Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When the New Year Began in the Spring

From Nancy Bilyeau:
January 1st did not always signal the beginning of a new calendar year. Until 1752, the two were separate things in England and its colonies. Until that point, people began each calendar year on March 25, which was Annunciation Day—or Lady Day. This was the day the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to deliver the news that she had conceived and would give birth to Jesus in nine months.

It took an 18th century act of Parliament for England to officially begin each new calendar year on January 1st. The centuries of discrepancy cause lots of headaches for historians and genealogists. There’s no question that it’s strange, not least because England lagged behind much of the rest of Western Europe. Why did this Protestant nation cling to Annunciation Day—by its very definition a day revolving around the Virgin—as the time to change the calendar when most Catholic countries had already shifted to January 1st in the 16th century or 17th century?  (Read more.)
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Lord of Misrule

It is the Twelfth Night.

Fisheaters has everything you need to know about Twelfth Night, including a poem by Robert Herrick:
Twelfth Night: Or King and Queen

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where bean's the king of the sport here;
Beside we must know,
The pea also
Must revel, as queen, in the court here.

Begin then to choose,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.
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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Crack of Doom

From Father Angelo:
In medieval English churches a standard architectural/artistic element of the liturgical environment was the Doom painting in the tympanum of the western wall of the Church. This depiction of the Last Judgment was located above the doors of the Church, so that it could be seen by the people as the exited the building.  ”Doom,” in this sense, is a synonym for Judgment Day.  Thus, the Crack of Doom, does not refer to some opening in the earth from which proceeds the apocalyptic judgment, but, the moment in time when the impending judgment is announced by the “crack” of thunder and trumpet blast.

The Doom within the church building, like the Rood, separating the sanctuary from the nave, marks out a place and time toward which the faithful must orient themselves and though which, like a frame, we are able to experience the liturgy.  The apocalyptic moment is the age to come already present in the here and now, especially in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The faithful, nourished by the Eucharist, are sent forth to face the end of time and the cosmic battle that leads to it.  Christ extends his hands over the entire panorama of space and time, showing the living and the dead the marks of His passion and His victory over death.  The faithful leave the Church with the sense that at any moment He may come.

But our doom is not only an end.  Perhaps it is important that in the Sistine Chapel and other post-medieval Churches, the Doom was transferred from the western wall to the eastern wall over the altar of sacrifice.  Benedict XVI has reminded us that facing East in the liturgy we are led by Christ into eternity.  The heavens open, eternity invades time, and we are taken from this present age into the age to come.  Our doom is victory.

At the end of this time, which is is 2013, we have an opportunity to make an assessment of our own spiritual orientation.  In the context of such an assessment Bob Moynihan, publisher of Inside the Vatican has pointed to the reference Pope Francis made in November to Robert Hugh Benson’s The Lord of the World, which is a novel about what would happen if the principles of Freemasonry were universally adopted, and the effect it would have on those who believe in Christ.   The Holy Father’s statement was a commentary on the persecution of the Jews by the pagans in the Maccabean period and how some believed they could negotiate a peace with the world that would be compatible with the worship of the true God.  But Pope Francis called this “adolescent progressivism” and “the ‘globalization of hegemonic uniformity,’ a uniformity of thought born of worldliness.”  He called such a compromise “apostasy” and “adultery.”  He said that Robert Hugh Benson’s book was prophetic of this kind of apostasy which was to come, and in fact, has come. (Read more.)
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Friday, December 27, 2013

Last Will and Testament of Louis XVI

The last Will and Testament of Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre, given on Christmas day, 1792.
In the name of the Very holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
To-day, the 25th day of December, 1792, I, Louis XVI King of France, being for more than four months imprisoned with my family in the tower of the Temple at Paris, by those who were my subjects, and deprived of all communication whatsoever, even with my family, since the eleventh instant; moreover, involved in a trial the end of which it is impossible to foresee, on account of the passions of men, and for which one can find neither pretext nor means in any existing law, and having no other witnesses, for my thoughts than God to whom I can address myself, I hereby declare, in His presence, my last wishes and feelings.
I leave my soul to God, my creator; I pray Him to receive it in His mercy, not to judge it according to its merits but according to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ who has offered Himself as a sacrifice to God His Father for us other men, no matter how hardened, and for me first.
I die in communion with our Holy Mother, the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, which holds authority by an uninterrupted succession, from St. Peter, to whom Jesus Christ entrusted it; I believe firmly and I confess all that is contained in the creed and the commandments of God and the Church, the sacraments and the mysteries, those which the Catholic Church teaches and has always taught. I never pretend to set myself up as a judge of the various way of expounding the dogma which rend the church of Jesus Christ, but I agree and will always agree, if God grant me life the decisions which the ecclesiastical superiors of the Holy Catholic Church give and will always give, in conformity with the disciplines which the Church has followed since Jesus Christ. (Read entire Will)
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

And a Happy New Year! Thanks to everyone who has visited this blog in 2013~ I will pray for you all at Mass this Christmas Day. Please pray for me.

