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Saturday 22 December 2012

On dogs, cats and babies...and the homeless

Do animals make us better people? Dogs, cats... here is a dog up for adoption.

and there are cats needing homes....

Sadly, there are no longer many babies for adoption in Europe. And, many Catholic agencies have been forced to close.

But, helpless creatures make us better people. We have to sacrifice for their needs.

Babies do. Parents know that the real changes which led to a deeper spirituality in their lives happened when they had children.

The sacrifice involved in having and raising a child is called "dying to self", which is why so may young ones do not want to have babies.

Hard work.

This is a modern, contemporary idea. In the past, children were considered blessings from God, especially in one's old age. The Scriptures brim with references to the blessings of children.

Can one imagine the blessings which Baby Jesus brought to His Mother and His foster-father? One cannot imagine.

Imagine holding God. Imagine feeding God. Imagine watching God sleep.

But, we can, for Christ said, in Matthew 25:31-46
31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.
32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.
34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?
39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?
40 And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.
44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?
45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
There are many reasons for homelessness. Mental illness, falling through the aid crack, end of unemployment benefits, estrangement from families, being totally alone in the world. 
One man I found out about was a bank executive, and he was made redundant towards the end of his career. He was too old for a re-hire and could not find work for rent payments. Another man was an alcoholic and he was alone and could not afford help.
A woman has a history of trauma and no government program covered her as she had no fixed address and did not have the ability to fill out forms.
Christ is among us. 
As a Baby, He was rejected by His Own people. He is still rejected. Two of these photos are from Dublin and London, socialist countries supposedly caring about those who have-not. Now, some people are professional beggars, but one can tell the difference.
For three days, in the rain, I passed a man in down town Dublin who was wrapped up in a sleeping bag. He is not, like some, a professional beggar who could be working.
What did St. Joseph feel like when he had to bring his holy wife to a stable and witness the birth of the God-Man in a filthy stable? I am sure people passed them by, as they were poor, and probably smelled bad not having the ability to wash and being around animals.
Do not kid yourselves as to the abject poverty Christ allowed Himself to suffer for our sakes. Do not believe the new, liberal interpretation that Mary and Joseph were in the middle-class. That class did not exist in the ancient Holy Land. There were only the rich and the poor. Jesus was poor.
He is God. 
But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. Philippians 2:7 DR

Rome At Christmas

A friend of mine will be in Rome at Christmas. I truly think that is a great city to be in during the holidays. I was there over the Christmas break many years ago and it was one of the happiest times in my life. I love Rome, (how can anyone not love Rome?) and the craziness of the season adds to the ambiance. One has to visit all the nativity scenes, some call crèches, in all the churches.

Of course, the place to be for fun is in the Piazza Navona, especially at night. Yes, it is cold and yes it rains, and if you have sinus troubles, be prepared for the siroccos, which bring in the sand from the Sahara in early January. No problem.

If you are in the market on the Feast of the Epiphany, you will meet Befana in person, the old witch, who in ancient times refused to go with the Three Kings when, stopping at her house, invited her to seek Jesus,  and, punishment, has to look for the Christ Child until the end of time.

She might give you some sweeties!

December 22nd, O Antiphon

December 22nd

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Happy Christmas and a Pope's comment on art

from a great site

IN his apostolic letter Archicoenobium Casinense (1913), on the occasion of the consecration of a crypt chapel at the abbey of Monte Cassino decorated in the Beuronese style, Pope St. Pius X likened the artistic efforts of the Benedictines of Beuron to the revival of Gregorian chant by the Benedictines of Solesmes when he wrote, “...together with sacred music, it proves itself to be a powerful aid to the liturgy” (AAS5, 1913, pp.113-17).

