Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Comes ... and With It Comes the New Church Year

Everybody knows, even those of us who have lived most unadventurously, what it is to plod on for miles, it seems, eagerly straining your eyes toward the lights that, somehow, mean home. How difficult it is, when you are doing that to judge distances! In pitch darkness, it might be a couple of miles to your destination, it might be a few hundred yards. So it was, I think, with the Hebrew prophets, as they looked forward to the redemption of their people. They could not have told you, within a hundred years, within five hundred years, when it was the deliverance would come. They only knew that, some time, the stock of David would burgeon anew; some time, a key would be found to fit the door of their prison house; some time, the light that only shows, now, like a will-o'-the-wisp on the horizon would broaden out, at last into the perfect day.

This attitude of expectation is one which the Church wants to encourage in us, her children, permanently. She sees it as an essential part of our Christian drill that we should still be looking forward; getting on for two thousand years, now, since the first Christmas Day came and went, and we must still be looking forward. So she encourages us, during advent, t take the shepherd-folk for our guides, and imagine ourselves traveling with them at dead of night, straining our eyes towards that chink of light which streams out, we know, from the cave at Bethlehem.
R.A. Knox, Sermon on Advent 1947
quoted in In Conversation with God, Vol. 1, Francis Fernandez
With Advent the liturgical year begins in the Western churches. We switch to a new book of the gospels for Mass reading. In this year (Year C) it will be Luke who will instruct us every week.

Before Christmas we spend time in contemplation and preparation for the coming of Christ on three levels: as memorial of his incarnation as the babe in Bethlehem, to his coming with grace in our souls, and in looking forward to when he comes as the Judge at the end of time.

Those who celebrate Advent do so with various private devotions during this time. Some read a specific book to think about, some go to regular adoration, some try to avoid excessive focus on Christmas preparations, and such things.

I am going to read ...

I like this Advent Litany which may be helpful as we school ourselves to wait in patience to wait for Our Lord and contemplate what that means.
Advent Litany

Lord Jesus, you are the light of the world.
Come, Lord Jesus.

You are light in our darkness.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Son of God, save us from our sins.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Son of Mary, deepen our love.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Bring hope into the lives of all people.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Give your peace to all nations.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Be the joy of all who love you.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Bring unity among all who believe in you.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Bless us as we gather here in your name.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus, stay with us always.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Let us pray:

May Christ give us his peace and joy,
and let us share them with others.
All peace and glory are his for ever.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Jokes

Why can’t you take a turkey to church?
Because they use such FOWL language!

What kind of key can’t open any doors?
A turkey.

What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving?
The G

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
The outside

Why did the turkey cross the road?
It was the chicken's day off

What are the feathers on a turkey's wings called?
Turkey feathers

What's the best dance to do on Thanksgiving?
The turkey trot

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all

What do you get when you cross a turkey with an octopus?
Enough drumsticks for Thanksgiving

How can you make a turkey float?
You need 2 scoops of ice cream, some root beer, and a turkey

In Thankfulness on This Day

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Jennie A. Brownscombe, 1914
Have a blessed day with your families as we enjoy the many riches God has bestowed on us. I truly have so much to be thankful for, much more than I could list here, which fall under the broad categories of God, Catholic Church, family, country, and friends (because that corny stuff is also the real stuff of life).

Here is something I have posted every Thanksgiving. I like seeing what Abraham Lincoln had in mind for the holiday (before I go dive into that turkey, pie, and football ... GO Cowboys !). I'll be off the computer until Monday.

So without further ado, I present to you ...
Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by his divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Splendor

taken by Remo Savisaar
Remo titled this "Gloomy" but to me it is simply glorious and inspiring.

Well Said: The great thing about getting older...

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
Madeleine L'Engle

Worth a Thousand Words: Baking the Bread

Baking the Bread, Anders Zorn, 1889
See this? That's me today.

Ok, not literally. Thank goodness I've got an enclosed oven for one thing. But I'm cook, cook, cookin' the day away preparing the Thanksgiving feast.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Good Housekeeping and Milk for Kitten

Good Housekeeping cover, 1920
Jessie Willcox Smith, artist
It's the absorbed attention on both sides that makes this so adorable.