(Picture from Karen) Share

"The Burning Babe"


The poem by St. Robert Southwell, priest and martyr.

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.
(Artwork from Holy Cards)
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see His glory. (Invitatory Antiphon for December 24.)

The Christmas Martyrology.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king; in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world, Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.
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The Yule Log

Bringing Home the Yule Log
From The Archivist's Corner:
The last piece I have for you brings us back to Olde Yorkshire. This is an excerpt from an article called “Folklore from Yorkshire” by J. B. Partridge.  It was published in the journal Folklore in 1914, and it discusses some of the old traditions that still survived at the time it was written.

Christmas Observances in Yorkshire -

Furmety is still eaten on Christmas Eve in Swaledale. The corn with which it is made is a present from the grocer.

Sword dancers still go round on Christmas Eve, dancing and singing a song about "Poor old horse."

The Yule log is generally given. It is brought into the house after dusk on Christmas Eve, and is at once put on the hearth. It is unlucky to have to light it again after it has once been started, and it ought not to go out until it has burned away. To sit round the Yule log and tell ghost stories is a great thing to do on this night, also card-playing.

Two large coloured candles are a Christmas present from the grocer. Just before supper on Christmas Eve (when furmety is eaten), while the Yule log is burning, all other lights are put out,and the candles are lighted from the Yule log by the youngest person present. While they are being lighted, all are silent and wish. The wish must not be told, but you see if you get it during the year. As soon as the candles are on the table, silence may be broken. They must be allowed to burn themselves out, and no other lights may be lighted that night. (Read more.)
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Monday, December 23, 2013

"The Holly and the Ivy"


The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Refrain:
Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour
Refrain
The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
Refrain
The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.
Refrain
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.
Refrain
It is an old English carol, the original of which was a song about the complexity of male and female relationships. David Beaulieu of About.com explains:
So where does the ivy come into play in the song, "The Holly and the Ivy?" Except for its appearance alongside holly in the opening stanza, it isn't even mentioned in the song. If this one, insignificant reference to ivy were struck from the lyrics, in what way would the song suffer? And if your answer is, "Not at all," then the next logical question to ask is: Why is the carol not titled simply, "The Holly," instead of, "The Holly and the Ivy?"
....The answer may lie in the fact that "The Holly and the Ivy" is based on older songs, such as "The Contest of the Holly and the Ivy" ....
In "The Contest of the Holly and the Ivy," ivy plays a role equally important to that of holly. The mention of ivy in the first stanza (and the last stanza, which merely repeats the first) in "The Holly and the Ivy" is therefore a hold-over, a remnant from an earlier era, a fragment pointing to music with a very different meaning. The influence of the earlier songs about the holly and the ivy was apparently so strong that the ivy was given a cameo appearance in this one, too -- despite the fact that only the holly has any major role to play in it.
What we see played out in "The Contest of the Holly and the Ivy" and similar songs (perhaps dating back to medieval times) is the rivalry between men and women, thinly disguised as a contest between the holly and ivy. Holly was conceived of as being masculine in the plant symbology of the time, probably because it is more rigid and prickly; while the softer ivy is associated with the feminine in this tradition.
According to an article at Dave's Garden:
Using ivy as decoration also dates back to the time of the Romans, who associated it with Bacchus (the Roman equivalent of the Greek Dionysus, god of wine and intoxication). Ivy was a symbol of fidelity and marriage, and was often wound into a crown, wreath or garland.[3] It also served as a symbol of prosperity and charity, and thus it was adopted by the early Christians, for whom it was a reminder to help the less fortunate. In early England, it was considered bad luck to use ivy alone in decorating for Christmas, and would give the woman of the house the upper hand.
The same site explains the symbolism of holly:
The practice of ornamenting the home with holly began with the Romans, who regarded it as an omen of good fortune and a symbol of immortality. They sent congratulatory wreaths of holly to newlyweds, and also used it as a gift during the festival of Saturnalia (a celebration which itself is based partly on Greek and Egyptian solstice observances). As early Christians adopted the practice of decorating with the plant, holly took on religious associations--namely, that the spiky leaves represented Christ’s crown of thorns, and the red berries his blood....
The Christmas carol “The Holly and The Ivy is an example of how ancient beliefs were absorbed by the Christian church. The song we sing today was recorded by a folk song collector named Cecil Sharp, who heard it sung in Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, in 1909:[5]

