Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve - Knox

Bl Philip Howard - Earl of Arundel

On the brink of the New Year, some can look on our human cultural scene with optimism (they call it 'hope' - it seems a bit shallow to go that far), some with a sense of gloom. I will, instead offer the words of my newest mentor, Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957), that come from his reflections on one of the English martyrs, Blessed Philip Howard.

THE PRISONER'S LOT, AFTER all, is a type, especially, of human life as it has to be lived by us Christians in a fallen world which is not our true home, only a place of detention. Every man born into this world lives in a condemned cell; the warrant for his death will be issued not at an hour of his own choosing. Meanwhile, the environment of his life, his social ties, his limited opportunities, interfere with his liberty of action; when all is said and done, he has little of real freedom. And we Christians, whose faith forbids us to think of this world except as the ante-chamber of the next, can think of death as the warrant for our release; there is a window high up in our cell which gives us tantalizing glimpses of a wider world beyond, and we long to taste its more generous air. We must look, then, to the prison life of Philip Howard as a sacrament of human life in general; we must learn from him to face the ten years, twenty years, whatever it may be of life that remains to us, in the same spirit in which he faced those ten years which saw him a prisoner in the Tower of London ...

Let us ask Philip Howard, a prisoner no longer, but a courtier of the Queen of Peace, to remember the days of his low estate, and pray for all that multitude of human beings who lie, justly or unjustly, necessarily or needlessly, in prison. May the slow years that pass over them, and pass them by, bring them nearer to God, instead of making them disappointed in themselves, embittered against their fellow men. May he win freedom for the souls that are crushed by captivity; and for us, who go free, may he do more; may he bring every thought of ours into the captivity of our Master, Jesus Christ.

- Ronald A. Knox

The last Kodachrome processing facility closes

Kansas. Yesterday was the last day and in all places Kansas was the last place in the entire world to get your Kodachrome film processed. If you waited until today it is too late. Progress?

Stanley Nutting Christmas

Kevin O'Brien of Theater of the Word brings us the whole Nutting Clan for Christmas ...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Prayer Before a Manger Scene

Prayer Before a Manger Scene
-Father Peter John Cameron, O.P.

Lord Jesus, as I kneel before your manger in adoration, let my first Christmas word be: thank you. Thank you, Gift of the Father, for coming to save me from my sins.

Without you I do not know even how to be human. The characteristics of your human body express the divine person of God’s Son. And in that wondrous expression, Lord you reveal me to myself. Thank you for that saving revelation in your sacred humanity. As the Christmas liturgy proclaims, “in Christ man restores to man the gift of everlasting life.” Thank you for coming as one like myself to save me from myself.

You come as a baby because babies are irresistible and adorable. You come as a baby because you want our first impression of God incarnate to be that of one who does not judge. How I long to be united with you in every way. May I never be attracted to the allurements and charms of the world. May I love you always, at every moment, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. May the tenderness, the dependency, and the mercy that you reveal in your infancy become the hallmarks of my life.

Newborn Savior, the very silence of your incarnation proclaims that the answer to the misery, the strife, and the meaninglessness of life cannot be found within us. You alone are the Answer. As I kneel before you, eternal King, I surrender to you all my selfishness, self-absorption, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, self-assertion, and self-exaltation. Even as I adore you on this night of your birth, rid me of the nagging desire to be adored.

Word become flesh, you make your dwelling among us. Yet you do not live your life for yourself, but for us. And you enable us to live in you all that you yourself lived. Help me to embrace this truth with all my mind and heart. Come and live your life in me. Empty me of my willfulness, my petulance, my hardness, my cynicism, my contemptuousness. Fill me with your truth, your strength, your fortitude, your purity, your gentleness, your generosity, your wisdom, your heart and your grace.

O Emmanuel, may the assurance of your unfailing Presence be for me the source of unending peace. May I never fear my weakness, my inadequacy, or my imperfection. Rather, as I gaze with faith, hope and love upon your incarnate littleness, may I love my own littleness, for God is with us. Endow my life with a holy wonder that leads me ever more deeply into the Mystery of Redemption and the meaning of my vocation and destiny.