The arts...again

Many years ago, I taught a course on the history of the liberal arts. Martianus Felix Capella was one of the mainstays of the course, which traced the history and the Cathoicization of the trivium and quadrivium. I also used St. Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm in the first part of the course, which was, for university students. The significance of the liberal arts for me to enter into a deep study of the history involved the ideas already put on this blog of the need to teach thinking skills and the teaching of aethestics, and beauty as well as the trivium and quadrivium. that is, the appreciation of both the liberal arts and fine arts. Sadly, the need for the liberal and fine arts is fast fading, as I have noted here before, from all western countries. The false idea of eqalitarinism is part of the problem, as well as the big, bloated governments which desire to control their populace by denying the skills necessary for thinking. Capella writes an allegory, a classical mode of teaching and remembering. The drama of the story is based on a wedding, which is a theme of harmony, peace and renaissance in the West. That the Judeo-Christian tradition is full of wedding poetry, similes and metaphors is no accident. To be continued...


Hello London, and welcome civilization. I do miss the saints of Dublin and the good people of Cobh, but London is one of my homes, so I am very glad to be here. To all who have time to follow the blog over Christmas, I shall be writing of Newman and St. Augustine Bye for now, must get settled.

Jesus is the Seed of the House of David

At Christmas time, we hear the words of the Gospels regarding Christ's lineage.

Catholics who are not familiar with the Scriptures overlook the importance of Jesus Christ as a member of the House of David.

That Christ is a Jew by birth and of the royal house was prophesied many times in the Old Testament. Then, in the New Testament, the writers of the Gospels pick this up. In Luke, Christ is given the throne of David. Hey, this is not poetry, but a physical reality. Christ is a King, as well as Priest, Prophet, Messiah. The reason this is important is that Christ, as Incarnated as a Man, and as God, created the Jewish People as His own people, making a covenant with them and establishing an earthly kingdom. We are not an invisible Church. We are the institution created by Christ as a continuation of the Old Testament-that is, the fulfillment of the new.

For all peoples, Christ is the King.

Luke 1:28-35

28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Matthew 1

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren.
And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram.
And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon.
And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse.
And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias.
And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa.
And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias.
And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias.
10 And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manesses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias.
11 And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon.
12 And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel.
13 And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor.
14 And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud.
15 And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob.
16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations, from Abraham to David, are fourteen generations. And from David to the transmigration of Babylon, are fourteen generations: and from the transmigration of Babylon to Christ are fourteen generations.
18 Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.
19 Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying:
23 Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife.
25 And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Luke 3:23-31

23 And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph, who was of Heli, who was of Mathat,
24 Who was of Levi, who was of Melchi, who was of Janne, who was of Joseph,
25 Who was of Mathathias, who was of Amos, who was of Nahum, who was of Hesli, who was of Nagge,
26 Who was of Mahath, who was of Mathathias, who was of Semei, who was of Joseph, who was of Juda,
27 Who was of Joanna, who was of Reza, who was of Zorobabel, who was of Salathiel, who was of Neri,
28 Who was of Melchi, who was of Addi, who was of Cosan, who was of Helmadan, who was of Her,
29 Who was of Jesus, who was of Eliezer, who was of Jorim, who was of Mathat, who was of Levi,
30 Who was of Simeon, who was of Judas, who was of Joseph, who was of Jona, who was of Eliakim,
31 Who was of Melea, who was of Menna, who was of Mathatha, who was of Nathan, who was of David,
32 Who was of Jesse, who was of Obed, who was of Booz, who was of Salmon, who was of Naasson,
33 Who was of Aminadab, who was of Aram, who was of Esron, who was of Phares, who was of Judas,
34 Who was of Jacob, who was of Isaac, who was of Abraham, who was of Thare, who was of Nachor,
35 Who was of Sarug, who was of Ragau, who was of Phaleg, who was of Heber, who was of Sale,
36 Who was of Cainan, who was of Arphaxad, who was of Sem, who was of Noe, who was of Lamech,
37 Who was of Mathusale, who was of Henoch, who was of Jared, who was of Malaleel, who was of Cainan,
38 Who was of Henos, who was of Seth, who was of Adam, who was of God.