The holly and the ivy,
When both are full well grown.
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Oh, the rising of the sun,
The running of the deer.
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.
Subsequent verses transform the carol into a Christian song. Dr. Ian Bradley, of the St. Andrews University School of Divinity in Scotland, writes that the although the lyrics focus on the holly as a symbol of Christ, ivy is also mentioned because of the carol’s basis on an older medieval song in which the plants personify men and women. In the earlier song, holly and ivy were equals, with holly representing goodness and masculinity; ivy standing for evil (or at least weakness) and femininity.[6]
To the medieval mind, the male was considered the dominant sex, and a support for the weaker and more delicate female, thus the rigid holly shrub and the twining ivy vine must have seemed like natural embodiments of those traits. The original meaning of “The Holly and the Ivy” is a reminder that there has always been a subtle and humorous (sometimes not so subtle and humorous) competition between men and women for dominance. These two tough plants may represent the struggle between the sexes, but they can also be seen as a celebration of male and female cooperation and interdependence. (Read more.)

(Artwork from Karen) Share

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mistletoe Madness, 1796

From author Isabella Bradford:
In modern holiday celebrations, mistletoe has become something of a kitsch-y joke, the inevitable prop for I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus humor.

But in the 1790s, when the print, left, was published, mistletoe still had an aura of wickedness, even danger. The ancient Druidic traditions linking mistletoe and fertility had not been forgotten, and kissing beneath the mistletoe was thought to lead to more promiscuity, or even - shudder! - marriage.

Certainly the four merry young  couples in this print appear to be enjoying themselves. Some scholarly descriptions refer to this as a dance scene, and perhaps it does show nothing more than a particularly rollicking country dance. (Read more.)
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Friday, December 20, 2013

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)


It's a Wonderful Life, originally a box office flop, has now been part of the American Christmas movie repertoire for decades. My husband owned a VHS copy when I first met him and after we were married it became our custom to watch it at least once during the Christmas season. We are always struck by the emphasis on the preciousness of a single human life. George Bailey, who thinks himself a failure, is granted the gift of seeing what the world would be like if he had never been born; it is not a pretty sight. One life touches so many others, even in a backwater town like Bedford Falls. Although most of the characters appear to be Protestant, there are many Catholic elements in the secular film. The power of intercessory prayer, the mediation of the angels and saints, are central themes. Yes, I know that departed souls never become "angels." Clarence calls himself one and is trying to "win his wings;" we always saw him as one of the Holy Souls on the brink of Paradise. He is sent to earth through the mediation of "Joseph" who I always assume is St. Joseph, patron of fathers. Frank Capra was an Italian Catholic, after all. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times:
In media interviews at the time, Capra did not portray it as a holiday film. In fact, he said he saw it as a cinematic remedy to combat what he feared was a growing trend toward atheism and to provide hope to the human spirit. In a moment of possible revisionism decades later, Capra said that he also realized that with the holiday season comes an inherent vulnerability in all humans, and that this uplifting tale might just ride on that sentiment.
The town of "Bedford Falls" where the film takes place could be any number of towns in Pennsylvania that we have known, and James Stewart, who played George Bailey, thought so, too, saying:
Two months had been spent creating the town of Bedford Falls, New York. For the winter scenes, the special effects department invented a new kind of realistic snow instead of using the traditional white cornflakes. As one of largest American movie sets ever made until then, Bedford Falls had 75 stores and buildings on four acres with a three block main street lined with 20 full grown oak trees.
Bedford Falls, New York as shown in 'It's a Wonderful Life'
As I walked down that shady street the morning we started work, it reminded me of my hometown, Indiana, Pennsylvania.

The very ordinariness of the town, all the mundane, everyday actions, the hidden tears and disappointments and heartbreaks, as well as the joys, and even the petals from a small girl's rose, are shown as being the elements which go into making a "wonderful life," rather than great deeds and worldly successes. George Bailey had to give up all his youthful dreams of setting the world on fire in order to save the family business. Because he is man who loves justice and hates iniquity, he must stand up to the local tyrant on behalf of the poor of the town. An unfortunate turn of events leaves him frustrated and despairing. He is about to take his own life but is stopped by an act of Divine intervention.

