Mary isn’t celebrating

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Mary isn’t celebrating , she is not celebrating quite yet. She is pregnant and has been now for a while, and she has yet to give birth. Mary is the best description of Advent, she knows the best meaning of somber yet joyful anticipation. She lives through it. She can joyfully look towards what is to come but she also knows where she is right now. She talks to her GOD, and still converses with that Angel of the Annunciation. She converses with her husband, and with those around her. She understands the LORDS promise, but her eyes don’t ignore her reality. She sees the world of her day, the temple, the Roman armies, the Sanhedrin, the poverty, and a landscape already littered with crucifixes. She also sees the joy, of families like hers awaiting the birth of their children. Quiet joys, and a few sorrows.

Today begins the O Antiphons, they are the antiphons sung before the Canticle of Mary. That is the Magnificat. Each antiphon describes an aspect of the Christ child. They are what Mary joyfully awaits. Todays is Wisdom, and wisdom in the Hebrew bible is described as feminine. Wisdom is called her.

O’ Wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

In Mary’s Magnificat she opens with praise and giving thanks to God. “My soul proclaimed the greatness of the LORD, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” and “for He has looked down on His lowly servant.” She then describes her LORD. Her LORD is merciful, and strong, and just, and compassionate. This is the God that Mary ponders during the Advent of her Son’s Nativity. Her canticle is the joyous reply to Elizabeth during the visitation when Elizabeth proclaims “Blessed are tough amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Mary had time to patiently wait, and ponder, and pray in a joyful anticipation of the day to come. She certainly must have pondered Gods wisdom. She certainly must have quietly whispered the words of this days Antiphon… .

It’s Saint Lucy Day! Celebrate!

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It’s Saint Lucy’s Day, the Feast of Saint Lucy! Who is she you ask? Lucy is a martyr of the third century. During the Diocletianic Persecution, Saint Lucy brought “food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs. “Using a candle-lit wreath” to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible”. Her feast at one time coincided with the Winter Solstice, and her feast day is a festival of light. I say it is a festival of light though the festival is little celebrated. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as “beacon shining before Christmastide”, and leads the way to Christmas day. Her name means light (Lux). In art she is frequently depicted as holding her eyes on a platter.

Lucy was a martyr. The Diocletian Persecution was one where people were forced to worship the pagan gods of Rome, to give the offerings, and to celebrate those feast days. To this Lucy resisted, and aided others in their resistance. Her feast is a good time to remembers those more recently that face religious persecution. That type of persecution has a long history, and today it rages on. This is a fitting time to remember those who suffered for Christianity, particularly those of  the Mid-East that are persecuted today. They are contemporary martyrs, and their numbers are growing. Remembrance  also of those who battle more subtle forms of persecution should not be forgotten. Those are  belittled by a global secularism. A small point to remember.

For tradition; Lucy’s Day is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia. Sankta Lucia is represented as a lady in a white dress and red sash with a crown or wreath of candles on her head. Throughout Scandinavia girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung. Boys participate in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. Those northerners’ say that to vividly celebrate Saint Lucy’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light. This speaks to tradition, and traditions that are being rapidly lost. The Christ child is the light of the world. The challenges of today.

In the gospel Mt 21:28-32 Jesus poses a question. He asks one son to go into the vineyard to labor, and that son at first refuses but has a change of heart. The question is addressed to a second son who agrees to the task but never completes it .The question is who did the Fathers will? The question is presented to chief elders, and they are intelligent people. Does the question seem complicated? Does it involve trickery or deceit? Is it hard to answer? What do you think? To me it is simple, and I am no scholar. The first son was reluctant but obedient. The second quick to answer, but negligent to act . The question is a commentary on those leaders leadership. Quick to reply, and hesitant to act. Right answer, wrong action. What is more important, the action or the response? My guess is it’s the action. The question speaks to empty words and promises. It speaks to a lack of commitment. Flash. Actions speak louder than words. It pits sincerity against insincerity. It speaks of humble actions, like those of Lucia’s, against grandiose speech. A humble and contrite heart the LORD will not spurn.

