively as a gentleman and his consort, who lead the dances. Blackening faces was a form of disguise since the dancers could not afford to be recognized. Some of those people from whom they had demanded money with menaces would have been their employers. Molly dancing is by nature robust and, some would say, aggressive. These qualities are emphasized by the sound of the hobnailed boots worn by the dancers, which were the normal form of footwear for farm workers in the East of England right up until the second half of the twentieth century. (Information courtesy alexandersanders.)

On a promising note, and according to the Olde Farmer's Almanac: “In the evening, each farmer provided a Plough Monday supper for his workers, with plentiful beef and ale for all.

They could do worse.
 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Not Epiphany!

Today, in the traditional Roman calendar, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family, which in the reformed Roman calendar was celebrated last Sunday, with this one being the Second Sunday After Christmas (universally), and in some places (such as all dioceses in the USA), the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

But it isn't really. And even in diocesan parishes that have both forms of the Roman Rite, the parish priest will get off easy with preparing only one homily if he resorts to this being an "External Solemnity" of the Epiphany. (Yes, they can do that, even back in the day.)

Meanwhile, the reformed Roman calendar observes either (universally) the Second Sunday After Christmas, or (in the Dioceses of the USA and elsewhere) the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Moving a feast that has a tradition of (and a very good reason for) being associated with a fixed date, is a judgment by a competent territorial body of bishops. In this instance, the term "competent" is used guardedly. You see, they think you are entirely too lazy to celebrate anything on a weekday. So they make it convenient for you. They would probably provide drive-thru confessions and probably had to ignore the advice of an army of lawyers and "risk assessment specialists" to pass on the idea. Perhaps once we succeed in converting the culture for Christ, they'll move Christmas to a Sunday as well, to coordinate our schedules with the department stores. Almost seems worth it, right?

We can say all we want about "the reason for the season" and "keeping Christ in Christmas" and all that. But such festivity presumes a priority attached to, and a meaning for, the value of sacred time. We can also assure ourselves that "our bishops must know what they're doing." But how can something be sacred if we can bend it and twist it to suit our convenience?

And that's when we beg the question, as to whether they really know what they're doing. Even worse, what if the answer is, yes, they do?

Curiouser and curiouser ...
 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Christus Mansionem Benedicat!

VIDEO: A 2008 performance of "March of the Kings" ("Marche Des Rois") by Nowell Sing We Clear (Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, Andy Davis and John Roberts) at Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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At the Mass for the Day, the faithful are given chalk that has been blessed by the priest, as well as special holy water known as "Epiphany water." The blessing for it, which takes place only for this occasion, is to be found in the traditional Rituale Romanum, and includes a prayer of exorcism. The blessed chalk and the holy water are then taken home, to be used that evening.

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The Blessing of the Entrance to the House (“Chalking the Door”)

We begin with the Sign of the Cross, and the words of Psalm 71(72) "Deus, judicium":

Give the King your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to the King's son;

That he may rule your people righteously
    and the poor with justice.

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
    and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people;
    he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
    from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
    like showers that water the earth.

In his time shall the righteous flourish;
    there shall be abundance of peace
        till the moon shall be no more.

He shall rule from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

His foes shall bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
    and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

All kings shall bow down before him,
    and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
    and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
    he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
    and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live!
    and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;
        may prayer be made for him always,
            and may they bless him all the day long.

May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
    growing thick even on the hilltops;
        may its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
            and its grain like grass upon the earth.

May his Name remain for ever
    and be established as long as the sun endures;
        may all the nations bless themselves in him
            and call him blessed.

Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous deeds!

And blessed be his glorious Name forever!
    and may all the earth be filled with his glory.

Amen.

Then one who is the Officiant says the following prayer:

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If necessary, the Officiant or another steps up onto a chair or stepladder, and with a piece of blessed chalk, writes over the entrance to the house.

“Christus ...” (“May Christ ...”)

          C

“Mansionem ...” (“this dwelling ...”)

          C      M

“Benedicat.” (“... bless.”)

          C      M      B

“In the coming year ...”

20      C      M      B

“... and in the years to come.”

20      C      M      B      18

“In the name of the Father ...”

20  +  C      M      B      18

“and of the Son ...”

20  +  C  +  M      B      18

“... and of the Holy Spirit.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B      18

Everyone responds: “Amen.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B  +  18

The doorway is sprinkled with Holy Water blessed for the Epiphany. The inscription is to be removed on the Feast of Pentecost.

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For those who require "the short form," there is this one from the Church of Saint Mary in Clifton Heights, New York. On those nights when the weather is particularly inclement, one can simply read from the Gospel of John while inscribing over the door ...

In the beginning was the Word, (inscribe 2)

and the Word was with God, (inscribe 0)

and the Word was God. (inscribe +)

He was in the beginning with God. (inscribe C)

All things came to be through him, (inscribe +)

and without him nothing came to be. (inscribe M)

And the Word became flesh (inscribe +)

and made his dwelling among us, (inscribe B)

and we saw his glory, (inscribe +)

the glory as of the Father’s only Son, (inscribe 1)

full of grace and truth. (inscribe 8)

… then with the Holy Water, making the sign of the cross three times over the entrance, proclaiming “Christus ... Mansionem ... Benedicat” and calling it a night.

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This day is remembered throughout the world by various names. In many parts of Europe, Epiphany retains its distinction as "Little Christmas." Among the Greek Orthodox, the waters of the harbor are blessed by the local priest. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as “Dia de los Tres Reyes” (“Day of the Three Kings”). There are parades on the main street, such as this one in Madrid, Spain.

Although we know the "kings" were not actually royalty at all, but scholars in astronomy and other sciences who came from Persia, tradition has associated Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (their names as rendered in the apocryphal gospel accounts) as representing the Orient, Arabia, and Africa, the three great land masses of the known world in the first millennium.

As with the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in parts of western Europe, children in the Hispanic world are known to leave their shoes out and receive candy and other treats by the next morning. In Spain, children traditionally received presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, although recent years have seen both Christmas and Epiphany as a time for gift-giving.

I just love parades.

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This is also occasion for the solemn pronouncement of movable feasts for the coming year, using the chant from the Pontificale Romanum, including the news that Ash Wednesday will fall on Valentine's Day, and that Easter will fall on April Fools Day.

Should make for an interesting year, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(H/T to Father Z.)