Both Mary and Joseph were of the House of David. Christ's human heritage is from both sides; His Mother and his foster-father. That will be another post.

On Holy Women and the Psalms

Let us praise good and holy women.

In today's NO readings, there are two women who praise God in the custom of the Hebrews, a prayer which is a psalm.

The psalm has a form, which is set and which would have been accompanied always by music. That Hannah's prayer pre-dates David is no problem, as 500 to 450 years before, Miriam, Moses' sister also composed a psalm-like prayer and led the people in prayer as illustrated in the painting above. The song she composed under the influence of the Holy Spirit may be found in Exodus 15:1-19. Miriam is a personal patron and from her name comes Mary, meaning, bitter, or one who can endure much sorrow. I am well-named.

David perfected the mode. There are psalms which are hymns, thanksgiving, those which may be called royal, as referring to the king, and complaints, both personal and national. Within these categories, there are forms. I shall just look at the general form, and thanks to my excellent Old Testaments professors, I could bring all this to the reading of Scriptures in my daily prayer. Thank you, Father Roger Mary McCarrick and others of the Marist Order, who taught me undergraduate theology.

The psalm starts off with a thanksgiving and invocation to God. Then, the psalmist either launches into a petition and intercessions for troubles, or a praise of God for the answer to prayers and deliverance from evil. The psalm usually ends with more praise.This is a gross over-simplification, but one to get you started.

Some of the psalms have rhetorical devices, such as refrains and sacred number games.

These two women, Our Blessed Lady and Hannah, the mother of the great prophet Samuel, who anointed David, use similar outlines in their inspired prayers. Take a look at those today, if you have not been to Mass, or even if you have.

Of course, I love Hannah, as she wanted a child and I only had a one-third chance of having a baby owing to problems earlier in my life. Her story is in the Book of Samuel, chapter one. Like all mothers who are thrilled with a pregnancy long wanted, she represents a pro-life stand. Her name, meaning grace, is the same as Anna, or Anne or Ann, one of my personal patrons. So we have three women, of which two have the same name and one is the name of the mother of the Blessed Virgin. No accidents in Scripture or Salvation History...

We have these readings to celebrate mothers, child-bearing and to show the connection between two babies, one the Messiah and one a prophet of the Messiah, long awaited and loved.

God bless all mothers and all babies today, especially.

Notes from Spe Salvi on freedom: "Heaven is not empty"

5. We must add a further point of view. The First Letter to the Corinthians (1:18-31) tells us that many of the early Christians belonged to the lower social strata, and precisely for this reason were open to the experience of new hope, as we saw in the example of Bakhita (see section above this one). Yet from the beginning there were also conversions in the aristocratic and cultured circles, since they too were living “without hope and without God in the world”. Myth had lost its credibility; the Roman State religion had become fossilized into simple ceremony which was scrupulously carried out, but by then it was merely “political religion”. Philosophical rationalism had confined the gods within the realm of unreality. The Divine was seen in various ways in cosmic forces, but a God to whom one could pray did not exist. Paul illustrates the essential problem of the religion of that time quite accurately when he contrasts life “according to Christ” with life under the dominion of the “elemental spirits of the universe” (Col 2:8). In this regard a text by Saint Gregory Nazianzen is enlightening. He says that at the very moment when the Magi, guided by the star, adored Christ the new king, astrology came to an end, because the stars were now moving in the orbit determined by Christ[2]. This scene, in fact, overturns the world-view of that time, which in a different way has become fashionable once again today. It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love—a Person. And if we know this Person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free. In ancient times, honest enquiring minds were aware of this. Heaven is not empty. Life is not a simple product of laws and the randomness of matter, but within everything and at the same time above everything, there is a personal will, there is a Spirit who in Jesus has revealed himself as Love[3].