Donna Reed is radiant as Mary, George's wife and his saving grace, who asks her children to pray for their father. She is an ordinary girl who becomes an ordinary wife; in spite of hardships she never loses her dignity or her hope. As for the other characters, they are what make it a most enjoyable film; it is bursting with unsophisticated but colorful personalities, just as in certain small towns I have known. As James Stewart himself would later say:
Today I've heard the filmed called 'an American cultural phenomenon.' Well, maybe so, but it seems to me there is nothing phenomenal about the movie itself. It's simply about an ordinary man who discovers that living each ordinary day honorably, with faith in God and selfless concern for others, can make for a truly wonderful life.
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Queen Charlotte and the Christmas Tree

From History Today:
Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, is usually credited with having introduced the Christmas tree into England in 1840. However, the honour of establishing this tradition in the United Kingdom rightfully belongs to ‘good Queen Charlotte’, the German wife of George III, who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December, 1800.

Legend has it that Queen Charlotte’s compatriot, Martin Luther, the religious reformer, invented the Christmas tree. One winter’s night in 1536, so the story goes, Luther was walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenberg when he suddenly looked up and saw thousands of stars glinting jewel-like among the branches of the trees. This wondrous sight inspired him to set up a candle-lit fir tree in his house that Christmas to remind his children of the starry heavens from whence their Saviour came.

Certainly by 1605 decorated Christmas trees had made their appearance in Southern Germany. For in that year an anonymous writer recorded how at Yuletide the inhabitants of Strasburg ‘set up fir trees in the parlours ... and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweets, etc.’ (Read more.)
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas in the Workhouse

From Workhouse Tales:
In the years following the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, the central authorities in London ruled that no extra food or drink should be given to paupers in workhouses at Christmas. Many local poor law unions ignored this directive including the guardians of Swansea Union. In 1837, The Cambrian newspaper reported that: ‘The paupers of Swansea Union were regaled on Christmas Day with an excellent dinner of roast beef and plum pudding, by a few individuals who subscribed the necessary sum for the laudable purpose’. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Charities of Marie-Antoinette

With Christmas a few days away, it is helpful to see the example of the Queen, who made the needs of the poor a priority, especially in the cold of winter. For Marie-Antoinette, this was nothing extraordinary, but the basic duty of a Christian. While surfing the internet, it is all too common to see Marie-Antoinette characterized as someone who ignored the plight of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her charities were quite extensive and are a matter of public record. She also took great care to instill a love of the needy in her children. At Christmastime, during a particularly brutal winter, the queen had them renounce their Christmas gifts in order to buy food and blankets for the destitute. As Maxime de La Rocheterie relates:
One year, on the approach of the 1st of January, she had the most beautiful playthings brought from Paris to Versailles; she showed them to her children, and when they had looked at them and admired them, said to them that they were without doubt very beautiful, but that it was still more beautiful to distribute alms; and the price of these presents was sent to the poor.
(The Life of Marie Antoinette by Maxime de La Rocheterie, 1893)
 Another biographer Charles Duke Yonge discusses how the queen's generosity was well-known by her contemporaries, in spite of her efforts to be discreet, and the efforts of her enemies to portray her as a decadent spendthrift. 
By the beginning of December the Seine was frozen over, and the whole adjacent country was buried in deep snow. Wolves from the neighboring forests, desperate with hunger, were said to have made their way into the suburbs, and to have attacked people in the streets. Food of every kind became scarce, and of the poorer classes many were believed to have died of actual starvation....

Not only were Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuous for the unstinting liberality with which they devoted their own funds to to supply of the necessities of the destitute, but the queen, in many cases of unusual or pressing suffering that were reported to her in Versailles and the neighboring villages, sent trustworthy persons to investigate them, and in numerous instances went herself to the cottages, making personal inquiries into the condition of the occupants, and showing not
only a feeling heart, but a considerate and active kindness, which doubled the value of her benefactions by the gracious, thoughtful manner in which they were bestowed.

She would willingly have done the good she did in secret, partly from her constant feeling that charity was not charity if it were boasted of, partly from a fear that those ready to misconstrue all her acts would find pretexts for evil and calumny even in her bounty. One of her good deeds struck Necker as of so remarkable a character that he pressed her to allow him to make it known. "Be sure, on the contrary," she replied, "that you never mention it. What good could it do? they would not believe you;" but in this she was mistaken. Her charities were too widely spread to escape the knowledge even of those who did not profit by them; and they had their reward, though it was but a short-lived one.

Though the majority of her acts of personal kindness were performed in Versailles rather than in Paris, the Parisians were as vehement in their gratitude as the Versaillese; and it found a somewhat fantastic vent in the erection of pyramids and obelisks of snow in different quarters of the city, all bearing inscriptions testifying the citizens' sense of her benevolence. One, which far exceeded all its fellows in size--the chief beauty of works of that sort--since it was fifteen feet high, and each of the four faces was twelve feet wide at the base, was decorated with a medallion of the royal pair, and bore a poetical inscription commemorating the cause of its erection:


"Reine, dont la beaute surpasse les appas

Pres d'un roi bienfaisant occupe ici la place.

Si ce monument frele est de neige et de glace,

Nos coeurs pour toi ne le sont pas.


De ce monument sans exemple,

Couple auguste, l'aspect bien doux pur votre coeur

Sans doute vous plaira plus qu'un palais, qu'un temple

Que vous eleverait un peuple adulateur.[10]"

(Life of Marie-Antoinette
by Charles Duke Yonge, 1876)

(Artwork)
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Les Santons de Provence

The "little saints" of Provence are part of a beloved Christmas tradition that dates back to the dark days of the French Revolution. To quote:
Around one hundred workshops still carry on the tradition of making the santons de Provence. The oldest santon Fair, started in Marseille in 1803 and running every year from mid-November to the end of December, is still highly successful today.

But what is a Santon?

Small brightly coloured figures for nativity scenes, "santouns" or "small saints" first appeared in Provence at the end of the 18th century, representing not only the Nativity scene, the Kings and Shepherds, but also a whole series of everyday characters from old Provence and their traditional trades.

The History of the Santons

In order to understand where they came from, we must start with the invention of the first nativity scene, traditionally attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi who is said to have asked the inhabitants of his village of Grecchio, in 1223, to play the parts of the characters in the Nativity. The first nativity scenes with figurines then appeared in churches around the 16th century. But after the French Revolution, which suppressed the midnight mass, the nativity scene, until then a large-scale affair, was reduced in size to a miniature scene that families could create at home. A small industry developed making the figurines. It was at this point that the santons appeared in Provence.

The Provençal Nativity Scene

Originally, the nativity scene was limited to the characters in the Nativity itself. The makers of santons took their inspiration from the people of Provence to create new characters. Just to mention a few: there is Boufareu, the angel who guides people to the stable; the blind man who suddenly regains his sight; the pot-bellied, bald priest, from the neighbouring parish; Marius, a central character who, like Alphonse Daudet's character Tartarin de Tarascon, is very talkative; there is also the gypsy girl, the fisherman, the water carrier, the holy fool, the grinder and many more. (Read more.)
More HERE.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hidden History of Carols

It seems that in the Middle Ages caroling parties could be a bit wild. Most people do not realize that carols were not just for Christmas but every feast day had its carols, and some were more bawdy than religious. To quote:
 The story of Christmas caroling is full of unexpected surprises. The practice itself has gone through many changes over the centuries, and our perception of caroling today is based only on the very recent history. We think of Christmas caroling as a wholesome, and even religious, activity. Caroling seems to speak of the beauty, innocence, and magic of the Christmas season. However, in researching this practice, I have discovered that caroling was not as innocent as we might think. In fact, the act of caroling was actively combatted by the Church for hundreds of years.

Uncovering the origins of caroling has proven difficult. Some sources give the 14th or 15th centuries as the earliest date for caroling. I believe the reason for this is because this is the period when caroling began to be adopted by the church, and this is when carols first began to be written down. However, there is much evidence that caroling was around long before that. We don’t have written carols from the early periods, but what we do have are edicts from the Church and recorded sermons which make reference to caroling. (Read more.)
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Monday, December 9, 2013

The Mother, the Child and the Serpent

Fr. Mark ponders the panacea for the spiritual wounds of child abuse. To quote:
Therapy

While therapy or some form of counseling is certainly helpful in dealing with the long-term effects of the serpent’s bite, it is not sufficient. Rarely is a complete healing possible through therapy alone. In my experience, most persons struggling with the effects of sexual abuse will suffer recurrent crises, although with time these may become less frequent and less debilitating. The benefit of therapy is in helping the individual to identify what things trigger crises, what things feed into the chaos, and what strategies are effective in countering recurrent difficulties.