Here is a prayer to Saint Lucy, the patron of eyes:

Saint Lucy
Whose beautiful name signifies ‘LIGHT’
by the light of faith which God bestowed upon you
increase and preserve His light in my soul
so that I may avoid evil,
Be zealous in the performance of good works
and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and
the darkness of evil and sin.
Obtain for me, by your intercession with God
Perfect vision for my bodily eyes
and the grace to use them for God’s greater honour and glory
and the salvation of souls.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr
hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.
Amen

Gaudete

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Rejoice is the word of the day. Today the tone of the season changes, or should change from a penance to a more joyful anticipation. The day of salvation is near. John the Baptist in his preaching , both tells his disciples how to prepare and prepares them to follow the Christ. He prepares them so that they might follow another, the old testament draws to a close and the new is about to begin. Lk 3:10-18 His preparation is one of repentance, and a changing of paths. His tone is also one of urgency. Though he admonishes people to change their ways, it is so that they might enter into something better. Somber to Joyful. Rejoice. Darkness to light. Zep 3:14-18a “Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst,a mighty savior”

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

This third Sunday of Advent, also deserves some mention of Mary. Saturday is the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe when Mary makes her presence known in a new world. Tuesday was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. The week leading up to this Guadete Sunday is composed around Mary, and with her comes the first rejoicing of the Christ Child.”My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,my spirit rejoices in God my Saviorfor he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” My spirit rejoices. Rejoice, joy. They are the words that proclaim Christ, they are the words to describe the King. While this day might have lost some of its historical significance with the removing of the food-fasts and penitential practices of yesteryear; it is worth emphasizing the joyous nature of the Nativity. Christian Joy begins with Christ, and it is that joy Gaudete Sunday proclaims. Enough said.

 

 

Christmas Novena day five

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Today’s O Antiphon is O Key of David and it marks Christ’s authority to David’s kingdom, and Jesus ability to unlock the treasures of that kingdom. Jesus fulfills the prophecies of that land and unlocks its scriptures. One of the things that Jesus did for those first disciples, the apostles, is to unlock those scriptures. The other was to hand those keys to Peter, and one place they are visible is on the flag of Vatican City:

That flag consists of two vertical bands, one of gold or yellow and one of white with the crossed keys of Saint Peter and the Papal Tiara centered in the white band. The crossed keys consist of a golden and a silver key, in which the silver key .The Vatican City coat of arms can be found in the white half. The coat of arms consists of: the papal tiara and the two keys which represent the keys to Heaven (Matthew 16:19) given by Jesus Christ to St. Peter. The popes are the successor of Peter, and the gold and silver keys have been significant elements in the symbolism of the Holy See since the 13th century. The gold represents spiritual power, while the silver key represents worldly power.

O Key of David, And scepter of the house of Israel,

Thou openest and no man dare shut,

Thou shuttest and no man dare open, come

Lead from prison, the fettered one,

The dweller in darkness and the shadow of death

Christmas Novena day Five

HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my private prayer of this day. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen

Christmas Novena 4

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“O root of Jesse” is the foundation of the throne of David as Jesse is David’s Father. David’s kingdom was that kingdom all in the people wished to return to, it was the undivided and prosperous kingdom. From the memory of that kingdom springs the kingdom of God that Jesus preaches. The root of Jesse is the kingdom toppled, but also undefeated. From the root springs the nourishment needed for new growth, from that root springs the cross of salvation that is Jesus Christ. It is to that root of Jesse that we cry out to, that we might be freed from all that enslaves us and tears us down, and brought back to that Kingdom of God and that God that is the source of life for all mankind.

O Root of Jesse, who stands as the sign for the peoples,
at whom kings will shut their mouths,
whom the nations will entreat:
Come now to free us, and do not delay!

Today’s gospel brings yet another angel, and angels are appearing quite a bit at this time of year. Today it is that angel that appears to Zechariah;
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. Zechariah though does not believe the angel Gabriel, and Gabriel means “God is my strength.” Zechariah is filled with doubt, and old he has begun to lose his strength, and his doubt renders him speechless. He remains speechless until that prophesy of Gabriel is fulfilled and John is born. John becomes that sign that the tree is about to spring to life, just as John springs in the womb of Elizabeth in the company of Mary and Jesus.

For the fourth day of the Christmas Novena:

HAIL, and blessed be the hour and moment At which the Son of God was born Of a most pure Virgin At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem In the piercing cold At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, To hear my prayers for strength and nourishment from the Gospel of Jesus the Christ to battle the demons of life that keep me from growing. I pray that those suffering are able to be shaded by that tree of life, and that they are nourished by its plentiful fruit. As even a tree has needs for growth, nourishing soil and sunlight and water, I pray for those who are suffering for lack of food, and water, and shelter. It is a prayer for those suffering through poverty. Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen