Saturday, January 19, 2008

Blow, blow, thou Winter Wind

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho! sing, heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh ho! sing, heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

from As You Like it, by William Shakespeare

photo from Argent's collection

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wounded by love

Oh, I so need this quote from yesterday's Divine Office.

What, I ask, is more wonderful than the beauty of God? What thought is more pleasing and wonderful than God’s majesty? What desire is as urgent and overpowering as the desire implanted by God in a soul that is completely purified of sin and cries out in its love: I am wounded by love? The radiance of divine beauty is altogether beyond the power of words to describe.

~from St. Basil the Great's Rule for Monks
I am simultaneously reading John Saward's Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty and von Balthasar's Glory of the Lord. There is so much in me that needs purifying, the interior burning up so that I may be more receptive to hearing God clearly. It's so easy to fall into the trap of self-satisfaction. How much I need humility. I suppose that's why I'm grateful to be teaching because it's always a reminder that to be a truly good teacher, one must first be a student.

Tonight, we will begin discussing the Our Father using Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth. Zadok asked me before Christmas to meditate on how Christ's earthly ministry was a continuous prayer and dialogue with the Father. I thought about how that relates to the Our Father. What a privilege then it is to prayer it as Christ himself gave us the words. And in Pope Benedict's book, he says that
...we must also keep in mind that the Our Father originates from his own praying, from the Son's dialogue with the Father. This mean that it reaches down into depths far beyond the words.
Pope Benedict goes on with his catechesis in showing that in Jesus' submitting himself to God's will, we come to know the mind and will of God himself, most eloquently in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


As if I needed another excuse to go to Rome, this event I wouldn't miss for the world.

Beatification of Cardinal Newman imminent.

Beatifications are now done at particular churches, so this beatification won't be in Rome. Although the Beatification of the Spanish Martyrs which happened just recently was at St. Peter's Square. The Church is returning to the former practice of beatifications at the local church and then Canonization at St. Peter's. Thanks to Fr. Z's explanation.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Against the Grain

We are in the season of Epiphany, though in the Ordinary Form of the Mass it's back to "Ordinary Time". My family still celebrates the season according to the Old Calendar.

So our Christmas tree remains in place until the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary also known as the Feast of the Presentation. We normally don't put up Christmas decorations until after Advent IV, but since we were away this year for Advent IV and Christmas, our house was bare of Christmas joy. So when we returned within the Octave of Christmas, the house was greened and Christmas cheer was put in place just as the neighbors were tossing their trees out and putting up banners of hearts and the like.

We're feeling quite counter-cultural, conspiratorial almost, being out of step with the world's chronos, but feeling just right in kairos.

It was amusing, at first, to see the giant inflatable Christmas decorations, especially those of the Grinch. But the amusement turned to distaste after a house, which we drive by everyday, displayed a giant inflatable creche. How totally crass, to cutify the Nativity in such a banal way...yes, it was in between a giant polar bear and a giant snowglobe. Then the cold snap came, deflating them. I may have to confess the sense of gloating that I indulged in.

Egg nog is on sale, and we're happily buying up quarts. And Christmas songs and chants still ring through our home. The mantle still has boughs of Frazier pine and red berries, and the window lights still shine to welcome the Christ Child.

Very, very soon, we will celebrate Septuagesima Sunday when the Alleluia will be buried and be put away in preparation for the austerity of Lent.

We have a few weeks yet of celebrating which will then be closed with the chanting of the beautiful Lumen ad revelationem gentium, one of my favorite plainchants.

Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel. Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace. Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum. Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum.

A Light revealed to the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel. Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast pre¬pared before the face of all peoples.
Happy Second Day of the Octave of Epiphany!

Zadok just tried to post a comment and somehow Blogger isn't co-operating. Here's what he said (thanks for the illumination, Z):
We're not back into Ordinary Time yet. The week after the Epiphany is still Christmastide according to the liturgical books. White vestments are worn and the Christmas or Epiphany prefaces are used.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Seeking the Light

Happy Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, dear friends! Forgive the dearth of posts here. Multiferous tasks abounded the past quarter. Enjoy the day. We're emerging from a deep freeze (well, for us here in the South it's a deep freeze) and the water in the garden fountains and birdbaths are liquid again.

Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped in away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no imformation, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

~T.S. Eliot, 1927