Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Novena, Day 8, Dec 23

Christmas Novena, Day 8

Today we finish the 7 "O" antiphons. The final one is Emmanuel, God with us!

Here's an interesting tidbit about the O antiphons. If you take the first letter of each antiphon in Latin and put them in reverse order, you get ERO CRAS. In Latin, it means "tomorrow I will be." (ero = I will be; cras = tomorrow, from which we get the word procrastinate)

E Emmanuel
R Rex (king)
O Orient (radiant dawn)

C Key of David (clavis)
R Root of Jesse (radix)
A Lord (adonai)
S Wisdom (sapientia)

Come, Lord, do not delay!


The Pope did NOT say child porn is normal

At times it seems like the media indeed goes out of its way to distort the pope's words.

A news article from the Belfast Times quoted him out of context, suggesting that he thinks child porn is normal and no big deal.

Quite the contrary. The article left out the significant fact that the pope was actually condemning this view. He was trying to explain why some people justified it (and still do, for example, NAMBLA). When the Pope says, "Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances," you know he is simply stating a false view that he will go on to correct. It's like the objections St. Thomas puts in the Summa; you know he's going to refute those positions.

And refute them Benedict did. Read the whole thing for yourself. He quotes a very somber vision of Hildegard of Bingen regarding evil infiltrating the church.

Here's a larger excert from the Pope's address:

We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime….

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times….

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focused anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Novena, Day 7, Dec. 22

Christmas Novena, Day 7

Today we ask Christ, our King, to come and lead all nations to peace.

Why Christmas is important to society

While each year Christmas seems to be getting turned into a generic "holiday," this essay is a profound reflection on what Christmas has contributed to Western civilization.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Novena, Day 6, Dec 21

Christmas Novena, Day 6

Today's O Antiphon is:

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice,
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and
in the shadow of death.

With the winter solstice, the days will be getting longer now, even if only by a minute.
This is a fitting symbol for the coming of Christ, the Light of the World.

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light" (Is 9:2)

"For Wisdom is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness" (Wis 7:26)

Graces for Christmas

The real "gift" at Christmas is Jesus himself. All of us can receive this gift -- if we want it!
Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Daughters of St Paul and the whole Pauline Family, wrote this about asking for the real grace of Christmas:

In spirit, let us enter the grotto of Bethlehem where Jesus taught his first lessons–lessons of radical poverty and love. What prompted the Son of God to come to earth, clothe himself in human flesh and dwell among us? Love…. And what does Jesus want? Two things: the glory of God, that is to say, the glory of the Father, and then holiness–the salvation of all people of good will…. Let us ask ourselves if we have the firm will to become holy and to carry out the mission God has given us. Is this our predominant thought? When a person’s ideal is to become holy, when she wants to place everything in Jesus Christ and live in him, when she wants to imitate him, enter his school and serve him, then her good will is blessed by the Lord. If we ask for many things but fail to ask for this good will, then we are not asking for the graces proper to the manger.

Monday, December 20, 2010

St. Malachy's Church in NY The Actor's Chapel

This story on Catholic News Service caught my eye. It's about the role the Catholic Church helped play in renewing some of the area in Manhattan's Theater District that had fallen into decay in the 1970's.

St. Malachy's Church is called the Actor's Chapel because it serves the people of the theater district. Many of those who work in and around the theater industry are Catholic. Before I entered the convent, I worked for about a year in an office on 7th Avenue and 53rd St., and sometimes I would go to St Malachy's for an afternoon Mass. That was during the time the area around the church was run down. The article notes that with the rejuvenation of the area, younger families are moving into some of the newer apartment buildings, and coming to St Malachy's for their weddings and the baptism of their children.

Christmas Novena, Day 5 December 20

Christmas Novena, Day 5

The Golden Mass December 20

Today's Mass was historically called the "golden Mass" and celebrated with special solemnity, because it focuses on the role of Mary in the Incarnation.
The first reading is the famous prophecy from Isaiah about the virgin who will conceive and bear a son. The Gospel is the Annunciation account.

Mary is a special Advent figure. The expectant mother is a sign to us of what our Advent waiting is all about: the coming of Christ, our Savior.

Today's first reading from Isaiah is the same one we had yesterday (for the Fourth Sunday of Advent). Ahaz, the king, had entered into political alliances in an attempt to save Israel from her enemies. But the prophet Isaiah was telling him not to trust in politics, but in God. Only God could deliver Israel. In refusing to ask for a sign, Ahaz was not being humble, but tricky. He was keeping his options open, so to speak, by refusing to trust the Lord.

Mary, instead, was completely committed to doing God's will. By her "yes" to the angel Gabriel, Mary totally surrendered to what God was asking of her. She didn't know exactly what would happen. It was very risky--in those days a woman in an irregular pregnancy could suffer severe penalties. What would Joseph think?

Mary turned all those worries over to God. And God made it all work out. Whatever problems we face, God will help us also to work them out, if we turn to him in trust.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Novena, Day 4, Dec 19

Christmas Novena, Day 4

Christmas Novena, Day 3, December 18

Christmas Novena, Day 3

Christmas Novena, Day 2, December 17

Novena, Day 2

Today we begin singing the famous "O antiphons."

Today's antiphon:
O Wisdom eternal
proceeding from the mouth of the Most High,
who reaches from end to end and orders
all things mightily and sweetly:
come now to direct us
in the way of holy prudence.

Jesus, eternal Wisdom, enlighten us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas novena starts tomorrow

When I entered the convent, one of the treasures I found out about is the liturgical Christmas novena. This particular novena originated in northern Italy, and has very beautiful hymns and chants, including the O Antiphons. We use it for our morning prayer during this last part of Advent.

Last year Sr Anne Joan recorded and put it on youtube (sung by herself and another sister or two with good voices--not me!) I hope to link to it each day of the novena. It's a great way to spend a few minutes praying and thinking about the real purpose of Advent.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Verbum Domini Now available

The Word of the Lord Verbum Domini is now available in printed booklet form from Pauline Books & Media.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Immaculate Conception of Mary

Today's feast of the Immaculate Conception means that Mary was conceived free of original sin, and filled with grace from the very first moment of her conception by her mother, St Anne.

Mary was given this grace in view of her future mission to become the Mother of God, when she conceived Jesus virginally by the grace of the Holy Spirit. So the Immaculate Conception is not to be confused with the virgin birth; they're two separate things.

We, on the other hand, are very much subject to sin. Yet this does not put up a barrier between us and Mary, like a concrete highway divider no one can cross. No, the grace given to Mary makes her more human, not less. And she doesn't look down on us. She is a tender Mother who loves all her children, no matter how wayward and caught up in sin they may be.

While we came into the world with the taint of sin, we can go out without it. That's the point of our Christian life. This might be a bit fanciful, but sometimes I like to think about the parable of the Good Samaritan in that light. The man he helped, the one who was beaten up and left for dead, is like a symbol of ourselves in sin. We can become a sorry mess, all spattered with mud and blood and left for dead. We don't hear much about him, but the implication is that after being checked into the inn by the Good Samaritan, the man recovered. He left the inn all cleaned up, and could walk out on his own power.

Mary is like the Good Samaritan. She checks us into the inn of God's grace, where Jesus cleans us up and heals our wounds. He forgives our sins so that we can walk away from sin.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary reminds us that sin doesn't have the final word. Grace does. And grace can triumph over any sin.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Janet Smith and Pope's remarks

Dr Janet Smith has a good article here on Zenit putting the Pope's remarks into a wider context of people's attitudes toward sexuality. Some very good insights!