Longed-for Messiah, your servant St Leo the Great well wrote that in the very act of reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth. From this night on may my life be a dedicated life of faith marked by holy reliance, receptivity, and resoluteness. May I make my life a total gift of self. May my humble worship of the nativity manifest how much I seek the father’s kingdom and his way of holiness. The beauty of your holy face bears the promise that your Father will provide for us in all things This Christmas I renew my trust in God’s goodness, compassion, and providence. I long for the day when you will teach us to pray “Our Father.”

May your Presence, Prince of Peace, bless the world with peace, the poor with care and prosperity, the despairing with hope and confidence, the grieving with comfort and gladness, the oppressed with freedom and deliverance, the suffering with solace and relief. Loving Jesus, you are the only real joy of every human heart. I place my trust in you.

Oh divine Fruit of Mary’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy Mother of God. May my life be filled with the obedience of St Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the start that leads the Magi to your manger. I ask all this with great confidence in your holy name. Amen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Every Christmas there is revealed (at least for me) something new from something old and this song - the words - is one I really heard for the very first time last night.  Thank you St. Mary's of Bloomington choir!

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

– Original five-stanza hymn

Merry Christmas

All joy and heart's ease be to you and yours!
and pray for our brothers and sisters in places of danger

Friday, December 24, 2010

Identified Flying Elf

Juuust in case you have a pint-sized youngster who wants to know the progress of the jolly old elf, NORAD provides you with the SANTA TRACKER. Let's, er, hope they don't let loose the B-1s on him ...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catholicism Series Highlights

To be apart of THIS is what Christmas is all about.

Advent Reality Check

Conrad Black opines upon the slings and arrows shot at the prime target of the arbiters of progressivist relativism, the Catholic Church here.

They, of course, do not mind people being Catholic as long as it is fully admitted that the Catholic Church is merely one human institution among the many (it isn't), and that they are and ever shall be the true setters of the terms of public discourse and value (they aren't).

May all the accusers and other lost sheep be given the grace to wind their way this Advent and Christmas to the loving arms of Mother Church.

Or, better yet, become part of the growing number of Catholic engaged in prayer for the renewal, unity, and spread of Christendom, the restoration of all families, and support of our Holy Father in Marian chivalry.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ho Ho René

Romanus (Randy Coleman-Riese) over at Reflections on Faith and Culture has posted a Girardian Christmas Card. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cantalamessa - Rationalism

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, continued his series of homilies given in the presence of the Holy Father this Advent. He began with scientism, secularism, and, now, rationalism. Full text of his talk can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gives a Current Perspective of Christmas 2010

Living Faith with Judy Zarick

 Can you believe that's it's been almost a year since the Haiti earthquake?!! I interviewed Gerry Straub about his trips to Haiti and his new book and film on the subject. It will give you a lot to think about and be grateful for this Advent season.
Go HERE for the radio interview of my good friend Gerry Straub.

Click on the title of the book to see info on it and other Gerry Straub books:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Born on a New Day

And because I cannot keep to that Christmas carols only after December 25th thing, enjoy this from the Cambridge Singers:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming Up for Air

To my mind, Ronald Knox puts his finger on the primary problem of western culture, the demand for novelty. This is the motive for the rejection of Christianity in general and Catholic faith and morals in particular. This is the motive for the overweening coddling of the Scimitar into the heart of the west ("Hey, it's not threadbare 'Me 'n Jesus'. Let'em have their prayer service breaks at work and build their special toilets. Stop being intolerant, ya moron. HEY! You Christians! Stop foisting your stupid faith on the rest of us with your 'Merry Christmas' and caroling!").

Deeper still, Knox in his Broadcast Minds delves into the dangers of scientism and shrill atheism that he began to notice in the mid-twentieth century. These sniping and brattish anti-God types he saw would lead to what we now see today as the "new atheists." As opposed to the civil, urbane, and even friendly arguments between, say, Chesterton and Shaw, Wells, Russell, and Darrow, the so-called "new atheists" sound like Dan Quayle debating with their cat-calling and boorish behavior.

Perhaps it is the Sesame Street mentality all grown up, but what passes for consideration of the meaning of things today is a rat-a-tat-tat of sound bytes rather than quiet contemplation, an unconscious giving-in to disordered passions (Gr: epithumeia ( ἐπιθυμίᾳ ) rather than what we see supremely in, for example, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI and his works.

I see it more and more - sadly - in the classroom; even in the classroom of a Catholic school. It seems an espousal of a mere group of carnal sensations, a giving-over of value delineation to the most outrageous expressions of pop culture, and a surly yet absolute assurance that all-things-young define the terms of public discourse.

Of course, Girard would see - and does, no doubt see - all this as the furtherance of the cultural meltdown ("sacrificial preparation" - Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World) going on apace.

I say, on this Gaudate Sunday, that I am humbled by being given the grace to find my way into the sole place of solace in said cultural meltdown, the Catholic Church. May more and more and more stumble, half-frozen, tormented, and bereft of hope into Her gracious arms. Pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe will bring more conversions to the sad old, sinful old, West.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ZENIT and Cantalamessa

If you are not aware of ZENIT, you really should be. As opposed to the phalanx of "news services" that invariably raise your blood pressure with absurdities of the day (read: scandalizing and titillating check-out counter headlines), ZENIT leads with matters pertaining to Catholic faith and truth, the Holy Father, and matters deep and from the heart.

For example, a favorite author, speaker, and priest of the Mass'keteers, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, is offered by ZENIT here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Virgin of the Lilies

Beautiful image by Carlos Schwabe.  Read about this in the Magnificat by clicking HERE.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WaPo - Satanic Verses

Once again, the Washington Post, that organ of humanist progressivism, launches into the breech of teutonic battle with its arch foe, the Catholic Church. Today, the WaPo features this. The usual dredging of past sins of priests, dating usually to thirty or more years ago, offers the clinching quotation by a victim during an interview:

(He) frequently took a breath and choked back tears as he described the way Petrella had destroyed his life and his faith.

As a child, "I realized all that stuff about God living in the church, priests being God's representative, that your parents can protect you - I realized all those things weren't true," he said. Years later, he developed post-traumatic stress disorder, which he thinks helped kill his marriage.

Let's be clear and say that abusive priests, like any sexual predators, need to face the consequences of their actions.

But the Washington Post, at once crying to its godless heaven for the sake of speaking up for victims (and seeking verifiable victims to victimize, like Catholic priests), will turn right around and offer its sanction for the sexual behavior of such organizations as NAMBLA.

What is wrong with this picture? Extolling inter-generational "love" between men and boys, on the one hand; terrorizing Catholic priests on the other. Hmmm.

Now, you try to square the circle with that contradiction. The WaPo won't even try. Its soul is hollowed out with its luciferian logic.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Lev - Review

I, too, am grateful to the New York Times and other secular disseminators of what passes for "news" for urging Elizabeth Lev to read the Holy Father's new book, Light of the World, sooner than she planned. I always look forward with eagerness to see what Ms. Lev writes. See her review here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent Vigil

This depiction of a knight kneeling before an altar has always symbolized the season of Advent in my mind. There is nothing ornate about the surroundings; nothing to spur on one's faith or hope or charity. In fact, it seems rather dark and cold and lonely.

And that, perhaps, is the deceiving thing about this vigil of Advent. The Catholic faith says in the midst of the world's bustle of buying and selling that He Whose second Advent we await in wintry silence and gloom is already with us as humbly as He first came to us at Bethlehem. The humility of the Word made flesh (Jn 1,14) is fully with us in the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist.

And so we wait in vigil and longing for His second Advent in glory - we age, we grow ill, we make merry with friends and loved ones, we perish, and another generation begins the vigil. But we are not alone and all manner of things shall be most well. Thanks be to God.