December 29, 2009

Thought of the Day

Prayer knows no distance or separation. Whereever we are it makes us a single heart and a single soul

-- Pope Benedict XVI

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

May the blessing of Christmas be with you and your loved ones - now and forever.

December 22, 2009

Canticle of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:

My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:

a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever. Amen.

December 13, 2009

Review: The Mass A Guided Tour

The Mass a Guided Tour is a step by step explanation of the Catholic Mass from the entrance song to the concluding rites. In this book Father Thomas Richstatter uses simple, easy-to-understand language to explore and explain the Mass. The result is a guide to what the Mass means to our Catholic faith and how its different elements-the Introductory and Concluding Rites and Liturgies of the Word and the Eucharist-invite us to experience that faith more deeply and express it more fully.

Richstatter approaches the Mass from a decidedly post Vatican II perspective. I don’t agree with all of his images conjured up in the text. At some points he waters down the subject, in my opinion. Other aspects of the book are well-worth the read. The author explains how the Mass takes place out of time, which is to say, the Mass is a unity of the Church past, present and future in one time and place. Richstatter does an excellent job explaining this and the other metaphysical dimensions of this holy sacrament.

The Mass a Guided Tour is a good introductory text for those new to or unfamiliar with the Catholic Mass. It reminded me why Catholics believe what they do and why the celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.

To purchase this book click here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.

December 12, 2009

December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Can you imagine what it would be like to be out walking one day and suddenly see a woman of perfect demeanor, her clothes shining like the sun? Well, this is pretty much what happened in 1531. Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a recent native convert, on Tepeyac Hill, in what is not Mexico City. She asked that Juan go to his bishop and ask that a church be built there, a “house for her son.”

When the bishop asked for a sign, the woman told Juan to fill his cloak with flowers that appeared miraculously on the hill. Returning to the bishop, Juan opened his cloak to find not only the flowers but also an image of Mary, “clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet,” on his cloak.

On Tepeyac Hill, Mary identified herself as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and she appeared at a time when human sacrifice was part of the native Aztec culture. It has been estimated that one out of every five children was sacrificed to the Aztecs’ gods. The image on Juan Diego’s cloak conveyed an important message to the Aztecs. The woman stood in front of the sun and wore stars on her mantle. Her feet not only rested on the moon but also were crushing the head of a serpent. All of these images were gods that the Aztecs worshipped. The sash that she wore indicated she was pregnant – pregnant, in fact, with the author of life, Jesus Christ. Through this miraculous image, the Aztecs were introduced to the one true God.

This appearance of Mary caused millions of native to be converted to Christ and to abandon the practice of child sacrifice. Today, millions of unborn children are slaughtered by abortion. These children, however, are not thrown down the steps of Aztec pyramids but instead are placed into garbage cans, incinerated, or used for scientific research. On a day like today, we should all turn to Mary and ask her to intervene yet again on behalf of these innocent little victims.

From the Word Among Us.

December 10, 2009

Who is Simeon the Righteous?

Simeon the Righteous (pictured) is the man who, in Luke 2:25-35, met Mary, Joseph, and Jesus when they entered the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the requirements of the Torah forty days after Jesus' birth. Holding Jesus Simeon says the Nunc dimittis prayer also known as the Canticle of Simeon. Simeon prophesied about Christ’s future crucifixion.

The Canticle of Simeon is said during complin or night prayer as part of the Liturgy of the Hours of the Catholic Church. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus is the first of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin.

December 8, 2009

The Immaculate Conception

Today (Dec. 8th) is the fest of the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic Dogma, the conception of the Virgin Mary without any stain (macula in Latin) of original sin.

The dogma states that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed by Catholics that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, through sexual intercourse, may be contrasted with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus, known as the Annunciation, and followed by the Virgin Birth.

The dogma is based upon the following text from Luke;
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said,“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”But Mary said to the angel,“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply,“ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Mary's Immaculate conception is based on two key passages from the proceeding gospel; when the angel Gabriel says to Mary, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you,” and, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

To be "full of grace" and to be in favor with the Lord are one in the same thing. Mary was in the Lord's favor and full of grace meaning she was preserved from sin, both original and otherwise, from the moment of conception onward.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception is as much about Jesus as it is about Mary since through it Mary was prepared to be the mother of Christ.

December 7, 2009

How to Say the Salve Regina (Continued)

Mary crowned Queen of Heaven
Some of you were interested in how to pronounce the Salve Regina in Latin. For your information here is the Salve Regina along with other rosary prayers with text and accompanying audio. You can listen to the Salve Regina chanted by the monks at Conception Abbey here.

Encore: Hail Holy Queen/Salve Regina

Mary with the Christ Child

Continuing with our Marian theme for the month of May, this is the Dumb Ox's favorite prayer the Hail Holy Queen better known as the Salve Regina. Here is the prayer in English and in Latin:

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V./ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,

R./ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Salve Regina

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis
Virgo Maria.

V./ Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genetrix.

R./ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

December 3, 2009

Luke's Infancy Narrative

Scholars tell us that Luke probably wrote his gospel some 55 years after the Resurrection. Therefore, it is unlikely he witnessed the ministry of Jesus. But he assures us in the early verses of his Gospel that he has examined things "from the beginning," and has gone over "everything," and made sure to do so "accurately."

The Church teaches that Luke and the other biblical authors were "inspired." This doesn't mean God dictated word for word, but rather the Holy Spirit gave special guidance to the authors so that they (each with their own style and limitations), ultimately taught what God wanted taught.

We also believe that this same Spirit is active in us when we read Scripture.

December 2, 2009

The History of Advent

In the early Church, four different "comings" or manifestations of the Lord were celebrated all as one feast on January 6th. The birth of the Lord, the visit of the magi, his baptism, and his miracle at Cana. The feast was named "Epiphany" - a Greek word meaning "showing, manifestation." Epiphany became, along with Easter, a traditional date for baptism.

Just as the baptisms at Easter were prepared for by a time of fasting and penance (Lent) so the baptisms at Epiphany were prepared for by a time of fasting and penance called "Advent" (from a Latin word meaning "coming").

Gradually, in many places, Christ's birth was given its own feast day on December 25th and the season of Advent shifted to a time of preparation for this feast.

Over the years, Advent became less and less a carbon copy of Lent (fasting and penance) and more a time of prayer and reflection to appreciate the meaning of Christ's coming at Bethlehem, and his coming at the end of time.

The symbol of this season has become the Advent wreath, with the successive lighting of its four candles on each of the four Sundays - a sign of the approach of the light of the world.

December 1, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid!

Once when Zechariah was serving as priest he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw and fear came over him.

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid Zechariah for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. (Luke 1:8-15)

The angel tells Zechariah that his prayer has been heard. We aren't told what Zechariah has been praying for, but now we know. He was praying for Isreal, of course, as a Jewish priest would do. But he was also praying for a son.

Sometimes we're afraid to pray for things that seem unrealistic.

Three times in the birth story of Jesus we'll hear angels say, "Do not be afraid" - to Zechariah here, to Mary at the Annunciation, and to the shepherds in the fields. Jesus in his public life will say these same words five times.

This Advent, do not be afraid!