See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BU - 8

The last part is the best.

Third day of Christmas. Christmas cards and greetings.


Happy Holidays.

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I still have cards to send - I usually send to the very, very Catholic after Christmas, as well as to those I hope would be Catholic. A card "after it's all over" can be a good reminder it is not. In addition, I'm picking out my cards for next year, it is always a good idea to buy the cards for next year when they are marked down from this year - that is, if you care to send the very best without spending a great deal. I'm one of those who consider Christmas cards a little gift.
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Seasons Greetings.

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I also enjoy ruffling the feathers of the very, very pious when it comes to Christmas greetings. If one sends a card, as I will do, with the printed greeting that doesn't mention Christmas, yet happens to be wonderful Christmas art - or not - what prevents the sender from writing, "Merry Christmas" with a little note and their signature? Just so, when a person wishes you a friendly, "Happy Holidays", why on earth would you shout back for all to hear, "Merry Christmas!" Or, "I celebrate Christmas!" How rude is that. Someone was kind enough to greet you and wish you well, and yet your ego has to assert itself and call attention to your wonderful Christmas spirit. A quiet smile, and a sincere "Merry Christmas" would be the kindest response.
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Happy Hanukkah.
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This morning I read on another blog the writer's boast how, after making the declaration of "Merry Christmas" for all to hear in response to a "Happy Holidays" greeting, the obviously very young man turned to wish the Jewish woman behind him, "Happy Hanukkah" after she informed him she doesn't celebrate Christmas. Thus after he wished her "HH" she responded, "And what do you know about Hanukkah?". Rising to the challenge, the very well-educated, albeit very young man, made it clear to the woman that he knew everything about it from his Catholic bible. (Many Jews are not even religious, nor do they actually celebrate Hanukkah.)
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Isn't that special. I'll bet everyone in hearing distance was dying to convert to Roman Catholicism and were filled with the infectious Christmas spirit that the very rude, very young man exhibited.
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Yeah, so Happy Kwanza while you're at it.
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LOL!

Ripped jeans and Fr. Corapi.

This really isn't Corapi - but it sort of looks like him - what he'd look like if he remained in Hollywood maybe...
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Image from the Sartorialist - who got it out of GQ. The Sartorialist has a great new format - much larger photos.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It was bound to happen.


The Rabbit's Christmas party has begun.



Seriously. I have so much food outside in the garden, everyone is eating; the voles, the mice, the squirrels, and of course the birds, and Mrs. Rabbit is out there now.
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As for me, I will actually be visiting my sister's house this weekend to see my brother Tim who is here from Germany. It promises to be very fun. I haven't seen any of them in years.
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Update: I guess I was just pretending.

The Second Day of Christmas



The Feast of Stephen.
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For most non-Catholics, I expect the feast of Stephen is only a line from a Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslaus", yet for Roman Catholics, it is much more than that. Immediately after the joyful birth of Christ, the feast of the holy proto-martyr Stephen is celebrated. The deacon St. Stephen was put to death by stoning, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Though the heavens were opened and St. Stephen was consoled and strengthened by the vision of Christ in glory, the martyr's passion and death has much to teach us.
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While the Christian is taken up in the joy and glory associated with the commemoration of the birth of Jesus, one may be assured one will also experience many of the same woes the rest of men encounter, which happen to be the effects of original sin. What is more, the Christian, trained in the way of penance and mortification, will not be surprised as they see fulfilled in their lifetime these words; "You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved." - Matthew 10:22
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Art: St. Stephen Martyr, from Sub Tuum, the monastery blog by Br. Stephen. Please visit his site to read about his clothing in the monastic habit, and to get a glimpse of Christmas in a monastery.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christ Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul



Details.
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Fr. Adams was the celebrant for the Mass at mid-day. He is one of the finest young priests I have ever met. Really. He is awesome.
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The Rector, Fr. Joseph Johnson is too. The Cathedral has taken on a new aura... there seems to be an 'odor of sanctity' unlike ever before. I'm not exaggerating.
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I arrived early for Mass, entering the Cathedral by the side door. I looked towards the back and noticed hundreds of lights draping Our Lady of Victory Chapel. As I moved closer, the display became more intriguing. Finally, standing in front of St. Joseph's chapel, I looked across, the impression was heavenly, it reminded me of Christmas in Rome, or Naples. The entire chapel was draped and festooned with antique gold and white sheer fabric. Magnificent runs of what appeared to be silk illusion, with lights sprinkled through the cascades. (I apologize that I do not have any photos yet.)
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The crowds of families obstructed my view of the actual creche. Finally I got near enough to sneak into the side of the chapel, hidden behind the great columns and lighted birch tree branches the size of trees. The roof of the creche was laden with a large cascade of white and red Peruvian roses falling from the gable down each side. The same roses were arranged in huge bouquets on either side of the creche. In the background loomed the beautiful marble statue of Our Lady of Victory, and above her crown was the star of Bethlehem, while the extravagantly tented fabric streamed down to enclose the entire tableaux.
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I do not even do it justice trying to describe it here - it must be seen in person. If you live in the Twin City area, you should make the pilgrimage to venerate the Holy Infant in this sumptuous setting which so glorifies the Incarnation. It is the finest Nativity I have ever seen in this region.
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A visit to the St. Joseph chapel is rewarded with lovely displays of flowers and roses - designed and donated by the same person who donated her time, money, and talent to construct the beautiful presepe for Our Lady's chapel... the very talented designer, Anne Marie Hanson. God reward her for such a lovely Christmas gift to the Cathedral. By her generosity, those who visit the chapel get a little glimpse of heaven in these dark days, while her art lifts the poor in spirit above the worries and cares of the world.
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The sanctuary itself is magnificently decorated as well, all in red, with more lights adding sparkle to the festal processional banners. Yet there is another detail, perhaps taken for granted by many. The Father Rector has taken care that all of the altars throughout the immense Cathedral are properly covered in altar cloths, and for Christmas, every altar is illuminated with candles, three on either side of the tabernacle, glowing and warming a pilgrim's heart.
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I have never experienced the Cathedral in such a manner before... It is such a holy place. That's all I really wanted to say.

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Visit the Cathedral website: http://www.cathedralsaintpaul.org/

Merry Christmas

Did anyone watch the Holy Father's Midnight Mass?
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As the Pope processed to the Nativity after Mass, a man in red jumped the barricade and rushed the Pope. Security was able to restrain him, it appeared the man was knocked to the floor. The Holy Father looked startled for a brief moment, standing back a bit. (Story here.) A spokesman for the Vatican said the man appeared to pose no danger and was probably overly enthusiastic in his efforts to greet the Holy Father. I wonder.
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Praying for the Holy Father.
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God bless all of you, and thanks for your friendship and support. Wishing all of you a wonderful twelve days of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ninth Day of Preparation: The Vigil of Christmas


The Perfect Joy.
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O Divine Infant Jesus, our Saviour, your love for St. Joseph could not have been greater, and yet you did not remedy his inability to provide comfortable lodging for Our Lady Mary to give birth. Neither did you shield your holy parents from the indifference and contempt shown by those who refused them. Though an upright and just man, we recognize in St. Joseph an aspect of our own poverty and failed attempts to do the good we desire. Sadly, some of us may even lack all virtue and feel ourselves steeped in sin, and therefore deserving of contempt and rejection, leading us to behave no better than the beasts.
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However, it is the patient example of St. Joseph, and Our Lady Mary who gave birth to you amongst the beasts in stable, that you teach us O Little Lord the perfect joy of Christmas.
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You gently remind us that the price of your friendship is frequently the pain of your apparent rebuff. And while it is true that on account of our sins we may deserve to be cast out and excluded, each Christmas recalls to us that you are always there to meet us, even in the most culpable desolation. For this we thank you Little Lamb. In this is the perfect joy of Christmas, that you meet us even in our basest misery, our powerlessness, pouring out your mercy and love to the soul who hungers for you - Love Incarnate.
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Merry Christmas!
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[This would have been posted on Abbey2 if it had remained.]

What happened?



My blogs.
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Late last night Abbey Roads2 was deleted a bit prematurely... I'm not the swiftest when it comes to understanding web stuff, and I complain and curse when things don't go my way and sometimes act rashly. Anyway, after AR2 vanished, I started fiddling around with the settings on this blog and went to bed not realizing I had made it invitation only. Obviously I changed that this morning... But AR2 I can't change, it's gone. So I will be blogging here and will adjust my blogroll accordingly to include many of the links I had on AR2.
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Other than that - nothing to blog about today. Happy Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Cathedral of St. Paul at Christmas.



I think I may go to Christmas Mass here. I can be lost in the crowd that way.
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I have to go out and shovel snow now.
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Click here for the Cathedral's website: http://www.cathedralsaintpaul.org/

Monday, December 22, 2008

A shorter Christmas Carol



Part One: Remembering Christmas past.

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My desk in the garden room has a glass top supported by two stainless steel sawhorses. As I was meditating this morning, I noticed the trees outside reflected in the glass. The trunks were laden with snow, on one side only, while the other side seemed to be outlined with a faint frost. The sight reminded me of one of my first jobs in the art department of Dayton's, a local department store that is now Macy's. I started in Downtown St. Paul, considered a "Downtown" store equal to the Minneapolis flagship store, although Minneapolis was the only store referred to as "Downtown". In addition, all display people were considered Downtown, or Minneapolis employees. It all sounds rather trivial today, but it was an important status thing back then - which display people took very seriously, thus educating me on how to be a snob before my time I'm afraid.
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It was the store's design department, not the display dept. that was responsible for the auditorium Christmas display and Santa-fantasy-land, as well as the animated window displays. Department differentiation and titles were very important in those days. Len Shimota was the man responsible for design, and he hired Tommie Rowland (sp?), an artist specializing in animated figures from Staten Island, to do the art and backgrounds. She earned her reputation with her windows created for Saks, Lord and Taylor, Bergdorf's and other stores in Manhattan. She was very little and rather craggy looking from chain smoking, and while working, she looked down right elfin, her bed-hair standing up in a little peak. She scared me to death. She seemed coarse and a bit shady to me, unaccustomed as I was to what seemed an abrasive New York accent and Keith Richard's style laugh. Although when she was dressed up, she was a tad more lovely, always wearing stiletto heels to increase her height.
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Anyway, my first job involved painting the background for the auditorium. As I said, in the late 1960's Dayton's had two downtown stores, each with their own auditorium, and these were turned into a Santa-land-fantasy-land. That year the theme was Dickens village. I painted the snow-laden trees, taught by another expert, Bobbie Mackin. Bobbie was a set designer turned display woman. Now deceased, she was an extraordinary talent and very kind to me, a naive high school kid working amidst the other rather earthy art majors from the University, who were hired to paint the free-standing buildings for the display. Bobbie started me off, demonstrating how to paint a snow laden tree, and to my surprise, I finished the entire background by myself. Bobbie liked my work so much she took me to Gorden Display in Roseville, and taught me how to do touch up work on the figures and actual sets. That is where I met Tommie and got to know the University students.
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After installation, I was kept on to work in the display department. I was part-watchman, part grunt man. The animated windows needed to be checked regularly until 10PM - when the lights went off - because the constantly running motors sometimes stalled and presented a fire danger. In between window checks, I covered felt panels for spring displays, and made props such as painted hangers with women's faces - copies of similar things seen in London's Carnaby St. boutiques. If there was nothing at all to do, I smoked in the display offices, pouring over News and Reviews, a display weekly, studying details of the window displays from NYC. I also studied the home and fashion magazines, educating myself in interior design and fashion. For a senior in high school, I thought I had hit the big time. I was the envy of all my friends, especially my classmates from studio arts. That was 1966, I wish I knew then what I know now; status, sophistication, snobism, - it is nothing but an illusion - a fleeting fantasy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Animal's Nativity.


Painting.
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I'm back to painting in my typical style. I'm painting The Animal's Nativity. I set out to do an illumination type painting, then I inserted a dog, a cat, soon a rabbit, and mouses... The dog is bigger than Our Lady, and Joseph is holding the Bambino. It will be a pazzo Nativity - not at all like the masterpiece above - but the cats will like it very much. Xena-Celine sits on a little rug atop my painting table as I work. I doubt I'll finish it by Christmas - although it ought to be done by Twelfth Night - but I'm not concerned about completing it.
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Making up your own traditions.
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It occurred to me that if one is alone, or one half of a couple, or even with a small family - it could be fun to try and make things for Christmas - even "on" Christmas, or to "do" things around the home. What if you decorated the tree closer to Christmas or on Christmas Eve - it doesn't have to be done all at once - but could be stretched over a few days, only to be completed Christmas Eve. It should be an enjoyable task, and not a drudgery. So often we work very hard to complete things, to get things done, only to be disappointed and let down after everything is "perfect" - although it is never perfect.
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Christmas is very much about the imperfect. Imperfect trees, imperfect dinners, imperfect wines, imperfect gifts, imperfect relatives and friends, imperfect me. You get the picture.
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And don't forget, Christmas is a season that only begins on Christmas Eve. And if you have to visit many people, remember the Three Kings never made it to Bethlehem until 12th Night.
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Works for me.