Well Said: We Tell Ourselves the Best Stories

We tell some of the best stories to ourselves. ... We ask our friend, "What's up?" or "What's new?" and we begin to narrate our lives to one another, trading tales back and forth over cups of coffee or bottles of beer, unconsciously shaping and embellishing to make the tales hum. and every night, we reconvene with our loved ones at the dinner table to share the small comedies and tragedies of our day.
Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
This was one really eye opening and very compelling in bringing home how story-rooted we are.


From my inbox.

Sister Moon Graphics

Since 2004 Sister Moon Graphics has provided inspirational and Christian-themed cards to religious bookstores, monastery gift shops, Catholic online retailers and through our own online store. These original designs are inspired by a beloved chapter in the history of Western art--medieval manuscript illustration.
There are some really lovely cards at Sister Moon Graphics. Do go see!

Our Lady of Fatima Novena

This didn't come with a site to link to, but as a grass roots effort.
The attacks on Paris have been a tragic reminder that we are living in a time of war.

The enemy seems to be so powerful right now. We need to be an even stronger force, hearing our call to be warriors in Christ through our Holy Rosary and overcome this battle.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” Matthew 18:20. Imagine how powerful it would be if Catholics all around the world were united through the same novena, during the same nine days, praying for the same cause.
It makes you want to jump for joy!

The Quran mentions Mary over thirty times. It even has a quote from Fatima, Mohammed’s own daughter: “I surpass all women, except Mary.” (
Let’s pray that the Muslim’s devotion to Mary leads them to Her Son, Christ Our Lord.
We will win this battle with love.

Pope Francis has called for a Holy Year of Mercy, which will start on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This rosary will end on Dec. 7. What a perfect way to prepare for mercy within our hearts.

Sunday, November 29

Our Lady of Fatima Novena
This is a nine day novena.

Say this prayer at the beginning of the Rosary

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it, we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, and this favor that I so earnestly seek (the conversion of Muslims) which I ask of you in this novena, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of all people. Amen.

Pray the rosary. By request of Our Lady of Fatima, say the following prayer after each decade.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls into heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

*Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel can be said at the end of the rosary.

The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary

From the publisher, this looks interesting. Expensive, but interesting.
... a project 10 years in the making that is not only a much-needed resource for English language Muslims, but also of huge significance for those of other faiths who wish to understand the Quran and Islam more clearly.

In light of the recent horrific attacks by extremist Islamic groups in Paris, Mali, Beirut, Kenya, and elsewhere around the world, it is crucial that we all – no matter what our faith – educate ourselves on what the Quran really has to say about life, faith, war, treatment of women, and more, and do not limit ourselves to only hearing what extremists (who distort meaning to support their own agendas) have to say.

Under the direction of Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr (the Iranian-born, Harvard-educated, world-renowned authority on Islamic thought), four distinguished scholars (Caner Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph Lumbard and Mohammed Rustom – all raised in the West with English as their first language, and trained in Western universities with a mastery of Quranic Arabic) have worked to create a translation of the Quran in English that is accurate, accessible, and a reliable rendering of the sacred text.
This article gave additional interesting information about the book.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Worth a Thousand Words: Madonna of the Lilies

Madonna of the Lilies, Alphonse Mucha, 1905
I never realized that Mucha did any religious art. Via Wikipedia comes this fascinating background:
In 1902, Mucha was commissioned to decorate a church in Jerusalem dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Shown here is the final version of 'Madonna of the Lilies', one of the murals for the church. The project was cancelled later for unknown reasons, so all that remains of this commission is this painting and earlier versions of it (Sakai City collection, Japan), as well as a design for a stained-glass window,' Harmony', which is also in the Mucha Trust collection.

