Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Nuns of Misrule ...

Just for fun ...

Didn't someone just write something on 
why nuns should dress as nuns?
Written by a man no less.

I found these looking for Renaissance Christmas.  It's by artist James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger) 'Remixing the Renaissance as GIFs' - what could be more perfect for Christmas?  I love it too much.

Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas ... Dear Friend

First.  If you sent me an e-card, or an email with attachments and I've never heard from you before - I don't open that stuff.  (Sorry, but my computer has crashed too many times.)  So - I know you and you, and that friend sent me this or that - and I thank you for thinking of me.  It wasn't necessary.

Second.  If we used to be friends, if we used to send cards, emails, call, all that stuff - and we really, really actually knew one another ... Merry Christmas.  It's all good.  It's good.

Third.  There are maybe five dear friends in my life - well, maybe six or sixty.  A couple are dead now.  The rest I haven't heard from - except for one or two or three.  That's cool too.  You know what they say, If they say 'We should get together' say why?

Merry Christmas, dear friend.

Thanks for letting me go ...

[The secret is letting go.]

Many thanks.

Song for this post here.  It used to mean something to me - now, not so much.  Amazing.  That's the odd thing about conversion ... the vain rejoicing is completely drained out of such things.

[Oh.  One more thing.  If you don't like the blog, what I write, or what I paint and talk about, or even how I live my life - we could never really be friends anyway.  How freeing is that?]

It's all good!

My favorite season ... it's Christmas.

Sometimes they call her Nan. What?

For Twelve Days ...

Merry-making and fun and the Lord of Misrule ... and the witch who brings gifts to kids.

(Medieval Christmastide lasted until February 2.)

Happy Feast of St. John*,
patron of tipplers and winebibbers.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fans of Christmas past ...


Rating Midnight Mass at the Vatican.

Evidently it didn't meet with approval by some Catholics - the music was off.*
I turned on the Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica for a little bit.  It was an object lesson in how not to sing Gregorian chant.  Excruciating.  The pace of this would put a funeral face one just about anyone.  It’s great that they have some Gregorian chant, it being the sacred music that Second Vatican Council elevated above all others, but… at least sing it right.  How hard is this?
The complaint used to be there was no chant used, or the choir was notoriously poor - even when the acceptable popes were celebrating Mass at Christmas.  This Christmas chant was used, but it wasn't right - it missed.  People stopped their ears, turned the tv channel, while a near riot was caused in the basilica, people shouting for it to stop.

Do people just go to Mass to hear it read properly, to be entertained by delightful music and elaborate vestments and elegant decor ... while every little detail must be slavishly accurate for them to be properly edified?  Perhaps that is what brings in the donations?

*I don't have cable and to my knowledge the Mass wasn't broadcast on local channels.  I went to a very early Christmas Mass on Christmas Day - gloriously ordinary.

Corked you say?  I'll ask people to send
you more Christmas cards then, if that will make you happy.

Merry Christmas!

On the feast of Stephen ... Parish Offices Closed - No Mass - Church Closed

St. Stephen - Ulisse Sartini

Archdiocesan Offices are closed too.

Now some parishes will probably have Mass on the Second Day of Christmas - but some will not.  Some may have the church or chapel open, although some are all locked up.  Sort of seems like taking the Mass out of Christmas.

What?  I'm not complaining - it just strikes me as ironic.  I'm not saying priests shouldn't have a day off, or go on holiday.  I also realize there are fewer priests these days.  I know many priests live off 'campus' and no longer live in rectories, and some have more than one parish as well.  I live in the city, if I had to, I could drive to another church.

It just seems contradictory however.  Catholics complain that Christmas is anticipated, decorated, celebrated far too early - during Advent, oh my gosh! no! - and yet in Christmas season - the Second Day of Christmas in fact, the parish church gets locked up.  The same thing will happen over New Year's weekend.

Christmas too secular?  Too commercial?

Really?  I think it's funny when religious people say that.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have yourself a merry 'little' Christmas ...

It's A Wonderful Life

The perfect joy of the imperfect Christmas.

Didn't 'feel' like Christmas?  Disappointed about something?  Someone?  Hopes dashed?  Feeling lonely and abandoned?  Christmas has lost it's charm?  It's glow?  It wasn't like it used to be?  It didn't turn out the way you expected?  Your prayers weren't answered?

Therein lies the 'grace of Christmas' spiritual people like to talk about so much but often miss when it comes their way.  St. Francis of Assisi thought of such adverse experiences as 'perfect joy'.

The example of St. Therese comes to mind as well.  Her famous 'Christmas conversion' experience reveals the hidden joy in one's hopes being disappointed.  It seems a trivial thing; a fourteen year old girl feeling reprimanded by a comment overheard from her father, about not having to fill her shoes with gifts any longer since she was beyond the age children would expect such things.  Nevertheless, Therese was the 'baby' and was treated as such - and the shoes were filled.  Her sister Celine expected tears - Therese expected disappointment, but instead, she returned downstairs and acted as if she had not heard her father's complaint.  She went to the hearth to find the little gifts in her shoes, and rejoiced so as not to disappoint her father.  Therese later remarked on the effects of her experience, saying: "My heart was filled with charity. I forgot myself to please others and, in doing so, became happy myself."

Still disappointed?

Then have yourself a merry 'little' Christmas, and thank God for his gift of 'perfect joy'!

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Still sad? Go to a movie maybe - go see
 The Interview - that's Christmassy.

Song for this post here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Morning: Prayer at Mass ...

The Adoration of the Infant Jesus - Filippo Lippi

"Come quickly we pray Lord Jesus, and do not delay!" - Mass In the Morning

That's the excitement of a little kid.  It's also the desperate call of the families whose sons and dads have been shot and killed - on our streets, in their squad cars, in war zones.  That is the cry of those who have lost everything in storms and financial crashes, through terrorism and persecution.  That's the cry of the poor ...

Come quickly ... that those who trust in your compassion,
may find solace and relief in your coming.

I did a quick check online of the news.  I also checked some blog links and 'news portals'.  Legitimate news sites report the news, what's happening - 'and the news is rather sad' to quote the Beatles.  As for the bloggers and gossip portals - they seem to be still fighting, still pointing out one anothers faults/sins, complaining and crticizing ... It seems to me these folks must be missing something in their lives - I think there must be a hole in their soul or something.

Jesus says: Come to me, all you who labor and find life burdensome ... give it up.  Give up what you can't fix.  Give up what you can't control.  Give up the endless theologizing and moralizing and blogging for dollars...  Call a Christmas truce.

Listen!  Do you hear what I hear?
Whoever is a little one, come to me ... - Proverbs 9:4
Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One more day ... Then ... The Birth of Our Lord.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Cripples.

Even before the gifts and the friends and family get together, one may be able to sense the pre-Christmas traditions wearing thin.  Therefore it makes sense to me that the Holy Father encouraged Vatican lay workers to avoid making Christmas "a feast of commercial consumerism, of appearances or useless gifts... that it might be the feast of the joy of welcoming the Lord in the crib and our hearts."
"This is the real Christmas," Francis said, "the feast of the poverty of God who made himself into nothing, taking the nature of a slave; of God who places himself to serve at table; of God who hides himself from the intelligent and the wise and reveals himself to the small, the simple and the poor; of the 'Son of man who didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.'" - Source
This is the real focus of pre-Christmas, what we prepare for throughout Advent.  This is the cause of our joy.  When Christmas arrives, all of the decorating and traditions can finally be put in perspective, the sentimentality and artificial emotional expectations diminished, they too can fade into the background - because nothing compares to Jesus.

I can rejoice in the measure I feel my poverty, my insignificance, my lack of accomplishment, my loneliness, my lack of merit, even my outcast state ... because Jesus is born in abject poverty, a helpless infant, with no place to lay his head, but in a manger.  And heaven and earth rejoice.

Merry Christmas!  If you are depressed and disappointed - Merry Christmas!  You share the lot of the saints in light.  You are very close to the Infant Jesus.

The Census at Bethlehem, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker, RIP

 “simply unique”

Song for this post Unchain My Heart.

Viva il Papa! The Holy Father speaks frankly on the reform of the Curia.

If a good man reproves me, it is kindness. - Ps. 141:5

Avoiding sentimentality at Christmas ...

This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments. - Vatican Information Service

The Holy Father warns against the 'terrorism of gossip' ...

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider has the full list of 15 diseases Francis named. They’re also available, in Italian, on the Vatican’s press office site. Some of the highlights – or lowlights – depending on whether you are a member of the Curia or not: 
On feeling “immortal:” “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body’.” 
On what he means by “spiritual Alzheimers:” “A progressive decline of spiritual faculties’ which ’causes severe disadvantages to people’, making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’. We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory’ of their encounter with the Lord, in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions’.” 
On the disease of “existential schizophrenia:” this refers to “a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill’.” Ouch. 
Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the “sowers of discord.” which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips “cold-blooded murderers” of reputations. “It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back… Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!” he said.  - Washington Post
An examen.

There are so many helpful points for our own personal examination of conscience in what the Holy Father notes.  He is like a good spiritual father, and kindly spiritual director pointing out the pitfalls of the spiritual life.  I especially like these:

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.

“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person (fall) instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”. - VIS

At the very end, the Holy Father asks everyone to pray for priests.  

The Christmas season is very difficult for priests - many penance services and confession, some priests have no assistants and offer all the Masses scheduled alone, and there is always a demand for their time.  Imagine a busy priest falling asleep in prayer.  Or a priest too busy to follow what the Pope really says and gets his information from crack pots  bloggers like us - imagine how discouraging that can be?
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”. - Pope Francis

Pray for priests.

At the end of the address some news reports said
the applause was 'tepid'.  My source told me
Monsignor Ganswein was heard to say:
"I was told this was supposed to be a party!"

2 Days Away!

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem- Hugo van der Goes

Christmas Eve is only two days away!

All the kitschy, kitschy, ya, ya, build up will culminate in the Sacred Nativity of Our Lord ...  The pre-Christmas season, Advent, is filled with prayerful wonder and joy ... and sometimes, great saddness.

And then, and then, and then Christmas comes, Christmas begins!

Don't forget those who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed by weather, sickness, depression, poverty, homelessness, terror, and war.  How does the Birth of Jesus impact those who sorrow?   We can't forget or distance ourselves from that.  I wonder if that's one meaning one might take away from the Gospel passage, "keep salt in your hearts" [Mk. 9:50]?

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
- Luke 2:10

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Travelers ...

Not wanted home for Christmas?  Go West young man.  Make your own traditions.

Christmas on the move.

I have friends heading for the slopes, Hawaii, Santa Fe, and Florida.  Holiday getaways.  Many Families duck out on Christmas Day, others leave early to spend the holidays elsewhere.  Personally, I'd love to spend Christmas in a forest wilderness, staying in a well appointed hermitage with electricity and all the provisions I needed.  On Christmas Eve, I'd be there waiting until all the little wild animals came along and gathered round, to peer into my windows, admiring the Christmas tree lights and the gas-powered fireplace all ablaze ... and then, and then, then I'd go outside and we'd all wrestle in the snow and play and decorate the forest with lights and berries and nuts ...

Just before nightfall, all the elves and animals
are getting ready for Mass at midnight
at Terry's hermitage in the forest.


Denver airport will be having Christmas Day Mass for all the travelers passing through, on their way to the ski lodges because their loved ones wouldn't invite them to Christmas dinner.  (It could happen.)   The Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 25, at 2p.m. in the interfaith chapel on level six of Jeppesen Terminal.  I like that.  I like chapels in airports.  Boston's Logan has one.  I think there is still a chapel in the Prudential as well.  I think chapels should be everywhere - in the heart of the city, in malls, airports, across the street from my house, and so on.

If one happens to be stuck in the wilderness and can't get to Mass, then I think St. Nicholas should fly in and celebrate it for me and the critters - I suppose I could settle for a bi-locating priest who liked to hand-feed peanuts to blue jays instead.  What?

St. Nicholas descending for Mass.

Aren't the holidays fun?

God comes to us - right where we are...

Avoiding rash judgment ...

Putative father.

St. Joseph was the putative father of Jesus.

St. Joseph was also the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Ever Virgin Mary - Who, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, was found with child through the Holy Spirit ...

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly... - Matthew 1:19

That worked out well.