Supernatural Means
The Lord God said unto the serpent, I will put enmity between Thee and the Woman, and between thy seed and her Seed, which same shall bruise thy head, alleluia. (Antiphon at the Benedictus on December 8th)
Ultimately, one is obliged to confront the evil, in its origin and in its effects, on spiritual ground and with supernatural means. This is where the adult living with the effects of sexual abuse as a child finds it necessary to identify with the Infant Christ in entrusting himself entirely to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Read more.)
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of Our Lord

The Christmas season ends today. To quote:
 The mystery of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan by St John, the Precursor, proposes the contemplation of an already adult Jesus. This mystery is infinitely linked to the Solemnities of the Lord’s birth and the Epiphany that we have just celebrated, as in some ways it takes up and represents their significance to us.

At Christmas we have contemplated the human birth of the Word incarnate by the Virgin Mary. In the 4th century, the Fathers of the Church deepened the understanding of the faith with regard to the Christmas mystery in the light of Jesus’ Humanity. They spoke of the Incarnation of the Word already working like the ‘Christification’ of that humanity that he had assumed from His mother. Or put in simpler terms: Jesus is the Christ from the first instant of conception in Mary’s spotless womb because He Himself, with His Divine Power, consecrated, anointed and ‘Christified’ that human nature with which He became incarnate. In the mystery of the Epiphany, we then meditated on Christ’s manifestation to all nations that was represented by the Magi, the wise men from the East, who came to adore the Child.

Now, in the mystery of Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan River, we again encounter and represent the truth of the Lord’s incarnation and His manifestation as the Christ. Jesus’ Baptism is in fact His definitive manifestation as the Messiah or Christ to Israel, and as the Son of the Father to the entire world. Here we find the dimension of the Epiphany which was His manifestation to all nations. The Father’s voice from heaven shows that Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows the Trinitarian nature of the Christian God. The true and unique God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, shows Himself in Christ, through Him, with Him and in Him.

The Baptism in the Jordan returns to the great Christmas theme of ‘Christification’, Jesus of Nazareth’s spiritual anointing, His presentation as the Anointed One per excellence, the Messiah or the One sent by the Father for the salvation of mankind. The Spirit that descended on Jesus shows and seals in an incontrovertible way the ‘Christification’ of Jesus’ humanity that the Word had already fulfilled from the first moment of His miraculous conception by Mary. Jesus, from the very beginning, was always the Lord’s Christ, He was always God. Yet, His one, true humanity, that which is perfect in every way, as the Gospel records, constantly grew in natural and supernatural perfection. ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with men’ (Lk2:52). In Israel at 30 years of age, one reached full maturity and therefore could become a master. Jesus came of age and the Spirit, descending and remaining on Him, definitively consecrated His whole being as the Christ.

The same Spirit, that descended on the water of the River Jordan wafted over the waters during the first creation. (Gen 1:2) Therefore, the Baptism in the Jordan presents yet another truth: that Jesus has started a new creation. He is the second man (1 Cor 15:47) or the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), that comes to repair the first Adam’s guilt. He does this as the Lamb of God that takes away our sins. ‘Looking at the events in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realised what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon His shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners.’ (J Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, Bloomsbury 2007, p18) (Read entire post.)
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Epiphany


Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light us come....And the gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising....All they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord. (Isaias 60, 1-6)
Here is a quote on the Epiphany from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's Divine Intimacy:
A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is the inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.

The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star- at one point- disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me:
Scio cui credidi et certus sum (2 Timothy 1:12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him. (Divine Intimacy, pp. 122-123)

Abbot Gueranger discusses the mystery of the Magi, HERE.


(Artwork:
Journey of the Magi, 1902 by James Tissot) Share

Frankincense Endangered

From Garden Design:
Despite its long history as a sacred plant, Bostwellia trees today are looking at a grim future. According to a December 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, the trees are threatened by various pressures that may reduce their numbers by 90 percent in the next 50 years. Young saplings are not surviving, trees are seeding less frequently, and, when they do, with decreased viability. Over-harvesting is a factor, but so are predators and increased fires.

This year, hope arrives in a new paper in the Annals of Botany. By mapping the tree's anatomy, botanists from the Netherlands and Ethiopia have discovered a new approach to tapping the trees, one that will yield more resin with less harm to the tree. Motuma Tolera, an author of the study, explains: "Tapping the tree creates wounds in the stem that take resources to be healed, and more wounds create more opportunities for insects to attack the tree. It's not a surprise that some trees die." When he and his colleagues discovered an intricate network of canals in the inner bark, they saw "an option to reduce the number of cuts, and reduce the damage to the trees." (Read entire article.)
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