According to Mucha's letter to his wife Maruška, he conceived the subject as 'Virgo purissima', thus depicting the heavenly vision of Madonna, surrounded with a mass of lilies, symbol of purity. The seated young girl in Slavic folk costume carries a wreath of ivy leaves, symbol of remembrance. Her serious expression and strong physical presence contrast with the ethereal figure of the Virgin.

Well Said: The reader's creative effort

Reading is often seen as a passive act: we lie back and let writers pipe joy into our brains. But this is wrong. ... When we read stories, this massive creative effort is going on all the time, chugging away beneath our awareness.
Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
Gottschall is referring to the fact that we fill in so many details ourselves when reading. We know how a character's face should look, the details of their clothing, the surroundings of the action in a way that the writers haven't described.

It is certainly one of the reasons I tend to avoid movies made from books I love. They never get those things right. How could they? They weren't in my head when I learned to love the book.

Julie and Scott chased James Bond who was after Silva ...

... who was after M. Q was no help whatsoever. They all sit down over a brace of shaken martinis and talk about Skyfall in Episode 121 of A Good Story is Hard to Find.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Solemnity of Christ the King

A repeat which I very much enjoyed reading again. Hope you do too!

As the visions during the night continued,
I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him,
He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
nations and peoples of every language serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14
Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 for the universal church in his encyclical Quas Primas. He connected the denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism. At the time of Quas Primas, secularism was rising, and many Christians (including Catholics) began to doubt Christ's authority and existence, as well as the Church's power to continue Christ's authority. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed. In fact, it is still needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but instead have worsened.
I was surprised when I looked through my archives and didn't see any comments about the Solemnity of Christ the King. Perhaps that is because I haven't really appreciated it much until over the past year. That is partly because one can only absorb so much at a time and although I converted in 2000, that is not really such a long time ago.

It also signals an internal conversion, which we all undergo in one way or another for our entire lives. I recently caught myself saying, "His majesty" and meaning God. That made me happy for two reasons, the first of which was because I never understood how St. Teresa of Avila could be somewhat sassy to God and still call him "His majesty" ... and now I did understand that much more.

The second because I feel much more that I am a daughter of the king. That would anyone happy, wouldn't it? To discover that they come from royalty, albeit a royalty that reigns in order to render humble service. Certainly I feel I have a bit better understanding of my place in the scheme of things overall and my gradually deepening relationship with my king who rules through love.

The above image of Christ the King comes from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. I was captivated when I discovered it. The strength and confidence of this image of Christ fills me with joy. For a discussion of the symbolism included, read Msgr. Charles Pope's piece Awesome or Awful? Here's a sample:
... let’s look a little closer at Christ’s face (at Left). Look closely at his eyes. Notice that the one on the right (from our perspective) is more rounded and serene than the one on the left that is narrower and piercing. Notice also that the right eyebrow is more arched and peaceful and the one on the left angled and downward in a severe look. Now take your hand and cover the left side of the face and see that he is more serene and then cover the right side of the face and see that he is severe. This is very common in Eastern Iconography which likes to present both the Justice and Mercy of God on the face of Christ. It is subtle but it is meant to be otherwise we’d have a weird looking face. On the Day of Judgement there will be mercy seen by those who have shown mercy and severe justice to those who have been severe (Mat 5:7; Mat 7:2; James 2:13) for Justice and mercy are alike with him (cf Sirach 5:7). Looking into his eyes I am reminded of the stunning text from Hebrews which says of Christ: No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. (Heb 4:13)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Well Said: Our great drama — no confidence in God

Our great drama is this: Man does not have confidence in God. Hence he looks in every possible place to extricate himself by his own resources and renders himself terribly unhappy in the process rather than abandon himself into the tender and saving hands of his Father in heaven.


It is, however, marked with this distrust that we come into this world. This is the original sin. and all our spiritual life consists precisely in a long process of reeducation, with a view to regaining that lost confidence, by the grace of the Holy Spirit who makes us say anew to God: Abba, Father!
Fr. Jacques Phillipe
I love the point that our spiritual life consists of the long process of reeducation. Restoration.

Worth a Thousand Words: Origami Chicken

Modular Origami
by Jacek Halicki